FCC News Brief - February 25, 2019

Read Florida delegation focuses on water quality issues - “Members of the Florida congressional delegation will be focusing on water quality in the coming days. On Friday, the two chairs of the Florida delegation–Democrat U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings and Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan–announced they would hold a meeting on “some of the most pressing water quality issues affecting the Sunshine State” which will include “red tide, harmful algal blooms, offshore drilling and other water quality issues.” “Florida’s pristine beaches and rivers are what attract countless visitors to our state each year,” Buchanan said. “It is critical that our bipartisan delegation works together to ensure Florida’s oceans, waterways, beaches are clean and healthy. “Coastal water quality issues are of significant importance to all Floridians,” said Hastings. “Last year, Florida faced an environmental disaster with serious economic consequences, when toxic algae coated both coasts. The devastation closed beaches, made Floridians sick, and harmed all aspects of our fishing, tourism, and recreational industry. It is critical that we reach across the partisan divide to truly solve this pressing problem.” The delegation will be hearing from Adam Gelber, the director of Office of Everglades Restoration Initiatives in the U.S. Department of the Interior; Col. Andrew Kelly, the commander of the Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Florida Department of Environmental Protection Sec. Noah Valenstein; Michael Crosby, the president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium; and Garrett Wallace, the Florida government relations manager of the Nature Conservancy…” Kevin Derby reports for Florida Daily.

Read Report finds ‘9 Nasty Threats’ to NE Florida’s coasts, waterways - “Florida’s coasts and waterways are at a crossroads, according to a report out this month from Ocean Conservancy. The Washington D.C.-based environmental group is uncovering the crisis looming over the land and in the waters of the Sunshine State, while also calling for swift legislative action from the District of Columbia to Tallahassee. The 21-page "Currents and Crossroads" report released earlier this month sheds light on what it called the dire state of our coastlines, lakes and rivers. The majority of what it identified as "Nine Nasty Threats" to Florida's coast directly impact Northeast Florida's residents and ecosystem. Florida's has 8,436 miles of waterfront, including inland waterways, and the coastline from Nassau County to Flagler County is considered a critical and vulnerable piece of the state's environmental puzzle. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and a series of nor'easters, portions of beaches in Duval and St. Johns are among the 485 miles of eroding beaches around the state.  To make matters worse, 2018 was a record year for algal blooms in Florida. There was both the worst blue-green algae bloom in history and a devastating red tide outbreak that killed hundreds of animals and cost coastal communities millions of dollars…” Jonathan Stacey reports for News4Jax.

Read Florida wildlife officials should make Roundup ban permanent - “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is conducting five hearings across Florida for public comment on suspending the use of aquatic-herbicide treatment on state waters and wetlands. Pelican Island Audubon Society has urged FWC to make this ban permanent as an example to other water-management entities, all regular users of herbicides, including Roundup. At the FWC hearing in Okeechobee on Feb. 7, I reviewed overwhelming scientific evidence, including the March 2015 conclusions of the World Health Organization and its International Agency for Research on Cancer, that glyphosate — the principle ingredient of Roundup — is a "probable human carcinogen" and, most likely, a cause of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma....Pelican Island Audubon Society's interest in the harm caused by Roundup/glyphosate began with concern for the health of the Indian River Lagoon, the sink for all pollutants detected in its tributary canals and rivers such as the St. Sebastian and St. Lucie. Herbicides and pesticides, including glyphosate, have been identified as “contaminants of emerging concern” in the Lagoon Council’s 2018 draft comprehensive conservation and management plan. Lagoon pollutants, in addition to nitrogen and phosphorous, include pesticides and herbicides that stimulate algal blooms and appear in necropsies of the bodies of dolphins and manatees. The Audubon Society has told the Lagoon Council that one single step that can be taken immediately to reduce pollution of the lagoon is simply to stop spraying Roundup and other toxic chemicals on the wetlands, canals and rivers that drain into the lagoon…” Graham Cox writes Opinion for the TCPalm.

Read Smart growth helps Florida’s environment - “A new study shows Florida could grow to more than 33 million residents in the next 50 years. And if development trends continue, more than one-third of the state will be paved over for new buildings.  1000 Friends of Florida, a smart-growth advocacy group, reports an estimated 15 million people will move to the Sunshine State by 2070. The organization's President, Paul Owens, thinks this will affect the quality of life and environment as millions of acres are used to build neighborhoods, offices and schools. Owens says compact development is much more tax payer friendly.  "Because it takes advantage of public services that are already available, roads, water, sewer, schools," said Owens. "If you can utilize them then that means you don't have to spread them out to cover areas of sprawling development." The study recommends managing growth by filling in empty spaces in urban areas rather than expanding into conservation lands, which could save millions of acres from development while still accommodating a growing population. Owen says sprawling development is also directly linked to causing harmful algae blooms like the historic-ones Florida saw this year…” From WTXL News.

