FCC News Brief - January 3, 2019

Read Preserve more of Florida’s wilderness. It’s good for business - “Florida is in a relentless competition to attract and retain high-end businesses and the talent that supports them. Our quiver includes some common fiscal arrows — low taxes, less regulation and, in some cases, loads of taxpayer-funded incentives. Of course, luring and nourishing businesses is not all about finances. Quality of life matters. It also means outdoor places to play. Places to canoe or spot an alligator. Places that keep our water clean. Places to bag a deer or catch a trout. Places that you may never visit but are glad won’t be covered in concrete. In 2014, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment to use a slice of existing real estate taxes to preserve environmentally sensitive land and water resources. Few likely voted for it as a way to keep us globally competitive. Even so, it could help do just that. A decade from now, another 5 million people could be living here, according to some forecasts. That’s more than the entire state of Alabama. By 2030, the population could exceed 26 million, more than everyone who currently lives in Australia…” Graham Brink reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Lots of environmental news; not all good - “It has been another busy and sometimes unsatisfying year for the environment. The Florida Legislature met in January and February, but despite pleas from the environmental community and the general public, still voted to shortchange environmental land acquisition funding approved overwhelmingly by the voters in 2014. It also balked at banning fracking, a system for extracting oil and natural gas that threatens aquifer water quality. In March, the Florida Legislature adjourned after finally providing some money to restart the Florida Forever program, nearly four years after an overwhelming majority of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that set aside funds to do this. Legislators approved $100 million, which was still less than the estimated $700 million a year in revenue the amendment authorized. The issue is still in court after a Tallahassee judge ruled in favor of environmental groups…” Tom Palmer writes for The Ledger.

Read Revisiting Florida’s year of self-inflicted environmental calamities - “...Remember the biblical plague (top of the list) of river water turning blood red: “The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.” Well, 2018 brought Florida another kind of red tide and thousands of tons of rotting, dead fish washed onto our beaches. And floods. The bible tells of floods begot by days of rain, but Florida suffers strange, sunny day, rainless floods that the ancients would surely attribute to a curse engineered by supernatural beings. Except this curse, a sign of rising seas and melting icecaps . . . we’ve brought it on ourselves. No need of otherworldly intervention. The frightening aspect of the environmental disasters afflicting South Florida in 2018 is that most were harbingers of the difficult future that awaits us and our progeny if carbon fuel emissions go unchecked and global warming is allowed to escalate. As they surely will, given the willful ignorance of our elected leaders, who find it politically convenient to pretend that humans can inject 40 billion tons of carbon pollution into the air every year without serious consequences…” Fred Grimm writes Special to the Sun Sentinel.

Read Endangered Florida panther threatened by development project, experts say - “The extinction of the endangered Florida panther could be hastened by a large development proposed for the state, environmental groups are warning, as a major project is expected to win approval from the Trump administration as early as April. Up to 45,000 acres of rural Collier county in south-west Florida are earmarked for housing and commercial development under the plan drawn up by a coalition of 11 major Florida landowners, as well as new sand and gravel mines. Several new cities would be created by the project, adding hundreds of thousands of new residents and hundreds of miles of new roadways. But almost half of the proposed area of construction falls within what US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) scientists recognise as “primary zone” for dwindling numbers of the Florida panther, a subspecies of puma of which barely 200 adults are believed to survive. The FWS says preservation of the entirety of the big cats’ hunting and roaming zone, which incorporates about 20,000 acres of the Collier development, is “essential for the survival of the Florida panther in the wild”. “This area was never intended for this amount of development,” said Amber Crooks, environmental policy manager of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida…” Richard Luscombe reports for The Guardian.

Read Trump’s wetlands proposal could put local acres at risk - “Six million acres of Florida's wetlands could be in danger after the Trump administration proposed new changes to what's protected by the federal government. More of Florida's surface is covered by wetlands than any other state and by not protecting them, we put our coast at risk to things such as red tide. Wetlands filter and clean up this toxic algae bloom, while acting as a home for a range of wildlife and vegetation. Changes to the Clean Water Act would limit the kinds of waterways the government protects. That means millions of acres in Florida would no longer be safe. The Environmental Protection Agency said the change aims to ‘provide states and landowners the certainty they need to manage their natural resources and grow local economies.’ The proposal comes after home builders, developers and farmers requested simpler rules surrounding wetland regulations. ‘While many of these are smaller wetlands, collectively they add up. They make a big difference to our water quality, to our flood attenuation abilities and to our habitat values,’ said Executive Director of Audubon Florida, Julie Wraithmell. ‘Florida’s economy is our environment and if we’re not taking care of it we are facing challenges economically in the future,’ Wetlands have been protected since 1972 because they filter pollution, soak up floods before they cause damage and recharge the aquifer’s drinking water supply.” From WTXL.

