James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat – “Wakulla Springs advocates say a state roadmap to clean springs is a dead end. A coalition of groups dedicated to springs protection sent letters… to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to expose ‘huge gaps’ in the proposed Basin Management Action Plans for springs fouled by pollution. BAPS are long-range plans to reduce nitrogen in the watersheds of 24 freshwater springs of north and central Florida. The plans are required by the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act of 2016 and must be approved by the end of this month. More than 20 groups under the umbrella of The Florida Springs Council say the DEP is overly optimistic about its cleanup plans. ‘They are asking farmers to implement best management practices for agriculture,’ said Bob Knight of the FSC. ‘But they tried that in 2012 in the Santa Fe basin, after five years there was no improvement – zero nitrogen reduction.’… [A]ccording to the springs advocates, Florida’s 2011 Right to Farm Act, written to protect agriculture from nuisance lawsuits, is used to allow pollution from farms to flow unchecked. ‘They just can’t tell agriculture what to do,’ said Knight. ‘This is a legislative issue.’ Knight said the FSC and its allies are considering filing administrative challenges if changes are not made in the plans for the impaired springs at Deleon, Gemini, Santa Fe River/Ichetucknee, Volusia Blue, Wakulla and Wekiva.” Read Wakulla Springs advocates say ‘cleanup plan won’t clean our spring’
Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times Union – “The developer who sold much of the Julington-Durbin Creek peninsula to the state for conservation a generation ago is trying to get part of it back for house lots… Tom Dodson is offering to swap 403 acres on Black Hammock Island for the same number of acres off Bartram Park Boulevard, where Jacksonville operates park facilities in the Julington-Durbin Preserve. The swap would need approval from Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet as well as the St. Johns River Water Management District and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection… ‘This proposed land grab of our conservation lands would establish a dangerous precedent. Taxpayers were promised this land would be protected forever,’ said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, who said the peninsula is important for water quality and wildlife habitat as well as recreation. ‘If elected officials support this land grab, they will undermine public trust, the protections that safeguard our public lands, and the health of the surrounding waterways,’ Rinaman said… Under state law, Henderson said, land being swapped has to be formally declared surplus because there’s no more need to conserve the property. There also has to be a finding that swapping land would produce equal or better environmental results.” Read Developer seeking land swap for building space in Julington-Durbin peninsula
The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “In his bid for U.S. Senate, Gov. Rick Scott has been touting his record on the environment and his frugal management of taxpayer money. But one of his own agencies has been trampling on that campaign message. If Scott is sincere about being a good steward of the environment, as well as public dollars, he’ll rein in the Florida Department of Transportation.” Read Rick Scott needs to rein in his rogue transportation department
Malena Carollo reports for the Tampa Bay Times – “According to a… report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly 40 percent of the state’s property tax base is expected to be ‘highly exposed’ to… flooding within the next 30 years. By 2045, nearly 64,000 residential properties in the state – worth about $26 billion – are at risk for constant flooding… About 2,300 commercial properties are also projected to be significantly affected by the flooding by 2045, amounting to about $3 billion in value.” Read Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “The Army Corps of Engineers will discuss and seek input on its environmental impact statement for the proposed reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges June 28… in Stuart… Staff from the Corps and the South Florida Water Management District, which designed the reservoir, will answer questions after the meeting… To submit comments: - By email: EAAReservoir@usace.army.mil.” Read Army Corps to take input on Lake Okeechobee reservoir June 28 in Stuart
Mary Ellen Klas reports for the Miami Herald – “Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet rejected appeals from planners and environmentalists… to halt a state plan to bypass the rigid growth limits of the Florida Keys and allow the construction of 1,300 new affordable housing units that planners say will make evacuation from a hurricane worse… Hurricane Irma destroyed an estimated 4,000 homes in the Keys, many of them mobile homes and single-family units used by people who work on the islands. But because many of those homeowners cannot afford to rebuild their homes up to code, they are selling their property to investors building vacation homes. Hawkins (of 1000 Friends of Florida) said that the failure of the state to curb the vacation home development while adding workforce housing on top of it ‘will risk the lives of Keys residents and yet does not propose an effective solution to the high cost of Keys housing.’ Julie Dennis, director of DEO’s division of community development, said the hurricanes destroyed hundreds of affordable homes and they are being replaced by market-rate houses. That puts the housing problem at a crisis, and many businesses can’t find workers… [T]hey had to close the local jail because the sheriff’s staff couldn’t find affordable places to live… In a letter to Scott and the Cabinet, Hawkins urged the panel to ‘address the cost of housing without endangering Keys residents’ by encouraging local government to issue permits for the replacement of the 4,000 homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma as affordable housing units and to require that their new construction permits go to affordable housing, not market-rate housing. He also suggested the state ‘halt the conversion of permanent residences to vacation rentals and convert some existing vacation rentals to affordable workforce housing.’” Read State tells Keys to add affordable housing. Will that hurt hurricane evacuations?
Ron Cunningham reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Chris Bird, environmental protection director for Alachua County [said, ‘] Good-news projects like Sweetwater and Depot parks are steps in the right direction, but they are really retrofit projects trying to fix 100 years of urban development… [F]rom the much-abused Santa Fe River…, to the creeks that spread through Gainesville like veins, to the diminished fishing grounds of Newnans, Orange and Lochlossa lakes, it is apparent that the county’s kidneys are in trouble… Newnans…is the most eutrophic lake in Florida… Because they are all connected, Orange and Lochloosa lakes suffer, albeit to different degrees, from the same phosphate overloads as Newnans… Nonetheless, because Lochloosa is downstream and largely free of urban development along its shoreline, its water remains relatively cleaner and clearer than in Newnans. ‘I believe Lake Lochloosa is a future water supply for Alachua County, our best possible reservoir,’ (Commissioner) Hutchinson said. ‘We would be much better off buying that watershed and protecting it for future drinking water… [T]he missing piece in the county’s wetlands protection plan… is a lack of regulation for agricultural uses. ‘In the Santa Fe River, the biggest (nitrogen) load is still agriculture,’ [Bird] said. ‘Best management practices are not working.’” Read Alachua County’s watersheds are in trouble
UF News reports – “Therapies used to fight human cancers successfully treat genetically similar tumors in sea turtles, a new study shows… Study researchers revealed… clues about what is driving the spread of this disease, including a potential link between sea turtle tumors and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.” Read Human cancer therapies successfully treat tumors in sea turtles
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