Read North Florida Land Trust acquires 2,551 acres in Clay County - “The North Florida Land Trust obtained two property easements for conservation totaling 2,551 acres for slightly more than $8 million in southern Clay County — marking the nonprofit’s largest conservation easement acquisition to date. The two tracts — which measure about 4.2 square miles — will be protected from high density development as well as serve as a buffer to the adjacent Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, which is Florida’s largest National Guard installation. Jim McCarthy, land trust president, said the organization paid a total $8,097,000 for the two easements...Conservation easement agreements allow the landowner to continue to own and use the property but permanently limits how the land can be used to protect its conservation values...McCarthy said last week’s acquisitions mean the organization has been able to keep thousands of acres free of high density development in perpetuity. It is the largest conservation easement acquisitions the land trust has been able to accomplish at one time in the organization’s 19-year history, he said...The properties are within the Ocala to Osceola (O2O) wildlife corridor — deemed a critical wildlife corridor stretching from the Ocala National Forest to the Osceola National Forest. The corridor is a network of public and private forests connecting habitat that’s home to about 34 species of wildlife, including several protected by state or federal law as endangered, threatened or species of special concern. The animals include the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, Sherman’s fox squirrel and indigo snake. It also provides important habitat for the Florida black bear, land trust officials have said. It also contains the headwaters of outstanding waterways and major recharge areas for the Floridan aquifer, which supplies water across most of Florida and in neighboring states. Conserving the land also helps with water quality and quantity, McCarthy has said. Currently, public lands compose about 40 percent of the corridor. The remainder is a patchwork of privately owned natural and commercial forests, McCarthy said...” Teresa Stepzinski reports for Jacksonville.com
Read Andrew Gillum: Algae and other environmental problems need science-based solutions - “On the campaign trail, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum often claims to have a stronger environmental record than Republican opponent Ron DeSantis. Gillum supports banning fracking, talks about climate change solutions and bashes corporate polluters, including the sugar industry. He says his science-driven policies could prevent toxic algae blooms from polluting the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. In fact, he promises to make every environmental decision based on research and recommendations from scientists, and add more such experts to state boards. The Sierra Club and the Florida Conservation Voters are among the environmental groups endorsing Gillum, saying his record as Tallahassee mayor since 2014 and his proposed environmental policies are stronger than the former congressman's...Bullsugar has not endorsed a candidate yet, but Gillum's choice of running mates ‘thrilled’ the grassroots clean-water activist group, member Alex Gillen said. In the Aug. 28 gubernatorial primary, Bullsugar endorsed now-lieutenant governor wannabe Chris King, a Central Florida businessman whose sugar industry opposition was a key part of his long-shot campaign. Gillen, a Stuart attorney, said King has ‘well-informed views on our issues,’ primarily stopping Lake Okeechobee discharges that cause algae blooms and sending excess water south to the Everglades. ‘We have been encouraged by our ongoing conversation with Mayor Gillum's team about his platform, and we look forward to it being released,’ Gillen said, while also applauding DeSantis. ‘We thought (DeSantis') environmental platform was good, and we really liked his call to consolidate water quality under one state agency.’ The Everglades Foundation, and most environmental advocacy groups in Florida, are nonprofits, so they cannot legally say if they prefer one candidate over another…” Ali Schmitz reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Urge Congress to reauthorize LWCF - “There is a critical need for Congress to reauthorize the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expires Sept. 30, and to do this, we all need to encourage our representatives to support the save the LWCF and fund it. This program has done more for public outdoor recreational access than any other since its start in 1965. It has funded so many projects that we take for granted today that it’s difficult to track every park and amenity it paid for. Locally, it has probably paid for boat ramps that you use, or the infrastructure that makes state parks, preserves, WMAs and national parks useable, and so many other facilities and programs that give us better access to the outdoors. Over the past five decades, the LWCF has helped access to the outdoors in every state, conserving national parks, forests, land by rivers, lakes and oceans and Americans’ access to these places. The idea behind LWCF is simple: use a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees to protect these places and our access to them. But the promise of LWCF has been derailed. Not only have billions of dollars in the LWCF fund been diverted, but in 2015 Congress voted to let the program expire. While it quickly renewed LWCF, it is set to expire again at the end of September, 2018. It’s critical that LWCF be permanently authorized with full funding. (See article for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service link to places funded by LWCF in Florida) (See article for a fact sheet about LWCF funding for Florida). Given the incredible success of LWCF, ask your member of congress to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Then Congress must appropriate money to be spent from the fund for certain projects. Ask Congress to permanently dedicate and appropriate funding at $900 million a year for LWCF projects…” David Conway writes for the Florida Sportsman.
