FCC News Brief - October 10, 2018

Read Hurricane Michael: Rick Scott climate record condemned as storm bears down on coast - “Wearing his signature baseball cap, Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, has been a highly visible fixture of every Sunshine State hurricane in the last eight years. On Monday, as Michael’s 120mph winds bore down on the Gulf coast, Scott was there again, warning of forecasts of ‘the most destructive storm to hit Florida’s Panhandle in decades’. But as the term-limited governor attempts to become a US senator, scrutiny is again falling upon his record in office and what his opponents claim are policies that support portrayals of him as a climate-change denier. ‘He stands up in front of Floridians and he says: ‘Time to abandon your homes, you better escape before the hurricane comes,’  said Frank Jackalone, Florida chapter director of the Sierra Club, which links rising sea temperatures to an increase in the frequency and ferocity of major hurricanes. ‘To me, that’s a metaphor for what he’s doing to the whole state. He’s allowing our environment to degrade and he’s setting the stage for somebody to say, ‘Time to leave Florida, your home.’ He looks like a leader when he does that but he’s addressing the crisis after it happens instead of working to prevent the crisis.’ Scott was a strong supporter of Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. He was also reported to have banned the phrases ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ from state documents, websites and even office discussions, an allegation he has repeatedly denied. In 2017, he approved Florida’s so-called ‘anti-science law’, which critics say was aimed at allowing legal challenges to the teaching of the realities of climate change and global warming in the state’s classrooms...Scott continues to avoid talking about climate change on the campaign trail, often using the explanation ‘I’m not a scientist’ to dodge awkward questions. His stance on environmental issues is laid out on his campaign website, which claims he has secured millions of dollars in state funds for local governments to plan and enact coastal defence strategies and combat sea level rise. To Jackalone, such claims have no merit. ‘His lack of work on environmental protection has led to some major problems,’ he said. ‘Our water quality continues to diminish, our algae blooms are becoming larger and more toxic and we’ve lost any semblance of growth management. He has been Florida’s worst governor in decades with a head in the sand attitude to sea level rise.” Richard Luscombe reports for The Guardian.

