Read Instant conservation - “It’s a fact. Clean air, clean water, and access to parks and natural areas are key to a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, there is no other state as well equipped to provide these life-sustaining elements than Florida. It’s what makes our state so easy to love.Florida’s environment is world famous for a reason. So much so that nearly 1,000 people move to our state every day, and our tourism numbers grow every year. But to sustain this remarkable level of growth and protect our drinking water at the same time, we need to invest in conservation. In Florida, we protect water by protecting the land. Our springs — amongst the most plentiful worldwide — are where underground water from the aquifer bubbles up to the surface. They reflect the health of our aquifer and show us a glimpse into a world we are only beginning to understand. More than 90 percent of our drinking water comes from underground sources. Unspoiled conservation lands are necessary to filter and replenish these waters...For years, the Florida Forever program received $300 million a year to fund water and land conservation. It was wildly successful, popular with the public and legislators alike, and became a nationwide model. Then, about ten years ago, the program was severely cut with little to no funding. Only in recent months are we seeing any energy to revive Florida Forever, largely in part to the leadership of state Sens. Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) and Linda Stewart (D-Orlando). This year, Stewart has filed SB 944 to fund Florida Forever permanently. Her bill, which is similar to Bradley’s bill last year, has yet to have a committee hearing nor a House companion. I hope that will change as the Legislative Session officially begins Tuesday…” Lindsay Cross writes Opinion for the Ocala Star Banner.
Read Florida environment weighs on lawmakers as boom continues - “Politicians promised action on environment; advocates see need for a comprehensive approach. Florida reached a tipping point last year. Like blaring sirens, a series of environmental emergencies had a jolting effect on the state. People took to the streets wearing gas masks and hazmat suits to protest their backyards becoming environmental disaster zones. From water quality to infrastructure needs, education funding and prison overcrowding, many of the big issues facing Florida revolve around a familiar challenge: Rapid population growth. It’s an issue that has been at the heart of Florida’s public policy debates for many years. Now another growth spurt — this one brought on by a strong economy and baby boomers retiring — coupled with the a decades-old legacy of poorly planned development is bringing back many of the same headaches. Water pollution has reached critical levels. Traffic gridlock is insufferable in many areas. Schools and other state services are underfunded in the eyes of many. With Florida’s population projected to grow by nearly a million people over the next three years and by nearly 3 million people over the next decade, some worry the state is headed for more environmental degradation and gridlock. Lawmakers are talking about addressing some of these issues. Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking for $625 million to address water quality problems. Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has made improving traffic infrastructure a top priority. A range of environmental protection bills have been filed. But critics don’t see a comprehensive strategy to manage the growth. They are concerned that state planning has not kept up with a population that is adding 865 people a day on average, or the equivalent of a city slightly larger than Orlando every year…” Zac Anderson reports for the Herald Tribune.
Read Amid development boom, new Winter Park Land Trust hopes to save land for preservation - “The Winter Park Steve Goldman remembers from his childhood had patches of undeveloped land where children played, families had picnics and enjoyed the outdoors. Much of that land was privately owned, he said, and disappeared as development of homes and businesses took off in the city, leaving few undeveloped plots behind. The vision of preserving green space and creating new urban parks led to the launching of the Winter Park Land Trust. The nonprofit’s kickoff drew hundreds of environmentalists and an influential board of business owners, current and former city officials and retirees to its kickoff event Thursday night. Land trusts are nonprofit organizations that focus on acquiring land for conservation. The Winter Park group wants residents to leave property to the trust in wills or to allow development easements to conserve land. Of about 1,500 land trusts across the nation, Florida and the South have a disproportionately low number, said Bob Bendick, a trust board member and the Gulf of Mexico program director at The Nature Conservancy…” Ryan Gillespie reports for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Protecting Florida’s water requires a team effort - “My family moved to the Panhandle over 50 years ago and we now have four generations living here. When the time came for me to go to college, I chose the University of West Florida to stay close to home and maintain my ties to the community and the region. As a student at UWF in the 1980s, I used to recharge from work and school by taking out a canoe and paddling the Escambia River. But thinking back on it, those canoe trips weren’t always relaxing. At the time, the Pensacola Bay system suffered from significant air and water quality issues. On one excursion, my throat started burning from the poor air quality. On others, I’d notice large masses of fish, dead and floating on the water’s surface — killed off most likely from low oxygen as a result of the pollution in the system. It was devastating to see these stark indicators of the bay’s declining health — a bay I had always loved growing up...That’s why it has been so heartening to see recent efforts from local communities, officials in government, and leaders in industry to work together to conserve our watersheds. They’ve all come together in the spirit of collaboration to participate in the Pensacola and Perdido Bay Estuary Program (P&PBEP), a voluntary, non-regulatory effort to protect the bays and the watersheds that feed them…” Darryl Boudreau writes Guest Column for the Pensacola News Journal.
