The Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board writes – “We breathed a sigh of relief… when Martin County commissioners denied a developer’s request to allow more than 2,400 homes in an agricultural part of southern Martin County. Backers of the Harmony Ranch development… wanted the county to expand the urban-services district and change the property’s land use. That would have been out of character with the rural area and opened the gates to sprawl. Commissioners wisely (and unanimously) rejected the proposal. At the same meeting, Martin commissioners voted… to advance plans for a different large development, Pineland Prairie. This, too, was the right call. The location of the 3,400-acre project… makes it a more suitable place for homes and businesses. Pineland Prairie developer Knight Kiplinger has vowed to preserve 70 percent of the property through a third party such as a land trust. It’s the kind of measured, deliberate approach to growth that could serve Martin County well in the decades to come.” Read Measured approach to development is best for Martin County
Carlos E. Medina reports for The Gainesville Sun – “State road planners… revealed a spaghetti map of possible routs for the proposed “Coastal Connector” highway project…The plan is in its earliest stages and the current study is only gathering public input. The highway would connect north Central Florida with the Tampa area… The new road, likely a toll road, would reduce the strain on Interstate 75 with the goal of keeping up with growth and improving transportation and future emergency evacuations… The five routes… all start at the end of State Road 589 (Suncoast Parkway)… From there, the routes split off and would cross over the Withlacoochee River at one of four points… For Sandra Marraffino, who lives in Dunnellon, none of the proposed routes crossing the Wtihlacoochee are ideal. ‘That is all very sensitive land from an ecological standpoint,’ Marraffino said. Tens of thousands of birds nest on islands on Lake Rousseau and the route closest to State Road 200 would cut through Halpata Tastanaki Preserve, home to a population of Florida Scrub Jays. The dwindling species is only found in Central Florida. In between, there are other bird habitats including burrowing owl, said Marraffino, a member of the Marion Audubon Society. Her suggestion for a route crosses the Withlacoochee further west and takes the road through Levy County and into Alachua County.” Read State gives first look at possible Coastal Connector highway routes
Christopher O’Donnell reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “Snuggled into northwest Hillsborough County, Keystone is a place of lakes and blueberry farms, of septic tanks, wells and two-lane roads. But it’s also just a 25-minute drive from Tampa International Airport, which has developers casting covetous glances at its picturesque plots of land. So to preserve its way of life, this rural enclave of about 15,000 people is contemplating a step normally taken by fast-growing suburbs – incorporation. Becoming a self-taxing village, town or city would give Keystone… the final say on land-use decisions and could stop Keystone from developing into another suburb of subdivisions and strip malls… A plan proposed by Commissioner Stacy White would help communities like Keystone with the cost of studies and other expenses required to incorporate. The plan reflects a growing concern among county leaders that unincorporated Hillsborough has become too big to manage.” Read Not in my back farm! Keystone considers town status to preserve rural life
Chad Gillis reports for News-Press – “An old technology is making its way to the forefront of Everglades restoration as the state moves forward with plans to pump stormwater 3,000 feet below ground during large hurricanes and other heavy rain events. Called deep injection wells, the idea is to send essentially rain water beneath the surface instead of allowing it to flow to Lake Okeechobee and eventually the west and east coasts. Proponents say the wells will help spare the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries from devastating releases… Critics, however, say the wells stray from Everglades restoration plans and will waste water that’s needed in other areas of the state, such as Florida Bay. The South Florida Management District is in the process of final approval and design for two test wells… The 10-year plan, if approved by the district’s governing board, is to have about 50 wells operating around and north of Lake Okeechobee and along the eastern portion of the Caloosahatchee River. Costs for planning, permitting and construction will be about $330 million… Some of the wells would be operational within five years… Everglades restoration plans already on the books and under construction are expected to reduce the amount of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee by about 61 percent. That number rises to 77 percent when the deep injection wells are added… Wells like these are used by wastewater plants in various areas of the state, only that water has to be treated before it is injected into the boulder zone. Stormwater does not have to be treated before being sent down… ‘You have to take a moment to realize that we don’t have water to throw away in Florida,’ said Celeste De Palma, with Audubon Florida. ‘It’s a finite resource. And we need to do anything possible to preserve the freshwater resources that we have.’ And unlike other Everglades restoration projects, the state will have to do it on its own because the U.S. Army Corps has stopped studying wells as an answer to heavy flooding conditions and excess Lake Okeechobee releases… The district… says the only water that will be pumped into the wells is water that would be ‘lost to tide’ by being discharged down the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie rivers… Some critics say the district should instead focus on building infrastructure and water control structures south of Lake Okeechobee that would help feed the often dehydrated Everglades National Park.” Read Florida moving forward with plan to protect estuaries, some groups wary
