FCC News Brief - January 4, 2019

Read Florida’s Priorities: A promising focus on environment - “After nearly two years on the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis must know: Florida’s environment is in trouble, and running out of time. Flooding occurs in places that never flooded before, and much of the state’s coastline is now vulnerable to ocean-level rise. Springs show unmistakable signs of contamination, pointing to trouble in the vast underground caverns that hold the state’s clean drinking-water supply. Waterways across south Florida have been covered with outbreaks of stinking algae, and red tide has caused fish kills that nearly reached Volusia County in 2018. These are problems that will only get worse as the state continues to grow. Growth is not an intrinsically bad thing, but more people moving to Florida means more stress on natural resources and more fertilizer, petroleum by-products and other pollutants washing into waterways and endangering wildlife. If Florida leaders don’t do a better job of managing environmental threats now, they risk irreparable damage to both the environment and the economy. The state needs a plan that can accommodate growth and keep regulation from stifling businesses, but still protect those treasures that draw people to Florida in the first place...DeSantis could challenge the Legislature to fully fund the the state’s conservation land-purchasing program, Florida Forever. But state leaders shouldn’t keep buying property just for the sake of owning it. It makes sense to target future land purchases toward finishing projects that have already been started or buying land for specific purposes (such as beach access or recreational use). But protecting the quality of environmentally sensitive land, by addressing threats to Florida’s water supply and habitat, are equally valid uses of environmental funding…” From the Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial Board.

Read Septic crackdown aims to reduce water pollution from nitrogen that feeds algal blooms - “ new bill aims to crack down on water-polluting septic systems. The bill would require owners of septic systems that don't have operating permits to:Get them inspected at least once every five years, Repair and/or pump-out failing systems, Provide a sales disclosure about the system. The bill would require the Florida Department of Health to: Identify and assess the condition of all septic systems by Jan. 1, 2021 — but using only existing records, not onsite inspections, to cull the information. Update the state's current database and map the systems. Develop minimum standards for functional systems. Write repair and/or pump-out rules for failing systems. Write enforcement procedures for owners who don't get inspections and contractors who don't report results to owners and the health department.  Develop a 10-year county-by-county implementation plan, prioritizing Department of Environmental Protection-designated "springshed protection areas." Submit a report on the above to the governor and Legislature…” Cheryl Smith reports for the TCPalm.

Read Florida’s toxic algae: where has all the wildlife gone? - “Bob Wasno dives, fishes and works in and around the Estero Bay area and the Gulf of Mexico. But a nasty red tide that's lingered along the coast for more than a year seems to have wiped out a lot of the coastal wildlife in Southwest Florida.  "There just isn’t much around like there used to be," said the researcher with Florida Gulf Coast University, based out of the Vester Marine and Environmental Sciences Research Field Station in Bonita Springs. "I’ve never seen the amount of juvenile dolphin, 3 feet or less, just swimming around solo. You hope that they’ll get adopted or taken in by others, but you just look out and all you see are the little ones swimming around."...This year has been deadly for all sorts of wildlife. What that means for the future remains to be seen...FWC's latest report shows no red tide except for one low reading in the Boca Grande area and a few low readings in the Florida Keys.  While the levels haven't been strong enough to cause fish or marine mammal kills or breathing irritation in humans and other mammals, coastal birds are still coming into the Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or CROW, and other facilities with red tide symptoms.  "We’re swamped with brown pelicans, and we certainly are getting other animals," Barron said. "We had a fish crow. And I know they’re eating dead fish from the beach, but they seem to be fairly resistant to a lot of toxins, just like vultures. They eat all the fish that are dead from red tide too but they seem to be able to tolerate the toxins." Toxins from the outbreak can remain in the water for weeks or months after an outbreak, with the marine food chain still vulnerable. "The red tide seems to be gone," said Heather Barron, director of CROW. "The cell counts are normal, yet we’re getting in more cases now than when it was really high. And we see that a lot. Just because the cell counts are high doesn't mean that’s the day we get the animals in. It could be a day or two weeks later….” Chad Gillis reports for the News-Press.

