Read DeSantis adds Miami attorney and West Palm investor to South Florida water board - “Gov. Ron DeSantis picked a Miami Beach maritime attorney and a West Palm Beach investor to fill two of the remaining seats on the South Florida Water Management District governing board Wednesday after ordering former board members to resign. Attorney Scott Wagner, a solo practitioner, is the second Miami resident named to the board. DeSantis picked investor Charlie Martinez, a partner in a firm redeveloping the Grove Key Marina and Scotty’s Landing in Coconut Grove, last week when he named four appointees. One appointment remains, which will likely come from a county near Lake Okeechobee. In a press release, DeSantis said Wagner is a lifelong South Floridian who will bring a “unique perspective” as a maritime lawyer...DeSantis also appointed John “Jay” Steinle, a managing director at Lighthouse Investment Partners in West Palm Beach. DeSantis described Steinle as an active sportsman. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in environmental studies, according to a press release…” Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald.
Read The future face of Collier County: Mega development vs. smart growth- you decide - “One of those pivotal fork-in-the-road decisions that will forever change the face of Florida is confronting Collier County. This year, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners has an opportunity to improve plans for 300 square miles of eastern Collier County. The plan is currently set up to transform 195,000 acres of agricultural and environmentally important lands to a low-density patchwork of new towns and villages. At build-out, the development area for eastern Collier would be the same geographic size as two Fort Lauderdales. Thus, decisions the county commissioners make this year for eastern Collier will have far-reaching effects on the entire county for many generations. The good news is that right now the public has an opportunity to weigh in on these growth plans. On Tuesday, March 5, you can help decide whether eastern Collier should continue on a current path of enabling large scale growth, resulting in dramatic increases in traffic, tremendous impacts to wildlife and high infrastructure costs; or if the plan should be amended to allow reasonable forms and scale of development that incorporate smarter growth principles that save tax dollars and natural resources…The stakes are high for Collier County, both financially and environmentally, and substantial revisions are needed. As an example, Smart Growth America estimates that if the growth program for eastern Collier is not modified to curb sprawl, the net cost to the county will be $3.3 billion over 20 years from costs associated with new roads, emergency medical services, school construction, staffing and school bus transportation. The 200 miles of new and expanded roads that the landowners propose to reach the new towns would cost over $7.8 billion. Another outcome could be the demise of the endangered Florida panther because over half of the areas available for development within eastern Collier are located within primary panther habitat…” April Olson writes for Naples Florida Weekly
Read Leon County Commissioner Kristen Dozier tapped to tackle state water problems - “Leon County Commissioner Kristen Dozier is hoping to play a key role in resolving a statewide water crisis produced by the twin plagues of blue-green algae blooms and coastal red tide. Dozier last month joined a Florida Association of Counties water committee just when Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on water policy...When algae-infested freshwater flowed along the Caloosahatchee River and into the St. Lucie estuary at the same time that red tide plagued all three coasts during the summer of 2018, the combination produced an environmental crisis that some newspaper editorials compared to the legendary Cuyahoga River fire and the iconic Love Canal Superfund site. Much of the pollution can be attributed to aging sewage systems and septic tanks that contribute nearly half of the nutrients that feed the algae. The nitrogen works unseen. It seeps through the ground into the aquifer and emerges later in blooms of harmful algae – a blue-green film in a spring or lake… In November, FAC agreed to form a committee to deal exclusively with water issues. DeSantis followed up in January with an executive order that directed the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a septic conversion and remediation grant program with local governments...There’s a limited amount of dollars available, so I am thrilled that the governor wants to focus on this and hopefully put more money into grant programs,” said Dozier, in her third term on the commission. [Dozier] will begin the quest to fund those initiatives in March. That's when the FAC Water Committee will hold its first meeting in Tallahassee, when the Florida Legislature is in session and writing next year's budget…” James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.
Read County Commission supports Fine bill with sanctions for sewage spills into lagoon - “Florida Rep. Randy Fine received the Brevard County Commission's endorsement on Tuesday for a bill he is sponsoring that is designed to help restore the Indian River Lagoon...But the other major component of the bill raised the concern of two commissioners. That provision would impose fines of $1 per gallon of raw sewage spill on the entity releasing the sewage, with an alternative of the entity paying $2 per gallon for repairs and maintenance to help ensure the issue does not happen again. "Generally, legislators agree that local governments should not be able to put poop in the water," Fine said, adding that new statewide standards should be implemented to "require accountability." Fine told county commissioners that he doesn't believe this is a punitive measure, since counties and cities will have the opportunity to spend the money to fix their infrastructure, rather than pay a fine to the state. "The objective is not to create fines for the state," Fine said. "The objective is to see the problems fixed."..."If there's not a carrot and a stick, you usually don't change behavior," Fine said. "My goal is to change the thought process of local governments and their prioritization of wastewater infrastructure. That is my goal with the requirement to fix spills." The carrot, in effect, is the portion of Fine’s legislation that would allocate $50 million a year in matching funds for three types of projects that would benefit the Indian River Lagoon…” Dave Berman reports for Florida Today.
