Damian Carringon writes for The Guardian – “The extinction rate of species is now thought to be about 1,000 times higher than before humans dominated the planet, which may be even faster than the losses after a giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago. The sixth mass extinction in geological history has already begun, according to some scientists… Giving nature the space and protection it needs is the only answer. Wildlife reserves are the obvious solution, and the world currently protects 15% of land and 7% of the oceans. But some argue that half the land surface must be set aside for nature.” Read What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
Dale White reports for the Herald Tribune – “On Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission remained undecided about establishing a special tax district in the Braden Woods and River Club neighborhoods to finance the purchase of more than 32 acres for which developer Pat Neal and his business partner sons have approval to build a gated subdivision. The commission postponed that decision to March 20. Since that commission meeting, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has received nearly $700,000 in pledges from area residents wanting to assist efforts in acquiring the property… If the foundation can raise at least $1 million by the March 20 commission meeting, it is hopeful the subsidy could ‘defray taxpayers’ expense’ and encourage the county to proceed with the acquisition… The Neals granted the… foundation a March 31 deadline to buy the property for $3 million. The nonprofit is willing to transfer that option to the county. The foundation recently acquired land to the west… It is willing to transfer ownership of [that] tract to the county as well. With the combined properties, the proposed Braden River Preserve could span 44.6 acres… The foundation emphasizes that, since 2001, the Southwest Florida Water Management District has recommended conservation of remaining land along the Braden River, not only to protect the source of drinking water for the city of Bradenton but also, ‘the diverse habitats and species which are the natural systems humans depend upon.’” Read Conservationists seek to protect Braden River wetlands from development
Dale White reports for the Herald Tribune – “A state administrative law judge… rejected environmentalists’ arguments that developers of the controversial Aqua by the Bay project on Sarasota Bay be denied a special wetlands permit… The U.S. Army Corps denied Aqua by the Bay developers’ application for federal mitigation credits that could have been transferred to projects in federally protected waters, saying it had no confidence the proposed bank ‘has the potential to provide an additional environmental benefit over the existing condition.’ The state DEP, however, filed ‘a notice of intent’ to award slightly more than 18 mitigation credits that can be used for wetlands impacts in state jurisdictional waters within the Sarasota-Manatee region… Suncoast Waterkeeper, FISH and McClash petitioned to block the state mitigation bank permit. They contend the conditions imposed in the permit can endanger rather than protect vital fisheries, seagrasses and mangroves.” Read Judge rejects environmentalist complaints about Aqua by the Bay
Bob Graham and Frances Beinecke write for the Pensacola News Journal – “The Trump administration is putting Florida’s Panhandle at increased risk for the next BP-style blowout by expanding the reach of oil and gas drilling while rolling back common-sense safeguards drawn from the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. And Congress continues to operate in a state of denial… The stakes are high for our region and we must demand better from Washington… Just weeks after the (BP) blowout, President Obama established a bipartisan and independent commission to investigate what caused the tragedy and suggest steps to reduce the risk of a similar catastrophe in the future… Nearly eight years after the blowout, Congress has failed to pass a single piece of legislation to implement the Commission’s recommendations and reduce the risks associated with offshore drilling in any meaningful way… The Obama administration… instituted rules that enshrine specific lessons learned from the BP blowout… The Trump administration has proposed weakening these rules, allowing companies to self-certify equipment and stifling the ability of regulators to monitor operations when it matters most. It is beyond foolish to weaken rules designed to minimize the risk of another catastrophic blowout. It is reckless, irresponsible and wrong… If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it is that we must do more to protect our workers, waters, wildlife and the economy from the hazards of offshore drilling. We owe that much to those who paid the ultimate price for that tragedy, and those who continue to be impacted in its aftermath. We owe that much to our future generations. We are dismayed that Secretary Zinke apparently does not agree.” Read Panhandle at risk for BP-style blowout
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch this week urged federal environmental officials to ensure Florida’s tweaks to the state’s toxic chemical water standards protect human health and reflect public input.” Read Bill Nelson urges EPA transparency on Florida’s water toxins rules
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald – “Over the last month, the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, frequently at odds over protecting endangered species and water management, solved two thorny problems: a land swap the district needed to expand a marsh to clean water and a standoff over the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge… [T]he district agreed to renew a 20-year refuge lease after finalizing the land swap, ending the two-year old dispute.” Read Florida and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resolves stand-off over Everglades refuge
Ed Killer reports for the TC Palm – “Capt. Billy Rotne…, long time fishing guide, owner of Tall Hunter charters, has spent the majority of his life on the once pristine waters of the Mosquito Lagoon. And he loves the fragile and beleaguered estuary so much, he’s actually willing to leave it… Wayne Mills of North Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce was once in a similar place as Rotne. As one-time chairman of the board of trustees for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, he was part of the effort to repair one of the nation’s most iconic and important estuaries. ‘Working tougher we can get the job done in Florida too,’ Mills said…” Read Slow death: Critical estuary facing dark time - again
Ariel Wittenberg reports for E&E News – “[T]he wood stork… already faces peril because of extensive draining and ditching of South Florida wetlands. It could soon lose more of its foraging ground as the Trump administration redefines which wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act. U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said new wetland regulations will follow the vision of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, potentially easing development of more wet prairies and marshes where wood storks feed.” Read ‘Scalia-sized bull’s-eye’ threatens wood stork habitat
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 13 – April 17 – Solar United Neighbors is hosting several solar co-op information sessions around Florida throughout the next few months. Attendees will learn about solar equipment, financing, and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. For a complete list of sessions, click here.
March 13, 7:00 pm – Attend Get the Green Out: Algal Bloom Presentation in Orange Park. St. Johns Riverkeeper will explain what causes blue-green algal blooms and why they may be toxic for you and the St. Johns River. Then, learn how you can take action to reduce algal bloom occurrences. For more information and to register, click here.
March 14-16, 8:30 am – Attend The Endangered Apalachicola Conference in Tallahassee. The Apalachicola ecosystem has incredible biodiversity and once provided for a booming oyster industry. Unfortunately, this ecosystem is now struggling to survive due to a lack of fresh water. The problem is so dire, Florida is suing Georgia over its water use! The Florida Conservation Coalition invites you to come learn more about this endangered ecosystem. After Thursday’s overview of challenges facing the Apalachicola, FCC Chair and former Florida Governor, Bob Graham, will host a special keynote dinner. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
March 14, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Speakers include Chris Mericle, talking about citizen protests against phosphate mining in Union and Bradford Counties, and Hunter Miller, discussing current threats to our oceans and action steps the group can take. For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary Hampton at email@example.com.
March 17, 9:00 am – Participate in St. Johns River Clean Up & Celebration: Goodbys Creek Paddle & Clean Up in Jacksonville. For more information, click here.
March 24, 8:30 pm – Participate in Earth Hour 2018. Each year, millions of people, businesses, and landmarks set aside an hour to host events, switch off their lights, and generally make noise to shine a light on the need for climate action. For more information, click here or contact Mary Gutierrez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 26, 6:00 pm – Attend a talk by Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper, on The Green Amendment: Our Right to a Healthy Environment at the Working Food Community Center (219 NW 10th Avenue) in Gainesville. Doors open at 5:30 PM.
April 14, 11:00 am – Attend the Last Straw Campaign Kickoff in Pensacola. Learn how you can modify your lifestyle to say no to straws and what you can do to get others on board. For more information, click here or contact Mary Gutierrez 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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