FCC News Brief - March 13, 2019

Read Algae plaguing Florida’s iconic springs triggers major legal battle - “Soon after taking office, Gov. Ron DeSantis promised long-awaited fixes for the ailing Everglades, the green slimes at the waterfronts of Stuart and Martin County and the red tides along Sarasota and Fort Myers. Those aquatic disasters have rallied broad alliances of environmentalists, anglers, waterfront homeowners, motel and restaurant owners, boaters, beachgoers and local politicians in the heavily populated bottom half of Florida. Meanwhile, the majority of the state’s hundreds of springs — a collection unlike anywhere else in the world — are confined largely to rural and less-affluent places north of Interstate 4, Orlando and Tampa Bay, and often are secluded in woods or wetlands at the end of a quiet county road...The trouble is excessive growth of algae feeding on — as documented by authorities — pollution seeping into groundwater from septic tanks, sewage systems, agricultural and lawn fertilizer and stormwater...Many citizens groups have labeled the state’s approach as so feeble for regulations, projects and funding it would lead to further degradation of springs even if it succeeded as designed. Their legal challenge, to be conducted in September as a state hearing, will be immersed in pollution rates, sources and remedies, Floridan Aquifer dynamics and nature’s limits. Veteran environmental lawyer John Thomas, working with the Florida Springs Council, said authorities have shown little will for stemming agricultural and septic-tank pollution and no urgency for necessary spending on restoration measures. The state’s plan is an “inventory and not a corrective tool,” Thomas said…” Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Water, land bills flow through Senate environment committee - “Bills to dedicate $100 million a year to natural lands preservation, force municipalities to better deal with sewage spills, set aside another $50 million a year for water protection in the Indian River Lagoon area, and $20 million a year for water protection in the Apalachicola Bay area all flowed through the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Tuesday...The biggest of the actions came from Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart of Orlando, whose Senate Bill 944 would require that at least $100 million a year from the Amendment 1 Land Acquisition Trust Fund would go toward Florida Forever Trust Fund for preservation of natural lands. Since voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 in 2014 setting up the fund, annual transfers to Florida Forever have ranged widely, but come no where near what the program got in its early years. That amendment drew widespread support and little opposition, except for concerns raised by state Sen. Ben Albritton, a Republican from Bartow, that he wanted to see the bill set aside some money for land management, particularly for invasive species management. Stewart’s bill calls for it all to go to land acquisition…” Scott Powers reports for Florida Politics.

Read Our city needs leaders who will act on resiliency - “Over the last 100 years, the St. Johns River at Mayport has risen by nearly a foot. However, the rate of increase has nearly doubled during the last 25 years and continues to accelerate; in fact, Jacksonville could be faced with 3 feet of sea level rise by 2060. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, higher sea levels mean that destructive storm surges “push farther inland than they once did, which also means more frequent nuisance flooding.” This is certainly true in Jacksonville, which saw an increased storm surge from Hurricane Irma that resulted in historic flooding. Meanwhile, nuisance flooding is occurring more frequently and in more areas of town...So what is Jacksonville doing to prepare us for all of ths? Some would say not much…” Lisa Rinaman writes Guest Column for the Florida Times-Union.

Read Hydraulic fracking ban moves along in Florida Senate, despite critics - “For the past couple of years in Tallahassee, state lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have supported banning the oil and gas-drilling process known as fracking — yet they haven’t gotten a bill passed into law. Lawmakers are trying again, though the anti-fracking bills this legislative session are not all the same. Take for instance the committee bill that passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday on a party line vote. It would ban hydraulic fracking when it involves large volumes of fluids being injected into rock formations at a high-rate of pressure. But the legislation does not address another form of fracking called matrix acidizing, much to the ire of environmental advocates. In Florida’s capital, much of the discussion at Monday’s agriculture committee hearing in the Senate was not on the bill itself, but on three amendments which were introduced by two Republican state senators: Committee chairman Ben Albritton from Wauchula, and Doug Broxson from the Panhandle area…” Mitch Perry reports for the Florida Phoenix.

