FCC News Brief - August 13, 2019

Read U.S. significantly weakens Endangered Species Act - “The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction. The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations. The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered. Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the changes would modernize the Endangered Species Act and increase transparency in its application. “The act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” he said in a statement Monday...David J. Hayes, who served as a deputy interior secretary in the Obama administration and is now executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, said the changes would “straitjacket the scientists to take climate change out of consideration” when determining how to best protect wildlife. “We all know that climate change is now the greatest threat ever to hundreds of species,” Mr. Hayes said. A recent United Nations assessment, some environmentalists noted, has warned that human pressures are poised to drive one million species into extinction and that protecting land and biodiversity is critical to keep greenhouse gas emissions in check…” Lisa Friedman reports for the New York Times

Read Bottling permit risks harm to environment - “Florida is giving away its most precious natural resource, allowing companies to then make substantial profits from it. Worse yet, the amount these companies are taking from that resource risks harming the environment and reducing the amount available for public use. The resource in question is the Floridan Aquifer system, which provides most of the state’s drinking water. The water also flows from the natural springs that provide recreational benefits for residents and attract tourists from around the world. Despite these benefits, Florida’s regulatory agencies have allowed excessive pollution and pumping of groundwater by homes and farms and other businesses. While agriculture at least provides food for a growing population, water bottlers are selling the life-sustaining liquid at a premium in plastic bottles that persist indefinitely in the environment if not recycled. A water-withdrawal permit sought by Seven Springs Water Co., for water used at a High Springs bottling plant bought in January by Nestlé Waters North America, has revived concerns over the impact of such withdrawals. The plant is near Ginnie Springs and other springs feeding into the Santa Fe River. The permit would allow up to 1.152 million gallons of groundwater to be pumped per day. While the bottling plant has operated since 1998 and is allowed to use that much water under its expiring permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District, it had used no more than 0.2659 million gallons per day during the past four years. Nestlé’s arrival raises the possibility of higher usage. The permit application comes as the Santa Fe River and its springs are already past the point in which water withdrawals are causing significant harm, according to the water district’s own studies. District officials are asking for more information before issuing the permit, including an evaluation of its impact on wetlands and evidence that withdrawals won’t alter water levels or spring flows from their normal rate and range…” From the Gainesville Sun Editorial Board

Read FPL seeks state approval to slash energy-efficiency goals - “Florida homeowners could lose out on discounts for more energy-efficient air-conditioning units and other energy-reduction programs if the regulators allow Florida Power & Light Co. and other state utilities to slash energy-efficiency goals, critics say. Utilities are proposing energy-reduction goals of “zero” or nearly zero at a hearing that starts Monday before the Florida Public Service Commission in Tallahassee. The goal would power “less than 10 homes,” says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a Tennessee-based nonprofit that promotes clean energy. “That’s laughable” for Florida’s largest electric utility with more than 10 million customers, he added. Florida law mandates that “we should do everything we can to cut waste and utilities have obligation to set goals every five years,” Smith said. But with such low goals, utilities are “not seriously coming to the table with anything meaningful,” he said. With the state’s major utilities proposing goals at or near zero proposed this year, that could mean fewer energy-efficient programs at Florida utilities that help consumers save money. FPL and its affiliate contractors, for example, currently offer instant rebates on new air-conditioning systems, and savings on ceiling insulation, water heater and plumbing protection, surge protection, and backup generators and maintenance. Businesses can save by installing more energy-efficient lighting. “If you have less goals, you have less programs because you don’t have to achieve as much energy efficiency,” said J.R. Kelly, the Florida Public Counsel, who represents consumers…” Marcia Heroux Pounds reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Read Climate change prompts Florida wildlife movement, researchers say - “Piercing dark eyes gazed at bird enthusiasts and scientists at Paynes Prairie in April. The snail kite, an endangered species native to the Everglades, hadn’t been seen as far north as Gainesville for 100 years — until last year, that is. Some research suggests climate change may play a role in the species’ new breeding grounds. A recently published study by University of Florida researcher Brett Scheffers and Gretta Pecl of the University of Tasmania suggests that wildlife is on the move as a result of climate change, and Florida’s fauna seem to be following the observed trends. “It’s not a thing of the future,” Scheffers said. “It’s happening now.” The Nature Climate Change paper, “Persecuting, protecting or ignoring biodiversity under climate change,” discusses the different ways people have responded to species that have moved because of climate change. Some, like the snail kite, are well liked and heavily protected. Robert Fletcher, a UF associate professor of wildlife ecology and conservation who studies the bird said he and other researchers found four snail kite nests at Paynes Prairie last year, but this year dozens have been sighted. “There’s a lot of birds that move north to come nesting at Paynes Prairie,” he said. Fletcher said increased flooding and the introduction of the exotic apple snail, a food source for the bird, has contributed greatly to the species’ northward movement… In South Florida, fewer instances of cold temperatures have led to a boom in the green iguana population. Perry Colato, cofounder of Redline Iguana Removal in Hollywood, said the last record-breaking major cold snap in the area occurred in 2010, and since then, iguanas have been reigning supreme on South Florida golf courses, in yards and even in toilets…” Emily Mavrakis reports for the Gainesville Sun

