Quote of the Day: “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” - Benjamin Franklin
Read U.S. House approves Local Water Protection Act to increase money for clean-water projects - “The U.S. House has agreed to increase the amount of money in a federal fund Treasure Coast municipalities have used to help pay for water-cleaning projects. The legislation increases the grant money available nationwide for state and local governments from $70 million to $200 million. Grant money can be used to address "nonpoint pollution" from sources such as agricultural runoff, leaky septic tanks and stormwater runoff. "The water issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee exemplify why it's absolutely critical that we work together to strengthen conservation programs, promote public health, defend our environment and protect our waterways,” U.S. Rep. Brian Mast said in a prepared statement. Mast, a Palm City Republican, sponsored the bipartisan Local Water Protection Act, which the House approved Monday night, with Minnesota Democrat Angie Craig. Before it becomes law, the U.S. Senate would have to approve it and President Donald Trump would have to sign it...” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Foes skeptical of Lee County open house to explain rock mine rule changes - “Against the background of two contentious proposals for more Lee County rock mines, a controversial proposal to revise the rules for locating and licensing limerock in Lee County faces an early test next week. Local residents with questions about changes in the way Lee County regulates mining can learn more about it during a public information session Wednesday. County staff will meet with residents on the plan in small groups...Commissioners vote next week on whether to send proposed changes in mining rules to the state Department of Economic Opportunity for mandatory review by state agencies. The county Local Planning Agency voted to recommend that the plan be transmitted to the state after hearings in December and January. The changes proposed for the mining approval process includes eliminating a special zoning map, called Map 14, which designates areas in which mining is allowed. It would also eliminate a requirement for an economic analysis of future needs for limerock. That analysis is typically based on estimates of population and construction trends. Limerock is the essential ingredient in the building blocks of construction in Southwest Florida. An array of groups, including land conservation and animal action groups have marshaled to oppose the changes. The revisions to some basic rules for rock mine approval come as two contentious mine permit applications inch toward an eventual decision by the county commission…” Bill Smith reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
Read UF research helps reduce fertilizer, water use - “A lot more lawn is on its way to Florida. It’s coming with a population projected to grow by the equivalent of five Miamis, five Orlandos and five Tampas in the next decade. Turf in Florida is already a state within our state. It covers 3.5 million acres. If we do nothing to prepare for the growth of what is already a Connecticut-sized lawn, we’ll be using a lot more water and fertilizer and spending a lot more fuel on mowing. For nearly two decades, counties across the state have been putting checks on when people can water or feed their lawns. We at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) are skeptical that we can legislate our way out of this problem. Rules alone are unlikely to get us where we need to be with our lawns and landscapes. That’s why UF/IFAS science aims to inform rule makers and homeowners and golf course superintendents to green their properties with the least impact on water quality. Some have called for defunding this kind of science. To my ears, that’s unilateral disarmament. Why would we seek to stop the work of scientists who are trying to ward off a strain on our future water use?...UF/IFAS recommendations often call for decreased use of fertilizer. At the same time, we recognize that Florida’s sandy soils are “leaky.” Large, unpredictable rain events can cause fertilizer to move into our springs and rivers. In addition to any rules we impose on homeowners, it’s important to continue efforts such as Dr. Kenworthy’s turf breeding. We have recently formed a Harmful Algae Bloom task force in UF/IFAS to investigate links between nutrients and algal blooms, where algae-feeding nutrients come from, mitigation strategies, and human health effects. In addition, UF/IFAS recently launched the Center for Land Use Efficiency to address urban and agricultural land use issues from a water quantity and quality perspective. We urge decision makers to use science to guide their policy decisions. Calls to shut down this science will make our problems worse, not better… Jack Payne writes Opinion for the Gainesville Sun.
Read National wildlife refuge at Hobe Sound to be named for Nat’ Reed in April 17 ceremony - “Reed, a longtime resident of Jupiter Island near the refuge, served as assistant secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks under presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. During his work at the federal level, he co-authored the Endangered Species Act and was instrumental in passing the Clean Water Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act. Reed worked with six Florida governors on environmental issues, beginning in 1967 as the dollar-a-year adviser to Gov. Claude Kirk. He helped save the Everglades by working to stop the 182-mile-long Cross-Florida Barge Canal and a jetport on 39 square miles just north of Everglades National Park in 1969…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Florida’s Gulf Coast solitary bee may be added to endangered species list - “The population of a Florida bee is dwindling. A national environmental organization, Center for Biological Diversity, filed a petition for the Gulf Coast solitary bee to be added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list, in order to obtain protection under the federal level. The native Florida bee can be found in the coastal dunes and barrier islands of Florida's northern Gulf Coast. The organization says the bee species is a member of the oldest family of bees on Earth and the only known species of its subfamily in the eastern U.S. They were first discovered in 1993. The most recent survey count took place in 2012. Organization members said only 47 of the bees were found in six sites in the Florida Panhandle...Back in November 2018, the organization contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and informed the agency of their plan to petition. As a courtesy, an FWC spokesperson said they compiled all-known information on the Gulf Coast solitary bee and provided it to the federal agency. “At this time there is no request to list this animal at the state level,” according to the FWC. The bee is found within about 1,500 feet of the shore, making its home vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges. Human development and pesticide can also impact their population numbers. "Unfortunately much of its habitat has been converted to housing and commercial development," the organization wrote in a press release…” From Fox 13 News Staff.
