Quote of the Day: “There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” - Robert Lynd
Read Gov. DeSantis cited this parkway as an example for new Florida toll roads. Here’s the problem with that - “Last week when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill approving three new toll roads that his own Department of Transportation had not asked for, the governor answered environmental activists' cries of outrage by contending that such roads can be sensitive to nature. "We have a great precedent already with the Wekiva Parkway in the Central Florida Beltway that is a passageway through the environmentally sensitive Wekiva River basin area," DeSantis said on May 17. "And I am confident we will be able to manage this effort with equal or better care.” People familiar with the story behind the $1.6 billion Wekiva Parkway say its construction does indeed mark it as the rare toll road that was built with an eye toward limiting its impact. Its design aimed to protect the state's aquifer, its wetlands and its protected species, not to mention the rural character of the landscape. But they also say the experience of building that 25-mile highway will be tough to copy in building the three massive, multi-billion-dollar roads of about 350 miles that DeSantis just approved. Major differences include the limited time frame for planning allowed by the legislation, the lack of an agreed-upon vision for the future in the areas to be targeted and the absence of any prior planning for two of the three routes...The reason the Wekiva Parkway had to be different from any other Florida toll road is because the Wekiva River basin is subject to stringent protections not found elsewhere…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read How we forged a compromise 25 years ago to pass the Everglades Forever Act - “During my time in the Florida Legislature, I often thought of how mindsets from different eras created issues needing to be addressed by future generations. Those mindsets were not wrong; they were just how people thought back then. So it was with the draining of the Everglades, a practice that began in earnest in 1905 to make the land suitable for development and arable. Decades later, we would spend billions trying to return it to how God made it. Twenty-five years ago, I found myself in the middle of such an the issue when then Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles dramatically “surrendered his sword” after years of bitter fighting in federal court, settling a 1988 lawsuit over pollution of the Florida Everglades. Gov. Chiles was my political hero, and as Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, it fell to me to guide the passage of the Everglades Forever Act, one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation ever enacted into state law...Frankly, the bill never would have passed without environmentalists and farmers working together to hammer it out...I learned the importance of four guiding principles: 1) First, get started. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. 2) Keep the scientists free of politics. Leave the politics to the policymakers. 3) Be reasonable and fair with those who are being asked to change. It’s fair to ask them to stretch, but don’t ask them to break. 4) Move incrementally. I compare it to getting to the top of a flight of stairs: Take it one step at a time. It takes a little longer, but you’ll get there. We followed these principles, and it worked. The EFA passed and has exceeded expectations. It called for 42,000 acres of filtering wetlands; today we have nearly 60,000 — all built on former farmland — cleaning water going to the Everglades. It called for a 25 percent reduction of phosphorus from farmers; they’ve averaged double that requirement. Some could argue the standards weren’t tough enough, but we didn’t know if any of this would work. Nothing of this magnitude had ever been attempted. It got us started, which was the most important thing…” Rick Dantzler writes Opinion for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Read Legislators fail to protect Floridians from risks of fracking - “As we assess the results of the 2019 legislative session, we must confront the fact that legislators have once again failed to pass a comprehensive bill that would effectively ban risky fracking and fracking-like treatments used on oil wells. It is now up to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that all fracking-like operations – which pose a threat to our water resources and human health – are addressed. If you’ve been following the debate on fracking in Florida, you’ve probably heard the term “matrix acidizing.” It’s caused quite a bit of confusion, so the Conservancy of Southwest Florida would like to set the record straight. When the environmental community talks about matrix acidizing, we’re talking about a technique very similar to fracking where acid is used to dissolve Florida’s underground rock formations and increase the flow of oil to a well. We’re talking about a technique designed to alter the geology around the well that may create wormholes up to 20 feet away. This practice uses similar toxic chemicals as fracking operations do and presents many of the same issues as fracking including wasting water, contributing to climate change and threatening water quality. The time to ban these practices is now…” Amber Crooks writes Opinion for the Charlotte Sun.