Read Florida Sen. Gayle Harrell's bill to fund Indian River lagoon projects passes Senate committee - “A bill that would provide at least $50 million each year in state funding for projects to restore the Indian River Lagoon has passed the Florida Senate's Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Senate Bill 368, filed by Republican state Sen. Gayle Harrell of Stuart, would use money from the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund to create grants for Indian River Lagoon conservation and management projects. Projects could include: Managing stormwater, freshwater and agricultural discharges, connecting septic systems to central sewer systems, ecosystem monitoring, habitat restoration. Aliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said her organization doesn't support the bill because it would use the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for projects instead of acquiring and protecting conservation lands. She said she'd like the state to find other funding sources for the projects. "We hope to work with the sponsor of this bill and others that tap into that funding stream to make sure the priorities go to land acquisition and not to wastewater treatment," Moncrief said. State Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, voted against the bill for the same reason. Harrell said there are "many" other uses for land acquisition trust fund money other than land acquisition…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Multi-billion, decade-long toll road plan gets green light, but bottlenecks loom - “A decade-long, multi-billion dollar plan to build a toll turnpike and extend two others got a subcommittee’s unanimous approval during the first week of the legislative session, but faces scrutiny from two other Senate panels before it reaches chamber floors. Among Senate Bill 7068’s advantages, however, is it is a legislative priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and is spearheaded by former Senate President Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa. M-CORES is an ambitious plan to build the proposed 150-mile Heartland Parkway from Polk County to the Naples area, extend Suncoast Parkway about 150 miles north from Chassahowitzka to the Georgia state line and extend the Florida Turnpike about 40 miles west from I-75 to Suncoast Parkway...SPB 7068 also drew fire from Sierra Club Florida and the Florida RV Trade Association. “Congestion has never been solved by building more roads,” Sierra Club Florida lobbyist David Cullen said, citing fears the roads would “fragment the landscape” and presents “a tremendous potential for sprawl…” John Haughey writes for FL Watchdog

Read The U.S. is going to see water shortages within the 21st century, study says - “Government-backed research on watersheds in the U.S. provide a dire outlook for the future: population growth and climate change are likely to cause “serious water shortages” within the next 55 years, says the study. As both demand and water evaporation increase, up to 96 of the 204 water basins that provide fresh water to Americans are projected to have monthly shortages by 2071, researchers reported in their study, published Thursday in Earth’s Future. “Other major adaptations commonly used in the past, especially instream flow removals and groundwater mining, can substantially lower shortages but have serious external costs,” wrote the researchers. “If those costs are to be avoided, transfers from irrigated agriculture probably will be needed and could be substantial…” Renae Reints reports for Fortune.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Manatee Conservation Contractor - Defenders of Wildlife

Digital Marketing Specialist - Miami Waterkeeper

Development Coordinator - Conservation Florida

Sustainability Administrator - City of Fort Lauderdale

Marine Science Faculty Position- Florida Keys Community College

Communications Coordinator - Florida Sea Grant

Pinellas County Sustainability & Resiliency Coordinator

Education Specialist - Nature’s Academy

Gulf Research Program’s Science Policy Fellowship

Executive Director - Friends of Gumbo Limbo

Upcoming Environmental Events:

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 13 - 1:30 PM- 2:45PM - Villages Environmental Discussions Group (VEDG) - The Villages) - The Villages Environmental Discussions Group will host speaker Steve Hendrickson from a Villages Lifestyle Club, Citizens Climate Lobby. Steve will address the topic ‘Solving the Climate Challenge.’ He will describe the 2019 Climate Action Conference held in February at USF in Tampa, and the bi-partisan federal bill HR 763. Bring your questions, comments, and a friend or two. If you have a question, email it to  raivedg@gmail.com. (Belvedere Library, 325 Belvedere Blvd., The Villages, FL 32162).

March 14 - 8:00AM-5:00PM - Conserving Biodiversity: Red Tide Impacts in the Gulf - (Fort Myers) - Florida Gulf Coast University is hosting a Biodiversity Conference on Thursday, March 14th. This free conference is an opportunity for the public, researchers and community leaders to share their findings and have in-depth discussions about how to address the environmental issues plaguing our state. The focus of this year's conference is impacts of red tide on Florida’s species and ecosystems. The morning panel will discuss the short and long term impacts of red tide in Florida. The afternoon workshops will encourage audience participation in exploring science, policy, and education-based solutions. All conference activities will take place on 2nd floor of FGCU’s Cohen Center, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S., Fort Myers, FL 33965. The conference is free but please RSVP here ( https://fgcubiodiversity.weebly.com/rsvp.html) to help us with planning refreshments.

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 8 & 9 - Everglades Action Day - ( Tallahassee) - The Everglades Coalition is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301). !Join fellow advocates from all corners of the state and meet with legislators to discuss the importance of a healthy Everglades ecosystem for a clean water supply and for a strong economy. Your voice on Everglades Action Day ensures that the famed ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials! New to advocacy? No problem. Training and materials will be provided. Register to save your spot, see you in Tallahassee! Follow this link to register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T83FL2D. The Everglades Coalition will sponsor group transportation to make it easy for all to get to Tallahassee (we have an east coast and a west coast bus). We reserved a block of hotel rooms at a discounted rate of $109 at the Wyndham Garden Tallahassee Capitol (hotel booking link forthcoming). We will also be offering a limited number of scholarships to cover lodging for students and other individuals. Please email info@evergladescoalition.org with any questions or concerns. 

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 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida.  Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.

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.

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.


Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

Help Save Our Panthers

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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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