Read What is affecting some Florida panthers’ ability to walk? It’s a mystery - “Something is affecting the walking ability of some Florida panthers and bobcats, and state scientists want the public’s help documenting the mystery disorder. The ailment is reportedly impacting the cats’ ability to coordinate their back legs, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission press release. This month, FWC has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat, but trail camera footage shows eight panthers, mostly kittens, and one adult bobcat displaying varying degrees of the condition. “While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue,” Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said in a statement. The trail camera footage was shot in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties, and one affected panther was photographed in Charlotte County, according to the release. McRae said FWC is testing for different potential toxins, including rat poison, and also infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies. “Numerous diseases and potential causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined,” he said. “We are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition.” The agency is asking the public for any private trail video footage that happens to capture cats displaying symptoms of the condition. Panthers are endangered and native to Florida. Amber Crooks, environmental policy coordinator for the Conservancy of South Florida, a nonprofit that opposed a massive proposed development project in Collier County that some conservationists argue would destroy the shrinking panther habitat, said she has not heard of any more theories as to what is causing the condition, but she is closely following the issue. “The population is already facing many other threats, so this is concerning, particularly given that there are only 120 to 230 panthers left,” Crooks said in an email Monday, citing urban development, cars and territorial disputes due to loss of habitat as other factors threatening the big cats…” David Goodhue reports for the Miami Herald.
Read As water problems increase nationwide, is it even possible to turn the ‘toxic tide’? - “We have, in this space, documented Florida's "toxic tide," the increasingly grim water quality problems that bedevil out state and threaten our environmental and economic future. But toxic tides are hardly confined to Florida's sunny shores. Last week came news that this summer's "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay — an area with little to no oxygen — had spread to 2 cubic miles. That's the worst it's been in decades; experts blame unusually heavy rains that washed wastewater and agricultural runoff into the bay, producing algae that gobbles up all the oxygen. Understand, the Chesapeake Bay is often cited as a success story; the "Clean Water Blueprint" created by the EPA and six Bay states, along with Washington, D.C., has survived legal challenges and has been called the bay's best, and perhaps last, chance for real restoration... In July, all of Mississippi's Gulf Coast beaches closed because of blue-green algae. The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer is one of the largest ever. Closer to home, beaches throughout Palm Beach County have been closed this summer due to harmful bacteria in the water. And while there have been no summer discharges from Lake Okeechobee, and Martin County has so far avoided another "lost summer," enteric bacteria has closed numerous sites on the Treasure Coast. As of this writing the Florida Department of Health is warming swimmers to stay out of the Indian River Lagoon at Sebastian Inlet State Park and Jaycee Park, on Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County… Are we too far gone? As the climate continues to evolve; as urban development continues apace; as opposition to septic-to-sewer conversions slows the process; and as resistance to any tough new pollution mandates stiffens, how can we possibly get ahead of the curve? We would like to think that both locally and nationally, policy makers understand that dirty water isn't a mere inconvenience: it's an economic threat, and increasingly a threat to human health. And the longer we tarry, the more we find reasons not to act now and act decisively, the worse the problem will get. The fight for clean water too often feels like one step forward and two steps back. But the only option is to keep fighting, keep pushing for tougher rules, new guidelines, like-minded public officials and bold solutions…” Gil Smart writes Opinion for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
Read Will Key deer come off endangered list? Not if these people can help it - “In the Florida Keys, emotions are running hot over a recent federal agency’s conclusion that Key deer no longer need the official label as endangered or threatened. A Keys nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Key deer is urging locals to show up at a special meeting set for Thursday in Marathon over the proposal to take the deer off the endangered species list. Many have a lot to say. “My immediate reaction was complete shock,” said Valerie Preziosi, president of the nonprofit Save Our Key Deer, about when she learned of the proposal. “It’s absolutely inappropriate and it would be a huge mistake. There’s enough science and evidence and concern to reverse it.” Save Our Key Deer has denounced the federal government’s decision that the tiny and docile Key deer, which number fewer than 1,000 and are found only in the Keys, no longer meet the criteria for a spot on the endangered list...The federal government says it is only considering the idea but the proposal comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted a review of the “best available scientific and commercial information” and concluded that threats to the Key deer have been eliminated. The meeting which starts at 6 p.m. at the Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, is hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has no decision-making on the agenda. “The purpose of the meeting is to share information about Key deer recovery and a possible change in the listing status of this iconic species,” the agency said in a news release…” Gwen Filosa reports for the Miami Herald.
