Quote of the Day: “Look closely at nature. Every species is a masterpiece, exquisitely adapted to the particular environment in which it has survived. Who are we to destroy or even diminish biodiversity?” -E. O. Wilson
Read Midway mark: Here are 8 divides lawmakers must bridge in back half of legislative session - “The Florida Legislature has crossed the Rubicon, the point of no return. The House and Senate have each charted their own separate courses through the financial straits of the budget process, creating a wide gulf between them on various priorities from the environment to education. And they’ve also got several controversial policy measures they don’t exactly see eye to eye on, but at least they’re talking...Florida Forever or just sometimes? While the two chambers appear to be close, they want to spend money in dramatically different ways. The House earmarked $3.9 billion for the environment – twice as much as the Senate. Both proposals shortchange DeSantis’ goal to spend $100 million on the land-buying program, Florida Forever. The Senate has proposed $45 million while the House is in at $20 million… Florida Forever or just sometimes? While the two chambers appear to be close, they want to spend money in dramatically different ways. The House earmarked $3.9 billion for the environment – twice as much as the Senate. Both proposals shortchange DeSantis’ goal to spend $100 million on the land-buying program, Florida Forever. The Senate has proposed $45 million while the House is in at $20 million.But he’s happy they support water quality programs. “I thought we were going to be haggling towards the end where I’m like we need more money for Everglades,” DeSantis said...One bill that appears dead, SB 944, by Democrat Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, would fully fund Florida Forever at $100 million a year every year. It's the same bill from Bradley from last year that passed out of the Senate unanimously but has stalled this year in committee…” Jeffrey Schweers and James Call report for the Tallahassee Democrat.
Read Influencers provided the road map to a better Florida. Are state lawmakers on course? - “Last November, a diverse group of Miami Herald Influencers came together as a committee on Florida’s environment, to craft recommendations for decision-makers. As the chair, I will confess, I had my doubts...Turns out, common ground was simple: Florida’s environment is our economy. Whether you are a card-carrying treehugger or not, Floridians of all stripes care if their property will be underwater in 30 years, if their beach will be covered in dead sea life, if their tap water is suspect, if their children have no parks to enjoy. As a result, the message from our committee to decisionmakers was clear: Florida is at a crossroads, and our environment is essential. Addressing the challenges of climate change, sea-level rise, water quality and quantity, and urban sprawl will determine the future prosperity of our state. Florida needs leadership that prioritizes science-based solutions and stands by those solutions even when they are difficult...With this vulnerable paradise, comes great responsibility. Support full funding for Everglades Restoration and Florida Forever. Invest in our state’s climate resilience and water quality — they are core to Florida’s future prosperity. And if a few birds benefit in the process, so be it — but the real prize is a healthy, vibrant future of opportunity for generations of Floridians to come...” Julie Wraithmell writes for the Florida Influencers series-Miami Herald Editorial Board.
Read Trump: Everglades money ‘coming soon’ - “President Donald Trump discussed the importance of completing restoration of the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee, and vaguely promised funding “coming soon” for the Everglades, following a tour of the structure Friday...Most of the president’s question-and-answer session with the media focused on immigration and the Mexican border. Asked about funding for the Everglades, Trump replied: “It’s coming soon. And a lot more than you would ever believe.” Trump was joined by the state’s top Republican elected officials, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Several congressmen and state legislators also appeared with the president. DeSantis, whose endorsement by Trump helped boost him to victory in November, said the state will continue to push for additional funds for the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir and for money to raise the Tamiami Trail, to help the southern flow of water through the Everglades..” From the News Service of Florida.
