Read ‘Not here, not now, not Everglades’: Wetland conservationists call for no oil drilling - “Next to the airboats at the entrance to Everglades Holiday Park, about thirty people from The Sierra Club, the Broward County League of Women Voters, and other environmentalist groups stood together holding signs Tuesday that read "Not Here, Not Now, Not Everglades." The groups gathered, along with local lawmakers, to speak out against drilling for oil in the wetlands they were standing in. "As we look out on the Everglades on this beautiful day, it's hard to believe that someone would even consider spoiling this, but they are," Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr said. Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned a decision by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The new ruling granted a Broward County landowner, Kanter Real Estate LLC, a permit to drill an exploratory oil well in the Everglades - near Miramar. Kanter owns 20,000 acres in Broward County and first applied to drill in the Everglades back in 2015. The Feb. 5th court ruling siding with Kanter reads in part: "The property upon which the well site is to be located has no special characteristics that would make it susceptible to pollution." The conservationists gathered in the park were a fraction of the more than 70 groups and South Florida cities that submitted a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis early Tuesday. The letter asks that DeSantis oppose the court ruling, and protect the Everglades from any drilling in the future. But they are running out of time. The state's deadline to respond to the court ruling is Wednesday…” Caitie Switalski reports for WLRN.
Read DeSantis, Cabinet look at $2.54M in land buys - “Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet next week will be asked to spend $2.54 million in the Florida Forever conservation program to buy land in Lake and Hamilton counties. The proposals, which the Cabinet will take up Feb. 26, would lead to paying $540,000 to acquire 83.4 acres in Lake County and paying $2 million for 316 acres in Hamilton County. The Lake County land, which is part of the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway Florida Forever project, includes five contiguous lakefront parcels on Lake Norris, near the small community of Paisley. The land in Hamilton County, known as the Hardee Spring property, is adjacent to Twin Rivers State Forest and includes about 1.5 miles of frontage along the Withlacoochee River…” From the News Service of Florida.
Read Land swap grows Fort George park, clears hurdle to Eastside Jacksonville cleanup - “A land swap that clears the way for cleanup of an Eastside Jacksonville Superfund site has also expanded state parkland on Fort George Island, a nonprofit that was part of the deal said Monday. The North Florida Land Trust set up the exchange between Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust, an organization responsible for cleaning up the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. property at 1611 Talleyrand Ave. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had documented that pollution from the old insecticide and fertilizer warehouse was seeping beyond the Kerr-McGee property and into land beneath the St. Johns River. The EPA had approved a plan to lock the pollution in place and stop it from damaging the river further, but following that plan required work on the riverbed, which the state owns. The deal announced Monday let Greenfield take title to 2.8 acres of underwater land next to the Kerr-McGee site in return for Greenfield buying and giving the state 14 acres on Fort George Island for conservation...The Fort George property is 2 acres of forest and another dozen of marsh adjoining the Fort George Island Cultural State Park. The land near the Fort George River was bought from a retired attorney, John Michael Hughes, whose family had held it many years, said Jim McCarthy, president of the North Florida Land Trust. He said the Greenfield trust asked his organization for help finding land for the deal. The Fort George land “is beautiful maritime hammock forest and salt marsh, which is a good local fishery habitat and will serve as a good replacement for the contaminated site,” McCarthy said.” Steve Patterson reports for Jacksonville.com.
Read No John’s Island wastewater effluent pipe in the lagoon - “We’re all well aware of the seemingly endless string of already-existing environmental threats to our Indian River Lagoon. Now, John’s Island Water Management Inc., the private water utility exclusively serving John's Island, is attempting to implement a plan that will inject yet another risk to our lagoon — and an avoidable one, at that. JIWM wants more water for its barrier island golf courses, so it developed a plan to construct a dedicated pipeline from the county’s mainland wastewater effluent storage tanks which includes drilling under the lagoon more than a mile to the barrier island...While many people living in John’s Island are environmentally conscious, most residents there are likely not fully aware of the unnecessary short- and long-term environmental risks their water-management company’s proposal will create to our lagoon’s health and, consequently, their health. There is some encouraging news: Indian River Mosquito Control District commissioners firmly put the environment and public interest first by unanimously rejecting an easement for this pipeline under their island. However, JIWM hopes to bypass this rejection, trying to convince the county to assert a highly questionable right-of-way over the district’s island and “overrule” the rejection. What can you do? Contact your county commissioners. They did the right thing before by placing a moratorium on the dumping of “biosolids” from outside our county and harming Blue Cypress Lake. Tell them to take similar action to protect our lagoon from homegrown “bioliquids” by altering the pipeline plan. Tell them not to grant an easement in an attempt to overrule the Mosquito Control District for the use of a private party’s construction plans…” Paul Fafeita writes Opinion for the TCPalm.
