FCC News Brief - March 26, 2019

Read Florida senator dons rain boots to push for climate change- “For the second year in a row, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, is wearing rain boots every day of the legislative session to persuade his fellow legislators to make climate change a priority. With the election of Gov. Ron DeSantis and a proposed $2.5 billion increase for environment funding, a new focus has emerged on Florida's ecological issues. After replacing members of the South Florida Water Management District board prior to session, DeSantis vowed to support legislation that protects the Sunshine State's natural resources. But the challenge of climate change, a constant concern for Rodriguez' District 37, which includes, Miami, Key Biscayne and Coral Gables, needs more statewide attention, regardless of leadership, he said. Rodriguez opted to wear the boots again this year, only this time accentuated by the Governor's promise for environmental success...Rodriguez' Senate Bill 78   advanced to the Infrastructure and Security Committee last week. The bill would prohibit builders from starting construction in coastal areas without first conducting a sea level impact projection study…” Max Chesnes reports for Fresh Take Florida

Read Put Florida first; say no to fracking - “I was born and raised in Florida 80 years ago on the East Coast. I have seen what good-intentioned people do to the environment that has destroyed the wetlands of yesteryear. Primarily, the Florida flood control districts, Army Corp of Engineers, have diked up, drained and diverted rivers. Some of this is good, but looking back many things should not have been done and have caused a lot of ruin in South Florida. I am all for free enterprise and commonsense ideas. I hope the leaders of Florida and the country pay attention to what has happened in Oklahoma with fracking and thousands of earthquakes. Florida has some nice underground spring rivers, more delicate surface structure and, with the suggested fracking for gas and oil in our state, I hope that our leaders will see the dangers of upsetting what Mother Nature has put here for us to enjoy…” Fred C. Schlitt writes Opinion for the Florida Times-Union.

Read The arrogance of a three-judge panel imperils the Everglades - “It’s a common assumption that the Florida Supreme Court has the last word about law and justice in this state. But it is a deeply disturbing decision to allow an exploratory oil well in the Everglades shows that impression is largely false. The ruling came from a three-judge panel at the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. Its content appears to leave little, if any, room for an appeal to the seven justices at the state Supreme Court. In an act of judicial arrogance, the appellate panel refused without comment to refer the case to the entire 15-judge district court or certify it to the Supreme Court as a “question of great public importance.” If protecting the Everglades from the messy consequences of oil drilling isn’t a matter of great public importance, it’s hard to imagine what would be. That’s why the Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Miramar and Broward County — the parties fighting to prevent it — asked the panel to rehear it, refer it to the full appellate court or give the Supreme Court an option to review it. Their motions were initially promoted by the three-judge panel that favored the oil drilling applicant, Kanter Real Estate LLC. And when the court withdrew the opinion as erroneously issued this week, our community’s hopes were raised for a moment. But a day later, the court re-issued the pro-drilling opinion, minus the push for a fuller vetting…” From the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read Algae toxin study: St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon fish safe to eat ‘ocassionally’ - “Fish in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon in Martin County contain the blue-green algae toxin microcystin, but in levels low enough they're safe to eat — occasionally and in moderate amounts. That's the bottom line of a study by the Ocean Research & Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, which measured the toxin in 51 fish caught in the river and lagoon. Long-term exposure to microcystin has been linked to liver disease; and ORCA researchers wanted to see how much of the toxin people would get by eating locally caught fish..."This tells us that, at average levels, eating fish from the river and the lagoon occasionally and in moderate amounts is not considered a risk to health," Falls said. "But not all fish have average levels; and we're talking about healthy people here, not people with health issues or the young or the elderly." Plus, a study by Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Fort Pierce shows people who live and work around water with blue-green algae blooms also take in toxins from the air…” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Freshwater springs support amazing ecosystems and reflect the health of aquifers humans rely on. What can we do to protect them?- “Springs from the desert Southwest to the oak savannas of Minnesota face common threats of groundwater pumping, contamination and climate change. Jeanette Howard, director of freshwater science for The Nature Conservancy’s California chapter, says the often-unique organisms that inhabit these springs rely on ancient waters, artesian aquifers that can be very slow to replenish. If the springs dry up, their ecosystems may never be restored. ot only that, but springs are a barometer for the health of aquifers that people rely on for everything from water in their homes to irrigation for crops. Stetson University biologist Kirsten Work, who studies fish and invertebrates in Florida’s numerous freshwater springs,  calls them a “canary in the coal mine.” “We need to care about springs because they tell us what our groundwater is like,” she says. “If the spring discharges decline, then we’re running out of groundwater and running out of drinking water.”...Work says Florida’s water management districts aren’t adequately taking into account ecosystem impacts when planning for groundwater use. In Florida, 87 percent of the public-supply water comes from groundwater, one of the highest rates in the country. Work is worried that a recent building boom and increasing water withdrawals could have major impacts on Florida’s aquifer system...There’s a disconnect between the reality of aquifer depletion and public perception, Work says. “Florida is so darn wet that people don’t see the issue.” While some conservation measures have been instituted, often it’s springs that are shortchanged under water management plans. In a recent analysis of 52 Florida springs, Work found that 51 had minimum flows, or water flow rates, set by management districts at levels below their historic means, some by 25 percent...” Sara Van Note writes for Ensia.

Read Pensacola could begin to tackle climate change if recommendations are adopted next week - “Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers is putting forward three proposals from the city's Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force that was published last year. Myers is recommending the city create a new office of sustainability, conduct a greenhouse gas emission study and have the city join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives — Local Governments for Sustainability. The city's climate mitigation task force released a report in November that made several recommendations the city can adopt to prepare for climate change, but the City Council has not done anything with the recommendations. Myers is bringing three of those recommendations for a vote at Thursday's City Council meeting. Myers said she believes Pensacola is already a leader among other Gulf Coast cities in addressing climate change and should continue that role...The final recommendation has the city join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives - Local Governments for Sustainability, a group of local governments that have committed to "sustainable urban development." Cities and counties across 42 states have joined the organization and 22 other Florida cities and counties have joined the group. The group helps the member cities exchange ideas and tools for climate change initiatives, including software to do greenhouse gas inventories, which the city's task force pointed out in their November report…” Jim Little reports for the Pensacola News Journal.

Read Could more powerful hurricanes threaten South Florida’s disappearing forests?- “When Hurricane Maria sacked Puerto Rico, it did more than take thousands of lives, pulverize houses and dismantle infrastructure. It shredded the island’s tropical forests at an unprecedented rate. The fierce Category 5 storm, the 10th most intense on record packing ferocious 155 mph winds when it roared ashore, felled trees at twice the rate of previous storms. Some species suffered damage 12 times higher. Now, with a warming planet expected to produce even more storms like Maria, the planet’s tropical forests are likely to be inexorably altered, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Nature Communications...For South Florida, where development has already wiped out much of the pine rocklands and hardwood hammocks that once covered high ground, that could be a death knell. Intense hurricanes have already taken a toll on pine rockland: Hurricane Wilma blasted through one of the few last stands in the Keys on Sugarloaf in 2005. Irma delivered what might be a fatal blow, say Florida International University ecologists trying to understand why the pine rockland has failed to recover…” Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Hera


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

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.

Petitions

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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Please send all suggestions, comments, and criticism to Haley Burger at WeAreFCC@gmail.com

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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