Quote of the Day: "I am an optimist. I believe that Floridians care about their environment. If they are educated about its perils, if they are never lied to, they will become stewards of the wild places that are left." - Marjorie Harris Carr
Read Advocates urge full funding for state parks this year - “Advocates for Florida’s state parks, including former gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, gathered in Tallahassee Wednesday to urge state lawmakers to fully fund parks and the state’s conservation land-buying program, Florida Forever. Florida Forever used to get $300 million a year, paid for by an already-existing tax on real estate transactions. In recent years, the amount set aside for land-buying has dwindled. In this year’s budget plans, Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed $54 million for state parks and $100 million for Florida Forever, but the proposed budgets by the state House and Senate are far below that, advocates say. The Senate has earmarked just $15 million for parks, and the House $45 million. On Florida Forever, the Senate is proposing only $20 million and the the House $45 million, said Julia Gill Woodward, chief executive officer of the Florida State Parks Foundation, an advocacy group that supports parks…” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.
Read Marco Rubio and Rick Scott rejected the Green New Deal but now acknowledge climate change. What’s their plan? - “Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott on Tuesday voted against the progressive climate change resolution known as the “Green New Deal.” In reality, the legislation stood no chance. Republicans had no intention of supporting the plan and put it up for a vote to force Democrats to weigh in on a contentious proposal, especially the senators running for president. It ultimately failed without a single affirmative vote...Yet, Rubio and Scott have also recently acknowledged that climate change is, in fact, happening. Climate change “is real and requires real solutions,” Scott said in an op-ed published last month. Rubio on Monday wrote in USA Today that the “Earth’s climate is changing.” Such modest declarations would hardly be noteworthy from two elected officials representing the state most at risk to rising global temperatures — if not for the Florida Republicans’ documented history of denying the established scientific consensus on climate change...So if not the Green New Deal, then what would Rubio and Scott support to address the threats to Florida posed by climate change, like rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, more powerful storms and dying oceans? Neither senators’ office would say….Other Republicans in Congress appear more willing to acknowledge the threat of climate change and offer sweeping answers…” Steve Contorno reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Turning the Toxic Tide: Florida must address the problem of human waste - “Florida has a poop problem. And we need to clean up the mess. There are an estimated 2.6 million septic tanks in our state. We don't know how many are properly functioning to ensure they don't leak into waterways because there's no inspection requirement. Florida had such a requirement for two years, until the state Legislature repealed that law in 2012. Milder attempts to crack down also failed, such as a bill requiring sellers to notify homebuyers that their home has a septic system...Counties and municipalities along impaired waterways need help connecting more homes to sewer lines. Several bills are proposed in the current legislative session to allocate state matching dollars for that purpose and to bring back inspection requirements. One of those bills, filed by state Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne, would create a wastewater grant program, among other things. Gov. Ron DeSantis has made the environment a priority, so ending session without a dedicated fund would be a letdown...Local governments have the responsibility to keep their sewage systems up to date by fixing leaky pipes and making sure pump stations have generators in case of long power outages. Mayfield's Senate Bill 1758 would require utilities to notify customers of unlawful discharges of raw or partially treated sewage into any waterway. That's a necessary first step toward more accountability. Another bill, House Bill 141, would require local governments pay a state fine if spills happen…” From the USA Today Florida Network Editorial Boards.
Read Federal water project grants could increase under Rep. Brian Mast, Rep. Angie Craig bill - “A bill to increase funding for EPA grants for local projects to reduce pollution has been approved by the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill, H.R. 1331, reauthorizes and increases funding for an Environmental Protection Agency grant program under the Clean Water Act that focuses on pollution from runoff. The program funds local projects through matching grants. The bill would increase funding for the program to $200 million between 2020 to 2024 from its current funding level of $70 million over four years. Some local projects recently funded through the grants include water storage projects at McCarty Ranch in St. Lucie County and Willoughby Creek in Stuart. The grants also have funded Everglades restoration projects such as the C-43 reservoir, which will store and treat water from Lake Okeechobee discharges to the Caloosahatchee River…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read What’s the future of sunscreens in Florida? Environmentalists and doctors burn in disagreement - “A proposed Senate bill prohibiting the sale of sunscreen that could be harmful to coral reefs is stuck in committee and could be unlikely to become law this year. While supported by environmental organizations, the bill has raised concerns for Florida dermatologists, who advocate for proper sun protection. Senate Bill 708, sponsored by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, would require prescriptions for certain sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two common chemicals found in the most popular sunscreen brands, including Coppertone and Neutrogena. The proposed bill comes just eight months after Hawaii’s state legislature passed a similar sunscreen ban in an effort to preserve the state’s coral reef system, which will take effect in early 2021. The Key West City Commission quickly followed suit six months later, voting 6-1 to pass an ordinance banning any sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate Feb. 5…” Max Chesnes reports for WUFT.
Read Septic tank inspection bill advances in Tallahassee - “Legislation that would require regular septic tank inspections began moving in the Florida House on Tuesday as lawmakers work to address water quality problems that contributed to last year’s devastating algal blooms across the state. After struggling for months to get a hearing, Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, finally brokered a compromise that allowed HB 85 to advance in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with unanimous support. A number of lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — continued to express concerns about the potential cost of septic tank inspections for homeowners. But Robinson amended the bill to lessen those concerns and said he plans to continue working on it…” Zac Anderson reports for the Herald-Tribune.
Read Federal water managers say another blue-green algae bloom on Okeechobee likely - “There's probably going to be a blue-green algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee this summer, but federal water managers hope that lowering lake levels now will prevent the need to release lake water when and if the bloom hits again. That could help spare the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area from another nightmarish summer. "You all suffered from it," Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds told a group of several dozen people at a meeting in Cape Coral Tuesday night. Reynolds is the second in command at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Jacksonville. "The algae is part of the result of having high lake levels year after year and part of the result of having turbidity in the lake and turbidity in the rivers from storm events, having significant amounts of runoff from your basin and the lakes, all of those things have caused significant harm, and we know that."...But there's always a risk that blue-green algae will hit the region again this year. "We fully anticipate having algae on the lake this year. We get algae on the lake a lot of years," Reynolds said. "And the higher the nutrient level and the higher the turbidity in the lake, the more likely an algae bloom is. So the more storage that we have at the beginning of the wet season the less likely it is that we have to release any water when we have an algae bloom on the lake…” Chad Gillis reports for Fort Myers News-Press.
Read Ethics review clears Ron Bergeron for South Florida water board appointment - “An ethics review by the staff of the state Ethics Commission has cleared Ron Bergeron for appointment to the powerful board that supervises South Florida water supplies and restoration of the Everglades. It still requires action by the Ethics Commission itself. Bergeron, who lives on a ranch in western Broward, is CEO of the Bergeron Family of Companies, which includes highway construction, rock pits and quarries, agriculture, real estate development, solid waste management and disaster recovery services. Some of the companies have business with the water management district. The bottom line from the ethics commission staff is the Bergeron appointment can go ahead, with some caveats. Contracts between Bergeron companies entered into before his appointment to the board are not a prohibited conflict of interest. The ethics commission staff view of such contracts is that there is no conflict if the contract was made when the appointee “held no public position and thus had no public duties which he could have been tempted to dishonor..” Anthony Man reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
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 email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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