The Herald Tribune Editorial Board writes – “Amendment 1 was intended to reinstate funding for Florida Forever, the state’s once-premier program for acquiring and protecting environmentally valuable land… The House has been even stingier than the Senate on Florida Forever… It has taken long enough for the Legislature to fulfill the intent of voters. Start now.” Read Honor voters’ intent on land protection
Capt. Zach Zacharias writes for the Herald Tribune – “Floridians need to hold politicians accountable for restoring funding to purchase environmentally sensitive land… [T]he Florida Legislature and the governor have inexcusably dropped the ball on a constitutional amendment passed by 75 percent of Florida voters (more than 75 percent in Manatee and Sarasota Counties) in 2014. Amendment 1 was approved to restore funding for the Florida Forever Program… One could interview most any middle school student and find they are aware of the importance of protecting both wetlands and uplands to sustain the health and viability of this states most precious resource – water… The Land Acquisition Trust Fund receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually. After nearly four years elapsing, there are finally a handful of mostly North Florida state senators and representatives sponsoring bills that will allocate in the neighborhood of $100 million to Florida Forever in the Senate and a lesser amount in the House… With the rate of development skyrocketing…, it is imperative these funds are allocated and used as there are acres of land across the state being bulldozed... daily… It is high time that all outdoors folks, whether they be anglers, hunters, kayakers or bird-watchers, step up to the plate and press their local state senators and representatives to get on the stick and utilize the bunds.” Read Outdoors: State needs to maintain its promise for conservation
Katrina Elsken reports for The Clewiston News – “Any search for the truth about Lake Okeechobee must include the problem with the muck on the lake bottom… [A] three-year study found that although the high concentration of phosphorus in the water entering Lake Okeechobee is the primary driver of the high phosphorus level in the lake, the phosphorus level in the water in Lake Okeechobee can also be exacerbated by phosphorus in the lake bottom sediment. The 2017 report by Dr. Paul Gray of Florida Audubon… found that the lake water absorbs more phosphorus from that muck when the lake levels are high, especially when levels near or exceed 16 feet… The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has set the target level for phosphorus in the lake at 40 ppb. To put that in perspective, the target for the Everglades is 10 ppb… To reach that target level, in 1986, FDEP set the maximum loading of phosphorus into the lake at 140 metric tons per year… However, no reduction in phosphorus loading has been achieved since FDEP set the target limit. [A] 2003 study speculated that once the phosphorus loading into the lake had been reduced to the FDEP target, the phosphorus level in the lake would drop, and the lake’s marshes could start to clean up the phosphorus already in the lake sediment.” Read Lake bottom muck adds to lake phosphorus
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The 2017 Lake Okeechobee discharges were worse than we thought. The South Florida Water Management District released figures… showing discharges to the St. Lucie River totaled 192 billion gallons. That’s 58 billion gallons more than the Army Corps of Engineers reported… The extra volume moves the 2017 discharges from the 12th largest to the ninth largest since 1965… The 2017 discharges now surpass the “Lost Summer” discharges of 2013… The 2017 discharges killed most of the oysters and sea grass beds in the St. Lucie River estuary and lagoon… Goforth estimates the discharges dumped more than 155.7 million pounds of sediment in the St. Lucie River, while other canals and creeks added nearly another 14.3 million pounds. All that sediment turned the water coffee brown… ” Read Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River were 30 percent more than Army Corps reported
John Romano writes for the Tampa Bay Times – “[W]hat makes a community relations executive for a retirement community the right choice for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission? The education board and the wildlife commission are two of the most high-profile, powerful and important bodies in the state, and yet they are mostly populated by head-scratching appointees… No background, no work history, no explanation… So what, exactly, is Scott looking for when he seeks caretakers for the state’s wildlife or the education of our youngsters? Well, it appears to help if you’re a campaign contributor to Scott or the Republican Party of Florida… It also bodes well if you’ve previously worked in the governor’s office in some capacity. Scott famously ran for office on the premise that he would bring a business-minded approach to government. Is this really how a CEO would make hiring decisions?” Read Who needs references when you have friend in the Governor’s Mansion?
Nicholas Nehamas, Jay Weaver, and Kyra Gurney report for the Miami Herald – “Illegal gold molded into our wedding rings, dangling around our necks and hidden in our smartphones is polluting the rainforest with toxic chemicals and exploiting workers in Latin America… Without more stringent precautions, American consumers should be aware ‘there is a strong likelihood that a percentage of gold in their jewelry or electronics comes from illegal gold mines,’ said Quinn Kepes… In southeastern Peru’s vulnerable Madre de Dios region, illegal miners have invaded pristine Amazonian rainforests and turned them into ‘toxic deserts’ where wildlife cannot thrive… Machines chew up the forest, digging 30 feet down into the soil and then sifting for gold… ‘It completely destroys the area,’ said Fernandez (a tropical ecologist at Wake Forest University’s Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation). ‘You don’t expect these areas to reforest in hundreds of years. There’s no more soil. You’re basically doing strip mining on a massive scale.’… [H]undreds of thousands of acres have been deforested. Much of the damage is happening in national parks and ecological preserves.” Read ‘Blood gold’ in your jewelry is poisoning workers and the rainforest. Here’s how to stop it.
Maureen Kenyon reports for the TC Palm – “Tuesday’s 7.9-magnitude earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska caused water to rise and fall in a few wells in Florida…” Read Alaska earthquake caused water levels to rise, fall in two Florida wells
Brian Eckhouse, Ari Natter, and Christopher Martin report for Bloomberg – “In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Donald Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels. The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 8- percent of its supply… The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000.” Read President Trump Slaps Tariffs on Solar Panels in Major Blow to Renewable Energy
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
January 26, 11:00 am – Attend a meeting of the Legislative Committee of the Constitutional Revision Commission in Tallahassee. A proposal to dedicate funds in the LATF to the Florida Forever Trust Fund will be considered. For more information, click here.
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.
February 6, 12:00 pm – Attend Springs Academy Tuesday in High Springs. This talk will be focused on springs stresses such as groundwater pumping, fertilizers, wastewater disposal, and recreation. For more information, click here.
February 8, 3:00 pm – Attend the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s public meeting regarding their proposed offshore drilling plan in Tallahassee. This is the only meeting scheduled in Florida as part of the mandatory public comment period for the plan. For more information, click here.
February 14, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group to hear presentations by Marty Mesh, Mike Archer, and Jody Woodson-Swartzman at the Belvedere Library (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Marty Mesh is the founder and executive director of Florida Organic Growers. He will speak about the importance of organic agriculture and accomplishments of the 2017 Inaugural Food & Farming Summit. Mike Archer and Jody Woodson-Swartzman will discuss their efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags. They have a no-sew method of converting a t-shirt into a shopping bag. For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary Hampton at email@example.com.
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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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