FCC News Brief - February 26, 2019

Read Revive growth management now: 1,000 Friends of Florida - “With Florida growing by up to 1,000 people a day, state leaders need to revive growth management “before rampant development irreparably spoils what makes our state special,” says Paul Owens, president of 1,000 Friends of Florida. Owens will outline his organization’s plan for restoring growth management at the regional and state levels during a presentation at the Florida Wildflower Symposium on Friday, April 12, in Gainesville. The two-day event will take place at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center. Last August, 1,000 Friends of Florida, in collaboration with seven other environmental groups and the League of Women Voters of Florida, released a report entitled “Trouble in Paradise.” It targets six major priorities for the state’s future, including growth management oversight. Growth directly affects the report’s other priorities, which include protecting Florida’s natural lands and water resources...Our state’s water resources, in particular, already are experiencing profound problems because of growth and loss of natural lands, from saltwater intrusion and pollution to wildlife-smothering algae blooms. If future growth isn’t carefully managed, “even worse water problems are inevitable, along with the other negative impacts of sprawling development, including traffic congestion, strains on public services and budgets, loss of open land critical for wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation, and the inevitable disappearance of plant and animal species,” he says…” Loraine O’Connell writes for Florida Wildflower Foundation.

Read Galvano touts new roads as key to Florida’s future - “In a move that evokes a bygone era in Florida — one of black-and-white TVs, cheap land and undiscovered beaches — state Senate President Bill Galvano is betting big that asphalt is the key to the state’s economic future. Environmentalists and urban planners are alarmed by the Bradenton Republican’s push for lawmakers to launch three ambitious highway projects across swaths of Florida that are now home to plenty of cattle and pine trees, but few people or jobs...But at a time when fellow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking lawmakers for $625 million to address coastal and inland water problems that many at least partially blame on poorly regulated growth, Galvano’s goals are counterproductive, critics say. The organization 1,000 Friends of Florida, which takes a dim view of sprawling development, said highway expansion into rural regions won’t necessarily bring jobs. But it will shift the Florida Department of Transportation’s focus away from urban highways and mass transit needs, said Thomas Hawkins, policy and planning director for 1,000 Friends. “Where FDOT’s dollars are directed is where it puts its attention,” Hawkins said. “These seem like projects more suitable for where the state was yesterday, not where it’s heading tomorrow.” The Tampa-area Suncoast Parkway, which now stretches less than 60 miles from Hillsborough County to Citrus County, would be extended another 150 miles to the Georgia line under Galvano’s plan. It would serve as a hurricane evacuation route, but also bring development to Central and North Florida counties still reeling from job losses rooted in the 2008 recession, he said...In the past, the Heartland Parkway had been supported by major agribusinesses, including Alico Inc., A. Duda & Sons, Lykes Brothers and phosphate giant Mosaic…” John Kennedy reports for GateHouse Capital Bureau.

Read Lake County commissioners should say no to Green Swamp development- “ Lake County is about to load up the ol’ camel on Tuesday. A proposal is before county commissioners to allow a 29-home subdivision inside the Green Swamp, the main way that the Floridan Aquifer gets recharged and you, the lucky human living on the surface, get to drink water. Just 29 homes deep in the headwaters of four Florida rivers sounds like nothing compared to the monster subdivisions of several thousand homes that surround quickly-growing Clermont in south Lake County, especially along the Lake Wales Ridge. But here’s the problem: This one, called Hilochee Partners, is yet another straw on that beast of burden, whose back could easily be broken on this issue. If commissioners approve the subdivision on 284 acres, opponents say it would set a precedent in how the density of subdivisions could be calculated in an area where there is supposed to be either one home on 5 acres or one home on 10…” Lauren Ritchie writes Commentary for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Will spring discharges prevent another Lost Summer? - “First, there was the Lost Summer of 2013. Then came the Lost Summer of 2016. We just "celebrated" the Lost Summer of 2018. Will there be a Lost Summer of 2019? Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander Andrew Kelly is working to prevent one. Whether or not his methods will work will be proven by Mother Nature. Discharges from Lake Okeechobee began Saturday morning. For approximately the next three weeks, water from Lake Okeechobee will be dispensed into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers as the Army Corps of Engineers attempts to lower the water level of Lake Okeechobee...Rarely, in recent years of Lake Okeechobee management can anyone say all stakeholders around the lake agree on something. But this is one case where coastal residents and Glades residents agree. The estuary advocates on the coasts see the drawback in a spring time discharge event. They fear, as Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic explained Friday, the move may negatively impact the oyster spawning in the St. Lucie River — remember, one adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day — and seagrass sprouting and regrowth in the lower Indian River Lagoon. Agricultural interests south of the lake surely also question the decision to discharge what will probably valuable irrigation resources as the dry season continues. Once the lake level gets below 10 feet, it becomes difficult for pumps to work to bring water into their fields...” Ed Killer reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read The red tide, and the green - “Red tide is gone — for now. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported as much Thursday, citing state officials who say that, for the first time since 2017, samples from all over the state appear to be free of the microorganism that caused toxic algae blooms which claimed the lives of sea turtles, manatees and bottle-nosed dolphins. It’s good news, but it comes with two glaring caveats. First, there’s no guarantee it won’t be back. Second, the clean water tests don’t eradicate the serious and documented ways that red tide has hit Florida in the green...Green is also the color of money. The impacts of environmental conditions on the economy in Florida were underscored last week during a presentation by Sarasota County’s official tourism bureau to that area’s legislative delegation. The financial effects of a strong, long red tide were already known, but largely in anecdotal terms...Meanwhile, the national news coverage — heaps of dead and dying fish on beaches, beloved marine species falling ill and dying, humans facing respiratory problems — certainly doesn’t help the effort to attract new investment to the state. And even if Marion County does not have to worry about red tides directly, it too experienced a decline in the number of visitors in the fourth quarter, possibly as a result of what was going on further south in the state. Fewer tourists heading to South Florida beaches mean fewer tourists passing by Ocala. As legislators noted Monday, red tide and environmental quality in general are becoming high-profile political issues that cross partisan lines. Good. Nearly everyone who lives and works in our state has an interest in a healthy environment. There is no simple answer to the questions about mitigating the effects of red tide. But, as the tourism numbers show, the results of ignoring them are clear — right on the bottom line. From the Ocala Star Banner Editorial Board.

