Quote of the Day: “What a strange creature is man that he fouls his own nest.” - Richard Nixon
Read Negotiators reach deal on Florida state budget - “...Bradley and Cummings signed off on the spending plan after finalizing hundreds of millions of dollars in spending for education building projects, water and sewer work at dozens of Florida cities, health-care programs and environmental initiatives. Among the biggest budget items, Bradley said, is $682 million that tops the money sought by first-year Gov. Ron DeSantis for the environment, including money for Everglades restoration and water quality improvements to combat algae blooms, which plagued the state last summer...But the governor’s wish list wasn’t fully met by lawmakers. His bid for $76 million for Visit Florida, the state’s tourist-marketing agency, was cut to $50 million; and another call for $85 million for a Job Growth Fund was trimmed to $40 million. While DeSantis recommended $100 million for Florida Forever, the state’s conservation land-buying program, lawmakers agreed to $33 million Tuesday night. “We met in the middle, basically,” Bradley said of negotiations with the House on Florida Forever....” John Kennedy reports for GateHouse Capital Bureau.
Read Three toll highways approved for Florida; bill to go to governor - “Florida could build three new major toll highways under a bill sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis by the state House. The bill passed Wednesday on 76-36 vote. It calls for three highways to spur job growth in rural areas, relieve congestion on Interstates 75 and 4 and provide new hurricane evacuation routes. One would connect Collier County in the southwest to Lakeland, located between Tampa and Orlando. Another would extend the Suncoast Parkway from Citrus County to Jefferson County, which borders Georgia. The other would extend from the north end of the Florida Turnpike to the Suncoast Parkway. Opponents said a commitment to the roads should await studies on whether they will harm to wetlands and wildlife and spur urban sprawl. Senate President Bill Galvano made the highways a priority…” Curt Anderson reports for the Associated Press.
Read Dolphin dies with bellyful of plastic as lawmakers move to pre-empt plastics ban- “The death of a baby dolphin over the weekend off Fort Myers Beach may have been caused by plastic that filled its stomach. The news comes at the same time moves by cities to ban single-use plastics may be killed by state lawmakers. Several cities - including St. Petersburg - have banned plastic straws designed for one use, as they frequently end up in the ocean. But a bill that would "preempt" cities and counties from banning plastics passed the state House earlier this week and the Senate Tuesday, and is headed to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis... About 20 Florida cities have straw bans, including Miami Beach, St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale. The bill passed the Senate on a 24-15 vote Tuesday. It also requires a study of local straw bans that have already been enacted in Florida, including the information governments relied on to make their decisions…” Steve Newborn reports for WUSF.
Read Red tide research bill wins final approval in Legislature - “A bill aimed at finding ways to control and alleviate toxic red tide blooms has won final approval by the Florida Legislature. The House voted 112-1 for the measure providing $3 million a year for the next six years to research red tide. The bill now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis. The research would be a partnership between the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory. Florida recently experienced one of its largest red tide blooms in recorded history. The 15-month bloom caused respiratory irritations in people and killed sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and fish. The main sponsor, Republican Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota, said the state has traditionally spent money on red tide research during a bloom, but the money dries up when the bloom ends…” From the Associated Press.
Read Congressman Rooney should let public in on toxic algae discussion at FGCU- “Since first being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney has worked hard to assume a leadership role in tackling Florida’s water quality issues. He’s led tours for top federal officials, including congressional colleagues with a hand in appropriations, to Lake Okeechobee and the surrounding watersheds. He’s used the influence he gained as a longtime Republican donor and ambassador to lobby President Donald Trump for an increased commitment to Everglades restoration. His House website lists the steps he’s taken in recent months to persuade bureaucrats and politicians alike of the seriousness of the threat polluted water poses to South Florida’s ecology, economy and quality of life. One of those pronouncements details a roundtable discussion he’s hosting on May 7 at Florida Gulf Coast University. What is baffling, though, is that the public and the press are to be excluded from the event. How can a U.S. congressman, teams of scientists from government agencies, state officials in environmental protection, health and economic development — and a bevy of officeholders in county and city governments — meet at a taxpayer-supported university on a topic of utmost public concern and close the public out of the process? There are no greater stakeholders in the health of our waterways than the people that must live and work along the rivers, bays and canals that were fouled with noxious and unhealthy blue-green algae last year…” From the Naples Daily News Editorial Board.
Read ‘It is a community issue’- “Southwest Floridians believe the time is now to conquer climate change. "We believe we have an issue with water, and climate change is here in Southwest Florida," said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County. " and we are all just saying we can't sit back here and do nothing." Organizations from Lee and Collier counties are teaming up to form a three-year partnership to help address the region's changing environment. The Community Foundation of Collier County, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida joined forces to align resources to address these time-sensitive issues. "Look at the strengthening storms we're seeing, look at the flooding we're seeing, look at what's happening with red tide and blue-green algae," Connolly-Keesler said. The partnership was spearheaded by the Conservancy and an outgrowth of climate change survey results released in February. In late 2018, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida partnered with the Community Foundation of Collier County and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to hire a national climate leadership organization, ecoAmerica, to design and execute a survey of the five-county area. "The results were very clear. Southwest Florida residents believe now is the time to take action on this issue," Connolly-Keesler said. "Collective action means we are more powerful when we work together - within and across sectors…” Katie Egan reports for the Fort Myers Beach Bulletin.
Read Regaining ground lost in battle to protect Florida’s natural lands- “Florida’s waters and habitats are being lost at an ever-increasing pace. Native prairies, pine forests, hardwood hammocks, coastal systems and large pieces of rural land that support our quality of life, tourism, wildlife and important agricultural economy are being destroyed. Florida is addicted to rapid, sprawling and unsustainable growth, and natural areas are being replaced by cookie-cutter subdivisions, condos, strip malls, roads and traffic. Pollution generated by these activities is fouling both our groundwater and surface water, which has led to more frequent and extreme fresh- and salt-water algal blooms, killing sea grass, fish, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins, while making people sick and driving away tourists. Floridians appear to finally have had enough and are demanding action to clean our lakes, rivers, bays and lagoons...The only way to ensure protection of essential lands is by buying them, or buying their development rights using conservation easements. FF protected 2.5 million acres of land from 1990-2009. Land protected includes many important ecosystems ranging from the Everglades in South Florida to the Suwannee and Apalachicola rivers in North Florida. And FF and RFP could protect another 2.5 million acres in the next 20 years if funding of at least $300 million a year is restored. It’s a small price to pay for a livable future with natural lands, native wildlife and healthy aquatic ecosystems, especially considering how much we invest in our other priorities, such as transportation. Since 2009, the Florida Department of Transportation’s budget has averaged about $10 billion a year, or one-thousand times the state’s annual conservation spending over those same years…” Tom Hoctor, Richard Hilsenbeck, Julie Morris write Opinion for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Study finds huge septic system dysfunction in North Fort Myers, contributing to pollution - “Lee County has a complicated, stinking mess to deal with, scientists said at a Wednesday workshop. They'd come to explain the findings of a $95,000 study the county commissioned on the source of water pollution in the Caloosahatchee River and its watershed. Though red tide and blue-green algae have been making headlines for more than a year, another kind of contamination has garnered growing attention: the bacteria that comes from human feces. It was front and center at the briefing, attended by all six mayors of Lee’s municipalities, as well as county commissioners and environmental advocates...The study acknowledged a number of pollution sources, including: Urban runoff including lawn fertilizers, paved surfaces, pet waste; Failed septic tanks; Agriculture runoff, including crop fertilizer and livestock; Wildlife waste; Wastewater and industrial sources…” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com
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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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