Dotty Nist writes for the Defuniak Herald -"The water that connects us 'needs us now,' author Cynthia Barnett told the crowd gathered at South Walton High School on July 25. Barnett, a Florida resident, award-winning environmental journalist, author, and world traveler, was inaugural speaker for a series of informational events planned by the local environmental conservation nonprofit organization Safe Water for Walton. Barnett has reported on water topics and climate change around the world. She is author of several books, the latest being ‘Rain: A Natural and Cultural History,’ which tells the story of rain from billions of years ago to the present. Distinguishing Walton County as a place “shaped and defined by water more than any other part of Florida,” with the gulf, lakes and dune lakes, rivers, springs, and other water bodies, even the aquifer, serving to bind residents together, Barnett had a hopeful message for the local area. ‘I want to underscore that Walton County and the Panhandle can avoid the mistakes of South Florida by being proactive in protecting your groundwater and surface water supplies,’ she emphasized. However, she cautioned that, for the first time since the environmental laws of the 1970s went into place to address severe industrial pollution nationwide, the children of today, ‘are not inheriting water as clean and as abundant as the generation before.’... ‘Water is not an issue of more government or less government, or Democrats or Republicans. It is an issue of good government,’ she asserted ‘Water really is a universal force,’ Barnett observed, also calling water, ‘the deepest bond we share as Floridians.” Read Barnett shares hope, urges activism for water resource protection.
John Romano writes for the Tampa Bay Times- “...The Washington Post is writing about it. CNN and the Weather Channel are talking about it. A state dependent on tourism is now generating headlines fit for the cover of Toxic Illustrated. And no one is more responsible than Scott….Think of how he has treated the environment since his first election in 2010. Even before he was sworn in, he was complaining about clean water standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and asking that Florida be spared from ‘burdensome regulations.’ The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was eventually given the responsibility for regulating the exact type of pollutants that have contributed to the nasty green gook that has been showing up in the state’s rivers and lakes. The number of enforcement cases handled by the DEP — essentially the number of times they investigated developers or corporations for pollution violations — dropped to a fraction of what they had been under Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. Scott abolished the agency that had been responsible for reviewing local development plans, and he directed water management districts to lower taxes, which decimated their budgets…” Read If you’re looking for a culprit, the slime stops here.
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald - “ The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to pay for 10,000 threatened coral to be replanted to make up for damage caused when it dredged Port Miami and dug up more than 5 million cubic yards of seafloor. This deal, announced Monday, will settle a lawsuit brought by environmentalists who questioned the Corps’ dredging tactics and accused the agency of underestimating the damage caused by the $205 million project. An independent study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists later found dredge work killed coral in an area about 14 times larger than allowed under permit. ‘They didn’t stop dredging even after it became clear that this damage was occurring,’ Captain Dan Kipnis, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. Miami Waterkeeper, Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association and the Tropical Audubon Society also were plaintiffs. ‘We are pleased to have achieved some restoration for these dredge-damaged reefs, but we really need a fundamental change in the process to protect our reefs for the future,’ Kipnis added… " Read Corps to replant 10,000 threatened corals to settle fight over Miami dredge.
Chad Gillis reports for Naples Daily News - “Southwest Florida's water quality stinks. Literally. Dead fish and sea turtles have been washing up on local beaches and into area passes for the past two months, and there are no indications that the red tide is going away anytime soon. About the best residents and visitors can hope for is offshore winds that could push the red tide away from the coast. Experts say the bloom likely won't go away until water temperatures drop in the winter. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a report Friday that shows high counts of 1 million cells per liter and higher along the Southwest coast, from the north end of Sarasota County to Marco Island. Fish kills and breathing issues in humans can occur when levels reach 10,000 cells per liter, according to the FWC...This red tide started in October and has lingered along the coast since, growing and shrinking in size…” Read Environmental experts say Southwest Florida’s algae blooms may not ease until winter.