Read Red tide counts back to normal, background levels for first time in 16 months in Southwest Florida - “A toxic red tide bloom that's raged along the Southwest Florida coast since October of 2017 may be over. Recent water quality samples taken along coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay have shown only natural, background levels of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide outbreaks. "It does appear to be sustaining in background concentrations, meaning that it is pretty much over," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Michelle Kerr. "There haven’t been fish kills reported associated with red tide in a few weeks. There were some low concentrations just along the shore of southern Collier County last week, but as of Friday it hasn’t been present throughout the entire state." This red tide outbreak is the longest lasting since a bloom that ran from the summer of 2004 until spring 2006. Counts this past summer and fall were in the millions of cells per liter, and untold tons of dead wildlife washed up on local shores. Elevated red tide counts were recorded from the Tampa area south to Collier County, in Florida Bay, along the east coast and in the Panhandle over the past 16 months. The outbreak crippled the local tourism-based economy and caused then-Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency for coastal counties from the Tampa Bay area to Florida Bay. More recently, dolphins and manatees thought to have died from red tide poisoning have been washing up in Everglades National Park in recent weeks. A rare Bryde's whale in January washed up on a small island in the park, particularly concerning since scientists say there are only a few dozen Bryde's, the only species that stays in the Gulf year-round. Kerr said it will be a while before water quality scientists official declare it's over since it could pop up again in a few days…” Chad Gillis reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
Read Trump’s WOTUS: Clear as mud, scientists say- “The Trump administration's stated goal for a rule defining which wetlands and waterways get Clean Water Act protection: Write a simple regulation that landowners can understand. "I believe that any property owner should be able to stand on his or her property and be able to tell whether or not they have a 'water of the U.S.' on their property without having to hire an outside consultant or attorney," acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in mid-January. But scientists who specialize in the study of wetlands and waterways say it's not that simple. "In a lot of cases, I still don't think landowners could stand there and figure it out on their own," said Siobhan Fennessy, a biology professor at Kenyon College. "You're still going to need the industry of consultants we have to come out and offer assistance. I don't think they're going away." The new "waters of the U.S.," or WOTUS, proposal would erase federal protections for the more than 51 percent of wetlands and 18 percent of streams without relatively permanent surface water connections to nearby waterways, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Wetlands — marshes, bogs, swamps and other soggy areas — are protected by law as stormwater buffers, pollution filters and wildlife habitat...In their proposal, President Trump's EPA and Army Corps ask for public comment on whether the final rule should only protect streams where it has been proved they are fed by groundwater. That would make it even more complicated for landowners themselves to know whether a stream on their property is regulated by the federal government, as the proposed WOTUS rule itself acknowledges. It says that identifying whether groundwater is the source of a stream could involve installing monitoring wells or gauges to identify the presence of water or estimate base flow, and that installing such equipment could be difficult, as groundwater tables in many areas rise and fall depending on the season, and some are under rocky substrates that would be difficult to access…” Ariel Wittenberg reports for E & E News.
