Quote of the Day: “People protect what they love.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau.
Read Florida’s springs need action and funding. And they need it now- “April is the month in Florida when we celebrate all things environmental. Globally, we have Earth Day. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recognizes April as “Water Conservation Month.” And Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection “celebrate” April as “Springs Protection Awareness Month.” But for anyone who is aware of the ailing condition of our springs and their continued neglect at the hands of those responsible for their protection, there isn’t much to celebrate. Twenty-four of the 30 Outstanding Florida Springs designated for special protection by the Florida Legislature in 2016 are impaired by excess nitrogen. Many of these springs are so polluted that DEP determined it is impossible to reach water quality goals using existing programs and projects. Water quality restoration plans adopted for these springs, known as BMAPs, often achieve only a small fraction, sometimes less than a quarter, of the nitrogen reduction necessary to meet water quality standards. Florida Springs Council members were forced to challenge five of these plans, in order to stop their adoption, rather than accept failure and dirty water for decades to come… Let’s get real about Real Florida. Springs don’t need more celebratory months or feel good websites. Springs need action and funding. And they need it now. Here is what we need to do before we can “celebrate” springs protection…” Ryan Smart writes Special to the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Galvano’s highway plans will bring environmental ruin- “When USA Today published a story in January spotlighting the poorest county in each state, Madison County earned this dubious distinction for Florida. The county’s median household income of $31,816 a year is $19,000 less than the typical Florida household, according to USA Today. Here’s something else notable about Madison County: It is bisected, east to west, by Interstate 10. This is worth keeping in mind as the Florida Legislature considers a budget-busting, environmentally ruinous plan to build three new expressways up the western half of the Florida Peninsula: a Heartland Parkway between Collier and Polk counties; an extension of the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County north to the Georgia line; and a connector from the northern end of Florida’s Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway extension...Laying the foundation for economic growth in the 21st century is more complex than laying new pavement. Most leaders would acknowledge the importance, for example, of developing a talented workforce by investing in education. Yet the Senate president’s plan calls for getting started on the new expressways by diverting hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade from general tax revenue, the primary funding source in Florida for public schools. Does the state have this much general revenue to spare? Ask an underpaid teacher…” Paul Owens writes Guest Column for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Toll road plans roll forward in Senate - “The Florida Senate is poised to approve plans for three toll-road projects that environmental groups decry as inviting sprawling development into rural parts of the state. With little discussion, the Senate on Tuesday set up for a vote the proposal (SB 7068), which is a priority of President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. The House, which has raised concerns about issuing bonds to pay for the roads, is waiting for the Senate to advance the bill before acting on its version (HB 7113). Before rolling the Senate bill into place for a vote today, Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who is carrying the bill for Galvano, made amendments Tuesday, including one that would require the Department of Transportation to consider several environmental groups — 1000 Friends of Florida, Audubon Florida, the Everglades Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Florida Sierra Club and Florida Wildlife Corridor — for seats on task forces that would study each proposed road. The task forces would be charged with studying the economic and environmental impacts of extending the Suncoast Parkway from the Tampa Bay area north to the Georgia border, extending the Florida Turnpike west to hook up with the Suncoast Parkway and building a new transportation corridor, including a toll road, from Polk County to Collier County. Others on the task forces would include representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Education, Department of Health, local water management districts, local governments and metropolitan planning organizations…” Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida.
Read Sarasota County sued for dumping treated wastewater from overwhelmed facility - “Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Sarasota County over alleged violations of federal law for repeatedly dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of treated wastewater for years from one of its water reclamation facilities. Clean water advocacy groups SunCoast Waterkeeper, Our Children’s Earth Foundation and Ecological Rights Foundation filed a suit Monday in the U.S. District Court in Tampa accusing the county of violating the Clean Water Act by discharging more than 800 million gallons of reuse water without a proper permit since 2013 from a storage pond at its Bee Ridge Wastewater Reclamation Facility on Lorraine Road. The suit also alleges the county has illegally dumped raw sewage, partially treated sewage and treated reclaimed water into Phillippi Creek, Cowpen Slough, Whitaker Bayou and other waterways that lead into Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay, Dona Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, according to court documents. The discharges “degrade water quality and harm aquatic life in these waters, and thus impair Plaintiffs’ members’ use and enjoyment of the Gulf and Bay waters and other waters adjoining such waters in Sarasota and Manatee County areas,” the suit states. The groups asked a judge to declare the county has violated the Clean Water Act, stop it from dumping treated wastewater from the facility and impose civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day per violation for violations occurring on or before Nov. 2, 2015, and an additional $54,833 per day per violation for violations that happened on or before the same date, the suit states…” Nicole Rodriguez reports for the Herald-Tribune.