Read Polk group should pause the water war over the Peace River- “Last week the Southwest Florida Water Management District issued a reminder of how soggy a summer — perhaps we should say year — it has been to this point in 2018. Swiftmud, as the district is commonly known, reported in its weekly update on the water supply within the aquifer that the water level stood at the 82nd percentile, which is seven percentage points above the historic norm. Swiftmud also reported that the central region of its 16-county jurisdiction, which included Polk County, has recorded 47 inches of rain as of last week. That was 2 inches above the historic average to this point of the year, and put the region on track to easily surpass its historic annual average of 52 inches, especially with more than two months left in hurricane season. We note this because one feeds of the other. The health of the aquifer, supplywise, depends on abundant rain. That’s critical because the aquifer furnishes more than 80 percent of the fresh water we consume, most importantly for drinking, cooking and bathing. Regrettably, a significant portion — by some estimates roughly half — goes to irrigate our lawns. We should be thankful for the rain and not take it for granted. Which means we should continue to conserve as much as possible and continue to explore ways to make the underground water supply go further, especially as Polk County’s population grows. Such is the mission of the Polk Regional Water Cooperative, a consortium of county government and 15 cities within Polk. Yet the group has run into an obstacle to its planning: Swiftmud’s approval of a request from the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Authority to double the volume of water it siphons from the Peace River. The authority — which represents Manatee, Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties — now takes 120 million gallons a day. It obtained permission to boost that to 258 million gallons over the next 50 years. The Polk Cooperative went to court earlier this year to fight that. The group argues it needs 5 million to 10 million gallons a day for a network of small reservoirs that will function as aquifer recharge zones. Last month a judge found merit in the cooperative’s argument that Manasota Regional’s petition would spoil its planning, The judge has also denied the authority’s motions to dismiss the case. But the case has been referred for mediation, with a hearing set for next month…” From The Ledger editorial board.
Read Mast, Sanibel mayor: Change Lake O levels, cut discharges; Army Corps: It’s not that easy - “ An East Coast/West Coast team of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane called Saturday for the Army Corps of Engineers to change the way they manage Lake Okeechobee and reduce discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. If only it was that simple, replied Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, the Corps' deputy commander for Florida. During the ‘Our Water’ Rotary Forum hosted by the Stuart-Sunrise Rotary Club, Mast reiterated his claim that getting the lake as low as possible in the dry season and letting it hold more water in the wet season is the simplest and most cost-effective way of curtailing discharges. ‘It won't cost the federal government in Washington, D.C., or the state government in Tallahassee one dollar,’ said Mast, a Palm City Republican seeking re-election to his 18th Congressional District seat against Democrat Lauren Baer. The Corps tries to lower the lake to 12 feet 6 inches by June 1 so it can take on water during the summer wet season and be no more than 15 feet 6 inches at the beginning of the winter dry season in late fall, when the cycle is repeated. Mast suggested expanding that range from a minimum of 10 feet 6 inches to a maximum of 17 feet 6 inches. Ruane noted the Corps wouldn't sent Lake O water to the Caloosahatchee River estuary last winter when it was needed to hold back salt water intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico but has dumped hundreds of billions of gallons this summer to lower the lake. The discharges to the Caloosahatchee have caused massive algae blooms and have fed an even more toxic red tide along the Gulf Coast...Reynolds countered that the Corps built the South Florida plumbing system for flood control, and it works. Her evidence: In 1947, heavy rains caused flooding that covered the majority of South Florida with water, in some places for more than six months. ‘We got more rain in 2017 than we did in 1947,’ Reynolds said, ‘and there was no flooding.’ Unfortunately, the flood control system also causes serious environmental damage, particularly to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers. We can't go back to the way things were in the 1800s,’ Reynolds said. ‘We have to fix the system. And that's really hard.’ Reynold agreed there have been improvements to the flood control system since the guidelines the Corps uses for lake management, called the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule, was adopted in 2008. ‘But there also are a lot more people in Florida than there were then,’ she said, ‘and we have to take that into account.’ A study the Corps has begun to see how the guidelines can be updated should be done about the same time the Lake O dike repairs are complete in 2022, Reynolds said…” Tyler Treadway reports for Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read A look at Florida panther deaths from 2014 to 2018 - “The number of Florida panthers found dead has dwindled in the past two years since a peak of 48 in 2015. A data analysis of Florida panther deaths from 2014 to now indicates most of them — 101 of the 175 — were found in Collier County, where the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and other swaths of panther habitat is in preserve. Most of the dead panthers found by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission died between the ages of 1 and 5, and most of them were killed by vehicles. Additionally, most panthers that were found dead were males, though there is a small subset of deaths where the gender of the animal was not identified. Scroll down as we break out stats on panther deaths in Florida…” Andrew Atkins reports for Naples Daily News.
Read We need a new plan to reduce health impacts of algae - “Harmful algal bloom (HAB) effects on public health and the economy are becoming more severe in Florida and worldwide and a new approach to this problem is urgently needed. A basic understanding of why may lead to better support for policies and projects toward mitigating this trend. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from hydrocarbon use and the trend in global warming as a result is significant driver of more and longer lasting blooms. Earth System Models provide a compelling case that this warming trend will continue in the 21st century, amplified by climate feedbacks if fossil fuel consumption does not decline. A simplistic explanation is a warmer atmosphere drives the increase in surface water temperature. When water temperature rises, it accelerates the hydrologic cycle of evaporation and resulting rainfall. What often follows is more intense rain events including bigger and wetter hurricanes as just one outcome. Warmer water also favors toxic cyanobacteria over other non-toxic algal species....Regulations for stormwater treatment in urban areas have a presumptive compliance component that is no longer valid in the context of significantly altered hydrology. It’s been more than a decade since Florida has revised its stormwater rule for new development. New federal legislation proposed in the past month that would require a new look at prioritizing policies that emphasize public health risk from HABs with respect to Lake Okeechobee discharges and for planning future Everglades restoration projects is a step in the right direction but it’s necessary to keep focused on the underlying causes. Hopefully, the Florida legislature will revive the state’s Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force, defunded in 2001, to tackle the problem head-on with a clear mandate and aggressive timelines. State and federal cooperation is desperately needed to stem this growing problem. Delay will only make future options more costly if still feasible.” John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper, writes for the News-Press.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here
September 26, 6:00-8:00 pm – Environmental Center Night: Owls of North Florida (High Springs): Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute and Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation for a fun evening learning about “Owls of North Florida” at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center. Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation (SWR) will introduce three owl species individually enlightening visitors with a bit of natural history on each owl. Then, SWR wildlife ambassadors and their handlers will spread out-to stations in the various area of North Florida Springs Environmental Center garden to display each owl and allow up close/safe viewing. Learn more here: https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/owlsofnf/. Address North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.
October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee: Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL 32055
October 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here.
October 2, 12:00-1:00 pm – Springs Academy Tuesday: Springs Overview (High Springs): Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for an hour-long presentation with Florida Springs Institute Executive Director, Dr. Robert Knight. During this class, Dr. Knight will be presenting an in-depth overview of springs and how they support our land and our daily lives! After each class, students get a chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. Knight and Florida Springs Institute staff to ask questions and find out more about how they can get involved in protecting these important natural resources. Registration for each class is not required; however, there is a $5 suggested donation for each class. Address: North Florida Springs Environmental Center, 99 NW 1st Avenue, High Springs, FL 32643.