Read A brief history of President Trump’s environmental record- “Before he died last year, Nathaniel Reed offered some advice to President Donald Trump: "America does not want to go back to an era of dirty water and dirty air." "Enforcement is a tool that must be in the presidential quiver," he said. "You have to enforce environmental laws, you have to — or they're negated, ignored." Reed knew something about advising Republican presidents. He served Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as assistant secretary of the Department of Interior. He helped write the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Reed died last year — but that advice bears repeating now, in light of Trump's visit Friday to Lake Okeechobee to talk about Everglades funding and the Herbert Hoover Dike that encircles the giant lake. So far, Trump has defied Reed's advice. He has eroded environmental regulations — much as U.S. Sen. Rick Scott did during his eight-year tenure as Florida's governor — in the name of spurring economic growth...This is a fitting time to reflect on Trump's broader environmental record. It's not that of a conservationist. National Geographic is keeping a running list of the Trump administration's environmental actions. Among the lowlights: The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to remove federal Clean Water Act protections from smaller rivers and streams under the "Waters of the U.S." rule. In Florida, the change would impact some 6 million acres of wetlands…” Eve Samples writes Opinion for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read How much is climate change costing us? A bill in the Legislature would start an official accounting - “When building a bridge to the future, it’s important to know where we’re going and how much it’s going to cost. Nowhere is this principle more important than in the current discussion underway in Florida about how to plan for climate change, which is why we are pleased that Governor Ron DeSantis has committed to forming an Office of Resilience & Coastal Protection to address climate impacts such as sea level rise. Thankfully, a bill introduced this session by Democratic state Rep. Ben Diamond from St. Petersburg will put some meat on the bones of the governor’s promise. The bill outlines a process to consider the causes and effects of climate change and to make recommendations on how to best mitigate impacts in a quadrennial report to the governor and state legislature. Most importantly, it requires Florida to account for current and future costs from climate impacts. This cost accounting provision would make Florida one of the first states in the country to provide taxpayers with a transparent look at just how much it’s costing to adapt to climate change. Beyond being the smart thing to do, the right to know the cost of climate change is something all taxpayers should support. Right now, Floridians are paying way more for climate impacts than they likely understand…” David McDougal contributes for the Florida Phoenix.
Read ‘Underwater’ homeowners group promotes climate change action - “ The “Underwater Homeowners Association” sounds like a sad joke about the future of real estate in flood-prone Miami. It’s actually an earnest, block-by-block effort to turn neighbors into climate-change advocates. Starting in his affluent suburb of Pinecrest, artist Xavier Cortada hopes his concept will spread, helping people nationwide understand that melting polar ice is no abstract threat. Cortada repurposes “for sale” signs, painting partially-submerged numbers that announce exactly how many feet above sea level each property is, for people to plant in their front yards. A growing number of members have signed on at underwaterhoa.org since Cortada launched the idea in December. Cortada’s signs show his home is on relatively high ground: 6 feet (2 meters) above sea level. His studio is at 8 feet (2.5 meters). Rising seas will spare no one concerned about quality of life in Pinecrest, a village of 19,000 not far from Biscayne Bay. Like the rest of South Florida, it’s trapped between the ocean and the swampy Everglades, which act as a western coastline. Water also rises through Florida’s porous bedrock, making seawalls and levees less effective. “If your neighbor sees a number 6 in front of your house, your neighbor knows that you, too, are a number 6,” Cortada said. “So you are no longer a Democrat or a Republican, or an anti-science or pro-science person. You’re both literally standing at the same elevation…” Jennifer Kay reports for the Associated Press.
Read A multimillionaire construction magnate is Florida’s most pro-environment Republican - “Francis Rooney is the only Republican in Congress currently supporting a tax on carbon emissions, and is one of two vocal critics of the state’s sugar industry in Washington. His considerable wealth — Rooney ranked as the 26th richest member of Congress in 2018 and drew a $5.5 million salary the year before entering elected office — means he doesn’t need checks from lobbyists to fund his reelection campaigns. Before entering the House, Rooney was the majority owner of Manhattan Construction Group, a firm that built the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium, the underground U.S. Capitol visitor center and both Bush presidential libraries. He pines for the eventual demise of the nation’s coal industry through a carbon tax, wants Florida’s sugar industry to stop burning cane fields and give up land for a proposed Everglades reservoir, and said Republicans need to start talking thoughtfully about the environment if they want college-educated suburbanites to vote for them...Environmental groups note that Rooney maintains a low rating, even compared to some Republicans. The League of Conservation Voters gave Rooney a 20 percent rating in 2018 because he voted for GOP-led spending bills that decreased environmental funding, though his rating increased from zero percent in 2017....While the Sierra Club and League of Conservation voters say Rooney’s environmental record, particularly on industry regulations, is far from ideal, they acknowledge that his work goes beyond “green washing” — a term used to describe politicians who espouse pro-environment talking points without taking any substantive steps to address climate or pollution issues. Melinda Pierce [Sierra Club’s legislative director] said Rooney is the only member from a very conservative district who has an open-door policy with her group…” Alex Daugherty reports for the Miami Herald.