Read As climate change hits Florida agriculture, could the future be ‘carbon farming’? - “While most residents can simply turn up the AC, there is one powerful group in Florida that can’t afford to ignore troubling changes in temperature and rainfall patterns across the state: farmers. The agriculture industry, one of the state’s most politically and economically important forces, has largely stayed quiet in the climate change conversation even as the impacts have begun to take a toll on the bottom line. That is changing fast, as more farmers and ranchers open up about the impacts of a warming world on their crops and livestock — and propose ways they might help fix it. “I had a big blueberry grower come up to me and say ‘I’m not a flag-waving human-caused climate change guy, but something is out there and it’s affecting my business and I want to learn about it,’ ” said Jack Payne, head of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Systems program. Earlier this month, a newly formed group of Florida agricultural leaders met with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who heads the congressional committee on climate change, to talk about what is happening in fields, pastures and forests. “This is producer led. That means we’re farmers, ranchers, foresters who’ve come to the table to talk about this subject, which has been something of a taboo for the agricultural community in the past,” said Lynetta Usher Griner, a timber producer from North Florida who co-chairs the group. “We acknowledge we may be part of the problem — we’re not all of the problem — but we can be part of the solution.” In Florida alone, agriculture runoff, laced with fertilizer nutrients, is considered one of the primary fuels feeding blue green algal blooms that plague both coasts, declining water quality across the state and complications to Everglades restoration efforts. And a newly released report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that agriculture, food production and deforestation produce about 23 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Beef, in particular, was singled out for its outsized carbon footprint compared to other livestock and agriculture…” Alex Harris reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read Water activist opposes Nestle’s plan to bottle 1 million gallons a day from Florida springs - “Nestlé wants to take more than one million gallons of water a day from Florida springs near Ginnie Springs and the Santa Fe River; the giant multinational corporation plans to put the water into plastic bottles and sell it at a tremendous markup. But environmentalists oppose the move. WMNF interviewed Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member with Our Santa Fe River, Inc. Last week she co-authored an op-ed that was published in the Orlando Sentinel called “Nestle taking water from the aquifer for private profit isn’t in the public interest.” We talked about water in Florida and who has the right to use it and for what purposes. Nestle is thought to be interested in a water bottling plant near High Springs, Florida, under the water permit owned by Seven Springs Water, which applied to the Suwannee River Water Management District for a five-year renewal of permit. But Malwitz-Jipson writes that it wouldn’t be “consistent with the public interest” as required by Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit rules. She warns that more water withdrawals from Santa Fe River could further harm rivers and springs. She points out that taxpayers are funding the replenishment of the aquifer already, so allowing Nestlé to remove the water and sell it back to consumers would be counterproductive…” Sean Kinane reports for WMNF.
Read Down the hatch: St. Petersburg has sent more than 21 million gallons of improperly treated sewage into the aquifer since 2018- “Days after Subtropical Storm Alberto dumped heavy rain on this city in May 2018, officials gave themselves a glowing report card on progress made repairing its leaky sewage system. “The city’s infrastructure handled the inundation from the storm’s rainfall completely and without incident,” read a May 29 posting on the city’s website. But the city didn’t tell the public that a few weeks earlier, it had pumped nearly 19 million gallons of wastewater into the Floridan aquifer that didn’t meet state or federal standards. Since the beginning of 2018, the city has violated its wastewater permit at least six times by pumping more than 21 million gallons of wastewater downs its wells, state records show. A probable seventh violation occurred this past weekend. Its size is still unknown...St. Petersburg’s sewage problems have been well documented and widely publicized since the city dumped, pumped and spilled nearly a billion gallons of sewage into the aquifer and local waterways between 2015 and 2017, prompting the city to sign a consent order with the state pledging $326 million in sewer improvements. But the city hasn’t always been transparent about the amount of partially treated wastewater it pumps below ground...Shortly before Kriseman’s 2017 re-election, the Times reported the city violated state law by sending 16.5 million gallons down the wells after Hurricane Irma hit the city nearly two months earlier. For weeks, the mayor had campaigned around the city claiming there hadn’t been any significant problems with the sewage system. And Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials say St. Petersburg is the only wastewater permit holder in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to violate state law by putting less than reclaimed water quality effluent down its wells between Jan. 1, 2018 and Monday, the period covered by a Times public records request for all sewage systems in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties…” Charlie Frago and Josh Solomon report for the Tampa Bay Times.
