FCC News Brief - February 27, 2019

Read DeSantis, Florida Cabinet approve $2.54 million in Florida Forever land acquisition - “Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet Tuesday voted to spend $2.54 million to buy land in Hamilton and Lake counties as part of the Florida Forever conservation program, the state's leading conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. The 83.4-acre property acquired in Lake County includes five continuous lakefront properties as part of the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway Florida Forever project. The parcels, which line Lake Norris, are worth a total $540,000. The corridor is rich with diverse habitats, including forested pinelands and floodplain that are home to the largest black bear population in the state...Florida Forever is the largest public land acquisition program of its kind in the United States, managing over 10 million acres of preserved land. Under the program and its predecessor, P2000, more than 2.5 million acres were purchased. Both of the projects approved Tuesday show “increasing value of our current green infrastructure,” Department of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein told the cabinet. Samantha J. Gross reports for the Tampa Bay Times

Read Florida’s top environmental leader to keep job - “With a commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change, Noah Valenstein was approved Tuesday by the Florida Cabinet to remain as the state’s top environmental official. The unanimous vote by the Cabinet — Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — supported Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recommendation to keep Valenstein as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Former Gov. Rick Scott first appointed Valenstein to the $151,000-a-year job in May 2017. Fried, the lone Democrat on the Cabinet, said she was encouraged by Valenstein’s commitment in recent talks to work on water-quality issues with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which she leads...Valenstein’s retention as department secretary was backed Tuesday by the Everglades Foundation, the Sierra Club Florida and Audubon. He told the Cabinet he’s been “very busy since January 8,” when DeSantis was sworn in…” Jim Turner reports for the News Service.

Read FSU gets $8 million from Triumph BP fund to study how to fix what’s ailing Apalachicola Bay - “Florida State University Monday landed nearly $8 million in funding to begin a 10-year project to restore Apalachicola Bay and ultimately turn around the Franklin County's oyster-production industry. The award from the Triumph Gulf Coast board meeting in Panama City is expected to place FSU’s Apalachicola Bay Systems Initiative in the forefront of marine research while spearheading an economic development drive for the Forgotten Coast. Florida State also is contributing $1.5 million toward the project.When the oysters go away, the ecosystem changes,” Researcher Sandra Brooke said in a release. “So, we first need to understand what is going on in the bay, and then we can move forward with developing a restoration plan.” The Franklin County oyster has been imperiled for years as harvesting has been depleted due to several issues with Apalachicola Bay. It has resulted in dire unemployment for those who depended on the oyster industry, leading to an economic strain on the entire community and forcing restaurants to turn elsewhere for oysters supplies…” Byron Dobson reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Current Lake Okeechobee discharges spark concern if there’s a drought- “Early discharges from Lake Okeechobee are worrying political leaders in Palm Beach County as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reevaluates its rules for maintaining lake water levels.West Palm Beach receives most of its drinking water from Clear Lake and nearby Lake Mangonia, but Lake Okeechobee is a backup. During a drought, the lake can become a critical resource. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of revising the Lake Okeechobee system operating manual, which directs decisions about the water level and discharges into the St. Lucie Estuary and Caloosahatchee River. West Palm Beach Commission President Paula Ryan, who is also running for mayor, is asking for an emergency resolution from the city to urge the governor and others to not lower the level of Lake Okeechobee. She says in the past, West Palm Beach has come within days of running out of drinking water during droughts...The public can weigh in on the future of Lake Okeechobee on Wednesday night. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a meeting Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the South Florida Water Management District Auditorium on Gun Club Road in central Palm Beach County…” Amy Lipman reports for WPTV.

