Quote of the Day: “Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.” - Ansel Adams
Read Florida toll road plan advances despite warnings - “The biggest expansion of Florida’s highway system in 60 years was approved Wednesday by the state Senate — advancing a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, one he shares with road-builders lobbying for the work. With no debate, the roads legislation (SB 7068) cleared the Senate on a 37-1 vote, which came despite heightened criticism this week from environmentalists who warn that the three proposed toll road projects will pollute waterways and damage wildlife habitat. Senate sponsor Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, doesn’t see it that way...On Monday, the Sierra Club of Florida timed a declaration of “war” on the legislation to Earth Day celebrations, saying the projects — the biggest expansion since Florida’s Turnpike began in the mid-1950s — could have devastating environmental consequences for a state still reeling from last summer’s toxic water outbreaks on both coasts. The Florida Transportation Builders Association, Florida Trucking Association, state’s Ports Council, Asphalt Contractors Association and Florida Chamber of Commerce have been the lead promoters of the roads package at hearings in the House and Senate. The transportation builders’ organization also steered the idea to Galvano earlier this year, citing projections that over the next decade, another 5 million residents and a growing tourist population will gridlock the state’s current road corridors. The lone vote against the Senate president’s priority came from Miami Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, who said he had a number of problems with the plan. Money was one of them. The three toll roads envisioned would demand $45 million in the roughly $90 billion budget now being put together by the House and Senate. That would climb to $90 million in 2020, $132.5 million the next year and a recurring $140 million starting in 2022…” John Kennedy reports for the Herald Tribune.
Read Why thousands of acres of Santa Rosa County forest will be off-limits to development- “The heads of various groups involved in a first-of-its-kind effort to preserve thousands of acres of Santa Rosa County timberland celebrated the unique project on Wednesday. Managers of a global timber investment firm, state conservation leaders and a U.S. congressman were among dozens of people who praised the local project as a model for land conservation and for partnerships between nonprofits, government agencies and private industry. Craig Blair, president of Birmingham, Alabama-based Resource Management Service, told the group that he and other timber investors began talking about ways to permanently preserve portions of rapidly dwindling longleaf pine forests many years ago...The first project — a 3,719-acre easement in central Santa Rosa County — was finalized this year. Resource Management Service used $5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service to secure the perpetual easement with a private landowner. The national environmental nonprofit Conservation Fund partnered with the company and facilitated the agreement. Russell Morgan, Florida conservationist for the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the easement program could be a critical tool to save forests from development in fast-growing areas like Santa Rosa County. "If you don't put agricultural land into an easement, it will eventually go into development," he said. Santa Rosa County is Florida 12th fastest-growing county, and its population has grown by about 15 percent over the last decade, according to U.S. Census data..” Melissa Nelson Gabriel reports for the Pensacola News Journal.
Read People keep moving to Tampa. What kind of place are they going to find?- “The scariest story of the week had nothing to do with the lunacy of Washington, or any of the other modern plagues the squawkers on cable TV scream that we should fear, lest we die. Nope. It was a story on Page 1B in your Tuesday edition of the Tampa Bay Times. It detailed how more than 51,000 people moved into the Tampa Bay area last year, ranking us ninth in the nation for something called Numeric Growth. Hillsborough County placed 10th in the land for people growth with about 27,000 new residents. Put another way, Hillsborough added nearly the population of New Port Richey (about 16,000) and Zephyrhills (about 15,000) combined. All those new folks, moving in to enjoy our warmth, diversity, entertainment options, and gridlock. As a transplant myself, albeit in 1974, it would be inappropriate to rail about newcomers deciding this is the place they want to be. We celebrate growth around here, and we have had a lot of practice doing that. We just need to do it properly…” Joe Henderson writes for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read In Florida, a new governor speaks the words ‘climate change’ - “A ban in Florida on the words “climate change” appears to be ending. The DeSantis administration is showing new leadership where state government has been absent in the past. Gov. Ron DeSantis has wasted no time since taking office in January establishing the environment as a priority. The Republican governor elected with President Donald Trump’s endorsement has announced plans for a chief resiliency officer. He also says he’ll establish an Office of Resiliency and Coastal Protection. And he named the state’s first chief science officer. Here is DeSantis this month in West Palm Beach making that announcement. “This idea of – quote – ‘climate change’ has become politicized. My environmental policy is just to try to do things that benefit Floridians.” Did you notice the choice of words there? “Climate change.” It’s a big change from former Gov. Rick Scott, who was elected to the Senate in November... DeSantis’ sweeping environmental plan is aimed primarily at toxic algae. Most environmental groups are cheering the action, but for some it doesn’t go far enough. Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club points out DeSantis’ plan does nothing on emissions. “He needs to take action now, and what kind of action? Clean energy. He needs to get on the bandwagon for movement toward 100 percent clean energy that will stop pouring all of these millions of tons of carbon into our atmosphere that make our climate worse…” Amy Green reports for WMFE.
