Read Bill cracks down on residential lawn fertilizers; requires bans and buffers near estuaries - “A bill aims to crack down on fertilizer use on residential lawns. The bill would require each Florida county and municipal government to adopt the state's fertilizer law and require residents to use only fertilizers containing 50-percent slow-release nitrogen on their lawns. In addition, communities in an estuary runoff area would have to ban fertilizers a certain distance from water bodies and during the summer rainy season (June 1 to Sept. 30). Nutrients, including phosphorus but particularly nitrogen, feed toxic blue-green algae blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges as well as nearshore red tide. Local governments currently are encouraged, but not required, to adopt the state's so-called "Model Ordinance for Florida-Friendly Fertilizer Use on Urban Landscapes." However, nearly every community in the six counties containing the Indian River Lagoon adopted stricter ordinances between 2010 and 2015, most of them in 2014. Communities such as Stuart and Sewall's Point extended their bans to Nov. 30, but the Martin County Commission rejected that idea last year. "Nitrogen pollution has become a problem due to the volume of fertilizers applied to residential lawns," the 2019 bill says. "Fertilizers applied during the summer rainy season cause nitrogen to wash into the waterways and cause additional pollution and harm to the marine animals within those waters." Cheryl Smith reports for the TCPalm.
Read State inspections of septic tanks proposed as city, JEA work to phase them out - “Amid concerns that leaky septic systems are polluting waterways, a Florida Republican senator filed legislation Wednesday that would require the Florida Department of Health to identify all septic systems in the state by Jan. 1, 2021 and provide a map of the systems. The bill (SB 214), filed by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, would also require inspections of septic systems at least once every five years and require the health department to develop minimum standards and requirements for pumping out or repairing failing systems. Those requirements would take effect July 1, 2022. Septic tanks are widespread in Jacksonville where the city and JEA want to eventually phase them out. There may be as many as 85,000 septic tanks in Duval County, according to Scott Turner, Director of Environmental Health and Safety with the Florida Department of Health in Duval County. He previously told WJCT News he thought approximately 10 percent of Duval county’s septic tanks were probably failing…” Bill Bortzfield reports for the News Service of Florida.
Read DeSantis and the 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...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.On the campaign trail, DeSantis swore he understood, and referred to himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt conservationist.” That raised some eyebrows among environmentalists in the state, because in Congress, DeSantis’ congressional voting record was truly dismal...DeSantis could challenge the Legislature to fully fund the the state’s conservation land-purchasing program, Florida Forever. But state leaders should 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…” Editorial from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Read Riverkeeper, Army Corps remain at odds over flooding analysis in dredging project - “A federal judge is allowing the St. Johns Riverkeeper to argue why a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flooding analysis in Charleston, S.C., should be admitted as evidence in its lawsuit seeking to block the federal agency from deepening Jacksonville’s shipping channel. The issue is to some degree a technical one, but the Charleston study speaks to the heart of the disagreement between the Riverkeeper and the Army Corps in a legal battle that is bleeding into 2019 as the 11-mile dredging project continues moving forward. The Riverkeeper — a nonprofit environmental watchdog group — believes the Army Corps fell short on studying how deepening the St. Johns River from 40 to 47 feet could impact flooding in Jacksonville during major storms. The nonprofit believes that comparing the study the Army Corps did locally to a more in-depth analysis the agency conducted for its Charleston dredging project would show the discrepancy. The Army Corps disagrees and says the analysis it conducted on the Jacksonville dredge over the course of a decade is more than enough for the court to weigh the issue, and that including the Charleston study is unnecessary…” Nate Monroe reports for Jacksonville.com.
Read Put the sunshine into the Sunshine State - “It’s the new year, an ideal time for reflection. This year, it's difficult not to reflect on the state of our environment, since it seems like every other week a new report describes the ever-shrinking window we have to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here in the Panhandle, these impacts can be seen all around us, as thousands of people still struggle to recover from Hurricane Michael’s devastation...This year, let's resolve to invest in healthier communities and a livable future. To get there, we need to transform how we produce and consume energy. That means better electricity conservation and efficiency combined with a quick, steady transition to clean, renewable sources of energy to meet our needs. As individuals, we can replace existing home appliances with more energy efficient ones. We can install a solar water heater, buy an electric vehicle when possible, or sign up for a local solar co-op program. We can also choose to walk, bike or take public transportation more often. But individual actions alone are not enough. We need the institutions in our daily lives to resolve to do better, too. The good news is local governments here in Florida and across the country are working to transition to a greener future. More than 100 cities across the nation are committed to a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources and 407 mayors committed to the Paris Climate Agreement…” Jenna Stevens and Sarah Simm write Opinion for the Tallahassee Democrat.
