FCC News Brief - August 14, 2019

Read It’s a perilous time for Florida manatees. Yet, Trump is destroying the Endangered Species Act - “Floridians love wildlife, especially manatees. The West Indian manatee, of which our Florida manatees are a subspecies, was one of the first species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. In 2017, citing increased numbers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) downlisted the manatee’s status from endangered to threatened, a less protective designation. The manatees’ road to recovery under the Endangered Species Act should be a success story. However, events have caused concern that the population is struggling again. Unprecedented watercraft mortality, Red Tides, severe cold snaps, and relentless algal blooms fueled by nutrient pollution have killed large numbers of manatees and severely damaged essential habitat. We must remain vigilant or the populations may slide irreversibly backwards toward extinction. In these uncertain times for Florida manatees, what is President Donald Trump’s Department of Interior doing? It is destroying the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act is the world’s preeminent conservation law and our nation’s most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction — 99 percent of species that have received protections under the ESA are still with us today. In large measure due to the ESA, iconic species like the bald eagle, American alligator and brown pelican have recovered. And the ESA is incredibly popular — 90 percent of American voters support the law. Yet the Trump Administration has created new rules that will severely weaken the ESA. What would have happened to the Florida manatee if these rules had been in effect when it was originally listed? In fact, they may not have been listed all… This is not the time to weaken protections. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke oversaw the writing of these rules before he left in December, and he is now under federal investigation. Zinke was riddled with conflicts of interest and worked to benefit his industry campaign donors on land deals and oil and gas leasing. David Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, the new secretary of interior, is also drowning in conflict of interest. By crafting these rules, he is acting on behalf of industry groups that find the Act a hindrance. The Department of Interior should work on behalf of the American people, not conflicted special interests. I have dedicated much of my life to protecting Florida’s natural environment. I have and will continue to advocate to save our wildlife, especially the manatee. I am calling on Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio and Florida’s entire congressional delegation to reject these harmful regulations…” Bob Graham writes Opinion for the Tampa Bay Times

Read Florida farmers gearing up to fight climate change - “Randall Dasher is a fourth-generation Florida farmer and until last year, he never had a crop of iron-clay cowpeas fail. "Something has changed and somewhere, someway, that has affected our yields," he said Monday during a panel at the University of Florida, where farmers met with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, scientists and agriculture officials. In Florida, where 26 milllion acres are in agriculture production, farmers have long faced threats from trade agreements, pests and development. Now they've added a new risk to the $140 billion industry: climate change. "We had the prettiest field of peas you ever seen," Dasher said, "but they never set a crop."  The meeting was part of a new project launched by UF to study the risk from a warming planet to Florida farms, ranches and timberland. It occurred less than a week after the United Nations issued its latest climate assessment warning of a looming food crisis as increased rainfall and drought make farming harder. The report also offered a dim view of farming practices, concluding that some agricultural operations are making impacts from climate change even worse...UF launched a working group in April to begin meeting with farmers and try to assess how much rising temperatures, increased rain and other impacts could damage Florida's ag industry. They also want to come up with ways to improve farming practices and make the industry more resilient. On Monday, Castor toured an area farm. Castor, a Democrat, serves on a climate committee created in the House after her party regained control this year and said the committee has already looked at the energy and transportation sector. While the UN report was dire, she said farmers can find answers. "They want to be part of tackling solutions," Castor said. "They understand Florida is in the crosshairs.” Jenny Staletovich reports for WLRN.

Read Climate change is turning Florida’s sea turtles female. How long can these species survive? - “Two dozen tiny leatherback turtles swam around in small tanks, attached by fishing lines to a system that kept them from hitting walls and hurting themselves. As an open-water species, leatherbacks don’t recognize barriers, so they are kept on leashes at Florida Atlantic University’s lab at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton...As is the case with some reptiles, the sex of sea turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand where the eggs incubate. With climate change turning up the heat in South Florida, producing longer and hotter summers, sea turtle gender balance is being thrown way out of whack. “It’s scary,’’ said [professor Jeanette] Wyneken. “I’m seeing more and more all-female nests, and even when we have males, it’s a very small percentage.’’ Wyneken’s research over the past 20 years shows that the number of males is decreasing across the three species she monitors, even as they lay eggs at different times during the March-October nesting season. Using the past decade as a reference, she said that seven out of the 10 years produced 100 percent female hatchlings. The three years in which nests produced males, their numbers ranged from just 10 to 20 percent. In addition to the leatherbacks, the world’s largest sea turtle species, Wyneken tests the genders of loggerheads and green turtles in Boca Raton, Juno Beach and Sanibel Island, where nesting activity is closely monitored and temperatures in nests are tracked year-round. What happens on beaches in Florida is important for sea turtle populations: It’s the only state in the continental U.S. where leatherback turtles regularly nest; it hosts some of the world’s largest nesting aggregations of loggerheads; and it’s home to the second-largest number of green turtle nests in the Western Atlantic, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission…” Adriana Brasileiro reports for the Miami Herald

