Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times Union – “[The North Florida Land Trust] has landed a chunk of property inside a huge corridor targeted for conservation – and up to $3.5 million in federal funding to help protect the rest. The 522-acre donation in Columbia County builds the… Land Trust’s modest holdings in an area conservationists dub the O2O Corridor, a swath connecting the Osceola National Forest beside the donated land to the Ocala National Forest in Marion County.” Read Land trust locks up acres in environmental corridor, federal funds to protect more
The News Service of Florida reports – “Julie Wraithmell, of Audubon Florida, said bracing the state for future storms, as well as covering damages from hurricane Irma, most likely will be a dominant theme for the 2018 session, including environmentally. ‘We need to look at how do we recover from the biggest storm season in recent memory and how do we make ourselves more resilient in the face of future storms as well,’ Wraithmell said. ‘So, I think you’re going to see a lot of discussion around the Florida Forever program… We saw remarkable amounts of flooding, particularly in Southwest Florida. We know that conservation lands both help us to hold water and they’re also the source of water recharge.’” Read What environmental issues will dominate the 2018 session?
Jane Harrison reports for Lakeside News – “U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments from Florida and Georgia attorneys Jan. 8 in a rare hearing on states’ water rights… Special Master Ralph Lancaster concluded that Florida could not prove that limiting Georgia’s water use would remedy Florida’s water woes downstream… Lancaster based a portion of his ruling on his finding that regardless of a court decision, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could not be bound to change operations of five dams on the river system, thereby providing no certainty that a cap on Georgia water consumption would send more water into Florida. However, the U.S. Solicitor filed an amicus brief taking exception to Lancaster’s recommendation, stating that the Corps could take a court ruling into account and potentially change operations on the dams after a lengthy environmental study and public comment period.” Read Supreme Court to hear ‘water wars’ case this month
The Bradenton Herald reports – “U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota… issued a press statement condemning the Interior Department’s announcement on Friday to roll back regulations that were adopted following BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Buchanan called the proposal by the department’s Bureau of Safety and Environment Enforcement ‘rash and reckless’ and said if it is not withdrawn he would urge Congress to intercede… Buchanan has introduced the Oil Spill Prevention Act that would extend by five years a ban on oil drilling off much of Florida’s Gulf Coast until 2027.” Read Buchanan vows to fight rollback of rules imposed after Deepwater Horizon spill
The St. Augustine Record Editorial Board writes – “Last session [Sen. Steube] led an effort to erode home rule from cities and counties… If you’re now wondering why a State Senator would be drafting legislation to monopolize the burial of vegetative debris, well done… The Star-Banner was spot on when it wrote: ‘Steube’s tree bill provides no practical alternative to local policies and regulations. No one believes that the state could or would develop a reasonable, effective and efficient regulatory mechanism statewide. That, alone, should be enough for Floridians to voice their opposition to this misguided bill.” Read Sen. Steube turns a legislative eye toward state vegetative menace
Chuck Wickenhofer reports for Free Press – “SFWMD has presented four reservoir models, two of which are designed to store 240,000 acre-feet of freshwater from the lake, while the other two would hold 360,000 acre-feet… Those models aren’t adequate in the minds of many environmental groups, and Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation… recently sent a letter to SFWMD Executive Director Ernie Marks that included another reservoir proposal. That proposal calls for a 240,000 acre-foot reservoir featuring a stormwater treatment area that would sit on 30,000 acres of EAA land at a depth of 14 feet. Both SFWMD proposals at 240,000 acre-feet call for a reservoir 18 feet in depth. While the differences may seem subtle, SFWMD’s 240,000 acre-foot reservoir and STA would only use a 10,100-acre footprint, nearly a third of the Everglades Foundation proposal. That proposal would call for the SFWMD to acquire more land via land swaps or lease modifications… The district has not indicated that it is considering any reservoir proposal outside of the four it has presented.” Read Reservoir alternatives revealed as size debate continues
David A. Urich writes for News Press – “When are we going to restore the historic flow from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay? A new 2.6 mile Tamiami Trail Bridge is under construction, yet the existing one-mile bridge is nowhere near flow capacity. It seems that the U.S. Department of the Interior has restrictions which constrain the water flow… Pull the plug and allow South flow.” Read Pull the plug, commit to historic flow south of Lake O
Patricia Sowards writes for the Orlando Sentinel – “Sentinel reporter Kevin Spear has been trying to keep us informed about what we are losing in our environment. The latest is the final whimper of the little grasshopper sparrow… I find it incredible that we humans are allowing this march to extinction to occur in so many species at such an alarming rate… We live on a planet that as far as we know is the only planet in the universe to contain life. It took that life billions of years to become what it is in all its splendid diversity. And now we are mindlessly killing it off, never to return.” Read As the grasshopper sparrow disappears, sex and religion consume us
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 9, 12:00 pm – Attend Springs Academy Tuesday, a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs, in High Springs. January’s lecture is on Springs Biology with special guest Dr. Stephen Walsh of the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 2427.
January 20, 9:00 am – Participate in the annual Newnan’s Lake Cleanup in Gainesville. Volunteers will meet at Earl P. Powers Park (5910 SE Hawthorne Rd) on the southwest edge of the lake. Current Problems will provide cleanup supplies such as bags, grabbers, gloves, nets, and scales. There will be snacks and drinks for volunteers. For more information, contact Megan Black at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 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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