FCC News Brief - July 3, 2019

Read New Blue-Green Algae Task Force looks to farm lands for ways to improve water quality - “The state's new Blue-Green Algae Task Force met in Fort Myers Monday, saying that best farming practices are not doing enough to clean water in the historic Everglades.  High nutrient loads flowing from as far away as just south of Orlando feed harmful algae blooms that can lead to fish kills, beach closures and losses in the tourism and fishing guide industries.  "Moving forward we’re going to have some discussions about sources like septic systems, and we’re going to have to deal with some issues as it relates to toxins," said task force member and Florida chief scientist Tom Frazier. "The challenges are pretty big, and I don’t think we’re going to try to hide from that at all."...Much of Monday's conversation focused on what are called best management practices, or BMPs… Task force member Wendy Graham, director of the University of Florida's Water Institute, said current guidelines for farming aren't doing enough to remove the nutrients from the system, most of which come from north of Lake Okeechobee. "The BMPs are not going to get you to the water quality (you want) in the lake. You’re going to need some regional treatment between the BMPs and the lake," she said...Tom Frisk, with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said the group may want to focus on cutting nutrients in the system before moving on to more complicated issues, like removing legacy nutrients that have built up in the system over the course of decades.  "In general our approach is to put the watershed on a diet as to what is coming into the lake and, as you’re seeing progress there, then start bringing in and looking at what is coming from the sediment and shift your focus," Frisk said...Kerry Kates, with the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said farmers are willing to participate in the clean-up process. "Agriculture is a part of the problem," Kates said. "Agriculture will also be a part of the solution. It’s vital that everybody come together in solidarity to address it if we want to effect positive change." Rae Ann Wessel, with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, said she'd like to see the task force focus on nutrient sediments that have built up on the bottom of Lake Okeechobee and other waterbodies…” Chad Gilis reports for the Fort Myers News-Press

Read Gov. DeSantis signs bill that could gut growth management laws - “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill late Friday that critics say will gut the state's system of managing growth. The bill also restricts governments from creating affordable housing. The new law means anyone challenging a development that's inconsistent with that county's existing growth plan would have to pay the other side's attorney's fees if they lose. Deborah Foote, director of government affairs for the Sierra Club of Florida, says the fear of having to pay potentially huge fees will mean most ordinary citizens won't challenge developers. "There's no way that they can know ahead of time - should they lose - what they're going to have to pay. And that's just going to have a chilling effect," she said. "The very thought that they would have to pay those fees when they're bringing forward a reasonable case is just tantamount to shutting down the whole process."  "The big challenge is going to be for citizens to continue to challenge development orders," she said. "And that is really the only way that development orders can be enforced to be consistent with growth management."... The bill also allows local governments to require new developments to have units set aside for affordable housing. But Foote says local governments will be forced to repay developers for any financial losses, meaning taxpayers would foot the bill. “In a state facing an affordable housing crisis, the governor just made it harder for local governments to do something about it,” said Foote.” Steve Newborn reports for WJCT

Read Beach to patrons: Leave the black skimmers alone - “Beachgoers on Lido Key are being asked not to ruffle the feathers of a threatened black skimmer colony that has grown into one of the largest in the state, according to Audubon Florida. The colony has returned to its spot on North Lido Beach, across from the Holiday Inn, where it nested last summer. Black skimmers are known for their unusual black and orange beak that allows them to skim the surface of the water for fish. They are a state-designated threatened species, and it is illegal to disturb them… About 60 Audubon Florida stewards staff the beach on busy days to educate beach patrons about how their actions could be detrimental the the colony’s survival. This summer, people have chased the birds off their nests and flushed flocks near the shore, keeping them from cooling off or hunting. Chicks have been found in holes left by visitors or with litter in their mouths...The penalty for harming or harassing skimmers is a second-degree misdemeanor, and anyone who intentionally kills or wounds a state-designated threatened species could face a third-degree felony charge…” Carlos R. Munoz reports for the Herald-Tribune

