Charlie Reed reports for the Osceola News-Gazette – “The Osceola County Commission… accepted $37 million in private funds to extend Osceola Parkway amid growing debate about the road’s impact on local conservation land and existing neighborhoods… The controversy surrounding the project centers on exactly where the road should be built, a decision ultimately up to the Central Florida Expressway Authority, or CFX. Farmland Reserves and Tavistock Development Company have been lobbying CFX to build a 12-mile extension of Osceola Parkway through Split Oak Forest, a proposal vehemently opposed by local residents, environmental organizations and other governmental agencies and bodies. Osceola and Orange counties jointly purchased Split Oak 20 years ago to offset the impacts of development on the ecosystem, a conservation process called mitigation. The 2,000-acre Florida scrub forest… was to remain untouched and open to the public in perpetuity. Publicly funded improvements to the land by the [FWC] have allowed populations of gopher tortoises, Florida scrub jays and Florida panthers to thrive there… Friends of Split Oak Forest, a grassroots organization based in Osceola, for months has been leading efforts to convince CFX to build around the forest. Another option would put the road closer to Lake Ajay Village. Residents of [that] community also started lobbying officials against the proposal. Friends of Split Oak and Lake Ajay residents had been pushing for a no-build option recently. But now that Osceola County has accepted $70 million in public funds and private incentives for the road, the no-build option is highly unlikely.” Read County moves forward with controversial parkway extension
Brittany Carioni reports for the Naples Daily News – “Estero residents with concerns about a project that could bring up to 724 more homes to Corkscrew Road spoke out… at a village meeting. Chief among the concerns expressed…: Corkscrew Crossing’s potential impact on traffic, stormwater flow and the environment. Meanwhile, Corkscrew Crossing representatives said at least half of the site would remain open space. Corkscrew Crossing developers have requested a zoning amendment that would reduce the number of homes on the site from 724 to 625 residences… The Corkscrew Crossing preserve will connect with all of the conservation land surrounding the project… This includes land belonging to The Preserve at Corkscrew, Bella Terra and Edison Farms, the site that Lee County acquired through… Conservation 20/20. A wildlife corridor, running from The Preserve at Corkscrew property just east of Corkscrew Crossing down to the development’s preserve acres, was reviewed and approved as sufficient for wildlife movement by a number of organizations… [including] the [FWC] and the Florida Wildlife Federation…” Read Estero residents say Corkscrew Crossing could cause traffic, environment issues
Kate Bradshaw writes for Creative Loafing – “The years-long struggle to save the Serenova preserve is one of many battles between environmental advocates and pro-development elected officials in Florida.” Read Pasco commissioner says building more roads is good for air quality
Robert Knight writes for The Gainesville Sun – “With runaway climate change, it is predicted that the earth’s temperature may be too high in the next century for survival of life anywhere on the planet. Our lack of decisiveness today may well dictate a premature end to the lifespan of our own grandchildren. As a grandparent I have little trouble thinking about sacrificing myself today to avoid a certain disaster for my progeny later, even long after my death. That is a responsibility I take seriously… Experts are predicting that the collective and focused actions of all humanity can prevent the destruction of the world’s environment… In any emergency, the best time for action is immediate.” Read Are springs in Florida’s future?
