FCC News Brief - April 3, 2019

Quote of the Day: “One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” - Leo Tolstoy 

Read Florida governor, Cabinet approve purchase of 5,500-plus acres in Hendry county for conservation -  “Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet, sitting as the board of trustees for the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, voted unanimously Tuesday to acquire the land in Hendry County.  The Internal Improvement Trust Fund holds title to all state-owned lands in Florida.The state will purchase 5,534 acres from Fort Myers-based Alico Inc. — 3,233 acres of uplands and 2,301 of wetlands...The property is next to the northern boundary of the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest and the eastern boundary of the Okaloacoochee Slough Wildlife Management Area. The land purchase will help create a larger green structure that will be good for water quality and wildlife too — including the endangered Florida panther, Valenstein said. "It's much, much easier for us to protect water quality going south into Big Cypress and Fakahatchee, down to Ten Thousand Islands, and also up going to the Caloosahatchee when we have this green structure in place," he said. While there are still large swaths of land that can be purchased from major landowners who cherish the idea of preserving it, he said, that won't always be the case, so it's important to buy properties like this one while they're still available to help protect the state's water resources for future generations. "Fifty years in the future it is unlikely that we will still have those large tracts locked up, or large families that still have 10,000, 50,000, 80,000 acres at a time that we can work with to protect that green structure," Valenstein said…” Laura Layden reports for Naples Daily News.

Read ‘Science is helping us drive these decisions’ on clean waterways bill, sponsor Mayfield says - “Sen. Debbie Mayfield said she is willing to work with her Senate colleagues on her signature Clean Waterways Act to make it a balanced piece of legislation for all sides after several members criticized an amendment that seemed to favor developers...The bill, SB 1758, establishes the Clean Waterways Act and requires the state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health to develop a legislative report on the impacts of transferring septic systems to sewer systems, or connections within a Basin Management Action plan. Septic tanks and agricultural runoff have been blamed for many of the problems in the Indian River Lagoon, Wakulla Springs, the Everglades and other coastal and wetlands regions. The bill also revises the requirements for a Basin Management Action Plan for an Outstanding Florida Spring, and creates a wastewater grant program...The consternation came after Mayfield introduced an amendment that removed penalties and added a grant program — trading a stick for a carrot as one committee member commented. Originally the statute said a local government that didn’t adopt, enact and implement the Clean Waterways Act would be subject to a daily fine and could not approve any building permit for new construction until the ordinance was adopted. Mayfield’s amendment changed that to say municipalities would not be allowed to participate in the wastewater management grant program….” Jeffrey Schweers reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read All that talk about solving Florida’s horrible algae outbreaks? Legislature comes up short so far - “Florida made national news last year when nasty algae outbreaks fouled the coasts and sent dead sea creatures washing ashore. The environmental crisis was a campaign issue during the fall election, as pricey waterfront mansions suddenly overlooked green, stinking waterways and tourists fled beaches because of dead fish and harmful fumes. Politicians promised to attack the problem. But the legislation that’s in the Florida Legislature now comes up short, according to some scientists and to the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club. A key problem: The legislation ignores the first important task: which is to prevent the sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution that makes red tide outbreaks in the Gulf worse and fuels outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae in the state’s lakes, rivers, and springs. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why wouldn’t Florida pay for a pound of cure?” Deborah Foote, Government Affairs & Political Director for the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, told lawmakers at a legislative committee…” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.

Read Florida senators should reject Bernhardt for Interior post - “What kind of aspiring Cabinet secretary allows his employees to worry about how they’ll feed their families while pushing sweetheart deals for major polluters? Let us introduce you to David Bernhardt, a former top oil industry lobbyist, who is Donald Trump’s choice to replace disgraced Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary and a member of the president’s Cabinet. This week, the U.S Senate is beginning to consider Bernhardt’s nomination to head this crucial department. It should heed the warning signs of disaster that are clearly visible from the nominee’s tenure over the past several months running the department in an “acting” capacity. During the recent government shutdown, Bernhardt not only closed our national parks, but he also had several of his employees work without pay to help him hustle more than 70 offshore oil drilling permits over the finish line. Of those permits, 53 went to organizations sitting on the board of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), a major offshore drilling industry association and — you guessed it — a former client of Bernhardt’s. Bernhardt has so many conflicts of interest from his career in the oil industry that he literally needs to carry a card in his pocket to remember all of them. Evidently, Bernhardt needs to keep that card a bit closer, as polluting industries seem to get more and more favors from him every day…” Tania Galloni and Frank Jackalone write Guest Column for the Herald-Tribune.

