FCC News Brief - April 16, 2018

Lindsay Cross and Mallory Lykes Dimmitt write for the Tampa Bay Times – “Today… ecologist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, photojournalist Carlton Ward Jr. and biologist Joe Guthrie embark on their hardest journey yet: They hope to show there’s still a way for wildlife to cross the Interstate 4 corridor that bisects the state and find a critical but narrow connection linking the Everglades headwaters to the Green Swamp in Central Florida… Permanently protecting the corridor requires significant investment to purchase conservation easements or essential lands through programs like Florida Forever. Some headway has been made in educating citizens and elected officials about protection efforts, including securing $100 million for conservation in 2018. However, with an annual roads budget of $10 billion, Florida’s development far outpaces its land protection. Twenty acres of natural and agricultural lands are lost to development every hour… The team will experience firsthand the difficulty wildlife encounter when moving through marginal habitat… As the metro Orlando area grows, urban and suburban developments consume once-wild spaces at a frightening pace. To restore and maintain safe corridors for animal movements, new wildlife tunnels or other passage will need to be prioritized and constructed.” Read The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will hope to find a path across Interstate 4 for wildlife

The Miami Herald Editorial Board writes – “This year, the CRC, which meets every 20 years to recommend modifications and additions to Florida’s Constitution, has introduced a particularly insidious brand of mischief to the process… [T]he CRC is poised to deny voters the ability to choose or reject each proposal on its own merit. That’s because the commission has “bundled” barely related – or wholly unrelated – proposals. If voters like one item in a group of three that have been bundled together, then they have to accept the others, even if they find those proposals unpalatable… At the CRC, nothing is written in stone – yet. And at its meeting on Monday, members should agree to a motion that member Roberto Martinez plans to make: Unbundle the proposals so that commissioners can consider taking re-votes on the individual merits of each one again and ensure voters aren’t misled. ‘Separating each question will make it possible for the voters to clearly understand what it is they are voting for, allowing them to make an informed decision,’ writes Martinez… His concern is on target… Martinez’s motion, which could require a simple majority – and which should pass – would help remedy what currently smells like political deviousness.” Read Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission should erase all hints of trying to deceive voters

Eve Samples writes for the TC Palm – “Florida’s next governor will… be tasked with making sure a massive reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee gets built, gets federal funding and – most importantly – delivers meaningful relief to the Everglades and St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries… Here’s what each (candidate) had to say. DeSantis… promised to leverage his good relationship with the White House to ensure Everglades restoration stays on track… [He] also signaled he thinks the EAA Reservoir should be larger than the planned 17,600 acres – putting the conservative Republican in alignment with environmentalists who have called for a bigger footprint to clean and store more water… He supports efforts to reform import restrictions and price protections for sugar in the current Farm Bill… While [Gillum] is committed to sending more water south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades – and willing to consider eminent domain if necessary – he spoke passionately about the need for balancing those efforts with the economic impact on farm communities. He was the only candidate at the forum to talk about meeting with Glades residents who could be affected if farmland is taken out of production… Gillum also was the only candidate to speak at length about the need for stronger growth regulations in Florida… ‘I was very concerned when I saw that eminent domain was taken off the table,’ said Graham… [She] also vowed to reform the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)… ‘The [SFWMD] has become too ideological, too political,’ Graham said… While every candidate… expressed some degree of skepticism about the sugar industry, none was more brazen than King… He called for a ‘compassionate and strategic’ way to protect workers whose livelihoods would be impacted if sugar policy changes… Levine… said Florida needs a “Chief Resilience Officer” to make sure the state is adequately addressing sea-level rise and other environmental concerns… He did not detail his vision for improving the EAA Reservoir, saying, ‘I’m not an expert environmentalist.’ However, [he] said, he is ‘an expert at finding experts.’… Putnam said he ‘absolutely’ supports the EAA Reservoir plan designed by the [SFWMD] and submitted to the Army Corp of Engineers for review… He called for more attention to water projects already authorized by Congress as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, with a focus on work north of Lake Okeechobee.” Read Which Florida governor candidate would be best for the Everglades and estuaries?