Read South Florida Water Management District plans to deny Sunbreak Farms’ biosolids permit - “The South Florida Water Management District plans to deny Sunbreak Farms' permit to fertilize crops with a compost mixture containing tons of sewage sludge. Plans for the farm don't ensure heavy rains won't flush polluted stormwater into nearby canals leading to the Indian River Lagoon, district regulations Director Jill S. Creech said in a letter sent Friday to Sunbreak manager Patrick Cheney….The district also asked for a better sewage-sludge monitoring system to show "pollution abatement practices proposed in the design are functioning properly." Instead of answering the district's questions, Creech said, Sunbreak's attorney sent a letter April 4 "advising that no monitoring plan or other alternative will be provided and requesting that the District determine the application complete." If the district's questions aren't answered, Creech told Cheney, the denial will be final June 3…Indian River County has imposed a moratorium on the use of Class B biosolids because they're suspected of polluting Blue Cypress Lake, the headwaters of the St. Johns River in western Indian River County...” Tyler Treadway reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read CDC algae study shunned by some Lake Okeechobee fishing guides as business-killer - “When the Center for Disease Control and Prevention plans to visit your community, it means two things. First, there is a serious health problem where you live. Second, the agency is coming to help you. The mixed message is still a struggle to deal with. This summer, it will be an especially difficult dilemma for those who live in the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee. Participate, and be part of a possible solution for a growing and persistent ecological problem with human health ramifications, or choose not to volunteer and hope that business as usual will be the best option for the economy? The issue is being debated in Okeechobee, Clewiston, Belle Glade and even Stuart. The latter may not be on the lake's shore, but its anglers certainly feel the lake's impact when wet season begins..."From the other guys I've been talking to, most of us won't volunteer," said Capt. Mike Shellen, a resident of Buckhead Ridge and fishing guide 200 days a year on Lake Okeechobee. "I've been fishing out here since 1977, along with a bunch of other older guides. If the algae was toxic, we'd all be dead by now."...Ramon Iglesias, general manager of Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort in Clewiston, said a similar thing. "I welcome anything the CDC wants to do, but I think it will be hard for them to find 50 volunteers," Iglesias said. "These guys just want to work." "People don't understand the algae," Iglesias said. "When it's on Lake Okeechobee, never gets like that guacamole thick stuff." But long term help could come from better management of the water entering Lake Okeechobee. "Still, 95% of all of Lake Okeechobee's water comes in from the north," said Iglesias, who also co-founded the advocacy group Anglers for Lake Okeechobee and produced the "Make Lake O Great Again" hats. "If you slow the flow and clean the water, the quality of the water in the lake will be much better."...Cyanobacteria — like the kind found yearly in Lake Okeechobee and poured into the coastal estuaries by the Army Corps of Engineers in the name of flood control — has been linked by scientists to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS disease and liver disease…” Ed Killer reports for Treasure Coasts Newspapers
Read Pollution could be driving manatees and dolphins into the Imperial River in Southwest Florida - “Pods of manatees and dolphins have been appearing frequently in the Imperial River around Bonita Springs. While it's typical in the winter, experts say it is rare for this time of year. They say the increase in the water-dwelling mammals could be because of the damaging effects of pollution and last year's red tide. Experts say manatees should be in the estuaries and coastal waters eating seagrasses, but pollution in the form of runoff has been killing those plants. Last year's red tide could explain the dolphin sightings. Since a lot of fish were lost, they could be looking for more food. "One of the things that I think might be happening is the seagrass in Estero Bay, that's left, is so covered with unpalatable algae that the manatees don't want to eat it," said Dr. James Douglass, a Florida Gulf Coast University Water School Associate Professor. "We certainly lost a lot of fish in the red tide bloom, and so the dolphins may be looking further afield for food sources." Experts say if you live on the water in Florida, let plants and grasses grow along the edge because they are a valuable source of food for manatees.” From WPTV News.
Read Key West just banned the herbicide that is costing Monsanto big bucks at jury trials- “The Key West City Commission has banned the use of a popular weed killer on city-owned property, a week after a California jury ordered Monsanto, the maker of the weed killer, to pay $2 billion in damages to a couple who said they contracted cancer from the product. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, may no longer be used by city workers but the new law stops short of trying to ban the herbicide on private property. The commission voted 6-0 in favor of the ban...“We were hoping to set an example and show that other products can be used that are safe,” said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who sponsored the resolution, which the city has sent to county leaders, the school district and other agencies such as the state Department of Agriculture...The ban is also meant to provide safe workplaces for city workers and is an attempt to stave off any lawsuits connected to claims that Roundup causes cancer. “I’ve noticed on television there are ads now for people who have been in contact with it to be part of a class-action suit,” Weekley said. “We’re trying to be ahead of the game on that.” Roundup has been blamed for causing cancer in users in thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto’s owner Bayer, which denies such allegations and says the product is safe…” Gwen Filosa reports for FL Keys News.
Read Conservation Florida working to protect 717 acres near Wakulla Springs- “Conservation Florida is actively working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Legacy Program, and landowners to acquire 717 acres in the Florida Forever Wakulla Springs Protection Zone. The protection of this property is the last opportunity to create a landscape-scale conservation corridor between Apalachicola National Forest and Wakulla Springs State Park. Wakulla Springs is a National Natural Landmark and one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. The land also provides essential aquifer recharge benefits to the Wakulla Springs springshed and the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. Acquisition of Wakulla Caves by the State’s Florida Forever program would permanently protect nine karst sinks providing direct access to the Wakulla-Leon Sinks Cave System. Greyhound, Emerald Sink, Meeting House Cavern, and Ferrell Sink are all located on the property and are considered world class cave diving sites. The vast underground cave and tunnel network accessible from the Wakulla Caves property is of global significance and a truly premiere cave diving destination. The sinks are hundreds of feet deep and connect for miles, attracting cave divers from around the world to experience the magnificence of the system. In addition to public recreational values, Wakulla Caves contains habitat for species found only in the region, including the Woodville Karst cave crayfish. It is also home to longleaf pine ecosystem species such as the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, and Southeastern fox squirrel…” From Conservation Florida press release.
