Carlton Ward Jr., Special to the Tampa Bay Times - “The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a vision to protect a connected statewide network of conservation lands for the benefit of people and wildlife…[The corridor] is 15.8 million acres, of which 9.5 million acres are already protected and 6.3 million acres do not have conservation status…this opportunity area consists mostly of private agricultural lands…all in the crosshairs of development…My biggest frustration has been the lack of public investment in land conservation since we founded the Florida Wildlife Corridor. [The Florida Forever program] had spent $300 million a year on land conservation until being set to zero to balance the state budget during the peak of the recession…Meanwhile; development resumed devouring corridor lands with pre-recession gusto but with no functional conservation tools to balance it…Lawmakers diverted most of [Amendment 1] funds to other purposes…[they] poured $10 billion a year into road projects and development resumed chewing up more than 100,000 acres of wildlife habitat per year…I find most hope in the fact that landowners, such as cattle ranchers, representing millions of acres in the corridor, are interested in alternatives to development…” Read We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out.
Ed Killer reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers - “Karl Wickstrom, 82, founder of Florida Sportsman magazine, tireless champion of clean water, marine conservation and recreational angler access, passed away Monday night in Stuart…In 1969 [Wickstrom] founded Florida Sportsman [which] quickly grew to become the leading source for information on Florida’s developing boating and fishing interests and the voice of the state’s recreational anglers and hunters on issues of access, management and environmental causes. Wickstrom was co-founder of the Florida Conservation Association in 1984, now Coastal Conservation Association. He was a benefactor of many other marine resource organizations, including the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart, the Rivers Coalition and the Martin County Anglers Club. [Wickstrom] launched the Save our Sealife Initiative and used Florida Sportsman as a platform to end the destructive practice of gill and entanglement nets in Florida waters…‘Karl’s work has entertained and inspired generations of readers,’ Weakley said. ‘His legacy continues to shape the very philosophies and systems that govern the conservation and public use of natural resources.’ After the net ban victory, Wickstrom turned much of his attention to the fight against the environmental disaster of chronic Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers…’He was a tenacious and effective advocate for our waters and I was honoured to fight alongside this incredible champion,’ said Mark Perry, executive director at the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart…Charlie Crist, current Pinellas County congressman, said no one has done more for the health of Florida fisheries in the past 50 years than Wickstrom, according to an email the magazine sent TCPalm. ‘He’s a legend and a visionary,’ Crist wrote, ‘someone whose journalism informed and created a vibrant community that will continue to defend and expand sustainable fishing practices and the protection of our environment for decades to come.’ Read Florida Sportsman founder Karl Wickstrom, 82, dies in Stuart, Florida.
Ledyard King reports for the Tallahassee Democrat - “The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule [this week] on the decades long dispute between Florida and Georgia known as the ‘water wars.’ Out of an original load of 63, the case is one of six remaining cases the court has yet to decide this term. None have taken longer for a ruling than Florida v. Georgia….due most likely to its relatively rare status as an ‘original jurisdiction’ case that begins in the Supreme Court, rather than one coming to the justices as an appeal from a lower court. The high court is hearing the case because Florida appealed a decision issued last year from Special Master Ralph Lancaster Jr. [who] agreed with Sunshine State officials that Apalachicola Bay had suffered harm from the decreased water flow. But he concluded that capping Georgia’s consumption would not necessarily help the bay’s fragile ecology recover. Apalachicola Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire said he remains hopeful that the justices will treat Florida equitably. But even if they do, he doesn’t expect the water wars to end.” Read U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on 'Water Wars' imminent but battle to save Appalachicola Bay won't end soon
A Staff Report from the Gainesville Sun - "“We are absolutely thrilled to see the number of snail kites increase at Paynes Prairie,’ said Debbie Segal, president of the Alachua Audubon Society. In 2016, people spotted the rare bird in Alachua County for the first time in 20 years, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Bird watchers from around Florida, Georgia and other south-eastern states are visiting Gainesville, specifically to see this iconic bird species. ‘Paynes Prairie has improved as a habitat for snail kites…water quality has improved over the past decade as the park has improved treatment marshes. Those factors, coupled with weather conditions that have helped drive up the apple snail population, the snail kite’s primary food source, have benefited the bird greatly,’ said Florida State Park Environmental Specialist Keith Morin.” Read Snail Kite nest found at Paynes Prairie.
