FCC News Brief - April 22, 2019

Quote of the Day: “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” -Gaylord Nelson

Read Meet ‘Mr. Earth Day,’ the man who helped organize the annual observance - “Nearly 50 years after 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, more than 190 countries mark the annual day for raising awareness of environmental causes. And the stakes only grow as the years go by. TIME spoke to Denis Hayes, a real organizer of the first Earth Day, dubbed “Mr. Earth Day” by the magazine in 1999. Hayes is now the president of the Bullitt Foundation, which doles out grants to environmental efforts. Here, he tells the true story of founding of Earth Day, its proudest accomplishments and the work that still needs to be done… Hayes: “ A number of issues basically all came to a head by the late ’60s, starting in 1962, with Rachel Carson publishing Silent Spring, about the dangers of pesticides. In 1969, an oil spill in the elite community of Santa Barbara, Calif., brought it home to people in a terribly visual way — they saw animals covered in goo, people trying to get it off, and you watched them die on camera. Then we had the fire on the Cuyahoga River; the juxtaposition with water, which puts out fire, made a splash. Then interstate highways were being built. That’s when people who didn’t self-identify as conservationists were out there trying to protect their neighborhoods from horrible air pollution…” Olivia B. Waxman writes for Time Magazine.

Read Florida Forever acquisition to preserve important habitat in Central Florida - “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has officially acquired 1,992 acres in Okeechobee County located within the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge. This acquisition is part of the Triple Diamond Florida Forever Project and conserves significant dry prairie habitat, as well as other high-quality habitats in an area of Florida known for its rare vertebrate wildlife, globally imperiled natural communities and significant hydrological initiatives...With the acquisition, more than half of this project has been acquired. The parcel is bordered by Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Other public lands in the near vicinity include Avon Park Air Force Range, Bombing Range Ridge, Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area and Blue Cypress Conservation Area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is purchasing the adjacent tract.  “The acquisition of Triple Diamond will preserve significant dry prairie, a globally imperiled natural community that supports a myriad of rare species, while providing excellent recreational opportunities," said Julie Morris of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. "The conservation of this intact and well-managed landscape will protect thousands of acres of high-quality habitat within the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and significantly contribute to the protection of water quality and quantity in the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee watershed…” From the DEP Press Office.

Read Riverkeeper: Biosolids bill goes from ‘great’ to ‘worse’ - “The bill's author, Vero Beach Republican state Rep. Erin Grall, says the proposal will still "significantly advance the state’s efforts to keep our water clean." Grall's bill originally would have banned spreading the sludge, known as Class B biosolids, on pastures in the upper St. Johns River watershed unless a landowner could "affirmatively demonstrate" nutrients wouldn't run off the land and cause pollution downstream. That was the "great" version of the bill, according to St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinamon...In mid-March, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee amended Grall's bill, removing the ban in the St. Johns watershed and replacing it with statewide biosolids regulations, including those recommended by a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Department task force. The regulations call for using site-specific information about soil composition and proximity to creeks and ponds to determine if and how much biosolids can be used...That was Rinaman's "good" version. "Obviously, we'd prefer a ban for all of Florida," she said, "but we're getting a lot of pushback from people asking, 'What are you going to do with it?' So we've chosen to deal with the bill as it is and try to make it as good as possible." This past week, Grall's proposal was absorbed into a larger water quality bill sponsored by state Rep. Bobby Payne, a Palatka Republican. The Payne bill eliminates some of the protections in Grall's bill, Rinaman said, making it the "worse" version…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Ocean currents carried Red Tide close to shore, scientists say - “During the 14 months that a massive Red Tide algae bloom was plaguing Florida's beaches, scientists cited a number of factors for why it was so bad.  Dust blown over by the Sahara Desert played a role. So did pollution from the Mississippi River. Climate change was involved. So was nitrogen-rich runoff from leaky septic tanks, overloaded sewer plants and fertilizer washing off of yards and farms. Now a new study led by a University of South Florida scientist has announced that another, subtler force was at work, too: deep sea ocean currents...In late August, the scientists dispatched the torpedo-like glider into the Gulf of Mexico to a spot where they suspected the Red Tide algae bloom began: near the bottom about 50 miles off the coast between Clearwater Beach and Sarasota Bay. The glider picked up a high concentration of chlorophyll, a signature of the Red Tide algae cells, near the bottom... Bob Weisberg, [physical oceanographer at the University of South Florida] and his team, which included scientists from the university and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, used the data collected by the glider and ran it through a series of computer simulations. That's how they determined that a type of current called an "upwelling" occurred at just the right time to sweep the harmful algae from the bottom up into the shallower water near shore…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read After Green New Deal vote, South Florida lawmakers work on other climate plans - “The Green New Deal is the most talked-about federal legislation to tackle climate change and sea level rise at the moment. But its goals of reducing fossil fuel use and creating cleaner energy and jobs is still more an aspiration than an action plan. And in the meantime, South Florida lawmakers in Washington say they’re working on other solutions. Among bills currently being proposed are those to create a fee on carbon, put more money for clean energy research in federal spending bills and emphasize climate change as an issue in 2020 elections. “We’re going to press for urgent action – we just don’t have time to wait,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Tampa, who was chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to run a special committee working on climate issues...Climate activists disagree about whether the Green New Deal is the most effective approach – and say all the attention on the plan makes it harder for other ideas to break through. Meanwhile, Republicans are gleeful the Green New Deal could turn off moderate voters in next year’s elections and have called the proposal a socialist takeover of the energy industry. Environmentalist Greg Hamra, group leader for Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Miami chapter, considers the Green New Deal a destination without a roadmap. But he says it’s a feat of outreach and communication. “Clearly, it has put the climate issue on the front burner,” he said. “The number of people who have rallied behind this is truly amazing. It really is…” John O’Connor reports for WLRN.