October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:45 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop: What does the future hold for Palm Beach County? Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands? Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement. What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County? This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach. The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (7 AICP CM #221015), Certified Foodplain Managers, and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others. Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.
October 12, 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Martin County 2070 Workshop: Martin County is expected to grow by about 30% by 2070. How can the County accommodate new residents and still maintain its quality of life and natural areas? A team of conservationists, planners, developers and others will explore how to lay the foundation now for a more sustainable future for Martin County. This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida and The Guardians of Martin County and is being held in Stuart. Registration is $20 per attendee and includes lunch. Professional certification credits have been approved for planners (5.75 AICP CM) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others. We hope you’ll join us! Find out more and register at /www.1000friendsofflorida.org/martin-county-2070/.
October 12-November 16 - Save our Springs & Rivers Academy (Volusia County)- Want to become a Blue Spring advocate and help spread the word about solutions to water pollution? Attend this FREE adult education courses that includes classroom and field trip experiences, guest speakers, hands-on, feet-wet learning to provide the ultimate citizen engagement experience. Those participating in the six-week course will gain valuable knowledge and will pledge to educate others on behalf of Volusia Blue Spring. For more information or to register, visit www.greenvolusia.org or call 386-736-5927. View course dates and locations here.
October 13, 9:00am-3:00pm - Fall Wildflower Festival & Native Plant Sale (Parrish): The Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program present the Fall Wildflower Festival and Native Plant Sale at Sweetbay Nursery, 10824 Erie Road, Parrish. Get all the latest information from conservation groups such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Audubon Society, Tampa Bay Watch, and more. Ray’s Vegan Soul food available for purchase. For more information, call 941-776-0501.
October 20-21 – Into the Springs Music Festival (Alachua): Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its second annual Into the Springs Music Festival at Deep Spring Farm. Enjoy a weekend full of live music, camping, organic farming workshops, yoga, and community in support of Florida springs! To learn more and purchase tickets, visit https://floridaspringsinstitute.org/event/intothesprings/. Funding for this event was provided in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County. Address: Deep Springs Farm, 16419 W County Rd 1491, Alachua, FL 32615.
October 26, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Water Symposium: The State of our Water (DeLand): The Volusia Water Alliance hosts a series of short presentations on the water problems we face and possible solutions by leaders and experts, focused on Volusia County and applicable statewide. This free event features keynote speaker Dr. Jason Evans, Faculty Director of the Institute for Water & Environmental Resilience, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Environmental Management. His topic is "Reclaiming the Future: Science, Engagement, and Hope in Our State of Watery Peril.” Seating is limited; please register online at VolusiaWater.org. Optional catered lunch from DeLand Natural Market (wrap, chips, water, and a brownie) is available for $12 with registration. Visit VolusiaWater.org for more information. Sponsorships are available. Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center - 815 S. Alabama Ave., DeLand, FL 32724.
November 1, 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. -- FREE Sustainable Landscaping Principles and Practices Webinar: This free webinar will explore best practices, trends and market opportunities for sustainable landscaping in the State of Florida. Sustainable Landscaping is a set of landscaping principles and practices which minimize environmental degradation and make more efficient use of energy, water and other natural resources. This course will review the latest research and present current best practices for designing, building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Project case studies will be used to discuss a framework for how to promote sustainable landscaping on large scale commercial projects working with multiple stakeholders through conceptual planning through implementation and long-term maintenance. The instructors are Pierce Jones, Ph.D., the University of Florida Extension Program Leader for Energy Programs, and Timothee Sallin, president of Cherrylake, an integrated landscape company. This event has been approved for credits for planners, Certified Floodplain Manger and Florida Environmental Health Professionals and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others. Register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar.
November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.
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