FCC News Brief - January 28, 2019

Read DeSantis should push lawmakers to honor intent of Amendment 1, for the good of Florida’s environment - “Seven months after a Tallahassee judge’s ruling, Florida voters are still waiting to have their wish fulfilled to buy and conserve environmentally sensitive land through Amendment 1. But state lawmakers have subverted the people’s will, spending millions on just about anything but fragile lands. In his short time in office, Gov. Ron DeSantis has shown that he understands just how vital the Everglades are to the state. We urge him to bring that same enlightened sensibility to how Amendment 1 funds are spent. Florida’s environmental future is at stake.  It’s been so long since Amendment 1 was added to the state Constitution, that a recap is in order: In 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment to buy and preserve Florida land that was in peril. Amendment 1 mandated that 33 percent of revenue from real-estate documentary stamps would go to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. Currently, there is $900 million in that kitty, which has drawn legislators’ attention...They can start by fully funding Florida Forever, the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. The state has undercut its funding since 2008 and, therefore, undermined efforts to save land in perpetuity. In Miami-Dade County, for instance, those funds allow its Environmentally Endangered Land program to protect significant properties from development, for instance, pine rockland throughout the county. But, environmentalists say, the county program is pretty much tapped out. In other parts of the state, the Florida Forever wish list includes parcels in the Apalachicola River area, Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem and Panther Glades…” From the Miami Herald Editorial Board.

Read Florida senator takes aim at plastic bags, straws- “ Amid a broader national debate about the issue, a Senate Democrat on Thursday filed a bill that would prevent grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses that sell food from using plastic carryout bags and providing single-use plastic straws. Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Delray Beach, filed the proposal (SB 502) for consideration during the legislative session that starts March 5. The proposed bans would carry $500 fines for first-time violators and $1,000 fines for subsequent violations. Similar proposals have popped up in various parts or the country in recent years, at least in part because discarded plastic bags and straws are blamed for damaging marine life…” From the News Service of Florida.

Read Nearly a third of state’s waters polluted, experts say - “"Not a single resident in Florida lives more than 20 miles from an impaired waterway," said John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper, at the first Florida Water Policy Summit last Monday. Organized around the idea that "clean water is a basic human right," the event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day featured six speakers from local conservation groups who spoke about actionable water policy that can improve Florida's impaired waters. And Florida has a lot of impaired waters - currently 12 million acres under Best Management Action Plans, or BMAPs, which are 15-year restoration plans required by the federal government when a waterbody is not meeting quality standards...The state of Florida currently has 416 TMDLs, with 80 waterbodies on a waiting list to receive one, according to Maria Carrozzo, senior environmental policy specialist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The next step after establishing a TMDL is writing up a BMAP to restore the waters…” Jesse Meadows reports for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze.

Read State offers details on plan to move officers from wildlife to environmental protection - “After some initial confusion, state officials have at last clarified what Gov. Ron DeSantis meant during his first week in office when he called for transferring state wildlife officers to the Department of Environmental Protection. Instead of moving all of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's sworn officers over to the environmental agency, just 13 will make the switch. Those 13 work for the wildlife agency's Environmental Crimes Unit, which Wildlife Commission spokesman Robert Klepper said handles "criminal commercial environmental violations such as illegal domestic/commercial/construction waste dumping, dredge and fill, littering, mangrove cutting, oil spill issues and shoreline alteration." They do not cover violations of the state's game laws…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read FWC to pause aquatic plant herbicide treatment while collecting public comment- “Beginning Jan. 28, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will temporarily pause its aquatic herbicide treatment program throughout the state. During this pause, staff will work to collect public comments regarding the FWC’s aquatic plant management program. The FWC will hold several public meetings to gather community input about the program. Specific dates and locations of these meetings will be announced shortly. Comments can also be sent to Invasiveplants@MyFWC.com. Invasive plants degrade and diminish Florida's waterways by displacing native plant communities. Some invasive aquatic plants pose a significant threat to human welfare and cause economic problems by impeding flood control and affecting recreational use of waterways.” Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Press Release.

Read Hamilton County residents, officials share sewage spill concerns with legislators - “Hamilton County residents and elected officials shared concerns over the ongoing wastewater spills from Valdosta, Ga., during the county’s legislative delegation hearing Jan. 16. State Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) and Rep. Chuck Brannan (R-Macclenny) were present to listen to residents. Montford said, as the Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, a report will be done on what the state of Florida can do to stop the spills...Commissioner Josh Smith also echoed concerns about the wastewater spills. “We have begged for help for nine years,” Smith said. Brannan said the state may have to consider a lawsuit due to the spills occurring in another state. He said he will look into the issue. “I hope you will move forward with the concerns you have heard here,” Smith said…” Jessie R. Box reports for the Suwannee Democrat.