Read Earth Day 2019: Gov. DeSantis has models for good environmental stewardship- “This a story of how Florida worked once upon a time. Looking back, I would call it the Golden Age of Environmental Enlightenment — when leadership understood that protecting Florida’s natural systems was good for the economy and in everybody’s best interest. Although mistakes were made, governors took constitutional mandates to conserve and protect all Florida’s natural resources seriously. This enlightened period began in the early 1970s under Gov. Askew and continued through Govs. Graham, Martinez, Crist, Chiles and MacKay. Florida and the country passed critical legislation and rules to protect our air, water and land…The good news is that we know how to address these problems, but it takes considerably more money than is budgeted, and requires professional staff and heroic political leadership. It is time to: update and implement the state climate action plan, switching Florida to renewable energy; fully fund and staff the environmental agencies so they can do their jobs; reauthorize local land use planning with state oversight; fund land acquisition at the authorized amendment level of $750 million per year; prohibit agricultural pollution from being discharged into the public’s waters; ban the use of new septic tanks and fertilizers in sensitive areas; and replace problem septic tanks with advanced waste treatment.  On this Earth Day, I hope Gov. DeSantis looks to the past to advance the future. Those who came before can be his valued advisers…” Pam McVety writes Opinion for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read An inside job at Interior - “Last Thursday, the Senate voted 56-to-41 to confirm David Bernhardt, President Trump’s pick for secretary of the interior. Four days later, the department’s inspector general opened an ethics investigation into the new chief for potential “conflict of interest and other violations.” Even by the standards of the ethically elastic Trump administration, this is impressive. A former oil and gas lobbyist, Mr. Bernhardt has been under scrutiny since joining the Interior Department in 2017 as its deputy secretary. Many of the complaints now under review were revealed in a trio of investigations by The Times, which detailed allegations that Mr. Bernhardt continued to work as a lobbyist for months after filing documents claiming to have ended such work, blocked the release of a department report on the toxic effects of certain pesticides on hundreds of endangered species and used his office to champion policies favored by former clients. Separately, CNN reported that, during his tenure, the department “made at least 15 policy changes, decisions or proposals that would directly benefit Bernhardt’s former clients.” Fresh questions are also emerging about Mr. Bernhardt’s possible violation of public-records laws. This week, the department acknowledged that aides had intentionally omitted meetings with industry groups from his public schedule and that, contrary to previous claims, his private schedule is kept on a lone Google document regularly overwritten by his staff. The National Archives and Records Administration has felt moved to get involved…” From the New York Times Editorial Board.

Read Dreams of Preservation fade as builders go to battle in Tallahassee - “The would-be town of Preservation, a proposed refuge from big developers and urban sprawl, has found itself forced to fight builders on a new battleground: The state Legislature. Language added to a property development bill last week appears aimed at thwarting Preservation’s would-be residents, who want to establish the municipality to help stop a massive housing project in an area east of Orlando. The bill from state Rep. Jason Fischer (R-Jacksonville) was amended Wednesday by the House State Affairs Committee to require municipalities that adopt new land-use plans comply with existing development orders. In other words, dreams of a rural enclave in central Florida could be scuttled even before Preservation is founded...The Florida League of Cities and 1000 Friends of Florida said the legislative attempts to stop Preservation, if adopted, could have far-reaching effects and turn community planning on its head…” Bruce Ritchie reports for Politico.

Read Ocean-clogging microplastics also pollute the air, study finds - “Researchers in France said this week that they found thousands and thousands of microplastic particles raining down on a secluded spot in the Pyrenees, 75 miles from the nearest city. Their study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that microplastics — long known as a source of water pollution — may also travel by air, spreading their ill effects far from dense population centers. Deonie Allen, one of the lead researchers, said the five-month study was “the first step toward looking at microplastics as an airborne pollutant.” Steve Allen, another researcher, called their findings “scary.” Microplastics are pieces of plastic debris that measure less than five millimeters long, roughly the size of a sesame seed, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But they can also be much smaller than five millimeters. The fragments found by the Pyrenees study were generally 10 to 300 microns across, with most clocking in at roughly 50 microns, Dr. Allen said. For comparison, a human hair is about 70 microns wide. “These are invisible atmospheric pollutants,” she said. Microplastics can come from a variety of sources, including everyday items like plastic bottles or disposable contact lenses that break down into smaller pieces over time. According to Dr. Allen, a lot of microplastic pollution comes from cities, landfills and farms that are sprayed with “wastewater treatment sludge, which is loaded with microplastics….” Liam Stack reports for the New York Times.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

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 info@lwvbroward.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 kidsinthewoods@ifas.ufl.edu

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