Quote of the Day: “The first step that's absolutely necessary is to rethink this age-old idea that humans have to control nature. Sometimes you just have to back off and let nature take its course. The natural environment gives us more gifts when we leave it alone than when we try to manage it or improve it.” - Jack E. Davis
Read Promised action on toxic algae issue fizzles - “...Despite big promises from candidates during the 2018 election and lawmakers leading up to Florida’s 60-day legislative session, environmental advocates are underwhelmed by the water-quality proposals that appear to have a chance of passing this year. With the session set to end on Friday, there seems to be little chance of enacting major new regulations on polluters. Bills aimed at forcing homeowners, businesses and local governments to limit nutrient pollution have stalled or been watered down to the point that critics argue they will have little impact. Instead, lawmakers are dedicating hundreds of millions to environmental clean-up efforts, which have broad support but do nothing to crack down on polluters...Ryan Smart, executive director of the Florida Springs Council, said SB 1758 “is about as weak as you can get and still be a meaningful bill” but he supports it. He hopes the House passes HB 973 and the Senate takes it up and amends it to include the language in SB 1758. “I can’t imagine they’re going to accept something as weak as (the House bill) and call it progress on water quality,” Smart said... Many other water-quality measures never even garnered a hearing this year. Representative Margaret Good’s proposal to adopt a stronger statewide stormwater management rule was never heard, despite evidence the stormwater runoff is a major source of nutrient pollution. On the whole, lawmakers have not done enough to tackle the algae problem, Good said. “I think our Legislature is failing Floridians with respect to the environment and water quality,” she said...Gov. Ron DeSantis made environmental funding a priority, and legislative leaders have largely acquiesced. But environmental groups worry that spending money on clean-up without regulating one of the main culprits driving the algae problem — nutrient pollution — is shortsighted.” Zac Anderson reports for the Herald-Tribune.
Read Florida to spend nearly $20 million on red tide research- “Florida will spend nearly $20 million by 2025 to research ways to control, if not alleviate, the red tide blooms that devastated Southwest Florida’s beach economy for 15 months spanning 2017-18. The Senate late last week unanimously approved the proposed "Florida Red Tide Mitigation & Technology Development Initiative," which would provide $3 million a year for the next six years for the state Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory’s Red Tide Institute in Sarasota to form a research partnership. The initiative is incorporated into Senate Bill 1552, sponsored by state GOP Chairman Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, which was endorsed by the Senate in a 37-0 floor vote and transmitted for endorsement to the House...During their committee hearings, SB 1552 and HB 113 were widely endorsed with some environmental and business groups quibbling that there should be more emphasis on preventing algae blooms rather than controlling them. Mote Marine Lab CEO and President Dr. Michael Crosby said in committee testimony that the annual $3 million allocation over a six-year span would help develop Mote’s Red Tide Institute, sustain research programs and identify technologies to fight red tide…” John Haughey writes for Florida Watchdog.
Read Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant director, dies at age 61 - “Last Thursday, the longtime head of the Florida Sea Grant science program, Karl Havens, gave a speech at an Everglades conference and then had lunch with his boss, Jack Payne of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Science. Payne said Mr. Havens was in high spirits, cracking jokes about his inability to park his rented pickup truck. He also showed off some photos he shot amid the flames of a controlled forest burn he'd passed on the way, even though it left him covered in soot. The next day, after lunch with a colleague, Mr. Havens said he was suffering from heartburn and went home early. It wasn't heartburn. He died of a heart attack at age 61. Mr. Havens, a Buffalo native who held a Ph.D. in biology from West Virginia University, led the Florida Sea Grant cooperative for 11 years, and also served as a professor in fisheries and aquatic science at the University of Florida. Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program that supports research, education and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities along the state's coasts…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Politicians’ pledges to tackle red tide eco-disaster ends at the Legislature with...wait for it...another task force- “Despite political promises on the campaign trail about solving the massive red tide outbreaks that littered Florida’s shores with dead sea creatures and scared away tourists last year, the state Legislature ended up passing a bill that sets up a task force to study the perennial problem. The bill specifically names the private Mote Marine in Sarasota as the entity to find ways to “control” and “mitigate” the red tide outbreaks using as-yet unidentified technology. The legislation – which will have to be signed or vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis – funnels $3 million per year to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, earmarked for red tide...The legislation ignores a key task: preventing the sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution that makes red tide outbreaks worse (and also fuels outbreaks of toxic blue-green algae in the state’s lakes, rivers, and springs.)...” Julie Hauserman writes for the Florida Phoenix.
Read North Palm Beach County land set aside for water quality, wildlife- “Undeveloped rural land scooped up by Palm Beach County over the years is now designated as conservation land. The Board of County Commissioners approved converting the future land use designation of 267 acres from rural residential to conservation on Monday. Deborah Drum, director of the county's environmental resources management department, said the designation is "standard procedure." "It's not our intention for [the land] to become rural residential. We wanted the land use to reflect that," she said. The rural residential future land use designation allows for one unit built per 20 acres. These 149 parcels — some contiguous and others scattered, with many still privately owned — sit in an area south of the county line and northeast of Beeline Highway and Indiantown Road. The county acquired some of the parcels as early as 2001. The land adjacent to Pine Glades Natural Area consists of various wetland categories, including mesic flatwoods, strand swamp, wet prairie and high-quality depression marsh. "My district is blessed" with many pristine natural areas, said Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche, who represents northern District 1. "More is better…” Hannah Morse reports for the Palm Beach Post.