Read Environmentalist plans Eco Ranch on 668 pristine acres in Lake County - “Century-old oaks dripping with Spanish moss stand next to tall pines across much of the landscape. Coyotes, bobcats, squirrels, rabbits and wild hogs can often be seen wandering across acres of old citrus groves and pastureland, the couple said. More than a mile of the property — which has been in Mathews’ family since 1883 — stretches along the shoreline of Lake Griffin. Now, the Mathews are getting ready to sell the land to Steven Lumbert, an environmental consultant from Lake City, who plans to build the Crappie Eco Ranch campground, spread across 668 acres about 50 miles northwest of downtown Orlando. Crappie — pronounced ‘croppy’ — is a type of freshwater fish. According to Lumbert and documents submitted to Lake County, the Eco Ranch is described as an ‘authentic and rugged old Florida lakefront wilderness experience surrounded by amazing wildlife and old growth forests immersed in history dating back to the Apalachee Indians.’ Lumbert envisions a place where visitors can pitch a tent at a primitive campsite or spend the night in a ‘safari-style luxury’ tent already set up. The ranch also would include scores of log cabins, hundreds of spots for recreational vehicles and a fishing lodge with 200 rooms overlooking Lake Griffin. Nature lovers could rent canoes or sailboats from a marina. An amphitheater would allow visitors to enjoy musical performances, watch plays or listen to lectures. ‘I have this vision for a campground that is really unique,’ said Lumbert, 63. ‘And this campground would bring an economic benefit because it will bring tourists from all over the country and maybe even the world. It will be a cultural mecca where people can learn about nature.’ Lumbert expects many guests would be retirees and Northerners who spend their winters in Florida. But it wouldn’t be just for traditional campers. His plans call for inviting foster children so they could spend time outdoors learning about wildlife and nature. Most important, Lumbert said, is preserving the land from residential or commercial development…” Martin E. Comas reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read Phosphate miner Mosaic wants to dump Hardee County clay in Hillsborough - “With 30 head of cattle roaming freely around a 100-acre parcel of pasture and wetlands off County Road 39, Sean and Kimberly Kelley like to keep an eye on their neighbors. In their case, the neighbors happen to include the world’s largest phosphate company. The couple’s land borders the 50,000-acre Four Corners mine. The Kelleys and other neighbors are up in arms about a Mosaic plan to use the mine in northeast Hillsborough County to dump clay — a byproduct of mining — from a new mine in Hardee County. They say Mosaic is trying to renege on a permit it negotiated around 2002, when it agreed to refrain from dumping more clay in Hillsborough than was produced from its mining operation in the county. The fertilizer giant is asking Hillsborough County commissioners to amend that permit so it can pump clay from mined material through a 15-mile pipeline from the Ona Mine. ‘The citizens don’t want it,’ Kimberly Kelley said. ‘The damages Mosaic has done to us recently and our communities out there, it’s not a good thing.’ Mining produces a lot of clay. After draglines remove a top layer of soil, the exposed matrix — a section made up of equal part sand, clay and phosphate rock — is extracted. High pressure water guns turn it into a slurry for piping to a so-called "beneficiation" plant. There, the valuable phosphate, used in fertilizer, is extracted. The leftover clay, still in slurry form, is piped into clay settling areas. Once the clay settles, the top layer of water is reused for mining. Over several years, most of the leftover clay dries out while some still can have the consistency of pudding, according to the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute. About 40 percent of mined land ends up as clay resettlement areas, the institute says. Mosaic officials said their request will not mean the creation of new clay settling areas nor the expansion of any of the 18 settling areas already permitted in Hillsborough County…” Christopher O’Donnell reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read During peak King Tide season, FAU researchers talk about sea-level rise resiliency- “Florida Atlantic University student Bridget Huston is collecting stories from people in her community about flooding.  With a team at the university's Florida Center For Environmental Studies, she's looking at flood maps, or projections for how high water is estimated to rise during floods. Then she's comparing them to people's accounts of what flooding looks like in their own neighborhoods. She said she hopes the personal accounts make flood maps even more accurate...This week is the peak of King Tide season across South Florida, when higher tides will contribute to more street flooding, especially for coastal areas. FAU research students used the timing to host a presentation about Sea-Level Rise in Fort Lauderdale, called ‘Transforming A Wetter Florida Into A Better Florida.’ Huston's project partly works by encouraging people to use smartphone apps for climate reporting, like one called 'I See Change.' It's a climate journaling app, where people can post pictures and descriptions of flooding in their communities, and document change over time.  Colin Polsky, who directs the FAU center, said Huston’s project fills a gap that scientific data can't: qualitative information. The descriptions can help the team hone in on what areas need more attention when it comes to resiliency. ‘What excites me is that it's not just research for research sake. It's research that is instrumental to help identify where we are currently resilient, and where we're not,’ Polsky said. Other projects are focused on resilient architecture, how to monitor water table flooding in the western parts of Broward County, and even how plants can act as natural seawalls. Members of the business community who attended the presentations were encouraged to get involved in Broward County and Fort Lauderdale resiliency efforts, if they weren't already, and help push for proactive change. As the presentations were going on, some neighborhoods of Fort Lauderdale were experiencing King Tide flooding just blocks away. Ted Deutch, congressman for parts of Broward and Palm Beach County, opened the presentations at the FAU MetroLab. But then he went to visit residents at flood sites. ‘Raising roads or installing pumps ... are the kinds of things that will help in the short term,’ Deutch said. ‘But, beyond that, we have to look at the impact this is going to have on loans and flood insurance, and work to ensure we're not gonna price people out of living in South Florida”...Caitie Switalski and Andrew Quintana report for WLRN