Read Government preparing to be sued in 2023, when the Keys stop issuing building permits - “Starting in 2023, no new building permits will be issued in the Florida Keys, a stipulation of a 1970s state mandate aimed at controlling development in the environmentally sensitive archipelago and ensuring timely evacuation of tourists and residents in the path of hurricanes. Monroe County has between 6,000 and 10,000 undeveloped lots, another result of the state’s 1972 classification of the Keys as an “area of critical state concern.” People who own those properties are likely to sue Florida when they either can’t build what they want on their land or don’t receive what they consider fair compensation from the state…” David Goodhue reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Dire warnings for beloved Lake Kissimmee - “Heading out on the lake in his “mud boat,” makes Jack Harper increasingly angry. As he guides a visitor to places where he used to hunt ducks or fish for speckled perch, his voice grows increasingly aggrieved.“They just killed it for absolutely no good purpose at all,” Harper yells over the sound of his boat’s motor. “It’s sickening. It’s like part of your heart’s gone.”...Harper attributes the decline of Lake Kissimmee to one factor: Decades of state-sanctioned spraying of chemicals to kill non-native plants. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced in January that it would temporarily halt using herbicides on waterways and hold a series of public workshops to allow residents to share their concerns. Harper, a former running back for the University of Florida and the Miami Dolphins, attended a meeting the FWC held Feb. 6 in Kissimmee...Discussion of aquatic weed control also dominated the FWC’s regular meeting Thursday morning in Gainesville. FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton said the agency plans to hold internal meetings to reassess its approach toward the use of herbicides. The state-sanctioned use of chemicals to kill exotic plants in Florida waterways dates to the 1950s, according to a history compiled by UF and the FWC. Diquat, one of 14 herbicides approved for use by the agency, was registered in 1962. It is sold under such brand names as Aquacide and Spectracide. The FWC treated 61,533 acres of Florida waterways with herbicides in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to its annual report, at a cost of just over $17 million. More than $10 million of that total was spent on managing hydrilla…” Gary White reports for The Ledger.

Read Can a lake have legal rights? Voters in Toledo, Ohio, will decide - “On Feb. 26, the residents of Toledo, Ohio, will have the chance to vote on an unusual proposal: whether to give one of the largest lakes in the U.S. its own Bill of Rights. If the ballot measure passes, it would be a win for the small but growing “rights of nature” movement, which aims to deter activities that pollute the environment by granting legal rights to ecosystems. In the days leading up to the vote, the ballot measure has drawn intense opposition from business and agricultural interests that argue the measure could unleash a torrent of frivolous lawsuits. But those who fought to get the question on Tuesday’s special election ballot are determined to see it through, galvanized by their previous experience of seeing the city’s water supply declared too toxic to drink…” Adrian Ma reports for Marketplace.

Read Climate change is here. Will Tampa Bay finally get ready? - “In a nondescript office building in Pinellas Park, a group of officials came together Feb. 11 to start figuring out how the 3.1 million people who live in the coastal plain that is the Tampa Bay area should grapple with a global crisis. It was the sixth meeting of the recently formed Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition’s Steering Committee. Officials call it the first time local governments have come together in a meaningful way to identify, address and plan for climate change. Just a few minutes into the meeting, Gulfport City Council member Michael Fridovich voiced concern about $1 billion in waterfront residential construction and road improvements slated for the Tampa end of the Gandy Bridge. “Municipalities keep okaying buildings being built in areas that they shouldn’t be being built,” he told the group. “My question is, are we not getting the word out?”...But what can cities and counties do about climate change when the world’s most powerful nations have to failed to do enough? For example, St. Petersburg City Council can ban plastic straws — but it can’t stop developing countries from pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. USF College of Marine Science oceanography professor, Gary Mitchum, said local governments must push and prod state governments to act, and so on up the ladder until the federal government listens. “The process is going to be bottom-up,” Mitchum said. “And this is the kind of process we need. We need this in every region.” Kirby Wilson reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Digital Marketing Specialist - Miami Waterkeeper

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 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 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.


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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