Teresa Stepzinski reports for The Florida Times Union – “The nonprofit North Florida Land Trust is working to acquire nearly 65 acres of cypress swamp providing important wildlife habitat along Six Mile Creek in St. Johns County. Also known as the Buddy Boys Property, the tract connects to 220 acres already preserved by the nonprofit land conservation organization. In addition to providing habitat for a variety of amphibians, fish, birds and other species, the cypress swamp along the creek is important for maintaining water quality and buffering from major flood events… The organization also said if preserved, the remaining lands in its Six Mile Creek preservation priority area could create a corridor of conservation… At least 36 rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal species – such as manatees, river otters, osprey, wood storks and gopher tortoise – are likely to inhabit the Buddy Boys Property, according to the Florida Natural Areas Inventory. The tract will cost $73,230. The Land Trust is seeking donations to help pay for buying it.” Read North Florida Land Trust pursues property acquisition on Six Mile Creek
Daylina Miller reports for WUSF – “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are asking Floridians to help with a five-year review of 35 endangered or threatened fish, wildlife, and plants. These species are found in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. Ken Warren, a spokesperson for the Service said they’re looking for information on where species are located, how many live there, and what threats they may face… Public comments and information will be accepted until July 6.” Read Federal Wildlife Officials Conducting Review of Threatened, Endangered Species
Ryan Dailey reports for WFSU – “The FWC reports a total of 96 manatees died statewide during January and February of 2017. One third of the 15 manatee deaths attributed to boats or other water craft took place in Lee County. Cold stress remains the most common determined cause of death other than those reported as natural causes… Of the two-month period, three manatee deaths separate from those caused by boats or man-made canals were found to be caused by humans.” Read FWC Releases Most Recent Manatee Death Data
Lisa Conley reports for the Naples Daily News – “Naples is ready to install slow-speed zone signs in Moorings Bay, almost two years after a Collier-based review committee recommended the change to protect manatees. The recommendation was part of a new Collier County rule that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved last year to protect manatees. However, the Pelican Bay Foundation, a homeowners group, filed a legal challenge to the rule because it does not include a slow-speed zone in Clam Bay in North Naples. The challenge prevented the city from moving forward with any of the committee’s recommendations… Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter… dismissed the challenge in January, and the Pelican Bay Foundation has appealed the decision. Roger Jacobsen, the city’s harbormaster, said the appeal will not affect Moorings Bay, and city leaders have worked with FWC officials on an installation plan for the new signs.” Read Naples set to add slow-speed zone signs in Moorings Bay to protect manatees
Kimberly Miller reports for my Palm Beach Post – “The budget for repairing South Florida’s aging flood control structures is short tens of millions of dollars each year, potentially putting homes at risk during extreme rainfall, according to an inspector general’s report… The report’s findings were to be presented… during a meeting of the district’s influential Water Resources Analysis Coalition, or WRAC, at the request of the coalition’s chairman. But in a surprise speech handwritten on a yellow legal pad, Jim Moran said his request was overruled and the item yanked from the public meeting. Moran… then promptly resigned as chairman – a post he had held for four years… The 56-page audit, which is a public record, was presented during an April meeting of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee, where officials were given a chance to responds to the 13 recommendations in the report. It will be reviewed by the full governing board… The district has been in cost-cutting mode since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011. Under Scott, who appoints district board members, sharp cuts resulted in layoffs and, in 2015, the ousting of the district’s executive director over a slight property tax increase… Moran said at [an] April 12 meeting that the tax increase voted down in 2015 was ‘desperately needed.’ ‘They are just putting Band Aids on a 70-year-old system that needs a lot of money to be maintained,’ he said… ‘When things hit the fan, and one of these structures fails, we are going to have flooding, people will be trapped. It’s putting people’s lives and property in danger.’” Read Money for flood control structures woefully short, report says
The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board writes – “The latest comes via a bipartisan tirade over plans by Interior officials to ease regulations and oversight of the 2016 Well Control Rule put in place by the Obama administration in the wake of the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill. Interior officials want to alter 44 provisions and delete 15 others in a ‘common-sense approach,’… This is not ‘common sense.’ Not when the Florida Panhandle is still recovering both economically and environmentally from the deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. The first BP settlement money - $18 million – was released only last week for regional economic development projects in that region. Though these proposed changes were unveiled in January, the Interior Department only recently submitted them to the Federal Register. The move kicked off a 60-day comment period, and then some… [Gov. Scott] needs to make clear to his friend in the White House that the current Well Control Rule is meant to protect Florida’s valuable coastline.” Read Don’t risk Florida coast by changing offshore drilling rules
Mary Papenfuss reports for the Huffington Post – “New guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior now prohibit staff members from informing private interests when they must obtain a permit before they can develop properties where activities may affect habitats of endangered species… Fish and Wildlife Service principal deputy director… Sheehan insists in his memo that it’s the ‘decision of the applicant’ whether or not to apply for [an incidental take] permit. Staff members should not use ‘mandatory language (e.g., a permit is ‘required’),’ the memo warns… The memo also appears to sharply limit situations where such permits may be required. That includes only cases ‘where a non-federal project is likely to result in a ‘take’ of a listed species… habitat modification, in and of itself, does not necessarily constitute take,’ according to the memo… The (Trump) administration is also battling blanket safeguards when a species is declared threatened. Under the Endangered Species Act, once a species is listed as threatened, a series of protections automatically go into effect. Under a proposed new rule, specific protections would be decided on a case by case basis.” Read Interior Department Tells Staff to Shut Up About Mandatory Endangered Species Permits
The Economist reports – “Countries as varied as Bangladesh, France and Rwanda have duly banned plastic bags. Since last year anyone offering them in Kenya risks four years in prison or a fine of up to $40,000… Coca-Cola has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it shifts each year, including 110bn plastic bottles… A British government analysis from 2011 calculated that a cotton tote bag must be used 131 times before greenhouse-gas emissions from making and transporting it improve on disposable plastic bags. The figure rises to 173 times if 40% of the plastic bags are reused as bin liners, reflecting the proportion in Britain that are so repurposed. The carbon footprint of a paper bag that is not recycled is four times that of a plastic bag. And other materials could not replace plastics in all circumstances.” Read The known unknowns of plastic pollution
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
May 11, 8:30 am – Attend the Save Our Water 2018 summit in Bonita Springs. For more information, click here.
May 16, 10:00 am – Attend a webinar, pass a test, and become a Certified Stormwater Volunteer. You’ll learn the federal, state, and local requirements for stormwater and how to report illicit violations. Annual (non-voting) membership with the Stormwater Compliance Center is $50 and includes additional webinar training, certificate, safety vest, handbook, & quarterly newsletter. For more information, call (888) 527 – 5404. To sign up, email Betty@npdes.com and include your name, address, and phone number in the email.
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 19, 11:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Fort Walton 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. For more information, click here.
May 22 – 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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