Read Pet owner, riverkeeper warn about deadly algae also found in St. Johns River - “Melissa Martin and her wife's worlds were crushed Thursday. They brought their three dogs, Harpo, Abby and Izzy to play near a pond in North Carolina. Not long after they got home, their dogs started acting strange, showing signs of liver failure...“By the time I got downstairs and to my car, she [Abby] was in a full-blown seizure. Her body was almost in the letter 'C,'” Martin said… The vet told Martin her dogs contracted blue-green algae poisoning, a type of algae that's not always visible. Shannon Blankinship with the St. Johns Riverkeeper said the algae can clump up at the top of the water and look like blue-green scum, but it also disperses or sinks. She said algae blooms are formed when an excessive amount of nutrients comes into the waterways. Those nutrients combined with hot weather form the blue-green algae. This type of algae is found usually in fresh, stagnant water, Blankinship said. It can also be a sign of pollution in the water, she said. "That algae is something that both animals and humans should stay away from because of effects to our health," Blankinship said. If you're exposed to the toxin, either inhaling or ingesting it, you could get nauseous or rashes. “There’s also a lot more evidence to look at long-term exposure impacts on different types of health impacts like Alzheimer’s or Lou Gehrig’s Disease … a lot going on neurologically when it comes to how toxins are interacting with us,” Blankinship said. Animals can show signs within minutes of exposure. Those symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures and possibly death. According to Blankinship, not all blue-green algae is toxic. Scientists take samples of the water in the St. Johns River, testing blue-green algae for a range of toxins. Those differing toxins can have differing impacts on humans and animals, Blankinship said. Some samples in the St. Johns River have tested positive for blue-green algae toxins as recently as this summer. You can track algae blooms in your area, and whether or not that algae tested as toxic, on the Florida Department of Health's website…” Kailey Tracey reports for First Coast News

Read Plan to draw huge amount of water from Florida spring sparks concern - “Environmentalists in north central Florida are alarmed by a request to withdraw as much as 1.152 million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs in Gilchrist County. The water would be drawn by Seven Springs Water Co., then bottled and sold by Nestlé Waters North America, which purchased the Ginnie Springs water bottling plant in January. A permit to draw that much water has been in place since 1999, but according to the Gainesville Sun, the highest reported water use at the plant over the past four years was 0.27 million gallons. The Gilchrist County Commission has already approved permits to expand the water plant — meaning water withdrawals could spike. Environmentalists worry pumping that much water will reduce flows to the Santa Fe River. And the plan has raised questions from the Suwannee River Water Management District, which has demanded a market analysis justifying the need and proof the withdrawal won't change the water level or spring flow, among other things. The caution is necessary, as Florida's springs are increasingly fragile — and drawing even more water from them could contribute to the "toxic tide" of problems that have already swamped Florida's waters…” From the Treasure Coast Editorial Board

Read Planning commission recommends approval of Cemex mine rezoning - “Expanded lime-rock mining by Cemex Construction Materials Florida cleared another hurdle this week when the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval for the rezoning of 573 acres of land north of Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville. County commissioners will take up the rezoning next month, along with several other approvals related to the connecting road system, a conservation easement and a so-called "good neighbor" plan to ensure nearby residents do not suffer water well or structural impacts from the mining activity. Cemex has fought for the mining expansion for eight years against some of the strongest public opposition to any project in recent history...Nearby residents packed meetings, hired experts and lawyers and made emotional pleas to county officials. They succeeded in getting the application pulled and delayed until the county commission approved it last year… Even after the County Commission hearing, the company must go through additional permitting. Among the county requirements is that when mining is done in 20 years, the land will be developed into a mixed-use residential community…” Barbara Behrendt reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

Read Trump administration throws cold water on climate change threat to coral reefs in Florida- “When pollsters informed President Trump that he faces political exposure in the 2020 election with swing voters on environment policy, he decided to respond with a White House address claiming stewardship of clean water, air and oceans. But as some Trump aides were drafting that speech, others were casting doubt on the significance of a climate threat to a key battleground state: the degradation of coral reefs in Florida. Weeks before, a senior intelligence analyst at the State Department had submitted a draft of planned testimony to Congress detailing the national security implications of climate change for White House review. Among the edits that the analyst, Rod Schoonover, received back from the White House was a novel argument. National Security Council officials issued a challenge to the scientific consensus that warming oceans pose an intensifying mortal threat to coral reef systems, home to a quarter of all marine life and a vital resource in the global food market. In the past decade, 90-95% of coral on the Florida Reef have died or incurred severe damage, according to scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which estimates the reef sustains roughly 70,000 jobs in South Florida and generates over $4.4 billion in annual sales. "There is no evidence that coral bleaching is intensifying now or will in the future," reads the comment, attributed to the NSC. Two sources said it was written by William Happer, a prominent skeptic of climate change. "Coral reefs have bleached and usually recovered throughout their evolutionary history…” “There's denialism, and then there's really fringe," said one climate expert who has worked on interagency government review efforts. "Coral bleaching has not typically fallen within denialist rhetoric," the expert continued. "Most people would not see this as a climate issue, and wouldn't feel the need to deny it you could believe in warmer oceans without believing in climate change. But this goes well beyond that. This says all marine biology is off." From the Tribune Content Agency.

From Our Readers

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

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Staff Attorney - Everglades Law Center

Upcoming Environmental Events:

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.

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.


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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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