FCC News Brief - March 22, 2019

Read Dolphins poisoned by algae also showed signs of Alzheimer’s-like brain disease - “Toxins produced by blue-green algae that have increasingly polluted Florida waters have been found in dead dolphins that also showed signs of Alzheimer’s-like brain disease, according to a new study led by University of Miami researchers. The study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One, is the first to show detectable levels of the toxin, commonly called BMAA, in dolphin brains that also displayed degenerative damage similar to Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease and Parkinson’s in humans. While more work needs to be done to determine whether the toxins cause the disease, the study concludes that dolphins and their complex brains could provide a key sentinel for the potential threat from toxic algae blooms to humans...The findings add to a growing body of research that focuses on the health threat from harmful algae blooms, which climate scientists warn could worsen as the planet warms. South Florida is particularly vulnerable, with miles of coast, a lake that is a third of the size of Rhode Island, rivers and estuaries, and an agricultural industry and swelling population that continue to feed blooms with pollution from fertilizer and sewage…” Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Florida reviewing options to fight Everglades oil drilling plan - “The fight over oil drilling in the Everglades remains far from over, despite a court ruling this week in favor of the plan. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a statement Wednesday saying it’s reviewing its options and would help Broward County and the region’s cities as they fight a plan by Kanter Real Estate LLC for an exploratory well in the Everglades of western Broward County. The drilling plan won a major legal victory Tuesday, one day after a false alarm in which an appeals court issued an ordering affirming the proposal and then withdrew it as “issued in error.”...Kanter, which owns about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, plans to drill an exploratory well about six miles west of Miramar. Although the Florida Department of Environmental Protection refused to issue a permit, the company challenged the denial and won a series of court victories. Even if Tuesday’s court order stands, the company still faces significant hurdles. It would need several permits from Broward County, as well an agreement from the county to reclassify the land, which is currently listed as conservation land. The well itself would only be an exploratory well. If enough oil were found to be worth extracting, that project would require another round of environmental reviews and permits…” David Fleshler reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read Sarasota County faces lawsuit over 800 million gallons of dumped processed wastewater - “Clean water advocacy groups SunCoast Waterkeeper, Our Children’s Earth Foundation and Ecological Rights Foundation gave the county a required 60-day notice on Feb. 20 of its plan to sue unless the county remedies the issues causing the spills. The suit would allege that the county violated the federal Clean Water Act by repeatedly discharging treated wastewater from the Bee Ridge Wastewater Reclamation Facility and for repeated spills of raw and partially treated sewage throughout the county’s collection system and at its treatment plants. The county has been aware since at least 2013 of the need to increase storage capacity at the Bee Ridge Reclamation Facility, yet it has discharged more than 800 million gallons of reuse water from a storage pond at its utility site at 5550 Lorraine Road, the letter from the groups’ attorney and SunCoast Waterkeeper founder Justin Bloom states. One lengthy episode of spills from a pond on the site that can hold up to 170 million gallons of treated wastewater occurred from December until March, dumping more than 218 million gallons of water over the pond’s brim, said Bloom, citing spill reports from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The reclaimed water is the result of a processing wastewater to the point it can be reused for landscape irrigation. Eight hundred million gallons of water is equivalent to roughly 1,211 Olympic-sized swimming pools, which consist of around 660,200 gallons...“These spills have sent raw sewage streaming into streets, storm drains and/or adjacent surface waters, posing serious public health threats and creating a severe nuisance in exposing substantial numbers of people to raw sewage,” the letter states. “These spills have been caused by a variety of poor or inadequate system maintenance, operation, repair, replacement and rehabilitation practices...The threat of litigation comes as the state Legislature considers potential responses to pollution, including from sewage spills, believed to have contributed to harmful algae blooms, such as red tide, that have plagued Florida. A Sarasota lawmaker, Sen. Joe Gruters, has proposed a bill that would fine public utilities $1 for every gallon of wastewater spilled…” Nicole Rodriguez reports for the Herald-Tribune.