Read North Florida Land Trust has partnered with the Suwannee River Water Management District - “North Florida Land Trust has partnered with the Suwannee River Water Management District to assist them in the acquisition of conservation lands. NFLT will serve as an acquisition facilitator for the District and will negotiate purchases or donations of conservation lands or easements. NFLT will lead the due diligence process including surveys, appraisals, title work and environmental assessments. When necessary, the land conservation organization will also work to identify funding from conservation partners. The District’s mission to manage water and natural resources within north-central Florida includes the conservation of land, which provides both flood and water quality protection. NFLT’s mission aligns with the District’s and the two organizations have worked together in the past to protect land surrounding Camp Blanding and within the Ocala to Osceola, or O2O, critical wildlife corridor. Building on past project success, the District asked NFLT to support this portion of their mission. “Land conservation, whether through purchase or easement, is vital to supporting the mission of the District,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. “North Florida Land Trust is a proven partner that will allow us to better serve the citizens of the Suwannee Valley and protect our natural resources.” “The boundaries of the District are within a portion of our service area and it just makes sense for us to work with them to conserve these lands to protect the water and natural resources,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Facilitating acquisitions is part of what we offer, if it aligns with our preservation mission. We do these types of transactions all the time, so we are familiar with the process and are honored the District chose us to help preserve these environmentally sensitive lands…” North Florida Land Trust Press release

Read Florida health officials delayed notifying residents about tainted water, emails show - “Linda Lawson thought little of drinking the water from the decades-old well in her backyard, less than half a mile down the road from the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. That changed when her daughter-in-law answered to state workers knocking on her door one afternoon. They came to test the water, a worker said. She only began to worry when Mark Lander, the head of the Marion County Department of Health, came by at 8:30 one evening in early November with word that she shouldn’t drink from the well anymore… Water contamination near the Fire College was made known to officials in early September after results came back from testing done by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Of the 80 to 90 wells in a mile radius around the college, 17 wells were tested. According to emails obtained by the Herald/Times, levels of PFOS and PFOA in the water at the college were found to be between 250 and 270 parts per trillion, more than three times higher than the advisable 70 parts per trillion for drinking water…” Samantha J. Gross and Elizabeth Koh report for the Miami Herald.

Read Florida panther roadkill deaths up slightly, but numbers may not mean much now - “Every year, dozens of Florida panthers are run over by cars. The speeding vehicles have become the endangered cats' biggest predator. In 2018, 26 of the 29 panthers that were found dead by state biologists were killed by being hit by cars or trucks. That's one more than last year's number of roadkill deaths (25) and one down from the total deaths (30). "The number of roadkills is slightly up," said Marc Criffield, a panther biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The number is well short of the record of 34 panthers that were run over in 2016, a year in which 42 panthers total died. For two of the remaining panther deaths this year, the cause remains a mystery. The third one was recently solved. A panther that had been hit by a car and spent months in rehabilitation was released back into the wild — and then nine months later was killed in a turf battle with another panther. Until the late 1990s such turf battles — known among biologists as "intraspecific aggression" because it occurs between members of the same subspecies — were the main cause of death for panthers. However, as the population grew from just 20-30 in 1995 to more than 200 now, and more development in panther habitat put more cars and trucks on the roads there, death by vehicles quickly overtook it to become No. 1…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Climate Change Compact is bright spot in South Florida history of inaction - “Ten years ago, officials in South Florida, lobbying for a federal climate bill in Washington, discovered they didn't have enough clout as a county or a city. They realized they needed to speak as a region. And so leaders of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties — Key West to Jupiter — quietly formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact to work together on issues that clearly cross city and county lines: hotter temperatures, stronger storms, sea-level rise...Thirty-five cities have signed on, including Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Jupiter and West Palm Beach. This ground-breaking collaboration among southeast Florida's local governments is a bright spot in a dispiriting history of inaction against an ever-more alarming threat. And in a state with the overwhelming majority of it residents living within 10 miles of its more than 1,300 miles of vulnerable coastline, our region's compact needs to be repeated elsewhere — and quickly. That means government and business leaders in Southwest Florida, Northeast Florida, the Tampa Bay area, the Florida Panhandle and Treasure Coast are on the clock..” From the Miami Herald Editorial Board.

