FCC News Brief - September 3, 2017

Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico Florida – “State Sen. Rob Bradley, newly appointed as chairman of his chamber’s environmental policy committee, says he wants the panel to focus on the state’s beleaguered land conservation program. Voters in 2014 approved a water and land conservation spending measure that environmentalists said should have restored the Florida Forever land-buying program. But the Legislature is facing lawsuits over alleged misspending, and it disappointed environmentalists this year by providing only $10 million for agricultural conservation easements and nothing for land-buying… Bradley said, ‘We need to do better this year.’ He said he wants members of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation that he now chairs to understand how money has been spent in the past under Florida Forever and how more money could be spent in the future. Similarly in the House, state Rep. Matt Caldwell,… chairman of the House Government Accountability Committee, said he’s trying to decide whether to reintroduce a bill for the 2018 session that would reallocate and boost Florida Forever funding… ‘My big goal would be to have a realistic number [of dollars] we can dedicate and make sure the priorities of how we are spending that money matches up with the priorities we have today,’ Caldwell said.” Read Bradley wants Senate committee to focus on Florida Forever program

Manley Fuller writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “Our elected legislators are coming back to Tallahassee this month to begin deliberating the public’s business… One question all citizens should be asking our lawmakers right now: Will [you] once again blatantly ignore Florida voters by failing to appropriate adequate funds for state conservation land-buying? Florida voters are divided on many things, but on this we are clearly united. Just look at the numbers: Voters approved adding the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) to our state Constitution in 2014 by a landslide – it got a whopping 75 percent majority, more than any other ballot initiative or candidate. Its title was clear: “Water and Land Conservation – Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands.’... [W]e need to demand that our elected officials fund conservation land-buying in the 2018 legislative session.” Read Will legislators finally start preserving Florida’s land, as the Constitution requires?

Congressman Soto shares – “Congressman Darren Soto sent a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke… expressing strong support for keeping the Florida Panther on the Endangered Species List… Rep. Soto emphasizes that recovery of the Florida panther will ‘require a long-term concerted effort by many partners committed to finding common-sense solutions that balance many different and competing interests, yet are grounded in a shared purpose of conserving the lands that support Florida’s native wildlife and its ranching heritage… Important Florida Panther conservation efforts coupled with a robust cattle reimbursement program for our ranchers is a win-win for Florida!’” Read Rep. Soto to Sec. Zinke: Keep Florida Panther on Endangered Species List

Ryan Benk reports for WJCT – “The North Florida Land Trust conservation group has secured funding to purchase 63 acres of land to turn into a public park bordering the Timucuan Ecological area… In addition to the $1 million the group raised for purchasing, it also much spend more than $100,000 to convert the land into a public park. North Florida Land Trust Director Jim McCarthy said the group is $30,000 away from accomplishing that goal… ‘It’s got a well-developed maritime hammock and it’s home to a number of diverse wildlife species… The real critical part is that it’s more marsh land where we can have an impact… so that it does prevent flooding and also provides fisheries with [filtration].’” Read North Florida Land Trust $30k Away from Creating Bogey Creek Park

Eve Samples writes for the TC Palm – “I’ll pay about $45 to the South Florida Water Management District for the upcoming budget year. I’ve got no problem forking over the money for the district’s core missions: - Flood protection across 16 counties… - Protecting water supply for 8.1 million people – Improving water quality by working to eliminate pollutants – Leading environmental restoration (including Everglades) projects. In fact, I’d be willing to pay more if it meant cleaner water for the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River… But here’s what I’ve got a problem with: Paying taxes to a district controlled by industry cronies who prioritize special interests over everyday people… [L]et (Gov.) Scott know what you think… He’s had strong feelings about the state’s water district operations since taking office, forcing dramatic tax cuts and staff reductions. But he doesn’t appear to have a problem with the sugar industry’s influence there. The governor’s phone number is 850-488-7146…” Read Who does SFWMD really work for – lobbyists or taxpayers?