Read These Florida counties are spilling record amounts of poop onto their beaches - “With five months to go in 2019, Florida is looking to set a disgusting new record. We're spilling more sewage, and it's even worse than it sounds. Tampa Bay alone has already dumped 6.5 times more sewage in 2019 than in all of 2018, almost 400,000 gallons of poop so far. That is particularly concerning, since 2018 was one of Florida’s worst years for toxic algae blooms, which studies have directly linked to things like manure, fertilizer and sewage getting dumped into local waterways. According to public records pulled from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, four Tampa Bay counties – including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee – have dumped an estimated 389,000 gallons of sewage, of which 215,000 gallons were cleaned up, and 174,000 gallons were simply absorbed by the local environment. For some perspective, last year these same four counties spilled a total of 59,560 gallons of sewage, and 39,596 gallons of that was lost. These numbers come from a variety of sewage spills, which can occur in a number of ways – like malfunctioning lift stations, obstructed pipes, or aging infrastructure. It’s also important to note that these figures represent both public and private facilities, and also only show reported "sewage" spills to the FDEP, and not things like spilled wastewater, which is also very common and also very bad (ask St. Pete). But so far, the worst offender in 2019 is easily Pasco County, which is already responsible for an estimated 343,600 gallons of spilled sewage. According to records, 156,000 gallons have been cleaned up, and 187,600 gallons were spilled into local waterways…” Colin Wolf writes for Orlando Weekly.

 Read Sea level rise is combining with other factors to regularly flood Miami - “It doesn’t take a hurricane to cause flooding in Miami anymore. In fact, it doesn’t even take a gust of wind. “King tides” have been taking a toll on Miami for a number of years, and the phenomenon is only getting worse because of sea-level rise from human-induced climate change. A king tide is a higher -than-normal tide caused by specific alignments of the sun and moon. Miami set daily high tide records for more than a week straight for the period bridging late July and early August, despite a total lack of storminess in the region. Sunny day coastal flooding is now routine, submerging some areas on a monthly basis when the sun and moon line up just right. There’s even a “king tide season” in the late fall and early winter, when the flooding is particularly severe...Miami’s flooding has rapidly become routine. Since it happens beneath blue skies, many residents may overlook the dire warning signs mixed in with the waters. But while king tides are a natural phenomenon, the main reason they’re menacing Miami is because of climate change-related sea level rise. And as glaciers in Greenland, Antarctica and elsewhere continue to melt, adding water to already swelling seas, the 85,000 Miami residents who live below three feet above sea level need to start thinking about their futures...In addition, an analysis by the nonprofit First Street Foundation found that from 2005 to 2017, Miami Beach alone has seen a loss of $337 million in real estate value related to sunny day flooding. The organization found that homes that are exposed to flooding increase their value more slowly than nearly identical homes on higher ground…” Matthew Capucci reports for the Washington Post.