Read Good news: Florida Legislature is ready to deal with the threat of sea-level rise - “Last week, a state Senate committee took a small step toward protecting our region against the devastation that can be foreseen as the sea keeps rising. Voting 5-0, Republicans and Democrats on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee together passed Senate Bill 78, which would require that state-funded infrastructure projects near the coast be preceded by a sea-level impact studies. Coming the same week that thousands of young people across the state, nation and globe skipped school to demand action to combat the projected changes in climate that threaten their generation’s future, the unanimous vote by the panel in Tallahassee was a breakthrough. After years of turning a blind eye to the growing prospect of devastating losses, the Legislature is beginning to concede to reality: Sea level rise is happening; it will worsen; and Florida must adjust. SB 78 addresses one obvious adjustment: From now on, whenever we construct public buildings, roads or bridges, we should be factoring in the structures’ ability to withstand the heavier flooding that we know to expect. Doing this will help keep repair, replacement and insurance costs to a minimum. And by setting statewide standards for making structures resilient, we’ll give the insurance industry and Wall Street more confidence that coastal buildings are worth investing in over 20 or 30 years…” From the Miami Herald Editorial Board

Read Conservancy CEO Rob Moher reflects on 20 years of service protecting water, land, wildlife and the future - “Twenty years ago, Southwest Florida was a much different place. Large swaths of land remained undeveloped, and Naples was mostly contained between I-75 and the Gulf of Mexico. Builders and county leaders, however, were formalizing plans for a frenetic, unprecedented residential and commercial construction boom that ultimately would redefine the region. It also tilted the balance between development rights and environmental protection. At the same time, in early 1999, a young man named Rob Moher joined the Conservancy of Southwest Florida after serving as regional director for Bahamas National Trust, where he was responsible for protection, management and development of three national parks, including coastal and marine parks. Prior to that, he served as a research officer for the International Development Research Center in Ottawa, Canada, where he was involved in environmental policy research on an international level...The Conservancy’s mission is to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future. Mr. Moher is establishing cooperative partnerships with individuals, businesses, government agencies and nonprofit institutions to fulfill that mission. There is still plenty of work to do. Development proposals for eastern Collier County lack fundamental principles of smart growth. Invasive Burmese pythons are eating their way through South Florida. Seismic testing in the Big Cypress National Preserve has led to significant negative impacts while the threat of continued enhanced oil well stimulation methods remain a threat to our limited fresh water supply. Our changing climate poses serious health, environmental and economic concerns. The red tide and algae bloom crises drew national attention and already are impacting our health, our waterways and our economy…” The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Special to the Naples Florida Weekly.

Read Rebuilt wetlands can protect shorelines better than walls- “On August 27, 2011, Hurricane Irene crashed into North Carolina, eviscerating the Outer Banks. The storm dumped rain shin-high and hurled three-meter storm surges against the barrier island shores that faced the mainland, destroying roads and 1,100 homes. After the storm, a young ecologist then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill named Rachel K. Gittman decided to survey the affected areas. Gittman had worked as an environmental consultant for the U.S. Navy on a shoreline-stabilization project and had been shocked to discover how little information existed on coastal resilience. “The more I researched, the more I realized that we just don’t know very much,” she explains. “So much policy and management is being made without the underlying science.” She decided to make shorelines her specialty. What Gittman found was eye-opening. Along the hard-hit shorelines, three quarters of the bulkheads were damaged. The walls, typically concrete and about two meters high, are the standard homeowner defense against the sea in many parts of the country. Yet none of the natural marsh shorelines were impaired. The marshes, which extended 10 to 40 meters from the shore, had lost no sediment or elevation from Irene. Although the storm initially reduced the density of their vegetation by more than a third, a year later the greenery had bounced back and was as thick as ever in many cases...Historically, almost all money spent on coastal defense has gone toward “gray” infrastructure: seawalls, bulkheads, levees and rock revetments. That is beginning to change as researchers become more sophisticated in measuring the long-term impact of “green” coastal defenses. Insurance companies and governments are finally taking notice and might actually turn the tide toward living defenses…” Rowan Jacobsen reports for Scientific American.

Read Weedkiller glyphosate a ‘substantial’ cancer factor- “A US jury has found that one of the world's most widely-used weedkillers was a "substantial factor" in causing a man's cancer. Pharmaceutical group Bayer had strongly rejected claims that its glyphosate-based Roundup product was carcinogenic. But the jury in San Francisco ruled unanimously that it contributed to causing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in California resident Edwin Hardeman. The next stage of the trial will consider Bayer's liability and damages. During this phase, which starts on Wednesday, Mr Hardeman's lawyers are expected to present evidence allegedly showing Bayer's efforts to influence scientists, regulators and the public about the safety of its products...Glyphosate was introduced by Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by various manufacturers. In the US, more than 750 products contain it. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the World Health Organisation's cancer agency, concluded that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic to humans". However, the US Environmental Protection Agency insists it is safe when used carefully…” From the BBC News.