Read The flow beneath us- “When we talk about the health of Florida’s springs, we’re talking about a lot more than a chance for a great day swimming and diving in a clear, freshwater pool. We’re actually talking about the health of all Florida waters (including our drinking water) and the quality of fishing in our estuaries and along our coasts. As Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper says, all Florida waters are connected. The springs are their pumping heart. Though a lot of people—15 to 20 million a year in fact—visit Florida springs, generating as much as 1 billion dollars in direct annual revenue—it’s much harder to see the connection between springs and the rich river and coastal fishing that we have unless you speak with the scientists who study these ecosystems and the anglers who live on them...In the Southeastern U.S., about 12 to 15 billion gallons of rainwater a day recharges these springs, which so many species, and many of our rivers depend upon for their life. The state’s three largest rivers by size, the Apalachicola, St. Johns and Suwannee all receive a large fraction of their flows and all their base flow in the dry season from springs. As these rivers go, so do our coastal fisheries...Each watershed in Florida has its own lifestory, and those in north Florida are profoundly interlinked to the springs and aquifer. The St. Johns has been facing, for many years, too much nutrient pollution runoff, fertilizers in urban and agricultural runoff, sewage from faulty septic systems and overdevelopment, says Lisa Rinaman, the Riverkeeper in the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization…” David Conway writes for the March 2019 Florida Sportsman.
Read Humans are making red tide blooms much worse. There’s one way to stop it, professor says - “ Suncoast Waterkeeper is non-profit that takes on environmental issues facing Southwest Florida through community education, fieldwork, advocacy and, occasionally, legal action. Each year at Brunch for the Bay, the group invites a guest to speak directly to community members about an issue facing the region... the group invited University of Miami professor Larry Brand to present his research on harmful algal blooms. In 2007, he published research with colleague Angela Compton that attributes a long-term increase in red tide severity directly to human activity. The study made use of data collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute from 1994 to 2002. Brand and Compton’s conclusions are in direct contrast with other prominent red tide researchers in the state of Florida, including Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Both Mote Marine Lab and FWC claim that there is no direct evidence linking nutrient pollution with the frequency or start of red tide blooms. Brand disagrees with how they are interpreting the data. The culprit behind intense harmful algal blooms, Brand says, is nutrient overload in state waters due to human activity. Brand says that the nutrients that cause extreme red tide blooms are carried to Florida’s west coast from Lake Okeechobee via the Caloosahatchee River. Harmful algal blooms aren’t just a Florida problem. The issue is popping up all over the world. “We’re having to feed seven and half billion people on this planet now,” Brand said. “That takes a lot of food. That takes a lot of nutrients. The two major nutrients you need are nitrogen and phosphorous.” Those same nutrients will feed algal blooms when out of proportion, Brand explained...In addition to runoff from farmlands, Brand says that the drainage and rerouting of Florida’s waterways has caused natural nutrient deposits buried over thousands of years to become exposed...In Brand’s view, the only way to stop the problem is by cutting off the supply of nutrients and allowing the state’s waters to flow naturally once again…” Ryan Ballogg reports for the Bradenton Herald.
Read Blockbuster research report shows groundwater is contaminated with toxic waste at 91% of coal plants - “A new blockbuster report out today from two environmental groups – the Environmental Integrity Project and the nonprofit law firm Earthjustice – finds that 91 percent of coal ash dumps are leaking into groundwater. The groups reviewed data from 4,600 groundwater monitoring wells at 265 coal plants – which is about three quarters of the nation’s coal plants. We’re talking about some nasty toxic waste here – 52 percent of the coal plant properties analyzed in the groundwater well report have unsafe levels of arsenic, a carcinogen that can affect the brains of developing children. Sixty percent have unsafe levels of lithium, which is tied to a host of bad health effects, including neurological damage. “The levels of contamination at many sites are off the charts – hundreds of times higher than what could be considered safe,” says the report, which also notes that the dumps are often located in low-income, minority neighborhoods...Five years ago, in a rural part of North Florida, members of the Waterkeeper Alliance and Apalachicola Riverkeeper took samples of water flowing into the Apalachicola River from an unlined coal ash waste dump at a shuttered coal plant operated by Gulf Power, and what they found concerned them. They retained the services of the lawyers at Earthjustice, who represent clients in environmental cases for free. Earthjustice sued Gulf Power under the federal Clean Water Act on behalf of the Waterkeeper groups and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The groups raised concerns that the earthen berms surrounding the coal ash pits could suddenly give way and cause a massive coal ash spill, devastating the entire scenic Apalachicola River and its delicate estuary downstream. This same scenario has happened elsewhere…” Julie Hauserman reports for the Florida Phoenix.
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.
Upcoming Environmental Events:
March 5 - 9:00 AM - “The Future Land Use and Buildout Workshop” - (Naples)- On Tuesday, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners is hosting a “Future Land Use and Build-Out Workshop.” The workshop will be held in the Board of County Commissioner chambers at 3299 Tamiami Trail E. 3rd Floor. The workshop will include a discussion of growth management policies, population projections at the year 2040, and how those policies will shape the continued build-out of Collier County. This workshop is an ideal opportunity for the community to share their perspective on what is going well in the County and voice any concerns about the impacts of future growth. For more information about the event, visit the County’s site here, and more information about the topic here at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s website.