Read Pinellas elected officials celebrate Earth Day with call for increased environmental preservation funding- “For Earth Day this year, elected officials representing St. Petersburg and Pinellas County are calling on lawmakers to preserve environmentally sensitive lands and park land that conserves natural habitats. The group Florida Conservation Voters, led Monday by former state Senate candidate Lindsay Cross who serves as the group’s Public Lands Advocate, hosted a rally and cleanup event at Bartlett Park in Southeast St. Petersburg. “We know that conserving water and land not only protects our drinking water supplies and provides habitat for wildlife, but that it fuels our economy and attracts more than 100 million visitors each year to our state,” Cross said...But those efforts are threatened. The state of Florida historically contributed about $300 million annually to its Florida Forever Land Acquisition and Conservation fund. Over the past decade the Legislature has either zeroed out that funding or slashed it to unsustainable levels. Gov. Ron DeSantis this year proposed $100 million for the program, but the Senate and House have proposed far less — $45 million and $20 million, respectively. The group, which included U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, Pinellas County Commissioners Janet Long and Ken Welch, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and St. Pete City Council member Gina Driscoll, urged residents to call or email members of the Legislature to fully fund Florida Forever. Despite ongoing battles in the Florida Legislature, local governments have been forging ahead with their own environmental preservation efforts. The city of St. Petersburg has purchased more than 55 acres of land to preserve and will add another 5 acres of public green space when the new pier opens in early 2021…” Janelle Irwin Taylor reports for Florida Politics.
Read Sea level rise is a problem for the future of Florida- “Like a prophet of doom, Poseidon with computer models, the University of Miami’s Harold Wanless, came to Naples to give us the latest scoop on ocean rise. And his news wasn’t good: The sea is rising and we can’t stop it Not by buying an electric car. Or shutting down the petroleum industry. Or covering the country with solar farms or the seashore with windmills. Wanless said if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere would keep warming the planet for another 30 years. “Ice melt and sea-level rise will continue for centuries,” he said...What’s not uncertain is the potential for damage. Florida is the flattest state in the country, with 1,350 miles of shoreline and 76% of its residents living in coastal communities. An estimated $36 billion of property are at risk. A 4-foot ocean rise would swamp 20% of the coastal area. An 8-foot rise would put much of South Florida under water. Storm surges have already inundated parts of Miami…” David Trecker reports for the News-Press.
Read Indian River County commissioners reject plan for wastewater line under Indian River Lagoon- “By a 3-2 vote, the Indian River County Commission rejected a plan Tuesday for a wastewater pipeline under the Indian River Lagoon. The Johns Island Water Management Co. had proposed a controversial pipeline to send treated "reuse" water from a county-owned wastewater treatment plant to the barrier island for irrigating homes. After being built by the John's Island water company, the project would be turned over to the county's utilities department. The company has agreed to buy about 1 million gallons of water a day. Any extra water could be used by other barrier island communities. Besides going under the lagoon, the pipeline would go under Hole in the Wall Island; and Tuesday the commission refused the company a temporary construction permit to use the county's right of way across the island..."Some of the healthiest areas of the lagoon are in Indian River County," said Leesa Souto, executive director of the Palm Bay-based Marine Resources Council, "and we'd like to keep it that way." Souto told the board to "be very precautionary. If you have any doubt this project won't have zero impact on the lagoon, vote no…”Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
From Our Readers
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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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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