Read Rising seas may mean Tampa Bay floods even during sunny days - “Tampa Bay was named in a recent federal climate report as one of the top cities in Florida that is vulnerable to rising seas - along with low-lying Miami and Apalachicola. The report, the Third National Climate Assessment, also warned that climate change would drive increases in harmful algae blooms off Florida’s coast, worsening seasonal allergies for people already made miserable by springtime pollen and heavier rainstorms and flooding in low-lying areas. A group of scientists, engineers and planners touched on these topics during the Sea Level Rise conference Friday and Saturday at St. Petersburg College's Seminole campus. The Bay area's miles of coastline and flat topography mean that we may soon experience flooding - even when no storms are raging. That warning was reinforced by Doug Marcy, a coastal hazards specialist for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The Tampa region has experienced almost a foot of sea level rise in the past 100 years," Marcy said. "What that means is for any given storm surge, we may have - or even high tides - have more impacts. We're crossing over these thresholds more often, so they're starting to impact on even sunny days…” Steve Newborn reports for WUSF News.
Read The race to save the most endangered conifer in America - “Religious scholars have long debated where Noah constructed his floating zoo made of “gopher wood” (Genesis 6:14) and what tree the ark’s gopher wood even came from. Some residents in the Florida Panhandle have an unlikely answer. The place in question is, well, there, and the tree in question is torreya taxifolia. Known locally as gopher wood (or, less Biblically, as stinking cedar for the astringent smell it releases when needles and stems are rolled between the fingers), local legend has it that the tree with its supple yellow wood was used to build the ark that Noah rode out 40 days of floods on, with the menagerie landing, eventually, on Mount Ararat in Turkey. Now, thousands of years later, the tree faces a new era of ecological violence. Torreyas have been trapped by geography for millennia, only living in a few ravines that cut across the Apalachicola River Basin. That’s left them vulnerable to the outside disturbances that have come crashing into the Florida Panhandle and now threaten their very survival. Globalization delivered a fungus the tree had no defense against that has been slowly strangling torreyas to death for decades. Then last October, Hurricane Michael rapidly spun up into a Category 4 storm, plowing through Panama City and into the Panhandle. Its path was like a catastrophically precise ecological bombwith the strongest winds passing right over the Apalachicola Basin. The storm toppled canopy trees that either crushed the shaggy torreyas or exposed them to harsh sunlight, which can kill them. The already critically endangered tree is now on life support with just a few hundred individuals left in the wild…”Brian Kahn reports for Earther.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
April 10 - 1:00pm- 2:45pm - Villages Environmental Discussions Group - (The Villages) - Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) will hold its next program on Wednesday, April 10, from 1:00 to 2:45 p.m., at Belvedere Library Community Room, (325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL 32162.) The guest speaker will be Ryan Armstrong, Manager of Bargains & Blessings Resale store, which is located at 301 N. Main St., Wildwood, FL. Ryan will discuss the work performed in 2014 by volunteers of the United Methodist Church, New Covenant United Methodist Church of The Villages, and men from House of Hope, who helped to renovate and transform the 8,000 square feet to create the resale shop. He will also describe some of the most important successes of this community resale shop. One may purchase quality, affordable furniture, major appliances, clothing, and household goods at the shop. Proceeds of these sales benefit local families who are aided by the Helping Hands Ministry. This program is FREE and open to all. Bring your neighbor and some questions. For additional information, send your note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)
April 27 - 12:00pm - The League of Women Voters Broward County Annual Luncheon featuring former Governor Bob Graham - (Margate) - Members and non-members alike are invited to join the Broward County chapter of the League of Women Voters on Saturday, April 27 at the Carolina Golf Club (3011 Rock Island Road, Margate, FL). Keynote speaker Bob Graham, former Florida Governor and US Senator, founder of the Save the Everglades movement, and a beloved figure in Florida politics, will speak about how and why we should participate in our democracy today. Reserve your tickets by April 19 by visiting this link: Order tickets here. Send questions or special needs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
June 10-14, June 24-28, 2019 - Camp Kids in the Woods at the Austin Cary Forest - (Gainesville) - Is your 6th-9th grade child looking for fun adventure this summer? Consider Camp Kids in the Woods! Campers will conduct various field explorations led by local scientists from forestry, wildlife, and water resources. Highlights include: fishing, handling wildlife, exploring local ecosystems, a trip to a local spring, camping out one night at the Austin Cary Forest, building wildlife nesting boxes, and participating in games and scavenger hunts. After a week of fun in the forest, campers gain a better understanding and deeper appreciation of their natural world and what is required to be a good steward of the environment. Camp Kids in the Woods summer program is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. Session 1: June 10-14, 2019; Session 2: June 24-28, 2019. For more information and to register visit: www.campkidsinthewoods.org , or contact the Camp Director, Molly Disabb at email@example.com
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