Annika Hammerschlag reports for the Naples Daily News – “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission completed its first rescue, rehabilitation and release mission with a family of panthers this week in Collier County.  A panther mother and two male kittens were released in Picayune Strand State Forest after the adult female’s hind leg was broken when struck by a vehicle last year on Collier Boulevard… By placing trail cameras near where the panther was struck, biologists were able to find and capture two of the female’s three kittens… FWC Florida panther team leader Darrell Land said the successful re-entry of the family is a noteworthy accomplishment, given panther’s status as an endangered species.” Read FWC finishes first panther family rescue, rehabilitation, release

WINK News reports – “Officials are asking Southwest Florida drivers to heed their warnings and slow down in panther zones… ‘Collisions with vehicles is one of the top if not the top cause of mortality for Florida panthers that we know and we can document,’ said Amber Crooks, an environmental policy manager at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida… Crooks said some instances involving panther deaths do not happen in rural areas. ‘We’ve actually had panthers hit by vehicles… on some of our more urban roadways like on Golden Gate Boulevard (and) Collier Boulevard 951,’ Crooks said.” Read Officials urge drivers to slow down in panther zones

Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The South Florida Water Management District board has approved the purchase of 490 acres for a reservoir to cut discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. The $5 million purchase… does not expand the project’s footprint… The district previously bought 9.97 acres from another private owner adjacent to the A-2 parcel. Both tracts were earmarked for purchase in the legislation authorizing the project approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott last year.” Read Lake Okeechobee reservoir land bought by South Florida Water Management District

Buster Thompson reports for the Citrus County Chronicle – “State environmental officials kicked a private contractor off a decontamination project in Crystal River for pumping dirty water into a nearby wetland.” Read DEP boots private contractor for muddying up decontamination project in Crystal River

Marshall Shepherd writes for Forbes – “This week two very worrisome but important climate change related studies were highlighted in the media… In discussing both on Twitter, a few inevitable ‘Didn’t they change the name to climate change because global warming wasn’t happening’ tweets appeared. While this is an oft-stated zombie theory, one that lives on though refuted by scientists, it is worth noting three reasons why you should not be be distracted by this tactic.” Read Climate Change or Global Warming? Three Reasons Not to Be Distracted by the Name Game




From Our Readers

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Job Openings

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Another Gulf is Possible

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

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Tell Congress to Stop Attacking Protections for Dolphins and Whales

Save Endangered Sea Turtles from Drowning in Shrimp Trawls

Defend Attacks on the Marine Mammal Protection Act

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



Upcoming Environmental Events    

April 16 – 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 19, 7:00 pm – Attend “Garden for Wildlife with Native Plants” in Tallahassee. David Mizejewski will focus on restoring wildlife habitat in our cities, towns and neighborhoods through the use of native plants. For more information, click here.

April 21, 4:00 pm – Participate in Hike for the Corridor 2018 in Gainesville. Participants will hike to show they want Florida’s land conservation programs fully funded and the Florida Wildlife Corridor protected. For more information, click here.

April 22, 2:00 pm – Participate in ELAPP’s Florida Wildlife Corridor Connection 9-Mile Hike in Plant City. For more information, click here.

April 23, 4:00 pm – Attend a viewing of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power at the Mary Esther Public Library (100 W Hollywood Blvd) in Mary Esther. For more information, click here.

April 27-28 – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. For more information, click here.

May 1, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. May’s lecture is on “Springs Hydrogeology: Floridan Aquifer, Groundwater Recharge, Spring Flows” with FSI Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. All lecture are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 – 9369.

May 3, 6:30 pm – Watch Mac Stone’s TED talk on “the Amazing Everglades” at the Harvey Martin Democratic Center (3432 Deltona Boulevard) in Spring Hill. After the TED Talk, Dr. Tom St. Clair will comment on Everglades ecology and restoration. For more information, email sierraadventurecoastcc@gmail.com or call (352) 277 – 3330.

May 9, 12:44 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Sierra Club Organizing Rep., will make a presentation entitled “Urban Fertilizers… Connections to Our Lawns, Landscape, and Florida’s Waters”. Shari Blissett-Clark, Pres. Of the FL Bat Conservancy, will make a presentation entitled “Bats in Florida’s Backyards.” For more information and to RSVP, email resourcewisdom@gmail.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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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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