Read DeSantis has a chance to manage Florida’s growth wisely and protect its environment - “Florida’s net growth has reached nearly 1,000 people a day, a rate not seen since the early 2000s. Unlike the last surge of that magnitude, Florida is absorbing newcomers without the growth-management system built in earlier generations — and amid the rising seas of climate change few people thought about back then. Growth has been Florida’s grand paradox for all of the state’s modern history, creating prosperity and opportunity as well as ecological injury that threatens the quality of life that drew us here in the first place. And every modern Florida governor has confronted growth-related challenges, with varying degrees of leadership and success. Gov. DeSantis faces a set of circumstances even more daunting than those that confronted Gov. Bob Graham in the 1980s, when the national press claimed Florida was “going down the tubes.” That 1981 Sports Illustrated headline declared “There’s Trouble in Paradise.” A Time magazine cover that same year called South Florida “Paradise Lost.” From the state’s Everglades restoration successes to considerable land acquisitions achieved since then, Florida has a record of “big, hairy, audacious ideas,” as Gov. Jeb Bush used to say, to confront its most-serious challenges. But contrasting earlier eras, today’s growth pressures are spread throughout much more of the peninsula, and are already amplified by climate change. Florida stands to lose more homes and more real-estate value to sea rise than any other state in the nation. Hurricane Michael underscored Florida’s vulnerability to the weather extremes climate scientists predict will become more frequent with warming. These threats mean Florida’s interior counties could see unprecedented growth as more coastal dwellers migrate inland…” David Colburn and Cynthia Barnett write Special to the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Will Nikki Fried fight Lake Okeechobee discharges, water pollution, toxic algae blooms? - “Environmentalists hope Nikki Fried's election as Florida's agriculture commissioner will lead to stronger state water regulations and stronger oversight of farm pollution. Fried, the only Democrat in Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis' Cabinet, will be sworn in Jan. 8 as head of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The agency "promotes Florida agriculture, protects the environment, safeguards consumers and ensures the safety and wholesomeness of food," its website says. Fried’s campaign this week declined to make her available for an interview or answer TCPalm’s questions about her plans for when she takes office, but had promised to: Combat toxic algae blooms: By working with the federal government, governor and Legislature to fund Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Clean, conserve and provide water: By working with the Department of Environmental Protection to enforce pollution standards, enact best management practices and prioritize water conservation. Address climate change and sea level rise: By working with local governments on preparedness and resiliency, reducing the state's carbon footprint and pressing the Legislature to ban offshore drilling and fracking…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read In the wake of red tide - “As the data spills in, the numbers prove what Florida Weekly began relating in the Aug. 15-16 issues, a story then based on preliminary figures, estimates and anecdotal feedback that developed a bleak, desperate picture. “Tourist tax revenues declined by 3 percent from August 2017 to August 2018, possibly reflecting the effects of red tide and (blue-green) algae blooms in the region,” reported the November 2018 Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators paper published by the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University. It incorporated data from Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties...Real estate sales aside, the worst impacts surface when you isolate the island communities and water-dependent businesses hardest hit by red tide and its devastation to marine life this summer. August traffic crossing the Sanibel Causeway, for instance, dropped by 39,088 vehicles from August 2017. Sanibel’s most-visited attraction (after its beaches), J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge saw August numbers on Wildlife Drive drop by 37.7 percent year over year. At Tarpon Bay Explorers, the refuge’s recreation concession, revenue decreased by 64 percent for August. The nearly $27 million in lost revenues calculated from those responding to a chamber of commerce survey on Sanibel and Captiva islands, representing more than 3,000 jobs, equals a 39.8 percent decrease year over year. Eighty-one accommodations reported a total of 16,791 total room nights canceled or departed early — about $4.28 million in lost revenue. A miscellaneous businesses category on the survey included marinas, charters and attractions with a 67.68 percent reduction in revenues over the same period in 2017…” Chelle Koster Walton reports for Florida Weekly.