Read Builders hope boom continues in 2019 - “Local builders found no shortage of work in 2018 thanks to brisk demand and a shortage of existing homes...Builders are anticipating ramifications from the new septic-to-sewer conversion mandate for new construction. A new state law went into effect July 1 requiring the installation of nitrogen-reducing septic tanks. The new regulations, which are part of the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, regulate new construction on parcels of land less than one acre. To offset the expense to homeowners, the county commission will continue in 2019 working with the state, particularly Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, in getting funds for septic-to-sewer projects. County Commissioner Scott Carnahan said the county is expecting $58 million in the next five years from the state, and is working on a countywide septic-to-sewer plan. Hammer said conversion prices will vary widely depending on the home. But it could add an estimated $18,000-$25,000 to the cost, he said. But for people excited about owning a new home, it may not be a deal-breaker, he said. And while expensive, Simpson has said he expects costs to come down as more companies compete.” Michael D. Bates reports for the Citrus County Chronicle.


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Upcoming Environmental Events:

January 8, 2019 - 2:00PM - City of St. Augustine Planning & Zoning Board Meeting - (St. Augustine) - On January 8, Fish Island Development LLC will come before the PZB requesting approval to remove a large number of preserved trees on Fish Island. If approved, this tree removal will result in the bulldozing of all trees in a linear path of destruction, over 1.33 acres through the well-established tree canopy, upland buffer, and wildlife habitat on Fish Island. To speak out against another development on the south side of SR 312, attend the PZB meeting in the Alcazar Room at City Hall (75 King St., St. Augustine) to show your support for the preservation of Fish Island. Or email the PZB members at pzb@citystaug.com . For more information, visit www.SaveFishIsland.org.

January 14, 2019 – 6:00PM - Earth Ethics Monthly Education Series - (Pensacola) - Guest speaker Kate Peterson will present and discuss the topic of open burning and detonation of waste military munitions as it relates to human health and environmental concerns. The presentation will begin at 6:00PM at the Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden Street Pensacola, FL 32502. For more information, email earthethicsaction@gmail.com .

January 14, 2019 – 9:00AM-11:00AM– Suwannee County Legislative Delegation– (Live Oak) – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at Live Oak City Hall (101 White Ave SE, Live Oak, FL 32064). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!

January 14, 2019 1:00-3:00PM– Columbia County Legislative Delegation– (Lake City) – Attend the Columbia County Delegation meeting at the Florida Gateway College Administrative Building 1 Board Room (149 SE College Place, Lake City, FL, parking near Library). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at shays.tonya@flsenate.gov .

January 14, 2019 4:00-6:00PM – Baker County Legislative Delegation– (Macclenny) – Attend the Baker County Delegation meeting at the Macclenny City Hall, Commission Room (118 E Macclenny Ave, Macclenny FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at shays.tonya@flsenate.gov .

January 15, 2019 – 9:00AM– Martin County Legislative Delegation– (Stuart) – Attend the Martin County Delegation meeting at Indian River State College Chastain Campus, Wolf Technology Center (2400 E Salerno Road, Stuart FL 34997). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!

January 15, 2019 – 5:00PM-9:00PM– Brevard County Legislative Delegation– (Palm Bay City) – Attend the Brevard County Delegation meeting at Palm Bay City Council Chambers (120 Malabar Road, Palm Bay City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  Deadline to submit request to appear is noon January 7, email Anna Budko, Anna.Budko@myfloridahouse.gov.

