FCC News Brief - March 15, 2019

Read At first meeting, new South Florida water managers vow to simplify district’s workings - “In their first meeting after a contentious turnover, South Florida water managers made a longtime environmental regulator their new executive director and vowed to do business more transparently. Board members appointed Drew Bartlett, an engineer and deputy secretary at the Department of Environmental Protection, as director. Bartlett oversaw Everglades restoration for six years for the state agency. Before that, he worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for more than 16 years where he was chief of water quality for the southeastern U.S. Thursday’s West Palm Beach meeting was the first for the new board appointed by DeSantis after he demanded the resignation of the former board…” Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Rick Scott, Marco Rubio criticize Trump administration for lack of Everglades funding - “Rubio, Scott, and U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, and Francis Rooney, R-Naples, said in a joint statement that they and Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Trump to include $200 million in the fiscal 2020 budget for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration, or SFER. But the budget only includes $63 million for Florida wetlands, the Miami Herald reports. It doesn’t include money for an Everglades reservoir to reduce polluted water from Lake Okeechobee and slashes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spending by 31 percent, according to the Herald. “For the third year in a row, the administration’s budget request underfunds critical projects in South Florida,” the Florida GOP lawmakers wrote. They wrote that Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers envisioned a $200 million-per-year federal commitment when the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was first authorized two decades ago, “and it is time for the administration to meet that commitment.” Steven Lemongello reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Then and Now: Visitors return, tourism industry recovers from tough 2018 - “[Noah Stewart, fishing captain]’s business has been booming. And it has been going well for many other businesses. The boom has been a welcome relief from the double-edged environmental crisis of toxic algae blooms and red tide that plagued Southwest Florida waterways in late July, August and September. In recent weeks, hotels, restaurants, roads and spring training games have been packed with visitors, good news for businesses that faced plenty of bad last year. Third quarter visitors and visitor expenses in 2018 dipped by 2.4 and 3.4 percent from what had been a down 2017 because of Hurricane Irma, according to the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau. The number of visitors fell by about 40,000 people, and tourist-based revenue fell by about $23 million. In Collier County, unaffected by the algae blooms and not as affected by the red tide, third quarter visitors and visitor spending actually climbed from 2017 to 2018, from 306,000 to 324,600 and from $191 million to $200 million. But a look at the September statistics revealed a $16.3 million plunge in visitor spending from 2017, according to Paradise Coast, the visitor and convention bureau for Collier County…” David Dorsey reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.

Read UF public perception survey shows high level of concern over algal blooms in Florida waters - “Recently released polling data from the University of Florida’s Bureau for Economic and Business Research, in partnership with the Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands and the Bob Graham Center, suggests that a vast majority of Florida residents are concerned about algal blooms in Florida waters regardless of political, socioeconomic or racial differences. In a telephone survey, conducted in December 2018, nearly 80 percent of respondents indicated high levels of concern over algal blooms. Assessment of who is responsible for the blooms did vary across different groups, especially by political affiliation. When categorized by political affiliation, Independents were 40 percent more likely than Republicans to perceive Florida’s state government as being responsible for the blooms, while Democrats were 85 percent more likely. Across all respondents, the groups most frequently implicated as responsible were: agricultural producers (60 percent), followed by Florida’s state government (53 percent) and local governments (40 percent). The federal government, Florida residents and tourists took a small portion of the blame, cited by 32 percent, 30 percent and 22 percent of respondents, respectively…” David Kaplan for UF News.

Read Florida, Georgia go next round in water war - “Florida says the case is the “last, best hope” to save the Apalachicola River region from destruction. Georgia says Florida’s arguments threaten to cause hundreds of millions of dollars in “real harm” to the Peach State. Now, a federal appellate judge based in New Mexico will have to sort out the long-running battle between Florida and Georgia over water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system, which starts in Georgia and flows south into the Florida Panhandle. Both sides filed briefs earlier this month as they attempt to sway Senior U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. in the debate about whether limits should be placed on Georgia’s water usage in the river system. Those briefs followed another set of briefs filed at the end of January...From Florida’s perspective, perhaps the highest-profile issue in the legal fight has been a decline in recent years of the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay. Florida contends that a lack of freshwater flowing from the north has increased salinity in the bay and affected oyster production. But Georgia is attacking that argument, contending that Florida allowed over-harvesting of oysters after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, causing lasting damage to the industry…” Jim Saunders reports for the News Service of Florida.

Read We can’t assumer our water is safe to drink. But we can fix it - “When my young daughter says she’s thirsty, I take for granted that the water from our kitchen tap is clean and safe. In fact, that’s what most Americans assume. But should we? As we mark World Water Day on March 22, the disturbing truth is that roughly a quarter of Americans drink from water systems that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act. Violations range from failing to properly test water to allowing dangerous levels of lead or arsenic—and occur everywhere: in rural communities and big cities, in red states and blue ones...Across the country, water systems are old, badly maintained, and in dire need of modernizing—from lead service lines in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Newark, New Jersey, to silt and debris in drinking water after heavy rain in Austin, Texas, to fecal contamination in Penn Township, Pennsylvania. Worse, some are managed by dysfunctional agencies where incompetence and socioeconomic and racial bias may determine whether a community is made sick by its drinking water. The reality is that we can no longer assume that our water is safe to drink…” Rhea Suh writes for National Geographic.

Read Florida exceeds ‘Million Pollinator Garden Challenge’ goal - “Thousands of gardens across the state of Florida are playing a part in saving pollinators and the nation's food system. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge was launched in 2015 as part of a nationwide call to revive collapsing bee colonies and improve the health of birds, bats, butterflies and other pollinators. The challenge was to register a million new gardens through the National Pollinator Garden Network – and through the efforts of schools, garden clubs, and mayors promoting community gardens, the goal was exceeded by 40,000 gardens.  Mary Phillips, senior director for the National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife program, is a co-founder of the network. "Florida really stepped up,” says Phillips. “As a matter of fact, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro areas contributed almost 20,000 pollinator gardens to this effort. And the Tampa-St. Petersburg areas were also very high, with close to 5,000…” Trimmel Gomes reports for the Public News Service of Florida.

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:

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 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/.

March 30 - 7:00 PM - Films for the Sea - (Pensacola) - Join Healthy Gulf for their Films for the Sea screenings related to the environment, surfing, and the health of our oceans. We’ll watch films that take us around the world to beautiful coastal places and the people who love them, from British Columbia and Hawaii to the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Beach. The work of local photographer and filmmaker Sean Mullins is included. Before and after the films there will be plenty of educational information on how citizens can take action to help to protect the Gulf of Mexico and local waterways. Beverages and food from Café Single Fin will be available. For much more information about Films for the sea please visit Healthy Gulf on Facebook or call 850-687-9968 or christian@healthygulf.org (Waterboyz, 380 N. Ninth Ave., Pensacola).

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 8 - 6:00 PM - Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series - (Pensacola) - Join us on Monday, April 8th beginning at 6 p.m. at Ever’man Educational Center, 327 W. Garden   Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for Earth Ethics April Environmental Education Series.  Earth Ethics in partnership with Earth Day Network is celebrating and supporting those who “protect our species”. This month we welcome Dorothy Kaufmann, Director at the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. Ms. Kaufmann’s Giving Wildlife A Second Chance presentation will discuss the organizations care of injured or orphaned wildlife including medical care, fostering, rehabilitate and wildlife release. Stay up to date on the event on Facebook here. Or if your not on social media, let us know you’ll be joining us by getting your free tickets at Eventbrite here.

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.  

For more information, visit https://www.wearefcc.org/

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