Read Tempers mount in St Pete over Tampa’s plan to turn wastewater into drinking water - “Distrust and frustration are mounting on both sides of the bay over plans by the city of Tampa to produce up to 50 million gallons a day of drinking water from treated wastewater by pumping it into the Floridan aquifer. St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice said a push by Mayor Bob Buckhorn to get the project approved has more to do with the departing mayor’s legacy than it does with the best interests of her city. Tampa is seeking approval to proceed with the $350 million project from the regional water authority, Tampa Bay Water… [Rice] said Tampa isn’t sharing all the possible costs and risks associated with converting wastewater to drinking water and that more time is needed to vet the project. In October, the Tampa Bay Water board — made up of three elected officials each from Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties — voted to delay approval of a project sometimes referred to as toilet to tap…” Charlie Frago reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Could farmers make money by helping clean up Florida’s water supply? - “The marriage between agriculture and wetlands restoration is being pitched by scientists as the middle ground in the tug of war between the farming industry and environmentalists. “It’s an approach for putting more wetlands back on the landscape but it’s also an approach for allowing more sustainable agriculture as well,” said Dr. William Mitsch, the director for Florida Gulf Coast University’s Wetland Research Park...The idea is to convince farmers to transform some of their acreage into wetlands, which scientists believe helps filter nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen. The farmers would be paid for their environmental benefit by government programs. Those nutrients, according to Mitsch, are caused by fertilizer use and when they build up in our water supply it leads to algal blooms. Eventually, the lands that have been converted to wetlands will be so dense with nutrients they should be able to be drained and converted back into farmland...Currently, the process of flipping wetlands into farmland is being studied through the use of mesocosms, artificial wetlands set up in baby pools, at an experiment site in Four Freedoms Park in Naples...For the idea to be a long-term solution to Florida’s water crisis, state and federal leaders would need to be on board…” Lauren Sweeney reports for WINK News.
Read New climate report warns of more rain, hurricanes and flooding in Florida and elsewhere - “Four years ago, federal officials published a report that labeled the Tampa Bay area as one area in Florida particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. The report, the Third National Climate Assessment, also warned of increases in harmful algae blooms off Florida's coast, worsening seasonal allergies for people already made miserable by springtime pollen and heavier rainstorms and flooding in low-lying areas...Rising sea levels, particularly in Florida, mean greater damage from storm surges during hurricanes such as Hurricanes Michael and Irma. An insurance industry group has ranked the Tampa Bay region as the most vulnerable metropolitan area in the United States to storm surge, with $175 billion in potential losses. Florida's long history of building along the coastline puts much of its property at risk. While the report does not refer to Tampa Bay's vulnerability, it does point out that "Florida alone is estimated to have a 1-in-20 chance of having more than $346 billion (in 2011 dollars) in property value ... below average sea level by 2100." On Friday, federal officials released their followup, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which over the course of 1,000 pages looks at how climate change is already disrupting life in the United States - with more hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and other disasters - and what communities are doing to deal with it. The report - produced by 300 scientists, many from 13 federal departments and agencies, and overseen by the U.S. Global Change Research Program - warns that humans must take action now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.’...” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read State geologist challenging springs action plan raised questions before - “When groups across the state challenged new springs protection rules published by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over the summer, one name stood out: Thomas Greenhalgh. Greenhalgh, a hydrogeologist who works for the DEP’s Florida Geological Survey, surprised many by taking the rare step of challenging his own agency’s proposed action plan for improving water quality in the springs in the Suwannee River basin. That plan was one of 13 approved in June for springs that include Blue Spring in Orange City and Gemini Springs in DeBary. Echoing concerns voiced by Volusia County officials and environmental advocates, Greenhalgh’s letter stated the springs plans made claims that are “inaccurate and unsubstantiated.”...The reprimand also shows Greenhalgh has been trying for at least five years to raise alarms to his superiors about the effectiveness of best management practices for agriculture producers. The springs action plans count on farmers using practices that conserve water and reduce the use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers to help improve the quality of water that flows to the springs. Greenhalgh has said the practices now in place aren’t adequate. For years, springs enthusiasts and scientists have been concerned about the rising level of pollutants in the water flowing from springs, the same source that nearly all of Florida relies on for drinking water. The 13 “basin management action plans,” which spell out actions the state and local governments intend to take to improve or protect spring water quality, were mandated by state legislators two years ago and had to be complete by July 1. But after more than a dozen groups and individuals asked for more time to review the plans, the department put them on hold until January 4, 2019, giving the groups an additional six months to review the plans and decided whether to challenge them by asking for state hearings…” Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events:
November 27 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP -- Palm Beach County 2070: What’s Next? (Palm Beach Gardens) - Join 1000 Friends of Florida and the North County Neighborhood Coalition on Tuesday, November 27 to identify the steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Palm Beach County. We want to hear from you about what you think the biggest obstacles are to sustainability and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at Nova’s Palm Beach Campus, 11501 North Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070plan to find out more.