March 7 - 6:00PM-8:00PM - Youth Climate Coalition Workshop - (Pensacola) - 350 Pensacola is engaging with local youth to take climate action in Pensacola. Come learn about basic climate science, the most effective actions for reducing your carbon footprint, and how to take action in 2019. Our youth organizer--Jett Zhang--is leading the efforts, bringing together the generation that has the most at stake in the climate crisis. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org; find 350 Pensacola on Facebook. 1040 N Guillemard St, Pensacola, Florida 32501 .
March 11 - 6:00 PM-7:30 PM - ‘Environmental Justice: What, Why, You’ discussion - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. in welcoming Wilma Subra, environmental scientist and advocate, guest speaker for Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series for March. Ms. Subra will discuss Environmental Justice issues in our community and across the state and nation. Subra served for seven years as vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, for six years on the EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and for five years on the National Advisory Committee of the US Representative to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She appeared in the 2010 documentary Gasland. The event is being held at Ever’ man Educational Center, 327 W Garden Street, Pensacola, FL. RSVP on Facebook here, or get your free event ticket from EventBrite here. Light refreshments will be served.
March 13 - 10:00 AM-4:00 PM - Reclaiming Florida’s Future For All: Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean Energy - (Tallahassee) - Rethink Energy Florida is hosting an advocacy day at the Florida State Capitol (400 Monroe Street, Tallahassee FL 32301)! We are advocating to protect Florida’s clean water, support renewable energy, and BAN Fracking! We will be talking with our legislators about these critical issues. This event is co-sponsored by Floridians Against Fracking, Sierra Club Florida, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida, Environment Florida, ReThink Energy Action Fund, Food and Water Watch Florida, Center for Biological Diversity, Ignite Change, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. RSVP here or check out the Facebook event for more information.
March 13 - 7:30AM-6:00PM - Ride the Bus for Clean Water! - (Jacksonville-Tallahassee) - St. Johns Riverkeeper and fellow river advocates are joining partners on March 13th for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All Advocacy Day at the Statehouse in Tallahassee. During our bus ride from Jacksonville, St. Johns Riverkeeper staff will provide training and talking points to help bus riders become effective advocates. At the Capitol, you will have the opportunity to meet your state legislators and ask them to protect all of St. Johns River’s waterways, including its springs and tributaries. Bring family and friends with you to support water conservation efforts. 2019 is off to a clean start for our state’s waters, but we need to ensure the St. Johns River is not forgotten! Bus Meeting Location: Lowe’s, 5155 Lenox Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32205. For more information and to register (FREE), visit the website here. Register by Friday, March 8, 2019. Registration is FREE but seating is limited.
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/.
April 12-13 - 10th Annual Florida Wildflower Symposium - (Gainesville) - The Florida Wildflower Foundation’s signature annual event, focusing exclusively on the state’s native wildflowers and their ecosystems. The purpose of the event is to immerse participants in an educational experience that exposes them to the reality of Florida’s environmental challenges while giving them the tools to affect change. The symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center 2142 Shealy Dr, Gainesville, FL 32608. For more information and registration, visit the website here.
April 13 - 11:00AM-3:00PM - Earth Day Celebration - (Fort Walton Beach) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. for an Earth Day Celebration at Liza Jackson Park, 338 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is "to protect our species”. We will have vendors that will support the theme, but others will include recycling, hybrid vehicles, solar energy, water education, plastic pollution, and more! This year Earth Day FWB is partnering with Drive Electric Earth Day website. Interested in being a vendor? Click here. Interested in being a sponsor? Click here. Stay up to date on the event’s activities at the Facebook event site here, and website here.
April 13 - 9:30 AM-4:00 PM - Recognizing the Rights of Nature in Florida Law - (Apopka) - Speak Up Wekiva has organized a workshop featuring the Executive Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to discuss a campaign to bring Rights of Nature to Florida’s charter counties. This particular meeting is for community organizers who have an understanding about the Rights of Nature movement and are ready to take action in Florida. Space is limited-please email ChuckforFlorida@gmail.com to RSVP and ask for more information.
April 27 - 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM - The Water Festival - (Deland) - The Volusia Water Alliance invites one and all to a street party celebrating water with a day of fun activities and performances in historic downtown DeLand. The festival will feature live mermaids, sidewalk chalk artists, dance and musical performances, a Blessing of the Waters (a Native American tradition), children’s games and activities, a Dog Zone, educational displays, and vendor booths. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Admission is FREE. A few sponsorships and vendor spaces are still available. (West Indiana Avenue, DeLand, FL 32720)
May 16-19 - 39th Annual Florida Native Plant Society Conference - (Crystal River)- Our theme this year "Transitions" is pertinent to the Nature Coast region of Florida in a number of ways - sea level rise, migrations of ecosystems due to climate change, and the transition zone between north and south Florida. You will be delighted by mind-expanding experiences, tempted by sumptuous meals (including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free) and amazed by the networking and social opportunities. As always, we will offer an abundance of presentations and workshops. 9301 West Fort Island Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429 . Click here for attendee and vendor registration.
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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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