Read A mysterious disease is ravaging Florida’s coral, and now it might be spreading elsewhere- “Recent reports suggest that stony coral tissue loss disease, which has ravaged Florida reefs over the last half-decade, has moved into the Caribbean. The disease can be found in the waters of Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Maarten, Florida radio station 88.5 WMNF reported last Friday. The disease, which attacks some of the most iconic coral species, like brain coral, is a major cause for alarm for reef scientists. Among the reasons to worry is that [Stony coral disease] seems to be borne from coral to coral in the water, says Erin Muller, Program Manager and Science Director at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration at the Mote Marine Laboratory. That means it spreads fast and can potentially spread far...In Florida, stony coral tissue loss disease has infected nearly half of the coral species up and down much of the coast. It is expected to result in some corals becoming locally extinct…”Kat Eschner reports for Popular Science.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
April 4 & 5 - International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society - (Miami Gardens) - At the second International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society hosted by St. Thomas University and The Nature Conservancy, a diverse group of leaders from multiple faiths and sustainability focused organizations will gather in South Florida to discuss our changing climate, implications and solutions. The conference will explore how participants and communities of faith can take action to address climate challenges. Together, we can implement solutions that are respectful and supportive of the nature that sustains us and must sustain future generations, and preserve the environment that renews our spirits. Registration and agenda. Moot Court, School of Law, St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL 33054 View Map - Directions. Thursday, April 4 from 9am-5pm and Friday, April 5 from 9am-12pm.
April 8 & 9 - Everglades Action Day - (Tallahassee) - The Everglades Coalition is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301). Join fellow advocates from all corners of the state and meet with legislators to discuss the importance of a healthy Everglades ecosystem for a clean water supply and for a strong economy. Your voice on Everglades Action Day ensures that the famed ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials! New to advocacy? No problem. Training and materials will be provided. The Everglades Coalition will sponsor group transportation to make it easy for all to get to Tallahassee (we have an east coast and a west coast bus). Click here to register, see you in Tallahassee!
April 8 - 6:00 PM - Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series - (Pensacola) - Join us on Monday, April 8th beginning at 6 p.m. at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for Earth Ethics April Environmental Education Series. Earth Ethics in partnership with Earth Day Network is celebrating and supporting those who “protect our species”. This month we welcome Dorothy Kaufmann, Director at the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. Ms. Kaufmann’s Giving Wildlife A Second Chance presentation will discuss the organizations care of injured or orphaned wildlife including medical care, fostering, rehabilitate and wildlife release. Stay up to date on the event on Facebook here. Or if your not on social media, let us know you’ll be joining us by getting your free tickets at Eventbrite here.
April 9 - Nationwide Youth Lobby Event - (Tallahassee) - Our Climate and NextGen Florida are participating in a Nationwide Youth Lobby Dayby organizing young people in Tallahassee on April 9. We'll head up the evening before to the Florida People's Advocacy Center (603 N Martin Luther King Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32301), then . We have opportunities to attend lobbying webinars with our team: Distributed Youth Lobby Day -- How to Lobby Your Elected Official Webinar, and information on how to plan a Distributed Youth Lobby Day near you. Register for the Tallahassee trip at bit.ly/flyld and share the opportunity with any young people in your life!
April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.
April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here, and website here.
April 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida. Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.
April 20 - 6:30 PM - Film screening of “Woman at War” - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc, in partnership with Pensacola Cinema Art, for a viewing of “Woman at War”. This is a foreign Indie film based in Iceland that conveys a global message relatable to all Earth Warriors. “Woman at War is confronting some of the heaviest dilemmas of our time (e.g. how do we bring new life into a broken world).” Although fantastical, the climate change theme and how we deal with these issues is prominently displayed throughout the film.Join us at Studer Community Institute, 220 W. Garden Street (former Sun Trust building), Pensacola, FL. You must RSVP through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woman-at-war-movie-viewing-tickets-58810076522 in order to reserve your seating. Seating is limited to 30 spots. Tickets, to paid at the door, are $7 and includes free popcorn, wine or water, and light refreshments. There is free off-street parking for attendees. Contact Mary at email@example.com for more information.
April 27 - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM - The Water Festival - (Deland) - The Volusia Water Alliance invites one and all to a street party celebrating water with a day of fun activities and performances in historic downtown DeLand. The festival will feature live mermaids, sidewalk chalk artists, dance and musical performances, a Blessing of the Waters (a Native American tradition), children’s games and activities, a Dog Zone, educational displays, and vendor booths. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Admission is FREE. A few sponsorships and vendor spaces are still available. (West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720)
May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida. You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.
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