Read In Tallahassee, a new environment for environmentalism - “In his campaign for Florida governor that coincided with plumes of toxic algae and piles of dead fish on the state’s signature beaches, Ron DeSantis denounced pollution and declared himself a “Teddy Roosevelt-style Republican,” championing conservation as a basic conservative value...Florida’s environmental leaders might have been forgiven for worrying that DeSantis, too, a Trump protégé with a poor environmental record in Congress, would be all hat and no cattle. Instead, two days after his inauguration as Florida’s 46th governor, DeSantis signed one of the farthest-reaching environmental orders in state history. As the rest of the nation watches federal inaction, Floridians are seeing action. DeSantis’ order called for a record $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration; a harmful-algae task force; a chief science officer; and an office of resilience and coastal protection to fund and coordinate Florida’s response to rising seas. DeSantis did not stop at Executive Order No. 19-12. He has demanded that all eight board members of the powerful South Florida Water Management District step down. As governor-elect in December, DeSantis had asked the board to delay approving a $1 million sugar industry lease that would extend cane farming in an area the Legislature has identified for Everglades restoration. Former Gov. Rick Scott’s water managers ignored DeSantis and approved the lease...The acid test of leadership is not the headline you grab in your opening charge, but the work you do to sustain it over the years. That is the challenge now facing Gov. DeSantis. Just as Theodore Roosevelt worked continually to preserve national lands from the first wildlife refuge at Florida’s Pelican Island in 1903 to saving Washington’s Mount Olympus on his way out of the White House in 1909, the governors who helped build Florida’s environmental legacy dedicated years and hard-won political capital to accomplish it…” Cynthia Barnett and David Colburn write Special to the Tampa Bay Times.

Read The Trust for Public Land: Crisis in our National Parks- “On average in January, nearly half a million people visit our national parks every day. This year, as a result of the federal government shutdown, now the longest in our nation’s history, park-goers have been greeted not just by nature’s majesty, but by mounting piles of garbage and human excrement—fruited plains indeed. During previous government shutdowns, national parks have been closed to visitors, reducing the risk of temporary and permanent damage incurred without full staffing and services. This time, however, the parks remained open—and American citizens and policymakers alike must now take swift and decisive action to combat the potentially disastrous results...The full extent of the damage done during the course of the four-week shutdown is unknown, ranging in severity from quickly remedied to irreparable. There have been reports of vandalism from multiple parks; some Joshua trees—which have an average lifespan of about 150 years—have been cut down in the national park that bears their name, and priceless cultural artifacts could be at risk in parks like Mesa Verde. Our wildlife population could be in danger, too. The National Park Service has spent decades working to keep bears and coyotes from seeing human campsites as sources of food, but the trash currently piling up in parks across the country could undo that work, potentially leading to dangerous interactions and necessitating the capture or even euthanization of animals. This shutdown has incited a maelstrom of partisan blame-throwing, but no matter our political leanings, all of us who treasure our national parks must now come together to protect them from additional damage…” Diane Regas writes Op-Ed for the National Parks Traveler.


From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

January 28 – 2:00PM-5:00PM– Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation– (Boynton Beach)– Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at Lakeside Medical Center, (39200 Hooker Highway, Belle Glade). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  To participate in the delegation meeting, complete this form and return by mail or email to Christine Shaw, Cshaw1@pbcgov.org.

January 28 – 2:30PM-6:00PM– Orange County Legislative Delegation– (Orlando)– Attend the Orange County Delegation meeting at the Orange County Administration Center, Commission Chambers (201 South Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  To participate in the delegation meeting, email LD@ocfl.net to request an appearance form.

February 2 - 8:00 AM - 2nd Annual Conference: “Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future” - (Vero Beach) - Join the Pelican Island Audubon for their 2nd Annual conference to learn how to enhance your yard with native plants and protect our waterways from lawn and roadway run-off. Conference will include a variety of expert speakers, nurseries with native plants for purchase, food vendors, and demonstrations of native plant landscaping. Visit the event website here for more information and a schedule of events. Registration $10 in advance, $15 at the door. (Indian River County Fairgrounds, 7955 58th Street, Vero Beach FL 32967)

February 4 - 6:00PM - Pensacola Confronts the Climate Crisis - (Pensacola) - Hotter temperatures, stronger storms and flooding, rising seas and more. Can Pensacola survive the crisis of climate change? Join 350 Pensacola as we welcome Elaine Sargent, chair of the City of Pensacola’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force, as she leads us through recommendations for how Pensacola can confront the global climate crisis. 350 Pensacola board members will join Elaine to outline plans to push Pensacola to climate action in 2019. Please join us for an interactive presentation and discussion! The presentation is part of a monthly speaker series on climate change and related issues sponsored by 350 Pensacola. For more information: 350pensacola@gmail.com. Event held at the Pensacola Public Library, 239 N. Spring St., Pensacola.

February 11 - 6:00PM-7:30PM CST - “The Problem with Plastics” screening & discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Dr. Enid Sisskin Chair of the Natural Resource Committee for the League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, as she discusses the “The Problem with Plastics”. The presentation is part of Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series on Monday, February 11th beginning at 6 p.m.at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. Stay up to date on the event or to RSVP at the Facebook event here. Or get your free event tickets from Eventbrite here. Light refreshments will be served.

February 13- 12:45PM-2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting - (The Villages) -Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) will host its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m., at the Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL. Our guest speaker will be Lisa Sanderson, Sumter County UF/IFAS Residential Horticulture Extension Agent II and Master Gardener Coordinator. Lisa will discuss simple home vegetable gardens. She will also describe plants that can be used to attract pollinators. Beginning gardeners and Master Gardeners are welcome to this FREE program. Questions? Email:  raivedg@gmail.com

March 13 - 10AM-4PM - 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 27 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - 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/.

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

Help Save Our Panthers

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River * Learn more about the plight of Fish Island in this WUFT News & UF College of Journalism and Communication publication.

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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