Read Florida legislators skipped ‘Water Summit’ - “On Monday night I attended the Water Keepers “Water Summit.” I was excited to see so many people there. I was also sad because my biggest question was: “Where are our representatives?” It was a full theater, but I did not see one state legislator there. I have not seen them at any meeting related to the water crisis. The Legislature directly affects funding for the state Department of Environmental Protection. My thanks and support goes to Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann, Fort Myers Beach Vice Mayor Ray Murphy and legislative candidate Jesse Purdon for showing up, learning and talking about our water with constituents. But as I walked around and talked to people, the top question was: “Where are our representatives?” Our state legislators are on recess and in the district, so where were they? The Water Keepers told me they were invited, though an invitation was not required. Where was our new Lee County commissioner? We should watch and see which candidates show up and talk to us about this issue. Clean water is a requirement for our survival and a basic responsibility of our leaders to protect now and for future generations.” John Paeno writes Opinion for the Fort Myers News-Press.


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.

Job Openings:

Director of Conservation - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary- Audubon Florida

Associate Director - Blair Audubon Visitor Center

Land Stewardship Associate - Indian River Land Trust

Executive Director - Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Program

Land Management Specialist - Alachua Conservation Trust

Organizing Representative, Red Tide & Wildlands Campaign - Gainesville - Sierra Club

Organizing Representative, Red Tide & Wildlands Campaign - Ft. Myers/Naples - Sierra Club

Staff Attorney - Everglades Law Center

Upcoming Environmental Events:

August 13th - 6:00pm-7:30pm - Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar & Storage Info Session - (Gulf Breeze) - Live in Escambia or Santa Rosa County and want to go solar? Now's your chance! Neighbors across the area have formed the Escambia-Santa Rosa Solar + Storage Co-op with the help of Solar United Neighbors to make it easier to save money on the purchase of solar panels and storage solutions, while building a community of local solar supporters. Join for a free information session to learn about solar energy, battery back-up, as well as how the co-op simplifies the process of going solar while providing a discount through its bulk purchasing power. More information and registration here. Address: Tiger Point Park, 1370 Tiger Park Ln, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563.

August 19th - 2:00pm-6:00pm - Orange County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Orlando) - Attend the Orange County Delegation meeting at the Orange County Administration Center, Commission Chambers, 201 South Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email LD@ocfl.net for an appearance form. Appearance form can also be accessed here. Anyone wishing to speak before the Delegation must fill out a participation form and return it to the office no later than 5:00pm on August 9, 2019. Speakers will also be able to sign up at the Delegation meeting.

August 19th - 7:30pm-8:30pm - Agriculture & Conservation Easements workshop - (Callahan) - Conservation easements can be a profitable way of preserving farms and forestlands, while keeping them in production and in the family. However, there are dozens of easement programs out there, with difficult enrollment procedures and confusing rules for property owners. The UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension office has partnered with the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) to offer a workshop on understanding how conservation easements work. NFLT's Land Protection Director, Marc Hudson will present their pros and cons, how they preserve agriculture and natural resources and how your property might qualify for one. We'll also give an overview of the various financial incentive programs available.  For further questions, please call the Nassau County Extension office at 904-530-6353 or email jdacey@ufl.edu.  Refreshments and snacks will be provided. To register (free) click here. UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension, 543350 US Highway 1, Callahan, FL 32011.

August 20th - 5:30pm-7:30pm - Santa Rosa County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Milton) - Attend the Santa Rosa County Delegation meeting at the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commission Chambers, 6495 Caroline St, Milton, FL. To be placed on the agenda for the Santa Rosa County Legislative Delegation meeting please contact Delegation Chairman Jayer Williamson’s Legislative Aide, Sydney Fowler at Sydney.Fowler@myfloridahouse.gov or (850) 995-3698 no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 16.

August 27th - 9:00am-5:00pm - M-CORES Task Force public meeting - (Tampa) - Attend the Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) first public meeting at the Tampa Convention Center Public, 333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602. Public participation is vital to the M-CORES process, and there are many ways to share your comments or ideas. All three task forces will hold public meetings in their respective corridors. FDOT will also hold community open houses to share progress and gather input. Staff will be available at each open house to answer questions and receive comments. Check the Calendar of Events for upcoming meetings in your area. Sign up today to receive news, notices of upcoming M-CORES meetings and more.