Read New toll roads would damage environment- “State lawmakers are considering building a toll expressway right through North Florida’s springs heartland, fueling sprawl and diverting funding from more pressing transportation projects. The highway is a top priority of state Senate President Bill Galvano, who wants to extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to the Florida-Georgia line. He is also seeking to extend the Florida Turnpike to connect it with the parkway and to construct a new highway connecting Collier and Polk counties. Residents of Alachua and Marion counties previously fought a plan to extend the Suncoast Parkway through their communities. A task force of public officials from the region instead recommended improvements to Interstate 75 and other area roads, in order to address congestion and crashes on the interstate. More than two years after the group’s report, the state continues to ignore its recommendations in favor of planning new roads through farms and natural areas. Extending the Suncoast Parkway north would bring environmentally damaging sprawl in the area being considered for its path, which includes Dixie, Lafayette, Levy, Gilchrist and Taylor counties...Smart growth that includes more dense development, rather than sprawl that depletes and pollutes groundwater, should be the focus. About 18 percent of Florida’s land is already developed and more than one third of the state will be developed by 2070 if current trends continue, according to smart growth advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida. The toll road plan “would shift infrastructure investment away from metropolitan areas — where we need that investment most to serve people and to sustain jobs — to build expressways through rural and agricultural areas, where the costs will outweigh any benefits,” wrote Thomas Hawkins of 1000 Friends of Florida, in a column published in Sunday’s Issues section…” From the Gainesville Sun Editorial Board.

Read Endangered Species Act supports national parks in conservation mission - “The sight of grizzly bears foraging at Yellowstone National Park or humpback whales breaching at Glacier Bay are conservation marvels that attract millions of visitors each year. It is hard to imagine these majestic landscapes without these iconic species...In a report recently released by National Parks Conservation Association and Defenders of Wildlife, we present a series of case studies showing how the ESA supports national parks in their conservation mission. National parks are home to all-American landscapes and iconic wildlife, including habitat for more than 600 threatened and endangered species protected by the ESA...Unfortunately, the ESA and the iconic fish, wildlife and plant species it protects are under mounting political attack. President Trump’s recently released budget calls for continued cuts to the already cash strapped U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service’s budgets, leaving federal agencies with less than half of what they need to recover fish, plant and wildlife populations. In addition, Trump’s nominee to become secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, is soon expected to finalize ESA regulations that would undermine the conservation of endangered and threaten species, weaken critical habitat designations and make recovery of endangered animals and plants costlier and more difficult…” Theresa Pierno and Jamie Rappaport Clark write Opinion for The Hill.

Read Silver Springs, heal thyself! - ““Medice, cura te ipsum!” (Physician, heal thyself!) is an applicable biblical quote depicting the current fate of Silver Springs. Attributed to Jesus in Luke 4:23, this passage can be interpreted to warn against the hypocrisy of claiming to have the ability to solve a problem in others while being unable to avoid the problem in ourselves. In early 2018 the Florida Legislature ratified Senate Bill 670, codifying a “prevention strategy” for Silver Springs. The purpose of this addition to the St. Johns River Water Management District’s consumptive use applicant’s handbook was “to ensure that flows and levels within Silver Springs do not fall below the recently adopted minimum flows and levels (MFLs) during the next 20 years”...In the meantime, Silver Springs was visibly dying as evidenced by blue waters turning green, and the rampant, nutrient-fueled growth of filamentous algae and submerged aquatic vegetation. The intersection between rapidly rising nitrogen enrichment and declining flows was exceeding the capacity for Silver Springs to “heal herself.”...Silver Springs cannot heal herself. As guardians of the public trust, it is our government’s responsibility to act in the best interest of the people and prevent significant environmental harm. Most importantly, it is the government’s responsibility to protect in perpetuity precious natural resources like Silver Springs…” Bob Knight writes Opinion for the Gainesville Sun.

Read People of faith must act to confront the challenges of climate change - “Faith communities are addressing challenges posed by climate change in South Florida through both teaching and action. In his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home,” Pope Francis identifies climate change as a moral issue and calls for “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” Similarly, Jewish teachings stress taking care of the planet and protecting natural resources for future generations. For Muslims, the Quran describes mankind as stewards of the Earth and calls on us to reflect upon how our actions affect the environment...Climate change is inclusive, touching all of us across diverse cultures, political parties, locations and faiths. Because faith-based communities have global reach and their messages are shared across numerous languages, we believe this interfaith conference can be a model for climate action in cities across the state, US and the world. We invite the South Florida community to join us for The Second International Conference on Climate, Nature and Society, a forum that will range from the science of how climate change is affecting our South Florida environment and health, to a discussion of how we can act to be good stewards of the planet through our daily activities and decisions…” Temperince Morgan and David A. Armstrong write Opinion for the Miami Herald.


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 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 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 raivedg@gmail.com.

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 earthethicsaction@gmail.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 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.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.

Petitions

Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

Help Save Our Panthers

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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About the FCC: The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 80 conservation-minded organizations and over two thousand individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, fish and wildlife, and water resources.  

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