FCC News Brief - January 9, 2019

Read Rep. Brian Mast to refile algal bloom assessment bill - “U.S. Rep. Brian Mast said he will continue to push legislation that reduces algal blooms on the Treasure Coast during a news conference Monday. Mast announced he was refiling the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, a bill that would require "the first-ever specific federal assessment and action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in the greater Everglades." Mast's office said similar harmful algal blooms have been researched in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, but never specifically in South Florida. The bill requires: A task force to complete an assessment that "examines the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms and hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) in the Greater Everglades region." The study would include looking at how how ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts in the state could be helping or limiting the blooms. The task force must submit a plan to Congress for "reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms in the Greater Everglades region." U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is introducing the same bill in his chamber. Mast said he believes it's going to be a "great year" for the Treasure Coast on water issues, specifically praising Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis' stances on local water issues. Mast is serving as chair of DeSantis's environmental advisory committee. ..” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read DeSantis to move quickly on court, environment - “Floridians can expect a quick start to the Ron DeSantis administration, with the new governor ready to make key appointments to the state Supreme Court, announce a major environmental initiative and try to improve the medical-marijuana system. “Within the next week, I think you guys are going to have a lot to write about,” DeSantis told reporters, after attending a Monday luncheon with legislative leaders and Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez at Florida State University...In another area, DeSantis said he expects to move quickly on a major environmental initiative that seeks to address the state’s water-quality problems, which have included an outbreak of toxic algae in rivers and red tide along the coastlines. DeSantis, who narrowly beat former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in November, said the environmental package should have broad appeal in the state. “I think it is something that doesn’t fall neatly on party lines. And when you have these tough elections, I think it’s good to be able to do some things that are not just red versus blue all the time,” he said. DeSantis also said his policies may appeal to Floridians who did not vote for him, if they are effective programs. “I think at the end of the day, the vast majority of voters in Florida, they want to see results. If we’re producing results on the environment, the economy, those things, to me that’s the best thing you can do for the folks who were not necessarily with you in the election,” he said…” From the News Service of Florida.

Read Rick Scott’s last-minute pick for wildlife commissioner: controversial developer Carlos Beruff - “Hidden among more than 70 last-minute appointments by outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, released at 6 p.m. Friday night, was one unusual choice: Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff to serve on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  A GOP stalwart who lost his 2016 bid to oust U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Beruff is currently facing an ethics commission complaint over how he helped one of his former development partners while serving as chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. In addition, one of his development projects has been accused of illegally moving an eagle's nest, and Manatee County officials investigated his company, Medallion Homes, for ripping up a county-owned conservation area..State wildlife commissioners don’t vote on development permits but they do set policy for management of the state’s wildlife. For instance, they regulate such matters as whether to allow another bear hunt, or whether to permit anglers to catch and keep Goliath grouper. Wildlife commission scientists lead the research and tracking of everything from Red Tide algae blooms to manatees to the population and breeding of the official state animal, the Florida panther…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Indian River County extends biosolid moratorium, will seak ban from Legislature - “Indian River County commissioners Tuesday extended a moratorium on spreading partially treated sewage on fields, a practice believed to have polluted Blue Cypress Lake. Several speakers at a brief public hearing asked that the moratorium be made a permanent ban on using the sludge, also known as Class B biosolids, as fertilizer. That would take action by the Legislature, said Commissioner Peter O'Bryan, adding that a permanent ban "is one of our top priorities in the upcoming legislative session." A 2013 state law banned Class B biosolids in South Florida, including the Lake Okeechobee and St. Lucie River watersheds. That led to an increase in usage to the north, including the St. Johns River watershed, said Commission Chairman Bob Solari. Blue Cypress Lake is the headwaters of the St. Johns River. With state action needed to ban biosolids, the moratorium is the best the county can do, without risk of a lawsuit, O'Bryan said…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read FGCU researcher wants to clean water between wetlands and farm fields in Everglades - “A local researcher says he's figured out a way farmers can make money cleaning instead of polluting water in the historic Everglades.  Bill Mitsch, director of Florida Gulf Coast University's Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples, says he and a business expert at the University of Notre Dame worked out a model in which farmers could get checks from several government programs for building wetlands and capturing carbon.  Called wetlaculture, the idea is to convert lands from farm fields to wetlands to reduce the harmful nutrient loads flowing to the east and west coasts. "We came up with a plausible, not an actual, but a plausible way farmers could make money flipping lands between wetlands and agriculture and, most importantly, not adding any more fertilizer to the land," Mitsch said. "They’d use what is already there and recycle it." Wetland farmers would make money from existing government programs that pay for the removal of nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon, Mitsch said...Jim Beever, with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council in Fort Myers, said converting about half of the farm lands in the Everglades to wetlands would also create better habitat for some of the state's most protected species. "They could also function as wildlife corridors," Beever said, "because you’d have natural wetland areas and nearby uplands that fox squirrels and panthers could travel through..” Chad Gillis reports for the Fort Myers News-Press