November 28 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. – FREE WORKSHOP – Martin County 2070: What’s Next? (Stuart) - Join 1000 Friends and The Guardians of Martin County on Wednesday, November 28 to share your thoughts on steps needed now to promote a more sustainable future for Martin County. We want to hear from you about what you think are the biggest obstacles to sustainability in Martin County and what needs to be done, both short- and long-term, to overcome them. The workshop is at the Susan H. Johnson Auditorium, Wolf High-Technology Center, 2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart. This event is free, no registration is required, and light refreshments will be served. Visit www.1000friendsofflorida.org/mco2070plan to find out more.
December 1, 9:00am-4:00pm - 2018 Florida Solar Congress (Miami) - The 2018 Florida Solar Congress is a free public conference. It brings together solar supporters from across the state to learn and discuss the current solar landscape and future for solar energy in Florida. The day will include a series of presentations about solar technology and policy, as well as ways to get involved with helping to grow solar in Florida. Topics will include: solar 101, solar + battery storage for homes, grassroots solar advocacy, electric vehicles, ways to get involved, and much more! The event will conclude with a participatory open forum discussion for all attendees to discuss priorities and opportunities that solar supporters in Florida should focus on in the coming year. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees! RSVP here. Interested in volunteering at this event? Email Heaven Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 1, 12:00pm-4:00pm - NFLT J.J. Grey Concert- (Jacksonville) - The North Florida Land Trust presents Jacksonville-hailing J.J. Grey, singer and songwriter described by his fans as ‘the North Florida sage and soul-bent swamp rocker’ who has gained worldwide acclaim with his band, JJ Grey and Mofro. This December’s concert brings Grey back home to his beloved roots and will feature JJ Grey in a solo performance. Grey shares a commitment to the land of his north Florida home that fits perfectly with North Florida Land Trust’s mission to protect special places in the region. Grey often sings about the changing landscape in northern Florida and his soulfulness and deep beliefs come through in his music. The concert will be held at Congaree and Penn Farm & Mills: 11830 Old Kings Road, Jacksonville, FL 32219. For more information and tickets, visit the NFLT site here.
December 6, 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free Recycle Right to Meet Industry Challenges Webinar - Florida has made great strides in increasing its recycling rates but shrinking global markets for recycling materials and increased “contamination” or non-recyclables in the stream are presenting daunting challenges for the industry. Join Karen Moore, Recycling Manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Dawn McCormick, Chair of the Florida Recycling Partnership and Waste Management Director of Communications; and a County Recycling Manager as they discuss these challenges and cost implications for Florida’s counties, cities and businesses. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM for planners (#9162164) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
January 19, 2019 - 10:00am-12:00pm - Rising Sea Levels- Are we losing our coastal cities? (Deerfield) - The Deerfield Progressive Forum will host Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies and Professor of Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University, for a discussion of sea level rise and its impacts on Florida. For 39 years progressives in South Florida have been enlightened by a series of weekly talks presented by nationally distinguished speakers on provocative current issues. Lively discussion follows each talk. The Deerfield Progressive Forum meets every Saturday morning from December through March from 10:00 AM-noon in Century Village, Deerfield Beach. For more information, visit their site here.
January 22, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - Free 2019 Florida Legislative Preview Webinar - The 60-day 2019 Florida Legislative Session starts on March 5 and is scheduled to end on May 3 of 2019. 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 may be up for consideration during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session and will discuss how this could impact state and local governance and planning in Florida. This event has been approved for 1.5 AICP CM LEGAL CREDITS for planners (#9162191) and .15 CEUs for Florida Environmental Health Professionals. 1000 Friends has applied for professional certification credits for Certified Floodplain Managers, Florida attorneys, and Florida DBPR Landscape Architecture but cannot guarantee credits will be approved. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
March 27, 2019 - 12:00pm-1:30pm - 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/.
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