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
May 29, 6:30pm-8:30pm - Film Screening & Environmental Panel: The Human Element - (Jacksonville) - Hurricane season officially starts June 1 and we need to activate our community and our leaders. Join St. Johns Riverkeeper, Groundwork Jacksonville, and local experts for a special screening of The Human Element. A new documentary from the producers of RACING EXTINCTION, THE COVE and CHASING ICE, you’ll travel with environmental photographer James Balog as he captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. Immediately following the film, environmental and community experts will be on hand to discuss the impact of rising waters in our community and how you can help create a more resilient Jacksonville. Sun-Ray Cinema, 1028 Park Street, Jacksonville FL 32204. Visit the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s site here to get your tickets.
May 30, 4:00pm - Solar and Suds Launch, Happy Hour - (Pensacola) - Join Solar United Neighbors, Earth Action, Inc. and others at A Little Madness Brewing Company (9838 N Davis Hwy, Pensacola, Florida 32514) for a free Hoppy Hour to learn about the launch of the Escambia – Santa Rosa Solar & Storage Co-op, as well as how a local brewery is using the power of the sun to make sustainable beer! They are competing in this year's Brews from the Sun competition to be crowned America's favorite solar-powered craft brewery! Learn more and cast your vote here. Learn more about the co-op at solarunitedneighbors.org/escambia-santarosa. Check out the Facebook event at this link for more information.
June 10. 6:00pm -June Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series- (Pensacola)- Join us at Ever'man Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street. This month we welcome Mr. Vernon Compton. Mr. Compton works for The Longleaf Alliance as Director of the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership. The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership is a voluntary public/private landowner partnership formed in 1996 that now sustains over 1.3 million acres of diverse habitat in northwest Florida and south Alabama. The partnership allows the partners to combine their expertise and resources to more effectively manage their individual properties and to meet the challenges of restoring and sustaining the larger longleaf ecosystem. Vernon has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from LSU and prior to joining The Longleaf Alliance in 2010 worked for the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Forest Service at Blackwater River State Forest. Mr. Compton will discuss "The Importance of Trees." Check out the Eventbrite page here, and Facebook event here. For more information, email email@example.com
June 10-14, June 24-28- 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
June 12, 6:00pm - Know your GREEN - (Orange Park) - The St. Johns Riverkeeper is already getting several reports of algal blooms across the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River from Palatka to Jacksonville. Read WJCT’s recent news story covering the issue. Now’s the time to take action and help us raise awareness to get the GREEN out! Join St. Johns Riverkeeper staff for this evening presentation to learn what causes these blue-green algal blooms and why they’re harmful for you and our River. We’ll also teach you ways to help us reduce algal blooms by living a more River Friendly lifestyle. You’ll also learn: What happened on nutrient pollution bills in the 2019 Legislative Session, How to report algal blooms when you see them, and Upcoming algal bloom outreach events, summer volunteer opportunities, and more! Light snacks and drinks provided. RSVP here. Location: Orange Park Town Hall, 2042 Park Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073.
June 13, 6:00pm - Know your GREEN - (Palatka) - The St. Johns Riverkeeper is already getting several reports of algal blooms across the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River from Palatka to Jacksonville. Read WJCT’s recent news story covering the issue. Now’s the time to take action and help us raise awareness to get the GREEN out! Join St. Johns Riverkeeper staff for this evening presentation to learn what causes these blue-green algal blooms and why they’re harmful for you and our River. We’ll also teach you ways to help us reduce algal blooms by living a more River Friendly lifestyle. You’ll also learn: What happened on nutrient pollution bills in the 2019 Legislative Session, How to report algal blooms when you see them, and Upcoming algal bloom outreach events, summer volunteer opportunities, and more! Light snacks and drinks provided. RSVP here. Location: St. Johns River Center, 102 N 1st St, Palatka, FL 32177.
July 8, 6:00pm - July Earth Ethics Environmental Educational Series - (Pensacola) -Join us at Ever'man Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street. We will be viewing A PLASTIC OCEAN. A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. We'll discuss what you can do to help reduce your use of plastics! One lucky winner will receive a giftset to jump start a plastic reduced life. Check out the Eventbrite page here, and Facebook Event here. For more information, email email@example.com
July 11, 7:00pm - Toxic Puzzle Screening & Environmental Panel - (Orange Park)- TOXIC PUZZLE is a medical and environmental detective story where documentary filmmaker Bo Landin follows ethnobotanist Dr Paul Alan Cox and his scientific team around the world in a hunt for the hidden killer. The pieces come together in a toxic puzzle where cyanobacteria in our waters become the culprit. Are these organisms, fed by human pollution and climate change, staging nature’s revenge by claiming human lives? Join the St. Johns Riverkeeper at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts in Clay County (283 College Dr, Orange Park FL 32065) for a live screening and panel discussion on the issue of toxic algae blooms and the serious short and long-term health effects it’s having on our communities, wildlife, and habitats of our River and what YOU can do to help.
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