Read Senator Berman files SB 1156 to tap the sun for Florida’s future- “eeking to capitalize on an abundance of freely available energy and dramatically bring down costs for consumers, state Senator Lori Berman (D-Delray Beach) on Tuesday announced the filing of legislation establishing the first-ever statewide community solar program. The goal is to create at least 500 MW of community solar generating capacity, with 40% of that capacity reserved, on an annual basis, for low-to-moderate income community solar projects, as well as launch Florida into the forefront of solar-based economic growth. “Renewable and solar energy legislation is long overdue in the state of Florida. I am proud to be a leader in this field and hope my colleagues in the legislature and those in the utility industry can join me and support this good legislation,” said Senator Berman. “This is the culmination of a project I have worked on for several months and I am excited to share it.” SB 1156 allows electric customers in Florida to purchase, lease, or subscribe to a portion of a community solar facility and use their portion of the power produced to lower their energy bills, much as if they had installed the system on their property. Community solar programs can provide access to local, affordable and clean energy options to all energy customers - including schools, non-profits and churches. A well-designed community solar program is also an innovative tool that can leverage private investment to remove barriers to solar access for low-income households, affordable housing providers and other underserved communities to access clean energy…” From Senator Berman’s District 31 Press Release
Read Hurricane Irma was wake-up call on climate change for many Southwest Floridians, new Conservancy of Southwest Florida survey shows - “Three quarters of Southwest Floridians believe climate change is happening, and most worry about it, according to a pioneering survey released Wednesday by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Although national attitudes have been widely studied and reported, the nonprofit’s survey is the first region-specific research of its kind, said president and CEO Rob Moher. Residents care and want to see concrete action, with seven in 10 residents concerned about climate change, and three quarters of them observing more severe weather in recent years, results showed. “(Hurricane) Irma was our wake-up call,” Moher said. That’s why the Naples-based nonprofit commissioned the survey to gauge the depth of local knowledge and interest in finding solutions. Results showed the disaster greatly increased local concern about climate change and spurred the desire to prepare for its impacts...Of particular concern to area residents were mangroves and wetlands. An “overwhelming majority,” Moher said – 93 percent – say governments should do more to protect mangroves and wetlands. A large majority perceive weather extremes and rising sea levels as a threat to their community, and most say red tide and algae outbreaks are being made worse by climate change…” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
Read Supreme court to hear groundwater pollution case - “Supreme Court Justices agreed to hear a case over how to regulate groundwater pollution on Feb. 19, 2019. According to the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the case is Cty. of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, U.S., No. 18-260. The outcome of this case could change the way factories, pipelines, and others discharge their effluent and could change the way sewer systems, power plants and other industries dispose of their wastewater. On Aug. 27, Maui County, Hawaii, filed a writ of certiorari seeking for Supreme Court consideration of the Maui County case that started with a lawsuit in 2012. According to WEF, Maui County is asking the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling that found the county is liable for discharging treated wastewater underground because it eventually seeped into the Pacific Ocean. The Clean Water Act (CWA) states that it does not apply to pollution that has been injected into groundwater. According to WEF, the issue becomes less clear if groundwater then seeps into a body of water that the law does apply to, such as a river, ocean or lake. The Supreme Court justices will now have an opportunity to settle a long unresolved question in the area of water law: Can businesses freely dispose of pollution into a groundwater source if that pollution eventually flows into a body of water on the surface? According to WEF, businesses and municipalities are now arguing that CWA’s pollution limits were never meant to apply to groundwater. However, environmentalists say that is not the case if it can be proven that a groundwater source is connected to a river, lake or ocean…” From Water and Wastes Digest.