Read Appeals court hears arguments on proposed oil well in Everglades- “A major South Florida landowner will be back in court on Tuesday asking a judge to override a final order by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection against their request to drill an exploratory oil well in the environmentally sensitive Everglades.  Kanter Real Estate is a limited liability company representing Joseph Kanter, a Miami real estate developer and banker who acquired more than 20,000 acres of Everglades land in southwest Broward County for a town that was never built. He’s been fighting for several years to build an exploratory well, 11,000 feet deep on six acres of the land to determine how much oil could be extracted from the heart of the fragile ecosystem.  Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, said the drilling is pointless and hazardous...In October, an administrative law judge contested the department's previous rejection of the permit application, claiming the well poses little environmental risk and recommending its approval. The proposal was then sent back to the environmental protection agency where it received the final denial. Schwartz said Kanter's plan is faced with overwhelming opposition because the area overlays the Biscayne Aquifer, the major source of water for people living in South Florida. "It's extremely porous. It's limestone underneath it, it's almost like a sponge, kind of like a calcified sponge. That's what the Everglades looks like underneath the sawgrass,” he said. “And water passes right through it, so anything that comes off that pad is going to go into the Everglades into the Biscayne Aquifer..." Trimmel Gomes reports for the Public News Service.

Read Agriculture to Asphalt - “After other local businesses have closed and employees are headed home to make dinner, Vic Story Jr. drives in the dusk to check the irrigation system for a row of tangerine trees. He recently had the grove replanted with a variety called bingo. They better tolerate a devastating disease called citrus greening, but they die back a lot, he said. A 100-acre subdivision in central Florida presses against the parcel of land, one of the Story Companies’ many groves bordering a residential area...Despite watchful care and consideration, plenty of the new Floridians moving in next to groves don’t appreciate the state’s signature crop. “People complain,” said Sharon Garrett, a grove owner in Haines City. “They’re afraid of pesticides, and yet they like living next to trees. But they don’t want to have to put up with the other things that come with it.” Tractors, mowers and fertilizer sprayers that sidle into public roadways bottleneck traffic. The sound and stench of sprayers peeves your everyday Floridian. Moreover, the groves look increasingly ripe for developers. They’re already near roads, towns and the places people work. Mix that with the conflicts between agriculture and neighborhoods, toss in a pestilence-mongering insect and you have an industry primed for paving... “We have development policies in this country that continue to encourage sprawl instead of more vertical construction of real estate,” said Thomas Spreen, emeritus professor of food and resource economics at the University of Florida’s IFAS. “As long as there’s a mentality in this country that spreading out is OK, farmland not only in Florida but all over the country will be under threat from conversion to either commercial or residential purposes.”.. Sarah Stanley writes for the #PeakFlorida special report from WUFT News and the UF College of Journalism and Communications.


From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

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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