Read Louisiana can learn from red tide - “There is an environmental crisis in Florida right now. The red tide has spread to the Atlantic coast, and it’s affecting some of the most popular beaches near Miami. The photos of dead manatees and endangered sea turtles killed by red tide are shocking and heartbreaking. What is even more frustrating is that these deaths are largely preventable. Both Florida and the federal government could have stepped in years ago to regulate nitrogen and phosphorus pollution but chose to sit on their hands...So what does this have to do with Louisiana and the rest of the nation? The Environmental Protection Agency says that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is one of America's most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems. This same pollution also causes the annual Dead Zone off Louisiana’s coast that decimates aquatic life and harms our fishing communities. The Dead Zone has more than doubled in size since 1985, thanks to our collective failure to regulate nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Last summer, it was the size of New Jersey. Issues with nitrogen and phosphorus pollution aren’t endemic to the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Erie is still suffering from toxic algae outbreaks that shut down Toledo’s drinking water supply in 2014. Harmful algae outbreaks in Chesapeake Bay kill marine life year after year and are occurring more frequently. There has been a movement in the Mississippi River basin for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to be curtailed at the federal level for a decade now. Several groups petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 to regulate runoff under the Clean Water Act. By 2010, EPA appeared to be on track to develop nitrogen and phosphorus pollution rules in Florida. But anti-government forces, led by the newly empowered Tea Party, pressured EPA to back off. In 2012, Florida — with EPA approval — developed nitrogen and phosphorus pollution limits that were decidedly less protective. It became clear that asking the EPA politely wasn’t working, so environmental groups were forced to go to court...From Louisiana to Florida to Ohio, toxic algae outbreaks are growing year by year. The states — given a pass by the federal government — are doing practically nothing to regulate the pollution that is poisoning our water. Many state governments have actively and self-destructively deregulated what protections we do have. In 2012, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the repeal of a law that required inspections of septic tanks to make sure they weren’t polluting Florida’s waterways. We continue to hear that voluntary actions can fix the problem. It’s clearly not working. Florida’s red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks show it’s only getting worse. Deregulation is killing our waterways, and we are now feeling the consequences of kicking the can down the road…” Matt Rota writes for The Advocate.

Read Tampa church hosts forum on regional water crisis, leadership - “Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church will host an environmental forum to learn about the status of the region’s water systems, including the ongoing red tide crisis, and to discuss ways to protect them, on Sunday, Oct. 14. Members of the public are invited. ‘The current state of the water is a regular news story,’ says John DeBevoise, pastor of Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. ‘The initiative comes out of the trouble with water that we encounter directly, and is coupled with the historical commitment people of faith have to be stewards of resources. The congregation felt a call to discern what might be appropriately called from us in this crisis. What does faithfulness look like in this moment?’ ‘We start by gathering, not with presumptions. We are gathering to listen and to discern.’ The forum will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday with presentations from two speakers: Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, President of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and Ed Sherwood, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. The speakers are among the region’s leading experts in wildlife conservation and marine biology, respectively. Beyond her work with the Florida Wildlife Corridor, Lykes Dimmitt helps to oversee the sustainable agriculture and conservation activities of Lykes Bros., Inc, which manages over 575,000 acres of land in Florida. She also received a Doris Duke Conservation Fellowship from Duke University. Sherwood has been with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program for more than a decade and coordinates efforts to improve the health of Tampa Bay’s waters. Since 1991, the Estuary Program has contributed to dozens of projects that have restored thousands of acres of habitat across Tampa Bay and plays a leading role in protecting the region’s habitats against rising sea levels. Following the presentations, the forum will host questions and dialogue, and invite attendees to brainstorm ways to respond to the crisis.  The forum will conclude at 6 p.m. with prayer.” Zac Taylor reports for 83 Degrees Media.

