FCC News Brief - March 25, 2019

Read Florida Forever, land-buying funding battle looms in the Legislature- “Lawmakers, the governor's office and environmentalists disagree again on how much funding should go toward the state's premier land-buying program.  Lawmakers have proposed decreasing the amount of funding the program receives for the next year. The Florida Senate proposed providing $45 million for the program, while the Florida House proposed $20 million for the program in their environmental budget. Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed giving $100 million to Florida Forever in his budget recommendations. The governor's office did not respond to questions about Florida Forever or the recommendations from the Legislature...It's not the first time lawmakers have given the program a decreased amount of state funding because of other environmental concerns in the budget. Before the 2008 recession, the program regularly received about $300 million. Funding plunged for the program after the recession. In 2014, environmental groups backed a constitutional amendment that would set aside one-third of documentary stamp tax revenue to buy, manage and improve conservation lands and water. The amendment passed with more than 75 percent of the vote, but lawmakers did not increase funding for the program significantly, instead dedicating funds to projects that restore waterways statewide, including the Everglades, springs, and the St. Johns River, and beach restoration projects. In 2017 the Legislature chose to not fund the program in order to fund a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Last year, lawmakers lamented the decision, and Florida Forever ended up receiving $100 million in state funding…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Here’s a conservative Green New Deal idea: Place a tax on pollution - “As Republicans, we know climate change is an issue that can no longer be ignored.  The daily reality of climate change, sea level rise and other impacts is clear for all to see in Florida. The question of whether to act has been answered: We must. If as conservatives we don’t want the heavy hand of government calling the shots, then a “Just say No” approach to climate action will no longer work. We can no longer simply criticize the other side and offer nothing in response. The speed with which liberals have begun to coalesce around the concept of a “green new deal” expresses their legitimate hunger for strong climate leadership. Polling shows that even 64 percent of Republicans support the concept...We have an approach to overcome climate change that has been championed by conservative policy leaders and economists. Its time has come. The “when” is now, and here’s the “how” — a tax on pollution. Instead of having liberal politicians and government bureaucrats mandate how to cut carbon pollution, a carbon tax lets the market figure out the most efficient way to do so throughout the economy, driving innovation by harnessing the creativity of workers, engineers, business leaders and entrepreneurs. Far from scrambling to throw something together, our approach is ready for prime time. Five conservative organizations — Climate Leadership Council, Alliance for Market Solutions, Niskanen Center, republicEn and Evangelical Environmental Network — have provided ideas and support for a carbon tax that can help overcome climate change.  One of us — Carlos Curbelo — last year introduced in the U.S. House an infrastructure investment bill funded by revenues from taxing pollution…” Carlos Curbelo and Rev. Mitch Hescox write Opinion for the Miami Herald.

Read Bill to protect well owners from tainted water clears first Senate stop- “If you’re a Floridian with a private drinking water well and a fear of chemical contamination, it could take weeks or months for state officials to test it. Sen. Bill Montford’s bill wants to change that. SB 1100 would not only allow anyone fearing contamination to request the Department of Health test their water source but would require samples be analyzed no more than three business days later. Without any debate, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee Wednesday. Montford’s bill follows a Herald/Times investigation that found state health officials took four months to notify well owners in Marion County they had found elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA chemicals, which are found in firefighting foams that had been used at the nearby Florida State Fire College in Ocala…” Samantha J. Gross reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Virus may be killing St. Johns River turtles - “A virus may be contributing to the deaths hundreds of freshwater turtles along the St. Johns River watershed, a preliminary investigation has found. Since March 2018, approximately 300 sick or dead turtles have been found along the St. Johns River — from its headwaters as far north as Crescent Lake and along its tributaries — that may be related to the turtle die-off, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Tuesday. The die-off began last March and by June more than 100 dead or dying turtles had been reported. The turtles collected for laboratory evaluation came from Brevard, Lake, Putnam and Seminole counties, said Michelle Kerr, an FWC spokeswoman. No “verified reports” have been received from Flagler or Volusia counties, she said. So far, 18 turtles from the St. Johns River watershed have been collected by the wildlife commission and examined by veterinarians with the wildlife commission and University of Florida. Initial findings suggested a viral infection contributed to the deaths. Virologists with the Wildlife Aquatic Veterinary Disease Laboratory and Aquatic Amphibian and Reptile Pathology Program in the University’s college of veterinary medicine discovered a novel virus associated with diseased softshell turtles, peninsula cooters and Florida red-bellied cooters. The virus hasn’t yet been identified…” Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News-Herald.