Read Michael Bloomberg announces $2.5 million award for St. Pete climate change efforts- “Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor and potential presidential candidate, is awarding St. Petersburg $2.5 million to St. Petersburg to enhance the city's efforts to combat climate change. The $2.5 million worth of technical resources is supposed to help St. Petersburg significantly expand access to solar energy, particularly among lower income residents, promote transportation alternatives and reduce energy use in public and privately owned buildings. Bloomberg said his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, picked city's with committed mayors and ambitious but realistic plans for cutting carbon emissions. While Washington leaders mainly talk about fighting climate change and President Trump opposes committing the country to cutting carbon emissions, Bloomberg said, mayors are stepping up...Other cities receiving this round of awards include Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Saint Paul, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. "This American Cities Climate Challenge Award from Bloomberg philanthropies will provide our city team with the resources to deliver real action in the building and transportation sectors, our two biggest sectors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in our community," Kriseman said…” Adam C. Smith reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read What’s Mine is Yours - “Courtney Snyder stands next to her family’s plot, where her grandfather and uncle are buried... Snyder, a stay-at-home mom who writes fiction in her free time, was born and raised in Union County, the smallest county in Florida by population and landmass. She figured it was where she would raise her two children and die. Then in January 2016, Snyder came across a Facebook post that threw her plan into question. A contingent of four of the largest landowning families in Union and neighboring Bradford County had come together with the intent of mining approximately 11,000 acres for phosphate, a primary component in agricultural fertilizer found in deposits throughout Florida. The initials of HPS Enterprises, the company behind the mine, stands for the four families: The Hazens, Howards, Pritchetts and Shadds. Through subsequent county commission meetings, residents of Union and Bradford learned that over 20 years, the proposed operation would systematically dredge up the familiar farm land on either side of the New River, a 31-mile-long tributary to the Santa Fe River that forms the county line. The pasture across from Snyder’s trailer would be mined. Elzey Chapel Cemetery would be surrounded. HPS officials promised the mine would bring millions of dollars to both counties as well as jobs, a significant vow in Union, with the lowest per-capita income in the state. The company also promised it would invest in new technologies to avoid blighted clay-settling ponds and the exorbitant groundwater pumping for which the industry is known. But residents of both counties weren’t convinced. They fear the mine could decrease property values and despoil the New River, whose snaking brown waters are dotted with cypress knees…” Molly Minta writes for the #PeakFlorida special report from WUFT News and the UF College of Journalism and Communications.
Read Billy’s Creek shows high levels of pollution again this year - “A tributary flowing into the Caloosahatchee River is tainted with bacteria that's found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and birds. In other words, Billy's Creek is full of poop, again. "It’s a growing problem," said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. "We need to do more source-tracing in order to fix it."...The bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness, infections and rashes and comes from feces, which can be traced to humans, pets and even wildlife, like birds. Fort Myers officials have blamed the latter, but some environmental groups say the problem likely goes beyond wildlife or any natural causes. "It just doesn’t square that it’s just about dogs and birds," Cassani said. "There are other watersheds that we sample that have birds and dogs in them, but we don’t see the kind of high levels that we see in Billy’s Creek." Cassani said he worries that parts of the city's aging sewage network are failing and that leaking sewage is flowing into the creek. The city, Lee County and the South Florida Water Management District built a 50-acre filter marsh along the creek in 2010, but it hasn't been enough to rid the creek of pollution. Rick Bartleson, a water quality scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on Sanibel, agreed with Cassani, saying there must be something wrong with the sewage pipes and systems there. "If you have sewer systems and plenty of them, that’s generally going to be the first place to point your finger," Bartleson said. "There’s something wrong in that area, something sewage-wise wrong." Cassani said Billy's Creek is one symptom of an overall water sickness that has spread throughout Southwest Florida waters in recent years. "It’s really just a drop in the bucket of what needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later," Cassani said. "Fort Myers has some issues that aren’t easily solved…”Chad Gillis reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, visit www.SaveFishIsland.org.
January 9, 2019 - 12:45-2:45Pm - Villages Environmental Discussions - (The Villages) - Come to the Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) program, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 12:45-2:45 p.m. We meet at the Belvedere Library community room, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL.. The guest speaker will be Michael Roth, President, Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) organization. Members and officers of the OSFR volunteer their time, energy, and passion to protect the waters and lands to support the Florida aquifer, springs, and rivers within the watershed of the Santa Fe River. Come on out and bring along a neighbor. For information, contact email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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, email@example.com 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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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