Read UN report on global warming carries life-or-death warning - “Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday. But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge. The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea. In the 728-page document, the U.N. organization detailed how Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees F. Among other things: half as many people would suffer from lack of water, there would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases, seas would rise nearly 4 inches less, half as many animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats, there would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts, the West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting, and it just may be enough to save most of the world’s coral reefs from dying. ‘For some people this is a life-or-death situation without a doubt,’ said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report Limiting warming to 0.9 degrees from now means the world can keep ‘a semblance’ of the ecosystems we have. Adding another 0.9 degrees on top of that — the looser global goal — essentially means a different and more challenging Earth for people and species, said another of the report’s lead authors, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia. But meeting the more ambitious goal of slightly less warming would require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field. While the U.N. panel says technically that’s possible, it saw little chance of the needed adjustments happening…”From the Associated Press.

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Job Openings:

Executive Director- Florida Wildlife Corridor

Organizing Representative for Sierra Club Florida’s Clean Energy for All Campaign

Upcoming Environmental Events:

October 11, 12:45pm - 2:45pm - Villages Environmental Discussions Group kick-off event (The Villages): Our guest speakers will include Jaret Daniels, Ph.D., associate curator and program director at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who will discuss Florida native butterflies. Other guest speakers include Mike Archer and Jody Woodson-Swartzman, of Green Party Lake County, who will discuss their project to inspire others to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags. They will even show how to revise an old t-shirt into a usable shopping bag. Please send an RSVP to resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop:  Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas?  A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County.  This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart.  Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch.  Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.   We hope you’ll join us!  Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/

October 12-November 16 - Save our Springs & Rivers Academy (Volusia County)- Want to become a Blue Spring advocate and help spread the word about solutions to water pollution? Attend this FREE adult education courses that includes classroom and field trip experiences, guest speakers, hands-on, feet-wet learning to provide the ultimate citizen engagement experience. Those participating in the six-week course will gain valuable knowledge and will pledge to educate others on behalf of Volusia Blue Spring. For more information or to register, visit www.greenvolusia.org or call 386-736-5927. View course dates and locations here.

October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.

October 20, 10:00am-4:00pm - Miami Waterkeeper’s 4th Annual Bay Day (Coconut Grove): Join the Miami Waterkeeper’s annual ‘Bay Day’, celebrating Biscayne Bay at Shake-A-Leg in Coconut Grove. Tickets for this family-friendly event include: Lunch from SALT waterfront restaurant, 2 Veza Sur Brewing beers, kayaking, boat rides, sailing, arts & crafts, music, yoga, native plant and book sales, visits to Shake-A-Leg’s eco-island, and more! For tickets and more information, click here.

October 20-21 – Into the Springs Music Festival (Alachua):  Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its second annual Into the Springs Music Festival at Deep Spring Farm. Enjoy a weekend full of live music, camping, organic farming workshops, yoga, and community in support of Florida springs! To learn more and purchase tickets, visit https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/intothesprings/. Funding for this event was provided in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County. Address: Deep Springs Farm,  16419 W County Rd 1491, Alachua, FL 32615.

October 26, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Water Symposium: The State of our Water (DeLand): The Volusia Water Alliance hosts a series of short presentations on the water problems we face and possible solutions by leaders and experts, focused on Volusia County and applicable statewide. This free event features keynote speaker Dr. Jason Evans, Faculty Director of the Institute for Water & Environmental Resilience, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Management. His topic is "Reclaiming the Future: Science, Engagement, and Hope in Our State of Watery Peril.” Seating is limited; please register online at VolusiaWater.org. Optional catered lunch from DeLand Natural Market (wrap, chips, water, and a brownie) is available for $12 with registration. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Sponsorships are available. Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center - 815 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand, FL 32724

November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar:  This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company.  This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others.  Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.

November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.

November 17 - 9:00am-4:00pm - Highlands County Master Gardeners Festival (Sebring) - Join the Highlands County Master Gardeners for the inaugural Garden Festival. Kicked off at 9:00am by Shannon Reed singing the National Anthem, there will be live music, vendors, food, a kids zone, and plant classes. Where: Bert J Harris Agricultural Civic Center in Sebring: 4509 George Blvd.

Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.


End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

Stop the spraying of glyphosate herbicide in Florida waters

Stop Development on Fish Island along the Matanzas River

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Tell Congress to Stop Sabal Trail

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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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