January 15, 2019 – 9:00AM-5:00PM– Lee County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Myers) – Attend the Lee County Delegation meeting at Florida Southwestern State College Nursing Building, Room AA-177 Fort Myers, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  Deadline to submit request to appear is noon January 7, email dane.eagle@myfloridahouse.gov for more information.

January 15, 2019 – 9:30AM-4:00PM– Broward County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Lauderdale) – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at 115 South Andrews Avenue Room 430, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  To be placed on the agenda, complete this Speaker Form. Topics for this meeting include the environment and growth management.

January 16, 2019 – 1:00PM– Dixie County Legislative Delegation– (Cross City) – Attend the Dixie County Delegation meeting at Dixie County Commission Chamber, County Courthouse, (214 NE Hwy 351, Cross City, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! 

January 16, 2019 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– Indian River County Legislative Delegation– (Vero Beach) – Attend the Indian River County Delegation meeting at Indian River County Administration Complex, (1801 27th St, Building A, Vero Beach, FL 32960). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources!  To participate in the delegation meeting, a request form and corresponding materials must be delivered to Sen. Mayfield's office no later than January 9. To receive a request form, email Margaret Mitchell at Mitchell.Margaret@flsenate.gov .

January 16, 2019 10:00-11:30AM – Lafayette County Legislative Delegation– (St. Mayo) – Attend the Lafayette County Delegation meeting at County Commission Chamber, Lafayette County Courthouse (120 W Main St, Mayo, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, email Tonya Shays at shays.tonya@flsenate.gov .

January 16, 2019 – 4:00PM– Gilchrist County Legislative Delegation– (Trenton) – Attend the Gilchrist County Delegation meeting at County Commission Meeting Facility, (210 S. Main Street, Trenton, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! 

January 17, 2019 – 9:00AM-12:00PM– St. Lucie County Legislative Delegation– (Fort Pierce) – Attend the St. Lucie County Delegation meeting at the Indian River State College – Ft. Pierce Campus Knight Center for Emerging Technologies Indian River State College (3209 Virginia Ave, Building V Fort Pierce, FL 34981). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! 

January 18, 2019 – 9:00AM-10:30AM– Okeechobee County Legislative Delegation– (Okeechobee) – Attend the Okeechobee County Delegation meeting at the Okeechobee County Government Center, Commission Chambers (304 NW 2nd Street Okeechobee, FL 34972). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, contact Justin Morgan, justin.morgan@myfloridahouse.gov or (863) 462-5019 before January 10, 2019.

January 18, 2019 – 12:00PM-2:00PM– Highlands County Legislative Delegation– (Sebring) – Attend the Highlands County Delegation meeting at the Highlands County Government Center, Commission Chambers (600 S Commerce Ave Sebring, FL 33870). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To submit a speaking request, please contact Maura Palmer, maura.palmer@myfloridahouse.gov or (863) 386-6000 if you have any questions before January 10, 2019.

January 19, 2019 - 10:00am-12:00pm - Rising Sea Levels- Are we losing our coastal cities? (Deerfield) - The Deerfield Progressive Forum will host Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, for a discussion of sea level rise and its impacts on Florida. For 39 years progressives in South Florida have been enlightened by a series of weekly talks presented by nationally distinguished speakers on provocative current issues. Lively discussion follows each talk. The Deerfield Progressive Forum meets every Saturday morning from December through March from 10:00 AM-noon in Century Village, Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit their site here.

January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Preview Webinar - The 60-day 2019 Florida Legislative Session starts on March 5 and is scheduled to end on May 3 of 2019.  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 may be up for consideration during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and will discuss how this could impact state and local governance and planning in Florida. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162191) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.

January 28, 2019 – 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, 2019 – 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.

March 27, 2019 - 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.

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Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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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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