Read Florida should be a leader in building a clean energy economy - “Congratulations to Gov. Ron DeSantis on a productive first month in office. I am pleased he is creating an Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection and appointing a chief science officer. I encourage him to go further and tackle the most critical challenge of our lifetime: the climate crisis. Together, we can work to build a clean energy economy that creates good-paying jobs and reduces the escalating costs on Floridians...Two weeks ago, the nonpartisan Brookings Institution singled out Florida as the state most at risk to economic harm from the changing climate. Florida is more vulnerable than other states to significant economic damages, lost wages, mortality from extreme temperatures and coastal property damage. Increasing temperatures also are responsible for other economic and health impacts, from asthma and heat stroke to water-borne illness….As a first step, Florida should set meaningful goals for renewable power generation and energy efficiency. While most other states have set targets for renewable energy and efficiency, Florida has not...An integral next step would elevate modern and efficient transportation options through investments in transit, electric vehicles and thoughtful land-use policies...Finally, Florida should be a leader in building the clean energy economy. More than half a million jobs were created globally in the renewable energy sector in 2017 alone, with wind and solar jobs outpacing those in coal. More Americans work in clean energy jobs than fossil fuel jobs by a margin of 3 to 1…” Kathy Castor writes Special to the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Sand trucks have no place in Eustis ‘conservation’ area - “Another piece of a large and expensive puzzle is expected to fall in place this week as the Florida Cabinet meets to approve buying 83.4 acres in Lake County for part of a wildlife corridor from the Wekiva area to the Ocala National Forest. Assembling the Wekiva-Ocala Greenway has been a goal of the Florida Forever land-buying conservation program for years, and pieces of it have slowly come into the possession of the state. The project ranks No. 5 in the Critical Natural Lands category and was approved for purchase in June 2018. The 83 acres expected to win approval this week consists of five contiguous lakefront parcels on Lake Norris, northeast of Eustis. Hmmm … Lake Norris — wait! Isn’t that the area where Lake County commissioners are being pressured to let a private company from South Florida make millions by hauling B-grade sand from the lake shores to sell it? Indeed, it is. So, the state and the Lake County Water Authority together are spending $540,000 to help create a nice, quiet “wildlife corridor” and then officials from the St. Johns River Water Management District and the county are going to unleash 160,000 truck trips — a loaded truck every 2½ minutes for a minimum of five years for the purpose of “saving” wetlands elsewhere on the property...Here is the truth: The sand has been there for some years, and the ecosystem apparently has adapted. There is no eco-reason to move any sand at all. Hundreds of sand trucks running continuously will only damage the roads, scatter the wildlife and destroy any notion that this is any kind of a protected area. The point of a protected area is to keep the likes of sand trucks out…” Lauren Ritchie writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Brian Mast introduces Local Water Protection Act - “U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., introduced a new bill focusing on cutting down on water pollution this week. On Monday, Mast paired with U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn. to unveil the “Local Water Protection Act” which “increases grant funding for state and local governments to decrease water pollutants, including addressing toxic agricultural runoff, septic to sewer conversions, legacy pollutants, impacts from dams, effects of channelization of waterbodies and other forms of pollution.” The legislation reauthorizes the EPA’s Section 319 Grant Program, which, as Mast’s office noted, “addresses nonpoint source pollution through state-run nonpoint pollution management programs and related technical assistance.” The bill also more than doubles funds for Section 319, moving it from $70 million a year to $200 million for Fiscal Years 2020 through 2024. “Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects,” Mast’s office noted. Mast said that water problems in the Sunshine State–including toxic algae–prompted his support of the bill…” From Florida Daily.

Read The Plight of Florida Panthers - “These endangered animals, with a population estimated at between 120 and 230, prowl less than 5 percent of their historic range. The wild cats suffer from isolation, loss of habitat – and roadkill. A male panther’s hunting and breeding territory typically covers 200 square miles, a female’s home range, 75 square miles. That equals a lot of wandering and much crossing of roads. In 2018, vehicles killed at least 25 Florida panthers and in 2017, at least 24. Beginning in the 1980s, with the creation of Interstate 75 running east-west between Naples and Ft. Lauderdale, the partners began installing wildlife crossings, typically passages under bridges with barrier fencing to direct animals away from the road and to the passages. Currently, a total of 60 wildlife crossings or bridges and fencing installed in key areas, mostly along I-75 and the north-south State Road 29, have sharply reduced panther mortalities nearby. The team has identified five hotspots – stretches of road where nine or more panthers have been killed – in need of additional crossings...For the species to continue to recover, Florida panthers need to not only survive crossing roads, but also must establish breeding populations north of the Caloosahatchee. A mother and kittens appeared north of the river in early 2017, the first such sighting in more than 40 years, and TNC is working to cobble together protected landscapes and connections stretching from the river into central and northern Florida. Any cats heading north face another formidable obstacle, though: Interstate 4. To help them overcome it, wildlife crossings need to move north as well…” Melissa Gaskill reports for WFSU NatureNow.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Manatee Conservation Contractor - Defenders of Wildlife

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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