Sheldon Gardner reports for the St. Augustine Record- “ St. Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board unanimously rejected the proposed Fish Island development on Tuesday. If the developer appeals the decision within 30 days, the next step will be the City Commission. Attorney Ellen Avery-Smith, attorney for the developer, said after the hearing that a decision hadn’t been made on whether to appeal. The hearing lasted hours. About 40 people spoke against the development, voicing concerns that mirrored the first hearing in July. Concerns included tree cutting, wildlife impacts, additional traffic on State Road 312, impacts to wetlands and the Matanzas River, and simply allowing a rare waterfront property to be developed. Some people sat outside of the meeting room just to get a chance to speak on the Fish Island development. D.R. Horton applied to rezone about 70 acres that overlook the Matanzas River southeast of the State Road 312 Bridge into the Fish Island Planned Unit Development. The plans call for adding fill to raise the development to reduce flooding concerns and cutting much of the trees on uplands to build up to 170 homes in the $300,000-$400,000 price range. Some who spoke on Tuesday pointed out the loss of trees nearby on the north side of S.R. 312 at Antigua, a property under development. ‘The animals, they’re running for their lives,’ said St. Augustine resident Susan Hill. ‘They’re getting killed on 312, and for what reason? Making development richer? ... I don’t want to see that same type of decimation on the south side.’ She added that allowing development of the Fish Island property would be foolish in light of what the city knows about sea level rise…” Read St. Augustine Planning Board rejects Fish Island
Lawrence Mower writes for the Tampa Bay Times - “Nearly 20 years ago, Bob Graham found himself in an unusual place: at odds with environmental groups and accused of conflict of interests...Fast forward to now, where his daughter is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor and faces questions of her own about the family company. What was once a personal dilemma for Gwen Graham — whether or not to publicly support the family company's involvement in the American Dream Miami mega-mall project — has become a political one, as her opponents publicly blast her for refusing to take a position on it...Environmental groups are adamantly opposed to the American Dream project because it would place a 175-acre entertainment complex complete with submarine rides and an indoor ski slope near the Everglades. Although Greene has characterized the project as being ‘in the Everglades,’ it would be about five miles away, separated by asphalt companies and rock quarries. But environmentalists fear that it will spur additional development on the western boundary of Miami-Dade County. Everglades Trust Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell has been adamantly against it, along with the Sierra Club and a variety of other groups. Despite those misgivings, however, Mitchell's group endorsed Graham on Monday. ‘While we remain concerned that development will push the urban development boundary further west toward the Everglades, we recognize that the mall is within the current urban development boundary, and we now know Gwen Graham has nothing to do with the project,’ Mitchell said in a statement…” Read How a mega-mall project became an issue in Florida governor race.
Hannah Morse reports for the Palm Beach Post- “ Town officials will discuss the possibility of implementing an education program to teach residents and visitors about how single-use plastic straws can harm the environment. Thursday’s special town council meeting will be the first time councilors meet after the beach committee last month unanimously recommended an educational resolution on the issue of plastic straws, rather than an ordinance that would bring fines against violators. Educational methods, as outlined in a strategy from town staff called Plastic Use Reduction Encouragement, or PURE, include screening the documentary “Straws,” promoting the campaign on social media and possibly expanding the education outreach to involve other plastics like lids and bottles. The proposed resolution directs the town to encourage businesses to provide biodegradable straws instead of plastic straws, and residents to stop using or “politely refuse to accept” them at local businesses…” Read Jupiter council to discuss educating residents on plastic straws.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
Tidal Town Hall: Attend a Tidal Town Hall near you. These events represent a partnership between ReThink Energy Florida and First Street Foundation in an effort to provide voters with the opportunity to have an open conversation with Primary Candidates on the topic of sea level rise. Attending candidates are from both sides of the aisle and this is your chance to ask them how they plan on protecting the Sunshine State from climate change driven sea level rise:
August 9, 5:30- 8:30 pm- 1000 Holt Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. Facebook event here.
August 14, 5:00-7:00 pm - 6340 Napa Woods Way, Naples, FL 34116. Facebook event here.
August 14, 5:00 - 7:45 pm - 239 N Spring Street, Pensacola, FL. Facebook event here.
August 15, 5:00 - 7:00 pm - 2000 North Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers, FL. Facebook event here.
August 9, 6:00 - 8:45 pm - Big Bend Environmental Forum for Candidates of Primary Election- Citizens will be able to suggest questions covering environmental, energy, sustainability, and growth management issues to candidates of the county and city commissions for the Big Bend area. An open house prior to the forum will include displays by candidates and BBEF member organizations. King Life Sciences Building Auditorium, Room 1024, 319 Stadium Dr, Tallahassee FL. Facebook event here.
August 13-16 - Registration is now open for Florida Springs Institute Field School. The Springs Field School will take place in Silver Springs, Florida, and includes four days of lectures and field trips on springs biology, geology, chemistry, environmental laws and advocacy from leading experts. For info and registration, click
August 17, 4:30 pm- 6:30 pm (CST) - Apalachicola Riverkeeper Meet & Greet: Learn more about Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s current and upcoming projects, including this year’s RiverTrek launch. Enjoy Wine & Beer, Tea & Soda along with light snacks. There will be door prizes! Event will be at the W.T. Neal Civic Center in Blountstown.
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