Read Give teeth to Florida’s plan to save springs - “Two of Central Florida’s environmental treasures, Wekiwa and Rock Springs, are in danger, and a state plan to save them is woefully insufficient. Both springs, as well as Rock Springs Run and the Wekiva River, have high levels of nitrates and phosphorus that are causing an imbalance in the aquatic plant and animal communities, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. These nutrients have led to growth of nuisance algae and other undesirable aquatic species that are choking out vegetation that fish and other wildlife need to survive...In 2016, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act, which requires FDEP to develop Basin Management Action Plans to protect water quality in outstanding Florida springs. The BMAP for Wekiwa and Rock Springs estimated that about one million pounds of nitrogen reach groundwater within their springshed each year. About 29 percent comes from septic tanks; 26 percent from urban turfgrass fertilizer; another 23 percent from sports turf fertilizer, agriculture and livestock wastes; and 16 percent from wastewater treatment plants. The BMAP recommends that nitrogen loads be reduced by only 20 percent, which is not sufficient to reduce the nitrate concentrations in the springs by 75 percent to 80 percent, as required to meet the recommended concentration. More-stringent limits are needed for nitrogen from fertilizers, septic tanks, agriculture and wastewater treatment plants..” Mike Cliburn writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Land trust buys Putnam, Clay tracts important to water supply - “A nonprofit created to save some of Northeast Florida’s best land bought nearly two square miles in Putnam and Clay counties last week, including land that replenishes the region’s aquifer. The purchases by the North Florida Land Trust — combined, 1,152 acres — continue a string of deals the nonprofit set up to protect more than 6,000 acres from development pressures in 2018. The deal completed Thursday in Putnam County is more significant, though, because it protected land that helps preserve the drinking water source that more people will need as the area’s growth continues. “It’s a huge win,” said Jim McCarthy, the trust’s president. ”... If we don’t protect this kind of land, there is no development.” The trust bought 687 acres southeast of Hawthorne near Little Orange Creek in Putnam County. The remote area matters for water supplies because it’s a recharge area for the Floridan aquifer, the underground layer where rainfall that squeezes through fissures in the area’s bedrock accumulates deep beneath the surface. Ground in recharge areas is more porous and allows water easier access to an increasingly strained aquifer, if it isn’t paved over. Getting water to a recharge area is the kernel of the idea behind a $41 million project the St. Johns River Water Management District is planning to pump water from Black Creek in Clay County during relatively high-water times and deliver t it to the region’s main recharge around Keystone Heights…” Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times-Union.

Read Why are we suing federal government over water crisis - “The popular expression “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” seems an appropriate metaphor for the water quality crisis afflicting Florida. Some suggest staying the course of state and federal Everglades restoration as currently planned. However, there is significant uncertainty associated with restoration timelines, driven by such factors as climate change, available congressional and state funding, a swelling state population and worsening water quality. With current plans, these complexities will severely complicate or limit future options. More adaptive planning that explores a greater range of options in response to these stressors will be required and part of the reason the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), starting in 2008, was to only continue for three years...The growing realization that timely action is needed to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences is disturbing and becoming more evident each passing year. Symptoms of the water-quality — and water-quantity — crisis have never been more dire. Lake Okeechobee may be approaching a tipping point as the lake’s submersed vegetation has declined since 2006, evolving toward dominance by algae, ultimately sent downstream by Lake discharges...Given the urgency of this crisis, a 60-day notice of intent to sue the federal agencies responsible for LORS was filed by the Center for Biodiversity, Calusa Waterkeeper and the Waterkeeper Alliance on Dec. 19 for violations of the Endangered Species Act…” John Cassani writes Special to the Fort Myers News-Press.


From Our Readers

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Upcoming Environmental Events:

January 3, 2019 – 4:00PM– Nassau County Legislative Delegation– (Yulee) – Attend the Suwannee County Delegation meeting at James Page Government Complex, (96135 Nassau Place, Yulee, FL). You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! For more information, contact Representative Cord Byrd’s legislative Assistant Katherine Woodby at Katherine.Woodby@myfloridahouse.gov.

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/.

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