Read Tell Congress: Renew Land and Water Conservation Fund - “Florida’s incredible ecosystems are connected by an important, but often unheralded, conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expires at the end of this month. Congress created this program more than 50 years ago and it has provided over $1 billion in Florida to restore wildlife habitat, improve sportsmen’s access and create and enhance outdoor recreation. Outdoor recreation is no small business in Florida. Florida’s outdoor recreation industry stimulates $58.6 billion of economic activity annually. When we break these numbers down that translates into 485,000 jobs, which generate $17.9 billion in wages and salaries and also adds $3.5 billion to state and local tax bases. This is big business that benefits Floridians and the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a key program that helps drive our economy. Some of Florida’s most iconic places and biggest tourist destinations have benefited from Land and Water Conservation Fund. For example, $220 million in LWCF funds have been used for restoration of the Everglades National Park and Everglades National Wildlife Refuge. Millions of dollars more from Land and Water Conservation Fund have been used for projects to protect water resources and improve habitat in Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Osceola National Forest, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Florida National Scenic Trail among others. The Land and Water Conservation Fund not only helps fund Florida’s iconic national parks and wildlife preserves, but also provides money for local baseball fields, city parks, fishing piers and boat ramps – all of these projects support local jobs and promote our outdoor recreation economy...Right now our state is being tested by devastating red tides and we are always on high alert for the next big storm. As these events threaten our state’s tourism and angling opportunities, our congressional leaders must recognize that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is an essential source of funds to help our state promote healthier ecosystems, protect wildlife habitat and fisheries, and provide greater opportunities for outdoor recreation. This important program is slated to disappear at the end of this month, which makes these last days of September critical for renewing this hugely successful program. Now more than ever, Floridians need to call upon our senators and representatives in Congress and ask them to show their leadership by actively working for permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. ” Manley Fuller writes Commentary for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Red tide helps drive the debate in State House District 74 race - “Concerns raised by the lingering presence of red tide along the Gulf Coast have started to shape the debate surrounding the race for the District 74 state House seat. During the Republican primary [James Buchanan] centered more around the need to widen River Road, to establish a hospital in North Port and the need to ease the shortage of skilled labor for local manufacturers. While education, infrastructure and River Road are still important in the debate, the need to establish a way to mitigate the impact of red tide and minimize its recurrence have come to the forefront. Democratic candidate Tony Mowry, 41, and independent candidate Robert Samuel Kaplan, 62, both cite addressing environmental concerns high on their list of goals, should they make it to the state Legislature. All three are vying to succeed Julio Gonzalez, who opted to run an unsuccessful Republican primary bid against state Sen. Greg Steube for the District 17 congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney...Along with education, [Mowry] counted environmental concerns as a major issue, citing the need for Everglades restoration and the issue of polluted Lake Okeechobee, as well as climate change and sea level rise. ‘The red tide emphasized the importance of addressing those issues and being out in front of those issues,’ Mowry said. ‘One of my fears is that once the winds shift and we no longer have the red tide smell coming onshore, that the political winds will shift too, and we’ll be back in the same cycle of inaction. That’s one of the things I want to prevent. Mowry, Kaplan and Buchanan agree that fixing the environment and improving water quality is a bipartisan issue. Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, noted the recent impact of red tide on tourism, local businesses and residents, and feels he’s the person best suited to help make sure that south Sarasota County’s interests are at the forefront when solutions are established. ‘I want to make sure we’re able to implement the best practices when it comes to red tide and have someone in Tallahassee who can fight and advocate for funding and research and technology here, when it comes to red tide,’ Buchanan said. ‘This is one of my platform issues.’ Kaplan, a lifelong Venice area resident, said water quality concerns were at the top of his list when he decided to run for office…” Earle Kimel reports for the Herald-Tribune.
Read Water Resources Development Act could have huge impact on ongoing water issues - “Discharges from Lake Okeechobee have gone on for months and Jennie Pawlowsky, the co-founder of the Facebook page Toxic 18, has documented them. ‘Page is pretty active,’ said Pawlowsky. She says it's all about building momentum to get something done. ‘If it wasn't for the documentation then they wouldn't have been able to push for everything in Washington D.C.’ Everything meaning what's in the Water Resources and Development Act. It's legislation that authorizes a planned EAA Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee which the South Florida Water Management District says will reduce discharges by about 65 percent. Martin County Ecosystem Manager John Maehl says the bill includes a lot of good projects for Florida. It includes and amendment to reevaluate the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule and funding for the Army Corps of Engineers and their research. ‘They will be funded to come out with some mitigation strategies or some solutions to treating blue-green algae,’ said Maehl. He says this is a crucial bill that can help the county's water quality issues. Right now residents are waiting for the U.S. Senate to vote on the measure.” Alex Hagan reports for WPTV.