Read Sarasota County wasteater lawsuit could be settled out of court - “A lawyer representing several environmental groups suing the county for illegally dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of processed wastewater from one of its treatment facilities is hopeful the suit can be settled, but likely at a great cost to the county. Clean water advocacy groups SunCoast Waterkeeper, Our Children’s Earth Foundation and Ecological Rights Foundation filed a suit this week 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. Despite the looming legal battle, the groups’ attorney and SunCoast Waterkeeper founder Justin Bloom believes the federal lawsuit could be settled if the county stops the spills and upgrades the plant to an advanced wastewater treatment facility — a potentially costly move Bloom says the county is exploring…” Nicole Rodriguez reports for the Herald-Tribune.
Read Slimy green algae returns bringing back bad memories - “On Tuesday, the return of an unwanted visitor: slimy green swirls sitting in the water….A layer of algae coating is on the top of the Caloosahatchee in Sweet Water Landing Marina. Stinky fumes are permeating in the air from the green gunk. The owner of the Sweet Water Landing Marina said the algae started showing up around five days ago. The reappearance brings back nightmares from when algae invaded canals last summer all over Florida. Although the parking lot was full of cars Tuesday at the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill across the street from the marina, patrons were aware of the unwanted visitor. “‘Smelling this and seeing this in the water,” said Melissa England, a patron and Fort Myers resident, “people are not going to want to come here.” If the algae become more of a nuisance, it is likely to have an impact on revenues for nearby businesses. But at least for now, this bit of algae is not stopping boaters from enjoying the river…” Gina Tomlinson and Michael Mora report for WINK News.
Read State legislature should ban fracking- “On April 17, I participated in a statewide day of action calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to fulfill both his campaign promise and his Jan. 10 executive order to ban fracking in Florida. Our particular event was held at Sen. Wilton Simpson’s Spring Hill office, though no staff was there to greet us, despite the organizer’s notification 10 days prior to the scheduled meeting. In spite of the inability to meet with Simpson’s staff person, there was a group of 30 or so people from about 10 different organizations that gathered to videotape their concerns. Some of those groups represented were: Floridians Against Fracking; Sierra Club; Food & Water Watch; Citrus County Chapter League of Women Voters; Unitarian Universalists; People Demanding Action; Hernando County Progressive Caucus; Neighbors Against Mining; Hernando Pride; Women’s March; Central Gulf Coast-Hernando; Joe Bernardini, local elected official; and a number of concerned citizens who are rightfully concerned that fracking bill SB 7064, moving through the Senate fails to ban matrix acidizing...Just in case Sen. Simpson and Gov. DeSantis are unfamiliar, the overwhelming majority of Floridians oppose all forms of fracking in Florida, and would welcome a bill to do just that.There is such a bill to ban all forms of fracking, SB 314, introduced by Montford that is not moving through the legislature. The bill’s language bans all forms of fracking, including matrix acidizing, also stipulating that only oil and gas wells would be barred from using the matrix acidizing process…” Harriet Heywood writes Opinion for the Citrus County Chronicle.
Read How parks help mitigate climate change and how to save them- “Whether you hang out in your local park with your kids or dogs enjoy reading on a park bench, or hiking in a national park this spring, you probably didn’t realize the park is also helping to mitigate climate change. I always find a welcome relief from the urban jungle by walking, hiking or running around local and national parks, but I never realized they served a purpose beyond that psychic one until I heard Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Lands at the Climate Leadership Conference in Baltimore recently. In her talk and our extended interview afterwards, she explained that parks: Help clear the air of CO2: The trees in parks help clear the air of CO2, both by absorbing the CO2 and by reducing the number of areas where there are C)2-emitting vehicles...TPL reports that parks have economic value in communities too, because they increase property values and tourism, and reduce health care costs, because residents are more physically active when parks are present. Regas also cautioned that parks are under threat from budget cuts and developers, including those that have strong lobbying efforts to sway legislators to vote for their projects. So, there are steps you can take to protect your parks and those nationwide. You can vote for politicians that vote for park funding, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and let them know with your voice that you want them to do so…” Joan Michelson writes for Forbes.
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 4 - 8:00am-4:00pm - Grand Opening of Bogey Creek Preserve - (Jacksonville) - After years of work to obtain and make improvements to the lands at Bogey Creek Preserve, North Florida Land Trust is pleased to be hosting grand opening events at their first public park. The property, located off Cedar Point Road in North Jacksonville, will officially open to the public on Saturday, May 4. Bogey Creek Preserve is a 75-acre scenic preserve consisting of a mix of maritime hammock forest, seep-fed cypress swamps and mixed pine-oak forest. The preserve neighbors Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and protects nearly one mile of critical marsh front on Clapboard and Bogey Creeks. Grand opening events at Bogey Creek Preserve will be held on Saturday, May 4. From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., guides will be leading a birdwatching trip through the preserve. Nature yoga and a hike will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. A naturalist tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., guests can participate in a botany hike. The events are free and open to the public, but space is limited. Guests must register at nflt.org/calendarofevents or email Stewardship Manager Emily Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Parking is located at 6141 Cedar Point Rd., Jacksonville, FL, 32226. Starting Saturday, May 4, the park will be open to the public seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
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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