Joanna Klein reports for The New York Times – “Over the past 70 years or so, as more American flamingos seem to be showing up in the Sunshine State, a debate has emerged about the origin of these birds. Most think they’re escapees from captive populations, introduced to the state starting in the 1920s and 1930s. But others think they could be a returning population from Mexico, Cuba or the Caribbean reclaiming a lost part of its natural territory. In South Florida, some joke that only two kinds of animals exist – introduced or invasive species you lose, or endangered ones you protect. And resolving whether flamingos were ever native to Florida is important for wildlife management because the state says they’re not. ‘You would think for as conspicuous a bird as the pink flamingo, we would know some basics, but we just have a lot of questions,’ said Steven Whitfield, a conservation biologist at Zoo Miami studying flamingos. So he assembled a team of specialists to sleuth through explorers’ notes, museum specimens and birding reports dating back more than a century to uncover the historical origins of American flamingos in Florida. Now their paper, published Wednesday in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, could help make the case for treating flamingos as Florida natives, possibly even endangered ones, which would entitle them to certain protections by the state given to other imperiled birds. The study concludes that flamingos once lived in Florida in flocks of up to 2,500 birds and may have even nested there. But by the early 20th century, the population vanished, hunted to extinction for meat and feathered hats.” Read A Case for Wild Flamingos Calling Florida Their Home
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Even on normal days, Bethel Creek, a finger of the (Indian River) lagoon on the barrier island in Vero Beach, suffers from dirty, stagnant water because it’s too far from the Fort Pierce Inlet to the south and the Sebastian Inlet to the north to get much tidal flow. Then a broken wastewater pipe along State Road A1A dumped about 3 million gallons of raw sewage into the creek between Nov. 12 and Nov. 12… The creek is still suffering… The short-term answer is to put 10 aerators along the length of the creek, said… Bolton, director of the Very Beach Water and Sewer Department. Placed just above the muck at the bottom of the creek, the aerators will circulate air to break down the organic matter ‘the same way we do it at a wastewater treatment plant,’ Bolton said… A proposed long-term solution is to pump clean ocean water into Bethel Creek. A similar project has been ‘a great success’ at the Destin Harbor… Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc told the City Council…” Read Bethel Creek pollution cleanup: Vero Beach, Indian River County borrow Destin Harbor idea
Peter Maloney reports for Utility Dive – “Florida Power & Light’s proposed… gas-fired plant in Dania Beach appears poised for approval despite opposition… Florida’s Office of Public Counsel (OPC) and the Sierra Club argued that a renewable power plant should be considered over a gas-fired plant.” Read Florida PSC staff pushes approval of FPL gas plant over opposition
Greg Stanley reports for the Naples Daily News – “House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney that he would bring forward legislation to permanently extend a moratorium that bans offshore drilling from Florida’s Gulf Coast, Rooney said Tuesday night… ‘I got a commitment out of him to do it, Rooney said. ‘We’ll see if they honor that commitment.’” Read Francis Rooney: House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised bill on Florida offshore drilling ban
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
February 24, 7:00 pm – Attend Shore Stories at Waterboyz (380 N. Ninth Ave.) in Pensacola. The event will feature 6 short films discussing the perils of offshore oil drilling and conclude with a question and answer session with representatives from the Gulf Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation. For more information, contact Christian Wagley at Christian@healthygulf.org or (850) 687 – 9968.
February 26 – April 17 – Solar United Neighbors is hosting several solar co-op information sessions around Florida throughout the next few months. Attendees will learn about solar equipment, financing, and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. For a complete list of sessions, click here.
February 27, 4:30 pm – Participate in an evening paddle along the Guana River in Ponte Vedra Beach. For more information and to register, click here.
February 28, 6:00 pm – Attend Shore Stories at the Amavida Coffee St. Andrews Cafe (2997 W. 10th St.) in Panama City. The event will feature 6 short films discussing the perils of offshore oil drilling and conclude with a question and answer session with representatives from the Gulf Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation. For more information, contact Christian Wagley at Christian@healthygulf.org or (850) 687 – 9968.
March 1, 6:00 pm – Attend Shore Stories at Grayton Beer Company (217 Serenoa Rd.) in Santa Rosa Beach. The event will feature 6 short films discussing the perils of offshore oil drilling and conclude with a question and answer session with representatives from the Gulf Restoration Network and Surfrider Foundation. For more information, contact Christian Wagley at Christian@healthygulf.org or (850) 687 – 9968.
March 2 & 3, 6:30 pm – Watch “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” at the Voices of Pensacola Building (117 E. Government Street) in Pensacola. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Finger food and wine will be served before the movie. For more information, click here or contact Mary Gutierrez at email@example.com.
March 3 – 4, 10:00 am – Attend Florida Springsfest in Silver Springs. Enjoy music, art, mermaids, Glass Bottom Boat rides, environmental presentations, and more. For more information, click here.
March 8, 6:30 pm – Attend Newts of the Apalachicola National Forest in Tallahassee. Rebecca and Ryan Means will discuss the plight of the endangered newts of the Apalachicola Forest. For more information, click here.
March 14-16, 8:30 am – Attend The Endangered Apalachicola Conference in Tallahassee. The Apalachicola ecosystem has incredible biodiversity and once provided for a booming oyster industry. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is now struggling to survive due to a lack of fresh water. The problem is so dire, Florida is suing Georgia over its water use! The Florida Conservation Coalition invites you to come learn more about this endangered ecosystem. After Thursday’s overview of challenges facing the Apalachicola, FCC Chair and former Florida Governor, Bob Graham, will host a special keynote dinner. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
March 26, 6:00 pm – Attend a talk by Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper, on The Green Amendment: Our Right to a Healthy Environment at the Working Food Community Center (219 NW 10th Avenue) in Gainesville. Doors open at 5:30 PM.
Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.
We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
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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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