Read Crumbling infrastructure is a hidden tax on all Americans- “The need for reinvestment in infrastructure is great. The cost could be as high as $4.5 trillion. But we can do better than fix what is broken. Improving infrastructure could unlock enormous growth in productivity and could reduce the hidden tax on our lives from aggravating delays at airports and on the rails and long commutes to work. Improvements could make the distribution of electricity more resilient in the face of natural and possibly human-made disruptions; it could bring robust broadband internet services to more rural areas creating new possibilities for economic and employment growth in those areas, and it could make the water serving millions safer. The magnitude of the annual hidden tax of inaction is estimated at $3,400 per family in a study by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The impact will only grow, threatening U.S. economic vitality and America’s future…” Bob Taylor writes Opinion for The Hill.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
February 22 - 6:30PM - 9:30PM - Lectures on the Lawn: The Florida Wildlife Corridor’s ‘The Forgotten Coast’ - (Odessa) - Pasco County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources is hosting part two of a cultural event in the Lectures on the Lawn series. Join us Friday, February 22, 2019, at the newly-developed Starkey Ranch District Park for a special screening of The Florida Wildlife Corridor’s “The Forgotten Coast.” The keynote presentation for this free event will feature Mallory Dimmitt, a seventh-generation Floridian and expedition team member, who is working to raise awareness for statewide conservation. “The Forgotten Coast” is a documentary film showcasing Florida’s wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to the northernmost part of the Florida Gulf Coast. The lawn-seating event also features live music, so bring your chairs, blankets and a picnic. For a printable flyer with complete details, including on-site food truck and local brewery offerings, click here: bit.ly/2Nb4PmC. Starkey Ranch District Park
11880 Lake Blanche Drive, Odessa, FL 33556
February 27 - 12:00PM-1:00PM - “What the Frack” - (Hialeah) - Communities across Florida have already made it clear they want fracking banned, passing 90 local measures against fracking in cities and counties that represent over 70% of the state population. It's time the Legislature stepped up and passed a statewide ban. Join Rethink Energy Florida, the Institute for Civic Engagement, YES! Club, Earth Ethics Institute and hear from knowledgeable panelists to discuss the impacts of FRACKING on our health, local economic development and communities. Miami Dade College -Hialeah Campus; 1780 West 49th Street, Hialeah FL 33012. For questions or more information contact Salome at 786-387-5111 or SaGarcia@fwwatch.org , stay updated on the event’s facebook page here.
March 2nd & 3rd - Florida SpringsFest 2019 - (Ocala) - Since 2000, Florida SpringsFest has been educating visitors about the importance of Florida’s springs. In 2019, Florida SpringsFest will be held on Saturday March 2 and Sunday March 3, at Silver Springs State Park, with the theme sustainability. This two-day event will feature everything that Silver Springs has to offer- Glass Bottom Boat tours, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals, interactive education center, ranger programs, and trails through beautiful gardens, overlooking the crystal-clear spring. In addition, SpringsFest includes environmental speakers, educational displays, artists, crafters, demonstrators, food vendors, live entertainment, a student art show, a silent auction, and more! Join us for this two-day event to learn about Florida Springs! History, science, fun, music, food, and friends- all for $2/person park admission! Glass bottom boat rides are not included with your park entry, but will be HALF-OFF all weekend! Follow the Florida Springsfest Facebook for more information!
March 11 - 6:00 PM-7:30 PM - ‘Environmental Justice: What, Why, You’ discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. in welcoming Wilma Subra, environmental scientist and advocate, guest speaker for Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series for March. Ms. Subra will discuss Environmental Justice issues in our community and across the state and nation. Subra served for seven years as vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, for six years on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and for five years on the National Advisory Committee of the US Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland. The event is being held at Ever’ man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. RSVP on Facebook here, or get your free event ticket from EventBrite here. Light refreshments will be served.
March 13 - 10:00 AM-4:00 PM - Reclaiming Florida’s Future For All: Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Energy - (Tallahassee) - Rethink Energy Florida is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee FL 32301)! We are advocating to protect Florida’s clean water, support renewable energy, and BAN Fracking! We will be talking with our legislators about these critical issues. This event is co-sponsored by Floridians Against Fracking, Sierra Club Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Food and Water Watch Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Ignite Change, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. RSVP here or check out the Facebook event for more information.
March 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here.
Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.
March 27 - 12:00 PM -1:30 PM - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Update Webinar - This free webinar is scheduled for a little more than three weeks into the 2019 Florida Legislative Session. The actions taken during the session likely will have significant public policy impacts for planning, conservation, transportation, community design and other issues of concern to many Floridians with myriad impacts for concerned citizens, professionals, local elected officials and others. 1000 Friends President Paul Owens, Policy and Planning Director Thomas Hawkins, and Board Member Emeritus and Past Chairman Lester Abberger will discuss key growth management, design, conservation and related bills including budget recommendations that are being considered during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and other legislation that may surface as the session progresses. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162194). 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, Florida Environmental Health Professionals, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
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)
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.
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