FCC News Brief - January 8, 2019

Read How will Ron DeSantis approach Florida’s environmental struggles once he’s inaugurated? - “On the campaign trail, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis approached water issues differently than many Republicans have in the past.  He called for more scientists on state boards. He vowed to get increased federal funding for water storage and water quality projects. He was critical of Florida's sugar industry, which has been incredibly influential in limiting some water projects.   But now it's unclear what DeSantis will do once he takes office Tuesday. He's told reporters and supporters that a top priority is getting funding and starting work on the design and construction of the EAA reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce harmful freshwater discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. The discharges are largely to blame for toxic blue-green algae blooms that have plagued the estuaries...DeSantis' environmental transition team has recommended wide-ranging solutions to the state's issues during its three meetings, from strengthening pollution regulations to advocating for so-called "water farms," which pump polluted water out of the canals and rivers leading into the estuaries and store it until it eventually evaporates or seeps into the ground…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Group argues some springs clean-up plans lacking- “The Florida Springs Council filed administrative challenges to five of the state’s 13 springs restoration and protection plans, including in Alachua and Marion counties. The non-profit group, which formed in 2014, states that its mission is to ensure the restoration, preservation and protection of the state’s springs and the Floridan aquifer. The group argues that the five challenged Basin Management Action Plans, or BMAPS, fall short of the law governing the adoption of the plans. An administrative law judge will hear the challenges and decide if the plans conform to state law and department policies. Eight other BMAPS face no challenge. The FSC contends the plans they are challenging have common problems, including inadequate plans for cleanup of septic tanks and a lack of details about projects to correct issues. “If allowed to go into law, these plans will sanction the demise of 15 of Florida’s most ecologically and economically important springs. By filing these challenges, springs groups are banding together and standing up to save their local treasures,” said Ryan Smart, FSC executive director, in a press release. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection began creating the BMAPS after the Legislature passed the Springs and Aquifer Protection Act in 2016. The act identified 30 “outstanding Florida springs” targeted for conservation and restoration. The plans should reduce the amount of nitrogen compounds that enter those springs to improve water quality. Twenty-four of the 30 identified springs have excessive levels of nitrogen compounds. The compounds can come from wastewater, water from septic tanks, stormwater runoff and fertilizer runoff…” Carlos E. Medina reports for the Gainesville Sun.

Read Conservation amendment sponsors say court ruling in their favor goes too far - “Last year, a judge ruled the Florida legislature ran afoul of a constitutional amendment directing a certain amount of money be set aside for environmental spending. It seemed like a victory for environmentalists. The amendment’s backers have filed a brief in an appeal of the case, saying the judge may have overstepped. The lawsuit began in 2015 when lawmakers spent less than two percent of the $740 million  raised from the amendment on land purchases, 2014's Amendment 1. Florida Conservation Voters is asking an appeals court to uphold, but dial back the lower court’s ruling that blasted the move. Aliki Moncrief heads the group. She says the lower court’s ruling went too far when it excluded funding from being spent on management and restoration of existing land. 'We’re trying to get the pendulum to swing to the point that we have resources to meet all those critical needs," she says. The legislature has appealed the lower court's ruling. In 2016, it passed a law requiring at least $200 million a year for the next 20—the life of the amendment—be spent on environmental funding…” Lynn Hatter reports for WFSU.

Read Two surprise resignations in shakeup at South Florida Water Management District - “The South Florida Water Management District’s lead counsel and governing board vice chairwoman have resigned their positions with the largest state steward of Everglades restoration, leaving a key staff job and four leadership seats open when additional board member terms expire in March...The resignations set the stage for a new administration to reshape the state’s largest water management district whose oversight of 16 counties from Orlando through the Keys has often raised the ire of environmentalists. They also come at a time when the board faces intense public and political scrutiny for a November decision to sign a new eight-year lease with Florida Crystals that allows it to continue sugarcane farming on 16,000 acres slated for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee...U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, represents Treasure Coast areas that have suffered repeated algae blooms. He called for the board to resign in a December interview with CBS4 Miami journalist Jim DeFede. Mast is chairman of Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis’ transition team on the environment and agriculture. The governor appoints water district board members to their four-year terms. “Given Ms. Peterson’s track record of denying science and voting against Florida’s environment, this is good news and puts Gov.-elect DeSantis in an even stronger position to overhaul a board that has far too often placed the needs of special interests over public health and environmental protection,” Mast said Friday in a statement…” Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Trump rule a threat to water - “A rule change proposed by the Trump administration would be devastating to Florida wetlands and to the vital role they play in protecting millions from flooding, polluted water and other health and safety threats. With toxic algae blooms regularly hurting the health and economy of a growing state, the last thing Florida needs is a federal rollback of water protection efforts. Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, an ally of the president who has said that water quality will be an important priority for his administration, should add his voice to those opposing this dangerous proposal. The change, unveiled in December by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would create a new definition of federally protected wetlands. The new rule says that the only wetlands that would be federally protected are those immediately adjacent to a major body of water, or ones that are connected to such a waterway by surface water. As the Tampa Bay Times' Craig Pittman recently reported, that narrower definition would leave an estimated 6 million acres of Florida’s wetlands vulnerable to developers and other interests that seek to wipe them out, according to figures from the EPA. That's half of Florida's 12 million acres of wetlands. The new definition would remove federal protection under the Clean Water Act from about 51 percent of all of the nation's wetlands…” From the Tampa Bay Times Editorials.

Read Florida youths name DeSantis in amended lawsuit over climate change - “Eight Florida youth have amended a lawsuit accusing the state of failing to protect them from climate change to name Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis. The lawsuit alleges the state has violated the youth’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by supporting policies that accelerate climate change. It also was amended to name Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried and cite the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which concluded the impacts of a warming world are intensifying. The plaintiffs range in age from 10 to 20. The lawsuit is the latest in a series across the country supported by the non-profit Our Children’s Trust, which also has sued the federal government. The DeSantis transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.” Amy Green reports for WMFE.

Read Record 119 Florida manatees killed by boat strikes in 2018 - “A record number of Florida manatees were killed by boat strikes and a near-record number of overall manatee deaths were reported in 2018. A total of 804 manatees died in Florida waters last year, close to the record 830 set in 2013, according to data from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Boats killed 119 manatees in 2018, breaking the record of 106 set in 2016 and tied in 2017. The commission started keeping manatee mortality records in the 1970s. "Nobody wants to kill a manatee," said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The record points out the need to better mark slow-speed manatee zones on our waterways and better enforcement of speed limits in those zones." About 15 percent of manatee deaths in the state last year were caused by boat strikes, according to FWC data…” Tyler Treadway reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.


From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

January 8, 2019 - 6:30-7:30PM - The Climate Reality Project- Gainesville Area Chapter Meeting - (Gainesville) - It is time to come together and think about our actions for 2019 in an informal setting. Love to hear about everyone's successes. Would also like to excite support for communities, business, and individuals across North Florida to be 100% committed to renewable electric by 2030. Also, ways of supporting other coalitions on getting mayors to make the commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, and Supporting Ready for 100 initiatives to get every community to resolve to be on 100% renewable energy sources by 2045. Come join us, have a beer and talk climate at First Magnitude Brewing Company, 1220 SE Veitch St., Gainesville FL 32601. Visit the Facebook event here for more information.

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 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  raivedg@gmail.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 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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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.

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Florida Solar Bill of Rights

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