Read People press St. Augustine commissioners to ‘save Fish Island’ - “Monday night wasn’t about Fish Island, Mayor Nancy Shaver told the audience in the crowded Commission meeting room. But for many who attended, it was. Dozens crowded City Hall’s Alcazar Room, some of them wearing ‘Save Fish Island’ stickers. Several people asked commissioners to preserve the property, which lies southeast of the State Road 312 bridge and overlooks the Matanzas River. The site has been the focus of recent development efforts. Shaver said an item on the Commission’s agenda had caused confusion. Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline said she had received questions from residents about the Florida Forever program in response to the Fish Island development proposal. She asked for information, not as a way to save Fish Island, but as a way to better understand the program. Shaver said, ‘It is the city’s current understanding that the property remains under contract with D.R. Horton and that there are options which could be explored by them that may come to the Commission, so we have no discussion of that property.’ In addition to information about Florida Forever, the city’s presentation included details about funding through Florida’s Division of Historical Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other sources. Shaver added that the ‘sources require a willing seller, which at this time seems not to be the case with Fish Island. However, as is often the case, this matter is a work in progress, so we are paying close attention.’ The future of the property has been unclear since the city’s Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously to recommend denial of the plans for a proposed development by D.R. Horton. The developer planned to buy the property, rezone about 70 acres and place up to 170 homes on the land. The planning board’s decision came after dozens of people spoke against the project, citing the property’s natural value and beauty and its historical ties. It was a citrus plantation back in the 1700s, and remnants of that era remain on the property. No one appealed the planning board’s recommendation to the City Commission, but many options are still available for development. The land is zoned for commercial and residential use. Among other things, a new rezoning application could be filed. But a group of citizens are trying to stop its development and are pushing for the land to be purchased and preserved…’ We feel that based on the historic and ecological significance of Fish Island, it would score highly for many conservation land acquisition funding sources if it becomes available to purchase,’ according to Jen Lomberk, the Matanzas Riverkeeper…” Sheldon Gardner reports for the St. Augustine Record.
Read Caloosahatchee minimum flows - “On August 13, the South Florida Water Management District considered amendments to the Caloosahatchee Minimum Flow and Level (MFL) Rule...The health of our estuary and coastal waters is directly tied to water management policies administered by the SFWMD and US Army Corps of Engineers. The Caloosahatchee routinely receives too much water during the wet season (decisions made by Corps of Engineers), and too little during the dry season (decisions made by SFWMD). Each high or low-flow event that occurs can impact the ability of the estuary to bounce back?limiting important ecosystem services, including habitat for fish and wildlife, water quality benefits, and recreational opportunities. The SFWMD is the agency responsible for managing water supply for urban, agricultural and environmental uses in South Florida. When conducting water supply planning, the District considers environmental uses differently than other "beneficial uses" like urban and agricultural water supply. When water supply decisions are made, natural systems are typically last in line for water. Many scientists and resource managers I have spoken with argue that these policies are antiquated and environmental uses (e.g., estuarine flows) provide equal or greater economic benefit compared with urban and agricultural uses. Our current water quality crisis supports that argument...Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) are regulatory tools used to limit impacts to surface water bodies or aquifers resulting from over allocation of water resources for other uses. An MFL is the "limit at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources or ecology of the area" (Section 373.042(1), Florida Statutes (F.S.)). The Caloosahatchee MFL rule was adopted in 2001. The 2001 rule directly linked freshwater flows with salinity levels, establishing an ecological target to protect tape grass habitat in the estuary-a habitat identified as a "Valued Ecosystem Component" by District scientists. Water management policies must be overhauled to address the inequities to the Caloosahatchee, the economic impacts to our local communities, and recognize the benefit of tourism to our State's economy…” Kevin Ruane writes for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.
From Our Readers
The information in this section is forwarded to you at the request of some of our readers. Inclusion in this section does not necessarily constitute endorsement by the FCC.
Upcoming Environmental Events
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.
Do you know of an upcoming environmental event or meeting you would like to include in the FCC News Brief? Send us a quick e-mail and we will include it for you.
We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.
Please send all suggestions, comments, and criticism to Haley Burger at WeAreFCC@gmail.com
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.
For more information, visit https://www.wearefcc.org/