Read Kathy Castor expects her Paris climate agreement bill to pass this week - “In 2017 President Donald Trump said he was going to pull the United States out of a global agreement to try to control climate change; but a member of Congress from Tampa expects a vote this week on her bill to require the U.S. to adhere to the Paris climate agreement. WMNF spoke with Democrat Kathy Castor, who is Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “My bill, H.R. 9 – Climate Action Now, will be heard, debated and voted on in the House of Representatives. That says that America’s going to keep its commitment that we made under the Paris climate agreement. Where all countries across the world – including China and India – came together and said, ‘we’ve got to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’ President Trump has said, ‘No. America’s not going to keep a commitment. We’re going to cut and run.’ “My bill would say, ‘No we’re not. We’re going to stay and we’re going to keep our commitment.’ And in doing so, unleash American ingenuity to create jobs in the clean energy economy and tackle the rising cost of climate change…” Sean Kinane reports for 88.5 WMNF.
Read From apples to popcorn, climate change is altering the foods America grows- “The impact may not yet be obvious in grocery stores and greenmarkets, but behind the organic apples and bags of rice and cans of cherry pie filling are hundreds of thousands of farmers, plant breeders and others in agriculture who are scrambling to keep up with climate change. Drop a pin anywhere on a map of the United States and you’ll find disruption in the fields. Warmer temperatures are extending growing seasons in some areas and sending a host of new pests into others. Some fields are parched with drought, others so flooded that they swallow tractors...Warmer weather and an increasingly earlier growing season have, in many ways, been good for farmers like Sarah Frey. She used to start harvesting her South Florida watermelons in mid-April. This year, crews were picking in March. She’ll be picking earlier in South Georgia, and expects to pull watermelons from fields in Missouri by the Fourth of July, which she said was rare when she was growing up in the 1990s. But earlier and longer growing seasons have consequences…” Kim Severson reports for the New York Times.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
May 2nd - 16th - Clean Water Paddle Series - (Pensacola Beach) - Join the Healthy Gulf for the Clean Water Paddle Series every Thursday at 6 pm. Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes—all paddlecraft are welcome. Paddleboards will be available for rental. We’ll paddle around Little Sabine Bay for up to one hour, then enjoy the sunset from The Shaka Bar. Environmental education will be provided before, during, and after the paddle by Healthy Gulf and others. Learn about seagrass, clean water, marine life, and how you can help to protect it all. For more information about the Clean Water Paddle Series please visit Healthy Gulf on Facebook or call 850-687-9968 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Meet at Aloha Wine and Liquor, 649 Pensacola Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach.
May 4th - 8:00am-4:00pm - Grand Opening of Bogey Creek Preserve - (Jacksonville) - After years of work to obtain and make improvements to the lands at Bogey Creek Preserve, North Florida Land Trust is pleased to be hosting grand opening events at their first public park. The property, located off Cedar Point Road in North Jacksonville, will officially open to the public on Saturday, May 4. Bogey Creek Preserve is a 75-acre scenic preserve consisting of a mix of maritime hammock forest, seep-fed cypress swamps and mixed pine-oak forest. The preserve neighbors Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and protects nearly one mile of critical marsh front on Clapboard and Bogey Creeks. Grand opening events at Bogey Creek Preserve will be held on Saturday, May 4. From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., guides will be leading a birdwatching trip through the preserve. Nature yoga and a hike will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. A naturalist tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., guests can participate in a botany hike. The events are free and open to the public, but space is limited. Guests must register at nflt.org/calendarofevents or email Stewardship Manager Emily Dunn at email@example.com. Parking is located at 6141 Cedar Point Rd., Jacksonville, FL, 32226. Starting Saturday, May 4, the park will be open to the public seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.
May 7th - 10:00 AM - Lake County Public Hearing - (Tavares) - Lake County will host a Public Hearing regarding transportation improvements to Round Lake Road at the Lake County Administration Building in the Board Chambers (2nd floor), located at 315 W. Main Street, Tavares, Florida 32778. The County Commission meeting will begin at 10:00am with the public hearing held after that time as determined by the meeting agenda. The Round Lake Road PD&E Study recommendations will be the focus of the public hearing. Click here to learn more about the Round Lake Road Extension Project.
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.
June 10-14, June 24-28, 2019 - Camp Kids in the Woods at the Austin Cary Forest - (Gainesville) - Is your 6th-9th grade child looking for fun adventure this summer? Consider Camp Kids in the Woods! Campers will conduct various field explorations led by local scientists from forestry, wildlife, and water resources. Highlights include: fishing, handling wildlife, exploring local ecosystems, a trip to a local spring, camping out one night at the Austin Cary Forest, building wildlife nesting boxes, and participating in games and scavenger hunts. After a week of fun in the forest, campers gain a better understanding and deeper appreciation of their natural world and what is required to be a good steward of the environment. Camp Kids in the Woods summer program is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. Session 1: June 10-14, 2019; Session 2: June 24-28, 2019. For more information and to register visit: www.campkidsinthewoods.org , or contact the Camp Director, Molly Disabb at firstname.lastname@example.org
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