Read Florida bill would ban sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate, like Hawaii and Key West - “Sunscreens containing those chemicals have been banned in Key West and Hawaii, in January and July, respectively. Now, Florida Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, has filed legislation (Senate Bill 708)  to ban them in the Sunshine State unless the user has a prescription...Oxybenzone “poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change,’’ according to a study published in the February 2016 issue of the "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology."  When you swim with sunscreen on, the chemicals can seep into the water and be absorbed by corals, disrupting reproduction and growth. The corals turn white and die, a process known as "bleaching." The equivalent of one drop of oxybenzone in 6½ Olympic-sized swimming pools can damage corals, according to research by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia….Banning reef-harming sunscreens won't solve all the problems facing Florida's reefs, "but they can't hurt and might help," said Joshua D. Voss, a scientist at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Fort Pierce who's done extensive research on the Treasure Coast's nearshore and offshore coral reefs. "Dealing with water quality and climate change should be the focus," he said, noting Lake Okeechobee discharges can cover Martin County coral reefs with sediment and kill them. "But getting rid of sunscreen with reef-damaging chemicals is the low-hanging fruit. If we can ban them, when there are plenty of better alternatives, why wouldn't we?" Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Stetson University Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience awards Sustainable Farming Fund grants - “The Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience at Stetson University is helping to reduce the discharge of pollutants into the Suwannee River with grants to private farmers and conservation pilot projects in northern Florida. The funding comes from the $1.3 million Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), which is providing pecuniary resources to purchase equipment for implementing environment-friendly farming practices. SFF grant recipients include: 3 Rivers Cattle and T & T Hay Farms, both in Jasper, Florida (Hamilton County); 4 Star Farm, Ease Land Organic Farm and the Suwannee County Conservation District (SCCD), all in Live Oak, Florida (Suwannee County); and Mitch Holtzclaw Farm in O’Brien, Florida (Suwannee County). “The private farmers will be using high-tech agricultural equipment that allows them to apply fertilizer exactly where it’s needed instead of spreading fertilizer over the whole farm area,” explained Shelley Gentile, the institute’s program manager. “The reduction in fertilizer use means there will be less nutrients in the aquifer.” The SFF awards also can be used by private farmers as matching funds for grant support from the Suwannee River Water Management District for precision agricultural techniques funded through the Division of Water Restoration Assistance’s Springs Restoration Funding, which provides funding assistance for projects that improve the quality and quantity of the State of Florida’s water resources…” From Stetson University press release.

Read North Florida Land Trust facilitates the expansion of Fort George Island Cultural State Park - “North Florida Land Trust has facilitated expansion of the Fort George Island Cultural State Park by identifying 14 acres on Fort George that could be used for mitigation. NFLT partnered with Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust to help identify the Fort George property for trade with the State of Florida in order to access and clean up a State-owned, 2.8-acre submerged land. In return for the submerged land, the State agreed to accept the Fort George property as conservation land that will be preserved for the future as a part of the state park. “This particular piece of property 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 (submerged) site,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “This really worked out for the best for everyone involved and this land will now be part of the state park for future generations to enjoy.” From NFLT press release, Fernandina Observer.

Read Miami wants to make the case to the world that climate-proofing is worth the cost - “A half-moon stretch of Brickell Bay Drive, home to six waterfront condominium buildings, is often cited as the weak point where the ocean rose up and overtook the business district during Hurricane Irma in 2017. Images of streets turned into rivers ricocheted around the internet and made headlines, as the storm made clear just how vulnerable Miami is to rising seas, which scientists predict could be one to two feet higher by 2060. Now the city is planning to replace the short sea wall with a more elaborate shoreline, maybe with native plants to soak up the water, to protect the hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate at risk in Brickell. It’s a plan that Miami isn’t the first to try, but one it hopes to export to the rest of the world... [Miami] Mayor Francis Suarez is one of two mayors — and the only one from the U.S. — on the newly formed Global Commission on Adaptation, headed by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The commission aims to use Miami as an example it will promote worldwide of how investments in climate-proofing a community are worth the cost...“Miami is facing an existential threat unless you take concentrated, immediate action,” he said. “While our primary goal must always be to rein in greenhouse gases ... we cannot ignore that decades of inaction have left far too many exposed.”...Hurricane Irma, like Hurricane Sandy in New York before it, brought into sharp relief what’s at stake in the city. Politicians credit the storm — and its economic punch — for galvanizing Miamians into voting for the city’s $400 million “Miami Forever Bond,” about half of which is reserved for sea level rise adaptation projects…” Alex Harris reports for the Miami Herald.


From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Development Coordinator - Conservation Florida

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Communications Coordinator - Florida Sea Grant

Pinellas County Sustainability & Resiliency Coordinator

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

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 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 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.

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

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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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