Barbara Behrendt reports for the Tampa Bay Times - “[Hernando County’s] proposal to turn a portion of the Weekiwachee Preserve near Hernando Beach into a beach park generated a flood of opinions... After a social media storm and a petition to stop the park acquired more than 700 signatures in a few days, the Commission on Tuesday took a step back…The public, and even county commissioners, found the proposed ballot language confusing. It asked if people wanted the county to pursue a land swap with Southwest Florida Water Management District for a recreation area in the preserve at no cost to taxpayers. Garth Coller, the county attorney, said Tuesday that while the swap would not cost taxpayers, ongoing operations and maintenance would…Putting the question on the August ballot was too rushed, Commissioner John Allocco said, and the primary would not draw enough voters to know how people really felt about the plan… [Commissioner Jeff Holcomb] agreed that the primary vote was rushed. And he worried that if the county got a yes vote, but SWFWMD said no, supportive Hernando residents would be upset…Judy Zellmer read from a petition…that urged protection of the preserve because it "makes the entire County more unique and increasingly attractive as a world-class destination. The Preserve is an essential element of the old Florida charm and unblemished natural beauty of Hernando County which provide the promise of a better quality of life and a brighter economic future for all of us.’ Read Commissioners delay vote on beach park near Hernando Beach.
Dinah Voyles Pulver reports for the Daytona Beach News-Journal - “As a June 30 deadline nears for the state to adopt action plans to improve water quality in Florida’s ‘outstanding’ springs, environmental advocates and others are raising red flags…‘The general conclusion of all the groups is these aren’t going to clean up the springs,’ said Bob Palmer, chairman of the Springs Council’s legislative committee. ‘We know that the reductions they’re saying are needed to reduce (the nitrogen) at the spring vents are inadequate.’…The FDEP defended its plans last week and intends to meet the deadline to adopt them, which was put in place by legislators two years ago [2016 Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act]… Ginger Adair, [Volusia] county’s environmental management director, said she thinks the state is going to do ‘the best they can in the time they have.’ ‘The plans are intended to be dynamic,’ she said. ‘As long as we have the opportunity to make corrections as the science improves, at least we’re doing good things in the meantime.’…[FDEP] officials said the plans are reviewed each year and formally updated every five years. Changes can be made as the department continues to understand more about the relationship between the springs and the pollutant sources. Drew Bartlett, the FDEP deputy secretary for ecosystem restoration, said ‘It’s not like we don’t touch any of them again.’ …But the environmental advocates aren’t sure they want to wait five years, Palmer said. ‘If they don’t change, and [the plans] still have these various problems, then these groups are going to have to look at this and say what are our prospects of bringing a challenge, or winning a challenge.” Read Concerns raised about state's springs action plans.
Alex Hagan reports for WPTV - “A group of Treasure Coast children, The RiverKidz, met with Washington, D.C. officials on Tuesday about algae in the St. Lucie River and the federal response to it… The RiverKidz was formed in 2011, a youth movement to revive the St. Lucie River. Their goal is cleaner water on the Treasure Coast, working to ensure the water is safe…Tuesday morning, [The RiverKidz] met with Rep. Brian Mast. Speaking to the House, Mast said ‘This is the 24th day the Corps has discharged water from Lake Okeechobee. [The RiverKidz members] health and community has been threatened. What a sad situation it really is. Washington needs to care.’… The RiverKidz also met with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, the Water Resources and Environmental Subcommittee Chairman, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, and Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson…" Read RiverKidz fight for clean water in Washington, D.C.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
June 28, 6:30 pm – Attend River Rising: Town Hall Series in Jacksonville to learn about rising waters in the St. Johns, how decades of dredging has increased water levels and storm surge, and what Jacksonville and coastal communities need to do to become more resilient. For more information, click here.
June 29, 12:00 pm – Attend River Rising: Town Hall Series in Jacksonville to learn about rising waters in the St. Johns, how decades of dredging has increased water levels and storm surge, and what Jacksonville and coastal communities need to do to become more resilient. For more information, click here.
July 3, 12:00 pm - Attend Springs Academy - Class 4: Springs Biology at the North Florida Environmental Center in High Springs, FL. This Springs Academy class will be taught by Dr. Bob Knight, Executive Director of the Florida Springs Institute. Dr. Knight will be presenting an in-depth overview of Florida springs biology, covering topics such as springs algae, plants, and wildlife. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
July 11, 6:00 pm – Attend River Rising: Town Hall Series in Jacksonville to learn about rising waters in the St. Johns, how decades of dredging has increased water levels and storm surge, and what Jacksonville and coastal communities need to do to become more resilient. For more information, click here.
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