From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Manatee Conservation Contractor - Defenders of Wildlife

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 23 - 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM - Community Workshop: Speak Out Against the DeSoto Phosphate Mine - (Arcadia) - Join the Center for Biological Diversity and allies for a workshop on March 23 at the Peace River Campground, 2998 NW Hwy 70, Arcadia, FL 34266. This past July the people of DeSoto County scored a big win over Mosaic Fertilizer's proposed phosphate mine when county commissioners voted to deny the requested rezoning. The mine would have destroyed 18,000 acres of habitat and created radioactive waste that threatens our drinking water. But the fight isn't over yet. Mosaic has forced the county into a dispute-resolution process, where the county must reconsider its previous decision and enter into settlement negotiations with the company. At this workshop you'll learn more about the destructive phosphate mining industry and you will learn how to effectively voice your opposition. After completing the workshop you'll be ready to participate in the public mediation on Wednesday, April 3 at 9 a.m. RSVP HERE.

March 27 - 9:00am- 12:00pm - Volunteer Day at North Florida Land Trust’s Bogey Creek Preserve - (Jacksonville) - North Florida Land Trust is asking for volunteers to join them on Wednesday, March 27 for a day of cleaning up and getting Bogey Creek Preserve ready for its public debut. The nonprofit land conservation organization is putting the finishing touches on its first public park located on Cedar Point Road near Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Volunteers will be asked to help with trail clearing, mulching, trash cleanup and other maintenance tasks. Volunteers can pick from two shifts; either the morning shift from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. or the afternoon shift from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Participants are asked to register for the shift of choice at https://www.nflt.org/calendarofevents/. It is recommended that volunteers wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Also, bring sunscreen, bug spray, snacks and water. Work gloves and other supplies will be provided. Volunteers must be 12 or older and volunteers who are 12 to 18 must be accompanied by an adult. (Bogey Creek Preserve, Cedar Point Road, Jacksonville Florida 32226).

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 - 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM - Earth Hour 2019 - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for a potluck, poetry and power off in recognition of Earth Hour 2019. Earth Hour is about uniting people around the global to share why nature matters and to continue raising awareness of our interconnectivity with nature. “As accelerating climate change and staggering biodiversity loss threaten our planet, Earth Hour 2018-2020 endeavors to spark never-before-had conversations on the loss of nature and the urgent need to protect it.” Join us at Pensacola Open Books Bookstore & Prison Book Project located at 1040 N Guillemard St, Pensacola, FL 32501 to share your story and vision for our future. Contact Mary at earthethicsaction@gmail.com for more information.

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 4 & 5 - International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society - (Miami Gardens) - At the second International Conference on Climate, Nature, and Society hosted by St. Thomas University and The Nature Conservancy, a diverse group of leaders from multiple faiths and sustainability focused organizations will gather in South Florida to discuss our changing climate, implications and solutions. The conference will explore how participants and communities of faith can take action to address climate challenges. Together, we can implement solutions that are respectful and supportive of the nature that sustains us and must sustain future generations, and preserve the environment that renews our spirits. Registration and agenda.  Moot Court, School of Law, St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37th Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL 33054    View Map - Directions. Thursday, April 4 from 9am-5pm and Friday, April 5 from 9am-12pm.

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. 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). Click here to register, see you in Tallahassee! 

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 20 - 6:30 PM - Film screening of “Woman at War” - (Pensacola)- Join Earth Ethics, Inc, in partnership with Pensacola Cinema Art, for a viewing of “Woman at War”. This is a foreign Indie film based in Iceland that conveys a global message relatable to all Earth Warriors. “Woman at War is confronting some of the heaviest dilemmas of our time (e.g. how do we bring new life into a broken world).” Although fantastical, the climate change theme and how we deal with these issues is prominently displayed throughout the film.Join us at Studer Community Institute, 220 W. Garden Street (former Sun Trust building), Pensacola, FL. You must RSVP through Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/woman-at-war-movie-viewing-tickets-58810076522 in order to reserve your seating. Seating is limited to 30 spots. Tickets, to paid at the door, are $7 and includes free popcorn, wine or water, and light refreshments. There is free off-street parking for attendees. Contact Mary at earthethicsaction@gmail.com 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.


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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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