Ledyard King reports for USA Today – “Gasoline, oil and other contaminants that threaten groundwater are seeping from thousands of underground tanks across Florida, but the federal aid that has helped address the problem could soon start drying up. The Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank program by nearly half next year… No state would feel the pinch more than Florida where some 10,000 tanks and the underground piping systems connected to them have been identified for cleanup. The Sunshine State has more leaking tanks than any other state… The bigger problem isn’t just that Florida has so many problem sites – an average of 151 leaking tanks in each of its 67 counties – but that drinking water supplies are especially vulnerable to contamination…” Read Trump cut in leaking fuel tank cleanups could leave Florida fuming

Tom McLaughlin reports for NWF Daily News – “For more than a year, the core of a group that would become known as the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Coalition worked to produce a solid application for a $2.2 million estuary program grant from the [EPA.]… The funding was awarded to a group proposing to protect the Pensacola Bay and Perdido Bay watersheds in Escambia County… [T]he Estuary Coalition, whose membership has grown to include Okaloosa, Walton, Washington and Holmes counties, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and Eglin Air Force Base, vowed immediately to keep moving forward… U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, local chambers of commerce and such diverse business groups as the Destin Charter Boat Association and the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa-Walton Counties had all signed on… The estuary program awarded to the Pensacola Bay/Perdido Bay group is… the first of its kind in Northwest Florida… Grant money will allow groups who have long worked to improve water quality and wildlife habitat... to coordinate efforts… Darryl Boudreau, head of local government relations for the Nature Conservancy in Florida, said he remains optimistic the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Coalition and a group seeking funds for the St. Andrews Bay/Apalachicola Bay estuaries eventually will receive estuary programs.” Read Choctawhatchee Bay coalition loses out on estuary program grant

Melissa Nelson Gabriel reports for the Pensacola News Journal – “U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is reconsidering his support for a bill that would allow private ownership of large swaths of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach… The news follows a month-long campaign by a group of Pensacola residents who are opposed to the bill. Opponents of the bill, who say it is a giveaway of public land and would lead to more widespread development of area beaches, have been emailing and calling Nelson’s office and gathering support from Democratic and environmental groups.” Read Sen. Nelson rethinks support for private beach ownership bill





From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events  

September 5, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. September’s lecture is on Springs Advocacy with guest speaker Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. More information is available here or by calling (386) 454 - 2427.

September 12, 6:30 pm – Attend a screening of “Troubled Waters,” in Orlando followed by a panel discussion featuring Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, and Professor James C. Adamski. For more information and to register, click here.

September 12, 6:30 pm – Attend Stop the Drill! At the Bayview Senior Center (2000 East Lloyd St.) in Pensacola. Erin Handy of Oceana will update the group on the push to lease parts of the Gulf of Florida for oil drilling, and share how citizens and businesses can get involved in the battle to keep the rigs away. She’ll also inform the group on seismic testing.

September 12, 7:00 pm – Attend in Algal Bloom Awareness Presentation in Orange Park. Aquatic ecologist Robert Storm Burks will explain what causes blue-green algal blooms and why they may be toxic. Learn how to report algae occurrences using Water Rangers, a new web-based app. For more information, click here.

September 16, 9:00 AM – Participate in the Big Talbot Island Cleanup. For more information, click here.

September 22-23, 9:00 AM – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. This is Florida’s only event focusing exclusively on native wildflowers and the wildlife depending on them. The event features field trips; garden walks; presentations on conservation issues, bees, butterflies and other wildlife; and hands-on workshops on propagation and wildflower meadow installation. For more information, click here.

September 22, 9:00 AM – Attend a Conservation Lands Workshop in Punta Gorda. For more information and to register, click here.

September 23, 9:00 AM – Attend “Solar Rocks for the Equinox” at Rum 138 (2070 SW County Road 138) in Fort White. The event will feature solar experts and exhibitors to showcase affordable solar energy solutions. The event is free and open to the public. Live music and local food options will be available. For more information, contact Chris Mericle (cjmericle@gmail.com, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (merrillee.malwitz-jipson@sierraclub.org, (352) 222 – 8893).

October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.

October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $100. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.



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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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