Read Navy hands out bottled water after Saufley Field well water tests show high levels of PFAS - “The Navy is distributing bottled drinking water to some residents who live on the west side of Saufley Field after initial well water testing exceeded levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Eight of 20 wells tested in the area exceeded the EPA's lifetime health advisory level for perfluorooctane sulfonate and/or perfluorooctanoic acid, according to a news release issued by Naval Air Station Pensacola. Both chemicals, known as PFAS, are part of a fire suppressant foam long used by local military bases...Brandy Smith, director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Northwest District, referred questions to the Navy but forwarded an informational sheet distributed to residents explaining the EPA's classification of PFAS as as emerging contaminants. "While there are no regulatory limits at this time, there may be a long-term potential risk to human health or the environment associated with the chemicals," stated the information provided by DEP. "Additional studies may also bring new or changing health exposure information related to them. This is why DEP and (the Department of Health) are committed to addressing emerging contaminants."..” Melissa Nelson Gabriel reports for the Pensacola News Journal.
Read Experts testify on algae solutions at Florida delegation meeting - “More funding, more planning, more coordination. Those were the calls from experts Wednesday morning as the Florida congressional delegation held a hearing on dealing with the state’s algae problem and other water issues. Wednesday’s meeting was the first of the year for the Florida delegation, co-chaired by Reps. Alcee Hastings and Vern Buchanan. The bipartisan group also reiterated their opposition to offshore drilling in Florida’s waters. Secretary Noah Valenstein of the Department of Environmental Protection flew in from Tallahassee to testify at the Wednesday meeting. Also on hand were Adam Gelber, Director of Everglades Restoration Initiatives in the U.S. Department of Interior; Col. Andrew Kelly of the Army Corps of Engineers; Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President and CEO of the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium; and Garrett Wallace, the Florida Government Relations Manager of The Nature Conservancy. One issue that came up during the discussion on freshwater blue-green algae was the review process currently being conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers to revise the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS), which dictates the water levels of the lake…” Ryan Nicol reports for Florida Politics.
Read DeSantis poised to push agenda in legislature - “ Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday will start his first legislative session, where he will test his influence to push an extensive agenda heavily focused on the environment and expanding school choice. After the November election, many expected DeSantis would govern as the staunch conservative who campaigned on his close ties to President Donald Trump. But two months into his term, some of the governor’s proposals have drawn praise from Democrats and Republicans. DeSantis will give his first State of the State address Tuesday morning during a joint session of the House and Senate. Lawmakers then will spend 60 days passing bills, negotiating a budget and considering DeSantis’ priorities, which include boosting environmental spending, giving teachers bonuses, lifting a smoking ban on medical marijuana and expanding school choice. Lawmakers will also dig into the governor’s $91.3 billion budget proposal — the largest in state history. Republican leaders, however, say the final version of the spending plan will likely look much smaller by the time it hits DeSantis’ desk in May. “His budget, I remind people, is simply a recommendation. It is nothing more than that,” Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told The News Service of Florida. That means a top priority of DeSantis, a proposed $625 million package for water resource projects, will likely be slashed to meet other financial needs in the state, like recovery costs from Hurricane Michael, Galvano said. “I can’t tell you that we are going to reach that number,” Galvano said. “We got about a $1.2 billion issue with Hurricane Michael to deal with...” Anna Ceballos reports for the News Service of Florida.
Read Florida SpringsFest hopes to make a splash - “Since 2000, the celebration promoting preservation of springs across the state has spread awareness to thousands. This year, the event, which runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, gathers near the banks of the iconic Silver Springs head springs and features educational activities, music and food. Among the exhibits this year are a mermaid demonstration in a freestanding tank of water and the performers of Sea Hunt Forever, a re-enactment group that performs historically accurate scenes from the 1950s and ’60s-era television show filmed in part at Silver Springs...The event also will focus on water quality issues that affect the springs and drinking water in general. Interactive displays will illustrate how people can impact water issues through conserving, using fertilizer wisely and disposing of yard waste properly….According to information provided by organizers, the festival will feature Florida blues and folk music on three stages, with Ben Prestage, Willie Green and the Willie Green Band, JW Gilmore and the Blues Authority, Chuck Hardwicke and the Hart Line, and more. There will be games and food trucks at the Mansion stage and event field...Glass-bottom boat tours are half-price during the event.” Carlos E. Medina reports for the Ocala Star Banner.