Read Sea level rise: Martin County to receive $75,000 from DEP to prepare for future - “The money is part of nearly $1.6 million the DEP is giving to 30 coastal communities in 17 counties as part of the Florida Resilient Coastlines Program. The grants are specifically designed to help local governments finance projects to analyze the current and future effects of flooding from sea level rise, storm surge, heavy rains and other sources, develop resilience plans and implement those plans. Martin County plans to add the grant to another $75,000 the County Commission pledged to develop a "vulnerability analysis," said spokeswoman Martha Ann Kneiss. "The study will look at risk areas around the county, those that are already prone to flooding, and determine what will be the consequences of sea level rise and what can be done to minimize the risk," Kneiss told TCPalm Monday…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers

Read Algae causes fish kill in Manatee River - “Blue-green algae persists in Robinson and Perico Preserves, and has caused its first fish kill. “Blue-green algae and brown algae have become pervasive in the Lower Manatee River, Perico Bayou and Perico Preserve, resulting in a modest fish kill, primarily mullet, as a result of heavy algae bloom concentrations,” according to the latest report from the Manatee County Environmental Protection Department. Manatee County crews skimmed and contained floating blue-green algae mats near Robinson Preserve’s waterway connection to the Manatee River and directed it back into the river on an outgoing tide, according to a recent email update to county commissioners from Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources department...Filamentous cyanobacteria (Lyngbya-like) was first detected in Holmes Beach waters on Thursday, May 9 in Anna Maria Sound at Key Royale and in the Intracoastal Waterway south of Grassy Point, and in Palma Sola Bay near San Remo Shores. The algae found in Manatee County waters are not the same species that has plagued Lake Okeechobee, the toxic Microcystis aeruginosa, according to DEP...Blue-green algae can be blue, green, brown or red and emit a foul, rotten egg odor caused by the production of hydrogen sulfide gas, according to DEP, which advises staying out of water where algae are visible as specks, mats or water is discolored pea-green, blue-green or brownish-red. Additionally, pets or livestock should not come into contact with the algal bloom-impacted water, or the algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. Even non-toxic blooms can harm the environment by depleting oxygen levels in the water column and reducing the amount of light that reaches submerged plants, according to DEP. The growth of blue-green algae typically increases in the spring and summer months when water temperatures and daylight hours increase. To help keep algae growth at bay, Florida law bans the use of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers during the rainy season, June 1 through Sept. 30…” Cindy Lane reports for the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Read Son: Mom died from flesh-eating bacteria at Coquina - “Wade Fleming used to consider saltwater good medicine for cuts and other skin irritations, but not anymore. His mom, Lynn Fleming, took a walk at Coquina Beach earlier this month, slipped and cut her leg, and died two weeks later from a flesh-eating bacterial infection, he says. Fleming, 77, of Ellenton, was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, caused by bacteria known as flesh-eating bacteria, he said. No death certificate stating an official cause of death had been issued by press time...Fleming, his wife, Traci, and his mom, Lynn, visited Coquina Beach one day last month, where Lynn went for a walk near the erosion control groins, Fleming said. “She went below one of them and it was washed out below the surface,” he said. “She stumbled and fell and put a couple of nicks in her leg.” A lifeguard cleaned and bandaged the wound and advised her to put ice on it, then said, “Enjoy the rest of your day,” Fleming recalls…Her death came less than two weeks after their day at the beach... “This is a first,” Marine Rescue Chief Joe Westerman said Monday morning as he studied the case. Lifeguards advise beachgoers who have been stung by stingrays or jellyfish to watch out for signs of infection, he said, but after Fleming’s experience, new procedures may be developed...Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria found in warm salty waters such as the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding bays. Concentrations of this bacteria are higher when the water is warmer, according to the Florida Department of Health. The ordinary presence of Vibrio in the water may be comparable to sharks, Westerman said. “They’re all over the state all the time, but you never know when they’re going to bite.”...The Florida Department of Health issued a statement Monday evening saying that the department has not been contacted by anyone who has contracted necrotizing fasciitis in Florida… Five confirmed cases of infection with Vibrio vulnificus have been reported in Manatee County in 2016-18, none of them fatal, according to the Florida Department of Health. Statewide, 30 Vibrio-related deaths over the same period were reported. Fleming’s death occurred the same month that an Indiana family blamed flesh-eating bacteria for their 12-year-old daughter’s leg infection in Destin. The girl survived. Vibrio vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50 percent of the time, according to the health department…” Cindy Land reports for the Anna Maria Island Sun

