Ali Schmitz reports for the TC Palm – “A bill seeking $100 million for Florida Forever is headed to the Senate floor with an amendment that prohibits the state from spending [LATF] money on general operations… State Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, said he wants to make sure the state doesn’t continue to spend money reserved for environmental land preservation on certain overhead costs… Bradley said that’s not what voters intended in 2014 when they overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1… ‘I would like to appropriate the money in the way that I believe fully effectuates the intent of the voters,’ Bradley said… Bradley said his amendment is just ‘good policy’ and not a response to what he called a ‘meritless’ lawsuit environmentalist groups filed in 2015. The lawsuit claims the Legislature ‘misappropriated’ and state agencies ‘misspent’ nearly $308.3 million of the $713.3 million earmarked for Florida Forever in the 2015-16 fiscal year budget… Florida Forever used to receive about $300 million annually since 1999, but Gov. Rick Scott gutted it during the recession.” Read Florida Forever bill heads to state Senate floor with amendment banning overhead costs
Jib A. Davidson writes for The Gainesville Sun – “Although working forests have different landowner objectives than public lands, both share a common benefit to all of us. Both provide free ecosystem services including game and non-game wildlife habitats, air and ground water filtering, mitigation of droughts and flooding, nutrient recycling, soil preservation and carbon sequestration.” Read Working forests benefit economy, environment
Ron Cunningham writes for The Gainesville Sun – “Maybe we’re finally ready to start freaking out about our water. And that’s a good thing, because we can do something about it in 2018. If you want to stop Trump’s dirty-water crusade, throw out the congressmen who enable him. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Ted.) If you’re sick of the Legislature sucking up to Big Sugar at the expense of our Everglades and beaches, elect House and Senate members who won’t sell out. If you think Rick Scott’s neutering of our water management districts and Department of Environmental Protection is a disgrace, send a greener governor to Tallahassee this time. Same thing at the local level. We need city and county commissioners who will fight to protect our wetlands, lakes and streams and otherwise invest in clean water. Ask the candidates what they will do and vote accordingly… That dripping sound you’re hearing is our clean water going down the drain. Only environmental super voters can stop it.” Read It’s time to start freaking out about our water
Carl Hiaasen writes for the Miami Herald – “Rick Scott… is currently undergoing conversion therapy to become an environmentalist in time for the 2018 election… Changing Scott’s image is a challenge because he’s spent the past seven years gutting our Department of Environmental Regulation, stacking the regional water boards with pro-development political allies, slashing funds for the purchase of conservation lands and purging the term “climate change” from the state vocabulary. Until a week or so ago, Scott had expressed few worries about the threats posed by oil exploration. During his first run for governor, he opposed not only a state constitutional ban on coastal drilling, but even a moratorium. At the time…, the Deepwater Horizon rig was still spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. Last summer, when Trump officials began disseminating plans to scrap the ban on near-shore drilling, Scott was one of the few coastal governors who didn’t make a peep… But when the new federal drilling policy became official on Jan. 4, somebody evidently pulled Scott aside and explained that he’d have to address the subject if he didn’t want to get burned in the upcoming Senate race. Bill Nelson has been a vocal opponent of offshore drilling for decades.” Read With friends in high places, you, too, can prevent oil drilling
Cindy Swirko reports for the Ocala Star Banner – “Reduction of nitrate-rich fertilizer and septic system waste alone will not stem the growth of unwanted algae that is fouling Florida’s springs, while the velocity of water bubbling from the aquifer has a greater role in spring health than believed. Those are the primary findings of a new springs study by the St. Johns River Water Management District and the University of Florida… Eric Hutcheson has been diving in Florida’s springs for decades and has witnessed a reduction in flow over the years… [He] believes too much pumping is the culprit… Jim Gross, executive director of Florida Defenders of the Environment, said the study provides data that should be used by the district when considering whether to grant water use permits… An analysis showed pumping was a minimal impact on the flow of Silver Springs, Fitzgerald (of the SJRWMD’s water and land resources bureau) said. The major factors were drought and damming.” Read Study finds nitrates not only problem affecting springs
Dave Dunwoody reports for WUWF – “Graham’s first stop was at UWF’s Conference Center, as the main speaker at the inaugural Seligman First Amendment Lecture Series, to deliver a presentation on the “Art of Public Dialogue.” ‘Democracy was never intended to be passive,’ said Graham… Graham said he’s worried about the state of democracy in America after looking at the numbers. Seventy-two percent of Americans from the “Greatest Generation” voted in the 2016 election, compared to 48 percent of Millennials. ‘Something is wrong that young people don’t see the importance of their participation on our democracy as their grandparents see it,’ Graham said. One reason, theorizes Graham, is the reduction and outright halt to teaching civics in middle and high schools in the 1970s. Florida is an exception, under a law passed in 2009 mandating such courses in the seventh grade. Another concern is a decline in organizations devoted to civic endeavors. ‘Whether it’s the League of Women Voters, Kiwanis, [or] PTA; nationally today, less than six percent of Americans belong to any organization that has a civic mission,’ said Graham. ‘And unfortunately in Florida, less than four percent.’” Read Graham Brings Civics Lesson to Pensacola
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Jeff Orlowski write for the Los Angeles Times – “The Trump administration announced… that it would open 90% of our coastal waters to oil and gas drilling. It declared… that it would shrink or eliminate several (marine) national monuments… [I]t rolled back safety requirements that prevent spills like the Deepwater Horizon… Apparently lost on the administration are two simple facts: If we want to keep fishing, we need places where there is no fishing. If we want to maintain coastal tourism economies, we need places without drilling… Think of the ocean as a trust fund. If you want to rely on that fund for the rest of your days, you can only use the interest. For millenniums, humans lived off the interest of the earth’s abundant natural resources. But in the last century, we’ve been rapidly, dramatically depleting the principal. We are also hurting our interest rate – destroying nature’s ability to heal itself. We are overfishing the ocean, killing fish faster than they can make babies… The scientific consensus is that to create a fully sustainable ocean, we need to fully protect at least 30% of it. Currently, the U.S protects 13.5% of coastal waters; we’ll drop to a small fraction of that if the Trump administration has its way. That’s going in the wrong direction.” Read What the Trump administration doesn’t understand about ocean conservation
Tay Wiles reports for High Country News – “On Jan. 8, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed all charges against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, sons Ammon and Ryan, and Montana militiaman Ryan Payne due to misconduct by prosecutors. This is the worst blow yet to prosecutors in a high-profile case that has involved three trials since early 2017… The dismissal raises major questions about the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to enforce regulations on the public land it manages, and represents a serious challenge to Western conservationists who want to see public lands preserved in accordance with federal environmental laws. The case stemmed from a tense 2014 standoff… The Bundy family, along with hundreds of supporters, including militia members, faced off against BLM and National Park Service officers attempting to impound the family’s illegally grazing cattle.” Read Cliven Bundy walks for involvement in 2014 standoff
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 18, 7:00 pm – Attend The Islands at Apalachicola with Jeff Chanton & Susan Cerulean in Tallahassee. Experts will discuss how the Apalachicola River’s flow affects the configuration of St. Vincent Island and its wildlife. There is a social at 7:00 pm and the program begins at 7:30 pm. For more information, click here.
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 email@example.com.
January 30-31 – Participate in the Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day in Tallahassee. Citizens will gather together to support climate action and land conservation funding. They will receive free advocacy training and may receive free lodging. For more information, click here.
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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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