August 27th-28th -Florida Panhandle Forests & Drinking Water Workshop - (Apalachicola) - Join the Florida Forest Service & Workshop Planning Team for a tour and workshop of the Apalachicola Estuary and Tate’s Hell State Forest to learn about the connection between healthy forests and clean water. The tours begin at 1pm on the 27th, starting at Tate’s Hell State Forest, and ending with a boat tour of the Apalachicola Estuary. The workshop begins Wednesday August 28th at 8:00am at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center in Eastpoint. The workshop agenda includes both presentations and group discussion sessions. The primary goal is for participants to leave the meeting with tangible “next steps” to accelerate community-based watershed stewardship and protection throughout the Florida Panhandle. Lunch will be included at the August 28th Workshop. For additional information and registration, visit the Eventbrite site here.

August 29 - 5:30pm-7:30pm - Okaloosa County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Shalimar) - Attend the Okaloosa County Delegation meeting at the Okaloosa County Commission Chambers, Suite 100 1250 N Eglin Parkway Shalimar, FL 32579. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Stay tuned for contact information and speaker request forms.

September 5th - 9:00am - Sumter County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Wildwood) - Attend the Sumter County Delegation meeting at The Villages Sumter County Service Center, Room 102, 7375 Powell Road, Wildwood, FL 34785. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the agenda, or to submit information on local bill requirements, please call State Representative Brett T. Hage's office at (352)-315-4445. Please do so by Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 by 4:00pm. This is an open public meeting.

September 9th - 9:00am - Sarasota County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Sarasota) - Attend the Sarasota County Delegation meeting at the Sarasota County Administration Building, First Floor/Commission Chambers, 1660 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota FL 34236. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Interested parties wishing to be placed on the agenda should contact GeeDee Kerr in Senator Gruters’ office at kerr.geedee@flsenate.gov as soon as possible but  no later than 5:00pm on September 3, 2019 2019. Written presentations will be limited to 3 pages (can be 2-sided) per organization.  All materials must be submitted electronically and in Word format. 

September 12th - 10:00am- Martin County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Stuart) - Attend the Martin County Delegation meeting at the Indian River State College Chastain Campus, Wolf Technology Center, 2400 SE Salerno Road, Stuart, FL 34997. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email Joey Planz at Joey.Planz@MyFloridaHouse.gov for an appearance form. Participation form can also be accessed here. Anyone wishing to speak before the Delegation must fill out a participation form and return it to the office no later than noon on September 2, 2019.

September 15th - 2:00pm-4:30pm - Sustainable Banking/Investing 101 - (St. Petersburg) - Most large banks and many investment funds profit off of fossil fuel expansion. But it doesn't have to be that way! Come learn how to green up your finances with the Suncoast Sierra Club. 2pm-3pm: Sustainable Banking/Q&A 3pm-4pm+: Sustainable Investing/Q&A*Snacks provided*. Visit the Facebook event page here for more information.

September 23rd - 2:00pm-3:30pm - Union County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Lake Butler) - Attend the Union County Delegation meeting at the Lake Butler City Commission Chamber, 200 SW 1st St., Lake Butler, FL 32054. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email Rep. Payne’s office at Tammy.Still@myfloridahouse.gov before 3:00pm September 19.

September 23 - 4:30pm-6:30pm - Bradford County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Starke) - Attend the Bradford County Delegation meeting at the Bradford County Commission Chamber, County Courthouse, 945 N Temple Ave, Starke, FL 32091. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email contact Rep. Payne’s office at Tammy.Still@myfloridahouse.gov before 3:00pm September 19th.

September 23 - 2:00pm-4:00pm - Citrus County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Inverness) - Attend the Citrus County Delegation meeting at the Citrus Board of County Commissioners’ Chamber Room, Citrus County Court House, 110 N. Apopka Avenue, Inverness, FL. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email Adele Hembree at Adele.Hembree@myfloridahouse.gov before September 2nd to request an appearance form.

September 23 - 1:30pm - Desoto County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Arcadia) - Attend the Desoto County Delegation meeting at the DeSoto County Commission Board Room, 201 East Oak Street, Arcadia, FL 34266. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Email Anne Bell for additional information Anne.Bell@myfloridahouse.gov.

September 25 - 2:00pm-6:00pm - Brevard County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Cape Canaveral) - Attend the Brevard County Delegation meeting at the Canaveral Port Authority Commission Room, 445 Challenger Road, Cape Canaveral FL 32920. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, email complete the Appearance Request Form here before 5:00pm September 10th. For more information, email Lindsey Swindle at Swindle.Lindsey@flsenate.gov.