Read Lake Erie just won the same legal rights as people - “It started in a pub. A handful of people, hunched over beers in Toledo, Ohio, were talking about a water crisis that had plagued the city in 2014. The pollution of Lake Erie had gotten so bad that it had taken a serious toll on their lives. The government, they felt, wasn’t doing enough to protect the lake. And so they wondered: What if the lake could protect itself? The idea they hatched that night ultimately resulted in a special election, which had the citizens of Toledo voting Tuesday on a very unusual question: Should Lake Erie be granted the legal rights normally reserved for a person? The law isn’t without precedent, though. It’s part of the nascent rights of nature movement, which has notched several victories in the past dozen years. Rivers and forests have already won legal rights in countries like Ecuador, Colombia, India, and New Zealand. Activists in the movement often argue that the environment is the next frontier in humanity’s expanding moral circle: over the centuries, we’ve extended rights to more and more beings, so why shouldn’t nature itself be next?..” Sigal Samuel reports for Vox.
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
March 2nd & 3rd - Florida SpringsFest 2019 - (Ocala) - Since 2000, Florida SpringsFest has been educating visitors about the importance of Florida’s springs. In 2019, Florida SpringsFest will be held on Saturday March 2 and Sunday March 3, at Silver Springs State Park, with the theme sustainability. This two-day event will feature everything that Silver Springs has to offer- Glass Bottom Boat tours, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals, interactive education center, ranger programs, and trails through beautiful gardens, overlooking the crystal-clear spring. In addition, SpringsFest includes environmental speakers, educational displays, artists, crafters, demonstrators, food vendors, live entertainment, a student art show, a silent auction, and more! Join us for this two-day event to learn about Florida Springs! History, science, fun, music, food, and friends- all for $2/person park admission! Glass bottom boat rides are not included with your park entry, but will be HALF-OFF all weekend! Follow the Florida Springsfest Facebook for more information!
March 5 - 9:00 AM - “The Future Land Use and Buildout Workshop” - (Naples)- On Tuesday, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners is hosting a “Future Land Use and Build-Out Workshop.” The workshop will be held in the Board of County Commissioner chambers at 3299 Tamiami Trail E. 3rd Floor. The workshop will include a discussion of growth management policies, population projections at the year 2040, and how those policies will shape the continued build-out of Collier County. This workshop is an ideal opportunity for the community to share their perspective on what is going well in the County and voice any concerns about the impacts of future growth. For more information about the event, visit the County’s site here, and more information about the topic here at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s website.
March 11 - 6:00 PM-7:30 PM - ‘Environmental Justice: What, Why, You’ discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. in welcoming Wilma Subra, environmental scientist and advocate, guest speaker for Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series for March. Ms. Subra will discuss Environmental Justice issues in our community and across the state and nation. Subra served for seven years as vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, for six years on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and for five years on the National Advisory Committee of the US Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland. The event is being held at Ever’ man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. RSVP on Facebook here, or get your free event ticket from EventBrite here. Light refreshments will be served.
March 13 - 10:00 AM-4:00 PM - Reclaiming Florida’s Future For All: Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Energy - (Tallahassee) - Rethink Energy Florida is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee FL 32301)! We are advocating to protect Florida’s clean water, support renewable energy, and BAN Fracking! We will be talking with our legislators about these critical issues. This event is co-sponsored by Floridians Against Fracking, Sierra Club Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Food and Water Watch Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Ignite Change, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. RSVP here or check out the Facebook event for more information.
March 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here. Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.
March 27 - 12:00 PM -1:30 PM - 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/.
April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.
April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here, and website here.
April 27 - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM - The Water Festival - (Deland) - The Volusia Water Alliance invites one and all to a street party celebrating water with a day of fun activities and performances in historic downtown DeLand. The festival will feature live mermaids, sidewalk chalk artists, dance and musical performances, a Blessing of the Waters (a Native American tradition), children’s games and activities, a Dog Zone, educational displays, and vendor booths. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Admission is FREE. A few sponsorships and vendor spaces are still available. (West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720)
May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida. You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.
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