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:
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. Stay tuned for contact information and speaker request forms.
August 31st - 9:00am-12:00pm - Gulf Coast Ecosystems & Sea Level Rise Impacts field trip - (Yankeetown)- The Sierra Club Adventure Coast invites you to an outing led by Eugene Kelly. Meet at Bird Creek Beach on County Road 40/Follow That Dream Parkway, located near the mouth of the Withlacoochee River in Yankeetown, FL. Turn right into the park just before the road ends at the boat ramp (Latitude 29.002, Longitude -82.758). This 3-hour trip will familiarize participants with the coastal ecosystems of Florida’s unspoiled Big Bend coastline and ecological consequences of sea level rise and other climate related changes on them. We begin at Bird Creek Beach—truly a wild coast. Bring footwear you won’t mind getting wet and muddy to walk into the salt marsh. Bring other footwear for later. For more information visit the Adventure Coast Group’s Facebook page here , or email email@example.com.
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. 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. Interested parties wishing to be placed on the agenda should contact GeeDee Kerr in Senator Gruters’ office at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 9th – 9:30am – Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Riverview) – Attend the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Regent, 6437 Watson Road, Riverview, FL 33578. For further information and to be placed on the agenda, complete the speaker request form here by September 4th and/or email Jason Holloway at email@example.com.
September 10th - 1:00pm-5:00pm - Marion County Legislative Delegation meeting - (Ocala) - Attend the Marion County Legislative Delegation meeting at the College of Central Florida, Klein Conference Center3001 SW College Road, Ocala, FL 34474. For additional information or to be placed on the printed agenda to address the Marion County Legislative Delegation, please contact Suzanne McGuire in Senator Perry’s office by Friday, August 29, 2019 by phone at 352-732-1249 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All materials or handouts for this meeting must be sent to Suzanne McGuire in Senator Perry’s office no later than Friday, August 30, 2019. Please find appearance request form here.
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. 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 12th – 9:00am-12:00pm – Pinellas County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Clearwater) – Attend the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation meeting at the St. Petersburg College – Clearwater Campus, Auditorium, 2465 Drew St., Clearwater, FL 33765. To participate in the delegation meeting, contact Anna.Stearns@myfloridahouse.gov and submit the participant request form before September 5th. Agenda and meeting notice will be released at a later date.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 1st – 3:00pm-6:30pm – Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting – (New Port Richey) – Attend the Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting at the River Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey, FL 34654. If you would like to be placed on the agenda, please contact Alexander.Alt@myfloridahouse.gov.
October 2nd – 9:00am – Manatee County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Bradenton) – Attend the Manatee County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Manatee County Commission Chambers, 1112 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL. To be placed on the agenda, please contact Meagan Hebel at email@example.com no later than noon on Wednesday September 25th.
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 8th – 8:00am-11:00am – Charlotte County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Punta Gorda) – Attend the Charlotte County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association, 2001 Shreve Street, Punta Gorda, FL 33950. To be placed on the agenda, email Cynthia.email@example.com before 4:00pm on October 1st, 2019. For more information, see meeting notice here.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
November 18 – 1:00pm-4:00pm – Hernando County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Brooksville) – Attend the Hernando County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 N Main Street, Courtroom A, 2nd Floor, Brooksville, FL 34601. Additional information will be forthcoming.
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