Read Pythons run amok, but Florida hopes to stop anacondas before they eat the Everglades- “Invasive pythons run rampant in the Everglades and imported iguana burrow into canal banks with abandon, but Florida is trying to keep additional exotics from gaining a foothold in the state with new rules considered this week. Critters including several species of anaconda, the raccoon dog and a freaky fruit bat called the flying fox could be added to the state’s prohibited species list by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission is meeting in Gainesville Wednesday and Thursday. The animals under consideration are already on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s list of “injurious” species, meaning they can’t be imported into the country. But because they aren’t on Florida’s list of prohibited species, they can come into the state from other states, be used for commercial purposes, or possessed as pets. “Anything that can get to the size that an anaconda does really shouldn’t be allowed to be owned as a pet in Florida,” said Mike Kirkland, a South Florida Water Management District scientist and project manager for its python elimination program. This is what we are trying to prevent,” said FWC spokesperson Carli Segelson. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed three anaconda species and the reticulated python as “injurious reptiles” noting that it was criticized for waiting until 2012 to list the Burmese python as injurious. It’s unknown how many Burmese pythons roam the Everglades, but estimates are in the tens of thousands. Hunters with the 2-year-old water management district’s python elimination program have killed 1,985 snakes as of Tuesday…” Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post.
Read Martin County residents to Army Corps: Lake Okeechobee discharges a public health disaster - “ In two sessions spreading over more than six hours, the message to the Army Corps of Engineers was loud and clear: Consider our health when you operate Lake Okeechobee. "The Army Corps has been conveying toxins into our homes for years," said Indian Riverkeeper Marty Baum. "We need to be protected, yet poison continues to be delivered to our doorsteps." About 175 people signed up to speak at the two meetings, one of several around the state to help the Corps develop new operational guidelines for Lake O — guidelines that will determine, among other things, if, when and how much lake water will be discharged east to the St. Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee River..."We know you're frustrated" about the damaging Lake O discharges, Col. Andrew "Drew" Kelly, Corps commander for Florida, told the evening crowd. "We want to change. We're trying to identify people's priorities, and we realize those priorities have changed over the past 10 years." The guidelines to be known as the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) will replace the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) developed in 2008. Public officials and residents from the Treasure Coast, mostly Martin County, asked the Corps to manage the lake so there will be no discharges to the St. Lucie River...Some spoke about the damage to the environment, but most emphasized the toll on human health.” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read FWC honors couple conserving nearly 4,000 acres of wildlife habitat as Landowner of the Year - “Ben and Louann Williams, owners of the Wetland Preserve LLC in Putnam County, are actively conserving a 3,725-acre area in northeast Florida so diverse it encompasses forests, flatwoods, sandhill and swamps, and borders Rice Creek. Not only are they planting longleaf pine and performing prescribed burns to restore wildlife habitat, on their website the Williams welcome others to “share our love of the outdoors and our commitment to preserving it for the future.” They offer river excursions, allow Florida Trail hikers to cross their land, and invite biologists and students onto their property to observe and help conserve species such as gopher tortoises and rusty red salamanders. At its meeting today in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) honored the Williams, who have been recognized as the 2019 Florida Land Steward Landowner of the Year. The Florida Land Steward is a partnership that shares resources available to private landowners conserving their lands for wildlife, with partners that include the FWC, Florida Forest Service, University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Williams have taken on many roles as Florida land stewards. They work cooperatively with the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program on conserving native wildlife and habitat, and helped pioneer the first landowner-led prescribed burn association in the state. They belong to the FWC’s local Black Bear Stakeholder Group. They are founding members of St. Johns Riverkeeper. They offer recreation opportunities to wounded veterans through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Operation Outdoor Freedom. And they use best management practices as a Stewardship Forest under the Florida Forest Service…” From the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Read 2 endangered Florida panthers found dead days apart - “Two endangered Florida panther deaths have been reported in the past week. That makes five deaths reported this year, three of which were from vehicle strikes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the remains of a 2-year-old male were collected Tuesday off Golden Gate Boulevard in Collier County. The cause of death was vehicle collision. Wildlife officials say a 12-year-old female’s remains were found Friday in Big Cypress National Preserve. The cause of death wasn’t known. Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild…” From the Associated Press.
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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