Read Florida’s legislators expected to focus heavily on water this session - “ Florida water advocates have hoped for several years that lawmakers will address water quality issues plaguing the state. For years, environmentalists deemed each annual legislative session to be "the year of water." Lawmakers promised to clean Florida’s polluted waters by securing funding, finishing restoration projects and addressing pollution sources. Yet — aside from the EAA reservoir in 2017 — each session has ended with few major changes. 2018 saw one of the worst environmental catastrophes ever — dueling toxic red tide and toxic blue-green algae on both coasts and in Indian River County's Blue Cypress Lake. Now environmentalists across the state wonder if this will be the year that the Legislature heavily focuses on improving the state's water quality. Legislators in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle are proposing wide-ranging bills that focus on funding water quality and treatment projects, but few bills have been filed that address pollution or nutrient runoff. Legislators will also have to compete for funding for water quality projects in their districts, as more municipalities and counties are seeking the state's help in responding to algal blooms. Gov. Ron DeSantis has touted environmental funding on a statewide level, but Treasure Coast clean-water advocates are particularly worried that no environmental leaders have emerged in the Legislature in the wake of Sen. Joe Negron’s retirement…” Ali Schmitz reports for the TCPalm.
Read Alachua County Commission votes to acquire 340 acres for $1M- “More than $1 million in Wild Spaces Public Places funding will be spent on new conservation land in Alachua County. The Alachua County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with the purchase of the four new conservation lands at the meeting held on Feb. 26. The acquisition of the lands was part of the Alachua County Forever project. The program is funded by the sales tax from the Wild Spaces and Public Places referendum. The first two properties will be added to the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area in Newberry. A nearly 20-acre parcel in this area was donated to the county in July of 2013. With the addition of these two properties, the county’s ownership in this area will expand to 85 acres...Commissioner Mike Byerly was the most vocal about his concerns. “It’s not that I don’t think it’s a nice piece of land,” Byerly said. “It’s just I think we all need to be very much aware that it’s a finite pot of money. Once the money’s gone, it’s gone.” Commissioner Robert Hutchinson acknowledged the worries over the price but ultimately believed the purchase would be worth it. “Someday that 50 or 75 acres will be the cherished place where a few kids get to see nature,” Hutchinson said...This addition will give the county additional control over portions of the levy on property, allowing better management of water levels throughout the preserve. The fourth and final property brought before the board was 161 acres that are near the Tuscawilla Preserve. The land, covered entirely in timber, features two hills with one reaching elevations of 130 feet. According to Houder, the wetland area is collecting subsurface drainage from all around the property, sending the water toward Tuscawilla Lake.” Shelbie Eakins and Charles Fenwick report for WUFT.
Read The state of climate change in Florida - “In 2018, 90.7 partnered with FCIR and other local news organizations on a yearlong investigative series to report on climate change issues close to home. The series came about as Florida was recovering from Hurricane Irma and Republican Governor Rick Scott was in the process of running against Democrat Bill Nelson for Senate. Aaronson says FCIR, a nonprofit news organization, chose climate change as the topic to tackle for two reasons: Scott’s ban on the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” by Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials in 2015, and the destruction left by natural disasters like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in 2017. “Climate change — at least in the news media as we were seeing it —was not getting the attention it deserved,” Aaronson says. Green started off the series with a visit to the small town of Yankeetown on Florida’s Gulf coast, which has used a state law aimed at vulnerable infrastructure to target planning around natural resources to combat sea-level rise….” Ashley Garrett reports for WMFE.
Read Record-like heat an indicator of climate change, more hot weather to come, says climate educator - “Enjoy the recent hot spell? You're in luck because the number of days with above-average temperatures is expected to go up between now and 2050. "We are in a very much upward trend in rising temperatures," Yoca Arditi-Rocha said during a presentation this week in Fort Myers. "In fact, 2018 became one of the hottest years on record. In fact, the last five years have been the hottest on record." Florida's tourism industry will be impacted by billions of dollars a year, she said. "The trend in Miami (is that) we've seen the number of days above 90 degrees has gone up," said Arditi-Rocha with The CLEO Institute, a Miami-based nonprofit that focuses on environmental and climate change education. "Since the '70s that trend has continued to go up. The number of days with a heat index of 105 will increase by six-fold by 2050. Think about our labor force, our agriculture industry, our elderly population…” Chad Gillis reports for the Naples Daily News.
Read Solar advocates ask court to force JEA to restore net metering policy- “Solar United Neighborhoods, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Earthjustice have together filed a motion for summary judgement regarding their lawsuit against Jacksonville’s municipal utility, JEA, and its decision to rollback a nearly decade-old net metering program. The plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that JEA’s decision violates Florida law, specifically statute 366.91 regarding renewable energy. “Luckily, in Florida we have a statute that requires a net metering program to be employed by all utilities,” said Earthjustice attorney Bonnie Malloy. “That is why we brought this suit, to hopefully get JEA in particular, and any other utilities who are trying to slowly dismantle their program, to follow suit and comply with the law.” The term net metering refers to a metering and billing methodology where customer-owned renewable energy generation offsets that customer’s electricity consumption on site. Depending on the size of a customer’s solar installation, excess power may also be generated and automatically sent back to the utility, later appearing as a credit or reimbursement on the customer’s bill. “The whole purpose of net metering - it basically incentivizes, financially, the installation of solar panels because it reduces the cost, it helps pay off the up front costs over a shorter period of time,” Malloy said…” Brendan Rivers reports for WJCT.
Read Lake County rejects sand hauling from conservation area- ‘the impacts are just too great’ - “Neighbors on Tuesday warned of dire consequences from an enormous sand-hauling operation at the 3,600-acre Lake Norris Conservation Area — increased traffic congestion, damage to roads, threats to wildlife and falling property values, among other concerns. “It’s gonna be a living hell every day,” area resident Tom Bergstresser told Lake County commissioners. “Right now we need some help from y’all…Let’s put an end to this.” They did. Culminating a nearly nine-month battle, commissioners heeded residents’ wishes and unanimously rejected the plan to allow for the removal of leftover lower-grade sand from a previous mining operation at the conservation area northeast of Eustis that decades ago retrieved top-grade sand. Cheers erupted from opponents after the vote to scuttle an operation calling for 400 trucks a day — 200 in and 200 out — for several years to clear out the sand from the conservation area owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District. “The impacts are just too great,” County Commissioner Wendy Breeden said…” Jerry Fallstrom reports for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Congress voted to protect millions of acres of public lands: Why it’s a huge win for conservationists- “On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to authorize a sweeping land protection package that would protect over two million acres of land across the country. The nearly 700-page package includes legislation that touches nearly every state, expanding wilderness areas from New Hampshire to Alaska, carving out new protections for rivers and state forests, and permanently protecting several vast tracts of land from future mining. The bill also includes a crucial guarantee: that the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to pay for land and conservation efforts countrywide, will be permanently authorized. Authorization for the fund, which has been in existence since 1965, lapsed in September of 2018, jeopardizing conservation projects across the country. If this legislation passes, the fund will be permanently enshrined—cementing backing for the 41,000 projects and nearly 2.4 billion acres of public lands it supports…” Alejandra Borunda reports for National Geographic.
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
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.
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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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