Read No (budget) time like the present: House calls for 2020 funding requests - “Just 10 days after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the 2019-20 state budget, House Speaker José Oliva opened the online portal for 2020-21 budget project requests. “As we develop the Fiscal Year 2020-21 state budget, it is important that we have complete information for any issues considered for an appropriation,” the Miami Lakes Republican said in a memo to House members on Monday ….“Key dates and submission deadlines for the Appropriations Project Request process will be communicated at a later time.” The 2020 Legislative Session begins Jan. 14. Committee weeks begin in September.” From Florida Politics staff reports

Read We can’t get beyond carbon with gas - “ Unfortunately, there's no malodorous chemical to warn us about the dangers of relying on fossil gas as an energy source. Yet, as The New York Times reported last week, utilities have a decision to make as they replace polluting coal plants: adopt clean, renewable energy or build plants that burn fossil gas. It’s crucial that they make the right choice. That’s why the second goal (after finishing the job of eliminating coal-fired power) that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg listed when he announced his $500 million Beyond Carbon initiative last month was this: "We will work to stop the construction of new gas plants."  What makes it so important that we stop the so-called gas rush? After all, an unfortunate number of people (including some who know better), still claim that fossil gas "burns cleaner" than coal, as if that somehow makes it palatable. I’m sorry, but even if fossil gas were less polluting than coal (which it isn't), saying that it "burns cleaner" is like insisting that a switchblade "kills quieter" than a machine gun. Either way, you're still pushing daisies....Here's where the stubborn reality of math kicks in: In order to prevent a worst-case-scenario climate disaster, we can't afford to even use all of the fossil gas reserves that we already know about -- much less find and extract new ones. What’s more, even if the entire world were to swear off coal right now, burning gas in its place would still leave us in a very bad place… It's already more economical to use wind, solar, and storage instead of gas for large-scale power generation in many places, and that will soon be true everywhere. Already, cities like Los Angeles are stopping new gas plant construction in favor of renewable energy. So instead of investing in gas infrastructure that will be obsolete economically and technologically before the paint is dry, we need to be doing the opposite: developing a plan for replacing fossil gas everywhere in a way that's both fast and fair -- and by "fair" I mean it shouldn't put any unjust economic burden on low-income and frontline communities....Done right, the transition to an energy economy based on electricity from clean, renewable power will not only avoid a climate catastrophe but also bring about a healthier, more prosperous future…” Michael Brune writes for Sierra Club.org

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.

Job Openings:

Community Outreach Coordinator - Alachua Conservation Trust

Outreach Coordinator - Miami Waterkeeper

Executive Director - Current Problems

Policy and Planning Director - 1000 Friends of Florida

Organizing Representative, Red Tide & Wildlands Campaign - Gainesville - Sierra Club

Organizing Representative, Red Tide & Wildlands Campaign - Ft. Myers/Naples - Sierra Club

Staff Attorney - Everglades Law Center

Upcoming Environmental Events:

July 8, 6:00pm - July Earth Ethics Environmental Educational Series - (Pensacola) -Join us at Ever'man Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street. We will be viewing A PLASTIC OCEAN.  A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. We'll discuss what you can do to help reduce your use of plastics! One lucky winner will receive a giftset to jump start a plastic reduced life. Check out the Eventbrite page here, and Facebook Event here. For more information, email earthethicsaction@gmail.com

July 9, 7:00pm-9:00pm - Climate Justice membership meeting - (Miami) - 350 South Florida is focusing on incredible battles across the region. From stopping fossil fuel projects, increasing climate justice literacy, to advocating for sustainable initiatives in the transportation and energy sector. Who is 350 South Florida? Every day residents from communities across Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade County who decide to step up, learn about Climate Justice, and volunteer their time to help the environmental movement grow. JOIN US, and get more meaningfully engaged with 350 South Florida. We depend on people like you to stand with us. Where: 7411 NW 36th St, Miami, FL 33166. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here, or email 350SouthFlorida@gmail.com.