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “If not for [Hurricane Katrina] and the lessons learned from its dam-undermining ways, these lowly reptiles might still have cool digs along the tall earthen levees that guard much of southern Brevard County from the catastrophic floods such storms inflict. Instead, hundreds of these gopher tortoises are being relocated more than 300 miles away, to the Apalachicola Forest… [T]he tortoises must go, officials say, les their winding burrows undermine the levee.” Read Hurricane Katrina taught us: Move tortoises because their burrows are threatening levees
Nestor Mato reports for NBC 2 – “Burmese pythons are eating their way through the swamp and making their way to the city. Scientists said the invasive snakes are creeping closer to populated parts of Southwest Florida… ‘I do have a little toy poodle, and I would be really nervous about that because the pythons eat everything on their path,’ said Diane Chernow of Fort Myers.” Read Burmese pythons moving toward urban areas in Southwest Florida
Joanna Khan reports for ABC Science – “Blue carbon coastal ecosystems – such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and tidal wetlands – are named for their place at the boundary between land and sea, and their unmatched ability to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it in the ground below… Nearby on the ecology colour palette are the better-known green carbon systems of trees and forests. While important, they aren’t nearly as efficient at storing carbon as their blue counterparts. ‘We know that forests are pretty good at [carbon sequestration], but their carbon stores are bound to the lifetime of the trees, for only 100 or so years, and then it is released back into the atmosphere,’ Dr. Macreadie said. As well as being a temporary carbon store, trees can only soak up so much carbon before they become “saturated.” Blue carbon ecosystems, on the other hand, can store carbon for longer – thousands of years – and at a far quicker rate… Some ecologists are worried that these ecosystems don’t receive the attention they deserve and are being lost faster than we can conserve them… Coastal development is the major danger to blue carbon habitats, and is now raising the issue that stored carbon will be emitted as CO2 back into the atmosphere.” Read Threatened blue carbon ecosystems store carbon 40 times faster than forests
Shari Anker writes for the TC Palm – “We are on the precipice of another global technological revolution. This time full-throated warnings are being sounded, but the vast majority of people are not yet aware. The telecommunications industry wants to keep it that way… “Big Wireless” is pushing the immediate adoption of the Fifth Generation of cellular technology by every city and county in the country. On every street and in front of our homes, the industry wants to install millions of small cell towers to enable this most powerful but short-range radiofrequency radiation… Even in the earliest iterations of cellular and wireless technology…, there were known and suspected impacts to human health and the environment… In the last two years, a flurry of legislation has been passed that quickens – and mandates – adoption of 5G by local governments. Gov. Rick Scott signed such legislation in spite of opposition by the Florida League of Cities… After having alerted the United Nations in 2015 to an emerging worldwide public health crisis due to the exploding use of radiofrequency radiation, an independent body of international scientists and doctors in 2017 called for an urgent moratorium on the rollout of 5G. In reviewing the non-industry-associated peer-reviewed scientific literature, it became clear what is an artificial, evolutionarily unknown radiofrequency radiation is biologically active and interferes with key cellular processes in humans, animals and plants. DNA and genetic damage, as well as increased oxidative stress, can lead to cancer, such as gliomas (brain cancer). Impacts have been found in every system of the body… We have a right to know the full measure of the risk we are being asked to assume.” Read 5G ‘Revolution’: Don’t give up right to say no to massive radiation increase
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
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 – June 23 – 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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 11, 8:30 am – Attend the Save Our Water 2018 summit in Bonita Springs. For more information, click here.
May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
May 19, 10:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Pensacola Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. There will be speeches, snacks, live music, and more. For more information, click here.
May 23, 5:30 pm – Attend Before the Flood at the Pensacola Public Library (239 N. Spring St.) in Pensacola. Before the Flood is a film that follows actor Leonardo DiCaprio to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. Following the film, 350 Pensacola and Northwest Florida Move to Amend will discuss how the influence of corporate money in politics is delaying action on climate change and how the public can take action to free the political system of that influence. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email email@example.com.
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