Greg Stanley reports for the Naples Daily News – “It’s been a good year for the (wood) storks, after a long string of bad years… But biologists are worried that years like this may prove to be more of an aberration than a rule… ‘Something is wrong regionally,’ [Shawn Clem, research manager at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary,] said. ‘Environmental conditions are forcing them further east (in Florida) and north (to Georgia and South Carolina).’… ‘They’re our Goldilocks,’ Clem said. ‘They’re sensitive and they have more specific requirements for feeding and nesting. If an ecosystem is keeping them happy, it’s keeping a whole suite of other species and plants happy.’ The problem is with water levels. Development has sapped much of the natural wetlands surrounding Corkscrew swamp, especially shallow wetlands. The water that does accumulate has been draining too quickly… Historically, storks never nested every season, Gawlik (professor and director of environmental science for Florida Atlantic University) said. ‘It’s always been a pulse system, depending on good and bad weather,’ he said. ‘But in the past it was easier to get good conditions. It seemed to be about every other year would be good.’ In the past 10 years, though, wood storks have nested only three times… In the first 10 years of monitoring wood storks at Corkscrew, from 1958 to 1967, the birds produced almost 5,500 chicks on average per year. That has fallen to fewer than 300 chicks on average per year in the past decade… To ensure more successful nesting seasons during years that don’t have historic rainfalls or hurricanes, there needs to be a push to change Collier County policies, Clem said. It’s not good enough to replace a shallow wetland near Corkscrew by restoring a deeper wetland farther away. ‘We need to work with developers to preserve ‘like for like,’’ Clem said. ‘We need to put a greater focus on preserving the short-hydroperiod marshes. It does nothing for wood storks or their ecology to replace shallow wetlands with big giant lakes.’” Read Wood storks having good nesting year at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, but threats remain
Ed Killer reports for the TC Palm – “Proposal 91 became one of 25 proposals which are being considered for addition to Florida’s Constitution. While only a few of them will make the final cut, Proposal 91 basically states that by means of constitutional amendment there will be no drilling for oil and gas within the boundaries of Florida’s state waters – that is, within three miles of its Atlantic coastline and nine miles of its Gulf coastline… The CRC will reconvene in April to move towards selecting which – if any – proposals will be on the 2018 general election ballot in Florida. Proposals must receive 22 votes from the 37 CRC members in order to make it. Commissioners can be emailed at http://flcrc.gov/Commissioners.” Read Prevent oiled beaches, reefs: Support Prop 91
The News Service of Florida reports – “Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill aimed at reducing the number of pythons and other invasive species that cause damage in… the state… ‘… The goal of the pilot program is to examine the benefits of using strategically deployed, trained private contractors to slow the advance of priority invasive species, contain their populations, and eradicate them from this state,’ said the measure, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, and Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello.” Read Scott Signs Measure Targeting Invasive Species
Chad Gillis reports for the Naples Daily News – “Florida U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney toured the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee… to gain support for restoration projects like Picayune Strand in Collier County… The Naples congressman toured the area with Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and former Speaker of the House John Boehner, among others… Rooney, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents the Miami area, and Simpson toured the Conservancy of Southwest Florida…” Read Rooney tours Everglades to gain support for restoration projects
Peggy Macdonald writes for The Gainesville Sun – “After a series of disappointing setbacks at the state level, [Marjorie Carr] took the campaign to save the Ocklawaha to the national arena, presenting the scientific and economic argument against the canal to President Richard Nixon, who ultimately killed the canal… [O]n the eve of what would have been Marjorie Carr’s 103rd birthday, the Ocklawaha remains blocked by a dam that serves no purpose, now that the Cross Florida Barge Canal is defunct… This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of Rodman Dam. The time has come to correct this tragic mistake by freeing the Ocklawaha and its lost springs.” Read Honor Marjorie Carr’s legacy – Free the Ocklawaha
Kimberly Miller reports for the Palm Beach Post – “South Florida Water Management District officials hired two private legal teams with taxpayer money to fight the release of a transcript from an August meeting regarding a 50-year deal with the billionaire-backed mining company Lake Point Restoration.” Read How a government agency is trying to stop residents demanding records
Jonathan Watts reports for The Guardian – “Human destruction of nature is rapidly eroding the world’s capacity to provide food, water and security to billions of people, according to the most comprehensive biodiversity study in more than a decade. Such is the rate of decline that the risks posed by biodiversity loss should be considered on the same scale as those of climate change, noted the authors of the UN-backed report… Among the standout findings are that exploitable fisheries in the world’s most populous region – the Asia-Pacific – are on course to decline to zero by 2048; that freshwater availability in the Americas has halved since the 1950s and that 42% of land species in Europe have declined in the past decade… Divided into four regional reports, the study of studies has been written by more than 550 experts from over 100 countries and taken three years to complete. Approved by the governments of 129 member nations, the IPBES reports aim to provide a knowledge base for global action on biodiversity in much the same way that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is used by policymakers to set carbon emissions targets… [W]orldwide the biggest threats to nature are from habitat loss, invasive species, chemicals and climate change… The IPBES report will be used to inform decision makers at a major UN conference later this year. Signatories to the Convention for Biodiversity will meet in Sharm El-Sheikh in November to discuss ways to raise targets and strengthen compliance. But there have been more than 140 scientific reports since 1977, almost all of which have warned of deterioration of the climate or natural world. Without more pressure from civil society, media and voters, governments have been reluctant to sacrifice short-term economic goals to meet the longer-term environmental challenge to human wellbeing.” Read Destruction of nature as dangerous as climate change, scientists warn
Luiz A. Rocha writes for The New York Times – “From Hawaii to Brazil to Britain, the establishment of large marine protected areas, thousands of square miles in size, is on the rise… While these vast expanses of open ocean are important, their protection should not come before coastal waters are secured. Near-shore waters have a greater diversity of species and face more immediate threats from energy extraction, tourism, development, habitat degradation and overfishing… For example, coral reefs – which are a coastal habitat – cover less than one-tenth of one percent of the ocean floor, but are home to 25 percent of all marine species.” Read Bigger is Not Better for Ocean Conservation
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
March 27 – 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.
April 3, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for Springs Academy Tuesdays in High Springs. April’s lecture is a general introduction to springs with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 9369.
April 5, 6:30 pm – Attend the Sierra Club Adventure Coast Committee’s meeting at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Boulevard) in Spring Hill. The meeting will feature the founder and national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Lynn Ringenberg. Social begins at 6:30, followed by the meeting at 7. For more information, email email@example.com or call (352) 277 – 3330.
April 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Grant Wilson, J.D., Directing Attorney of Earth Law Center, will make a presentation via Skype on the rights of Nature and rivers. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
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