July 10, 6:00pm-7:30pm - Silver Springs Alliance July Meeting- (Ocala) - Join the Silver Springs Alliance for their monthly meeting for discussion and action plans for the preservation and restoration of Silver Springs. All interested parties are welcome. Ocala Police Headquarters, 402 S Pine Ave, Ocala FL 34471. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.

July 11, 7:00pm - Toxic Puzzle Screening & Environmental Panel - (Orange Park)- TOXIC PUZZLE is a medical and environmental detective story where documentary filmmaker Bo Landin follows ethnobotanist Dr Paul Alan Cox and his scientific team around the world in a hunt for the hidden killer. The pieces come together in a toxic puzzle where cyanobacteria in our waters become the culprit. Are these organisms, fed by human pollution and climate change, staging nature’s revenge by claiming human lives? Join the St. Johns Riverkeeper at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts in Clay County (283 College Dr, Orange Park FL 32065) for a live screening and panel discussion on the issue of toxic algae blooms and the serious short and long-term health effects it’s having on our communities, wildlife, and habitats of our River and what YOU can do to help. For more information and to register, click here.

July 13 - 8:30am-11:30am - Blue Spring Clean Up for Manatees - (Maitland)- Trash and debris is a huge problem for manatees and other wildlife. Many manatees ingest trash which can harm or even kill them. Una is a Blue Spring manatee, so let's help her and her friends and clean up some trash! Join Save the Manatee on Saturday July 13th, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. at Blue Spring State Park. We will meet on the lawn in front of the Thursby House by the lower parking lot. This is a CleanUp event in collaboration with Volusia County, Blue Spring State Park and Central FL Recon. You can help on land, by snorkeling or by kayak, however the most trash will be found on land (any trash from land can easily blow into the water and become a problem for manatees!) We will provide buckets, gloves and trashpickers, but feel free to bring your own. Visit the Facebook page here for more information. Register here.

July 15-19 - Living Lagoon Summer Camp - (Vero Beach) - ORCA's free summer camps focus on improving the health of the Indian River Lagoon through hands-on activities designed to promote teamwork and environmental stewardship. The camps include peer-to-peer mentoring and are open to Indian River County Exceptional Student Education student mentees and general education student mentors ages 14-18. Activities include habitat restoration, fishing, seining, gardening, cooking with native plants, eco-art activities and much more! To learn more and register, contact Retta Rohm, Education Coordinator at 772-467-1600 or rrohm@teamorca.org

July 18, 5:30pm - 7:30pm - Conservation on Tap: Orlando - (Orlando) - Do you love Florida? Do you enjoy the outdoors? Are you passionate about conservation, wildlife, or Florida's environment? If you answered yes to any of the above, join Conservation Florida! Conservation on Tap is an opportunity to drink a beer, learn about conservation, and meet the Conservation Florida team. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here. Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company, 1300 Alden Road, Orlando FL 32803.

July 23rd - 6:00pm-7:30pm - Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar & Storage Info Session - (Pensacola) - Live in Escambia or Santa Rosa County and want to go solar? Now's your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed the Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar + Storage Co-op with the help of Solar United Neighbors to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels and storage solutions, while building a community of local solar supporters. Join us for a free information session to learn about solar energy, battery back-up, as well as how the co-op simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power. RSVP for this free event here. Address: Pensacola Library, 239 N Spring St, Pensacola, FL 32502 .

July 25-28 - Springs Field School - (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Institute for an in-depth course on Florida springs for all backgrounds. Held from July 25th-28th in Ocala, the Springs Field School explores topics on springs ecology, water use, pollution impacts, and environmental management. Florida’s artesian (deep groundwater) springs are an important natural resource, providing the basis for extensive wildlife support and human recreation. These springs and the Floridan Aquifer that feeds them are under increasing threats from human activities, including flow reductions, nutrient increases, aquatic weed management activities, recreational impacts, and a variety of water resource development projects. A growing awareness of these problems is leading to a rapid increase in demand for knowledge about the basic chemistry, biology, and ecology of springs to be used for improved resource management. This course provides an overview of the current understanding of how springs are a product of their environmental surroundings and how they respond to management decisions. For more information and to register, click here.