September 25 - 2:00pm-4:00pm - Putnam County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Palatka) - Attend the Putnam County Delegation meeting at the Board of County Commissioners Board Room, 2509 Crill Ave, Suite 200, Palatka FL 32177. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Stay tuned for contact information and speaker request forms.

September 30th - October 2nd- Public Land Acquisition & Management (PLAM) Partnership 2019 Conference - (St. Augustine) - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is proud to announce the Public Land Acquisition and Management (PLAM) Partnership Conference. This statewide conference focuses on public land acquisition and management issues in Florida. PLAM has typically been hosted on a rotating basis by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts. The conference will be held at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort (500 S Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32092). WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Local, regional, state, federal, non-profit and private land managers; Land acquisition specialists and agents; Water managers; Engineers, planners, attorneys, surveyors, appraisers, architects; Public officials; Non-profit groups; Consultants; Others interested in conservation land planning. Registration coming soon. For more information, click here.

October 3rd - 9:00am-12:00pm - Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation meeting - (West Palm Beach) - Attend the Palm Beach County Delegation meeting at the Norton Museum of Art, 1450 Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach FL 33401. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To be placed on the official agenda of a Delegation hearing, presenters must have completed a Participation Request Form and have submitted all printed materials to the delegation office by Noon, seven (7) business days prior to the scheduled hearing. Fifteen (15) copies of printed material should be submitted to be included in the Members’ hearing folders. Anyone interested in addressing the Legislative Delegation at a Public Hearing should call the Delegation Office at 561-355-3452 or email vnowlan@pbcgov.org. The deadline for submission of local bills to the Delegation Office is September 20, noon. Click here for the Hearing Information Sheet for the 2020 session for instructions on how to be placed on the official agenda and/or the presenter request form.

October 9th - 1:30pm - Lake County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Leesburg) -Attend the Lake County Delegation meeting at the Paul P. Williams Fine Arts Auditorium, Lake-Sumter State College, 9501 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg, FL 34788. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, complete the public speaker request form here before September 18th. Email Rachel Barnes for additional information: BARNES.RACHEL@flsenate.gov.

October 9th - 4:00pm- Nassau County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Yulee) - Attend the Nassau County Delegation meeting at the Nassau County Commission Chambers, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee, Florida 32097. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! Stay tuned for contact information and speaker request forms.

October 10th - 6:30pm-8:30pm - Follow the Ichetucknee - (Lake City) - Mark your calendars now for an informal celebration of the Ichetucknee at Halpatter Brewing Company, 264 NE Hernando Avenue, Lake City, Florida 32055. Admission is free! You'll enjoy: Viewing new and newly scored videos about the Ichetucknee by collaborators Eric Flagg and Michael Amish; Meeting directors and members of the Ichetucknee Alliance; Socializing with people who love the Ichetucknee; Tasting craft beer and munching on pizza; Exploring our interconnections with the aquifer, the Ichetucknee, and each other; Finding out what you can do to help restore, protect and preserve the Ichetucknee. We are thrilled that the generous proprietors of Halpatter have offered their venue for this event. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be interested. There's also information about this event on our Facebook page here.

October 10th - 2:30pm - Clay County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Green Cove Springs) -Attend the Clay County Delegation meeting at the Clay County Commission Chambers, 477 Houston St. Green Cove Springs, FL 32043. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! To participate in the delegation meeting, complete the public speaker request form here before 3:00pm October 8th. Email Tammy Still for additional information: Tammy.Still@myfloridahouse.gov.

October 30th - 9:00AM - Collier County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Naples) -Attend the Collier County Delegation meeting at the North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livinston Rd. Naples, FL 34109. You are encouraged to speak on behalf of Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources! The agenda will be released to the news media on Thursday, October 17, 2019, to allow the citizens of Collier County ample time to prepare comments if they so desire. If you would like to be placed on the agenda as a presenter of a local bill or local budget request, or to speak to another issue, please contact the office at (239) 417-6200 or Priscilla.Grannis@myfloridahouse.gov by Friday, October 11, 2019. For more information, review announcement here.

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Petitions

Stop South Florida's Sewage Sludge from Polluting the St. Johns River!

Stop Giving Away Florida’s Water

Save Lake County-Say NO to the Round Lake Road Extension

Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

Help Save Our Panthers

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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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.  

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