Read ‘Protectors of the Coast’: What mangroves Northward march means for Northeast Florida - “Walking along a wooden path winding through Nease Beachfront Park in St. Augustine, Danny Lippi pointed to coastal trees sprouting from the shrubbery around him. The exotic species were brought here by warming temperatures — bringing business opportunities for the local arborist. “All of these are mangroves,” Lippi said, surrounded by the young perennial plants, blooming with hues of green and golden yellows. “You can actually see that line where the upland vegetation just stops.” Demand for Lippi’s mangrove trimming service has been growing as the trees have been accumulating northward, starting to block coastal views from Ormond Beach to Palm Coast. Their northernmost limit in the U.S. sits about 70 miles from St. Augustine on Amelia Island, and it continues to shift...Smithsonian Environmental Research Center research shows mangrove coverage has doubled along Northeast Florida’s coast since 1984. This freshly arrived abundance of mangroves may block waterfront views and squeeze out marsh wildlife, but the tropical trees’ value is celebrated by the state.Florida legislators regard the trees as storm buffers and coastal habitat, and the Mangrove Preservation and Trimming Act safeguards mangroves and forbids their trimming by anyone lacking arborist certification. More than 500 violations have been issued since the legislation passed in 1995, with some businesses and residents hit with fines of tens of thousands of dollars each. On average, researchers have estimated mangroves protect $13 billion worth of property in the U.S. annually from storm and flood damage…” Ayurella Horn-Muller reports for WJCT.

Read FGCU launches Water School as it tries to expand research footprint - “Florida Gulf Coast University launched a new initiative Friday  that its president hopes will be a stepping stone toward FGCU becoming a leader in water issues. Part of The Water School's mission is to bring together professors and researchers from different disciplines to conduct water-based research. Their research will focus on everything from water quality to how water crises affect the economy...The announcement included reporters getting on boats with researchers and students and venturing out into the water. The researchers discussed the state's water issues and what they are doing to try to combat them through their work. Waterways in Southwest Florida and other parts of the state were infected last year with red tide and blue-green algae. Marine life was killed, and tourists decided not to visit some of Florida's beaches. The crisis is one reason why FGCU wants to get more than $9 million from the state to study red tide…” Chad Gillis and Thyrie Bland report for the Fort Myers News-Press.

Read Americans left behind in the global fight for clean water - “March 22 marks another World Water Day, and it seems like every country has something to celebrate, except the U.S...Millions of Americans still don’t have running water or a working toilet. Some 1.6 million people in the U.S. still lack basic plumbing at home. That’s equal to the populations of Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, D.C. combined. Most Americans have no idea, because this long standing water crisis affects low-income people and communities of color whose problems are often hidden from view in places like Native American reservations, Appalachia, and the colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border...Decades of under-investment in water infrastructure has led to widespread contamination. In the four years since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, sparked national outrage, lead-tainted water has been discovered in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, 8.6 percent of all children show evidence of lead poisoning. Recent analysis found that more than 2,000 water systems in all 50 states have lead levels exceeding federal limits (currently 15 parts-per-billion, but health officials warn that no amount is safe)...We’re rolling back the environmental safeguards that protect our drinking water Just last month the Senate confirmed a new EPA chief, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler. His appointment is likely to intensify the current administration’s assault on the Clean Water Act, the landmark 1972 federal law protecting our water resources, starting by weakening regulations governing coal-ash…” George McGraw writes Opinion for The Hill.

Read Four things to know about US EPA’s draft WOTUS rule- “On February 14, 2019, the US Army Corps of Engineers and US EPA (Agencies) published in the Federal Register the proposed rule to revise the definition of “Waters of the United States,” the term that identifies the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  The proposed rule is the second step in a two-part process to revise the definition, consistent with one of the first Executive Orders issued by President Trump. The Clean Water Act prohibits the unpermitted discharge of pollutants, including soil or fill material in water bodies, wetlands and even some normally-dry lands.  Accordingly, as the definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS) expands, so does the federal government’s control over construction and other activities affecting these areas. The Agencies note that they are attempting to “preserve the traditional sovereignty of States over their own land and water resources” and the proposed rule is widely expected to narrow the overall number of waters subject to federal jurisdiction. The comment deadline on the proposed rule is April 15 — there are four points to be aware of in deciding whether to comment on the proposal: 1) The number of wetlands subject to federal jurisdiction will decrease, as the Agencies are largely following Justice Scalia’s more narrow test for federal jurisdiction. 2) The proposed rule favors predictability and certainty in casting aside “significant nexus” test. 3) The treatment of infrequently-flowing tributaries has changed 4) Exclusions are everything…”Rees Alexander writes for the National Law Review

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

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 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 9 - Nationwide Youth Lobby Event - (Tallahassee) - Our Climate and NextGen Florida are participating in a Nationwide Youth Lobby Dayby organizing young people in Tallahassee on April 9. We'll head up the evening before to the Florida People's Advocacy Center (603 N Martin Luther King Blvd, Tallahassee, FL 32301), then . We have opportunities to attend lobbying webinars with our team: Distributed Youth Lobby Day -- How to Lobby Your Elected Official Webinar, and information on how to plan a Distributed Youth Lobby Day near you. Register for the Tallahassee trip at bit.ly/flyld and share the opportunity with any young people in your life!

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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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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