August 5th - 5:30pm - 8:30pm - Calusa Waterkeeper Town Hall - (Fort Myers) - Participate in the premiere of Calusa Waterkeeper’s new documentary, “Troubled Waters.” This short film will feature expert scientists and doctors as they explore the human health impacts of cyanotoxins and BMMA in South Florida. An extended Q&A session with an all-star panel of experts will follow the video screening. Tickets and more information is available here. Address: Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, 1380 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers FL 33907.

August 10th - 8:00am-11:00am - Brevard County Clean Up for Manatees - (Cocoa Beach)- In collaboration with Keep Brevard Beautiful, Save the Manatee is organizing a Beach CleanUp this summer! Trash in our environment is a big problem for manatees and other wildlife. Manatees can ingest trash or get entangled in it, which can lead to injuries or even death. Any piece of trash on land can easily blow into the water and become a hazard for manatees. During the summer months, manatees can be found in shallow coastal areas and can sometimes even be observed from the beach, so we want to help them and clean up!
We'll meet on Saturday, August 10th, 2019 at 8 a.m. at Lori Wilson Park (1500 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931). Parking is available and supplies (buckets, gloves, trash pickers) will be provided. This is a family-friendly event and everyone is welcome! Visit the Facebook page for more information, and register here.

August 12th - 6:00pm-7:30pm - Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar & Storage Co-op - (Pensacola) - Hosted by Solar United Neighbors and the League of Women Voters, neighbors across Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties can join the Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar + Storage Co-op! Co-op participants work with the help of Solar United Neighbors to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels, while building a community of local solar supporters. Join us for a free information session to learn about solar energy, as well as how the co-op simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power. Attend this free event by RSVPing here. Address: Ever'man Education Center, 327 W Garden St, Pensacola, FL 32502.

August 19th - 7:30pm-8:30pm - Agriculture & Conservation Easements workshop - (Callahan) - Conservation easements can be a profitable way of preserving farms and forestlands, while keeping them in production and in the family. However, there are dozens of easement programs out there, with difficult enrollment procedures and confusing rules for property owners. The UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension office has partnered with the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) to offer a workshop on understanding how conservation easements work. NFLT's Land Protection Director, Marc Hudson will present their pros and cons, how they preserve agriculture and natural resources and how your property might qualify for one. We'll also give an overview of the various financial incentive programs available.  For further questions, please call the Nassau County Extension office at 904-530-6353 or email jdacey@ufl.edu.  Refreshments and snacks will be provided. To register (free) click here. UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension, 543350 US Highway 1, Callahan, FL 32011.

September 30th - October 2nd- Public Land Acquisition & Management (PLAM) Partnership 2019 Conference - (St. Augustine) - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is proud to announce the Public Land Acquisition and Management (PLAM) Partnership Conference. This statewide conference focuses on public land acquisition and management issues in Florida. PLAM has typically been hosted on a rotating basis by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts. The conference will be held at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort (500 S Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32092). WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Local, regional, state, federal, non-profit and private land managers; Land acquisition specialists and agents; Water managers; Engineers, planners, attorneys, surveyors, appraisers, architects; Public officials; Non-profit groups; Consultants; Others interested in conservation land planning. Registration coming soon. For more information, click here.

October 10 - 6:30pm-8:30pm - Follow the Ichetucknee - (Lake City) - Mark your calendars now for an informal celebration of the Ichetucknee at Halpatter Brewing Company, 264 NE Hernando Avenue, Lake City, Florida 32055. Admission is free! You'll enjoy: Viewing new and newly scored videos about the Ichetucknee by collaborators Eric Flagg and Michael Amish; Meeting directors and members of the Ichetucknee Alliance; Socializing with people who love the Ichetucknee; Tasting craft beer and munching on pizza; Exploring our interconnections with the aquifer, the Ichetucknee, and each other; Finding out what you can do to help restore, protect and preserve the Ichetucknee. We are thrilled that the generous proprietors of Halpatter have offered their venue for this event. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. There's also information about this event on our Facebook page here.

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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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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