Read Impact of Florida Forever on refuge - “Putting land into conservation helps in the battle to improve the quality of Florida's waterbodies in multiple ways. For one, land that is in conservation has lower levels of nutrients than land used for housing or agriculture, which reduces the flow of harmful nutrients into our water bodies. Also, conservation land can be used to support dispersed water management projects that store and/or clean water. What is Florida Forever? Back in 1990, the Florida Legislature found that the imminent development of Florida's natural areas and continuing increases in land values necessitated an aggressive program to acquire public lands for environmental and recreational purposes. As a result, the legislature passed the Preservation 2000 Act and provided $300 million of supplemental funding annually for a 10-year period to accelerate the acquisition of publicly owned lands...There are several projects on the Florida Forever projects list that would benefit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, such as the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem project, which has been on the Florida Forever projects list since 2000. It is currently the highest ranked project in the less-than-fee simple land category. The total amount of land in the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem project is 183,809 acres, of which 71,171 acres have already been put into conservation via multiple purchases. As the name implies, the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem surrounds Fisheating Creek, the only undammed tributary to Lake Okeechobee. As a result, nutrient runoff from this land flows down Fisheating Creek and enters the lake slightly north of the Caloosahatchee. Continuing to put parcels of land in the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem into conservation would directly benefit the Refuge by eliminating nutrient runoff that would make its way down the Caloosahatchee to the refuge... From its inception, up through fiscal year 2008-2009, Florida Forever was funded at the same level as the P2000 program - $300 million per year. Then things changed. Over each of the next five years, the amount the Florida legislature allocated to Florida Forever averaged approximately $15 million... Where do we go from here? In its last legislative session, the Florida legislature provided $33 million of funding for Florida Forever. Our short-term goal is to encourage the Florida legislature to significantly increase that funding in its upcoming session. One benefit of increased funding is that property that impacts the refuge, such as land within the Fisheating Creek Ecosystem, will be put under conservation. In the longer term, we will work to have other properties that could impact the refuge placed high on the Florida Forever projects list...” Sarah Ashton and Jim Metzler report for the Sanibel-Captiva Islander.
Read Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to roll out climate change priorities - “Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Thursday plans to roll out legislative priorities focused on climate change. Warning of greater coastal flooding and more powerful hurricanes, the package will address issues such as renewable energy, farm resilience, climate adaptation, new funding sources and financial incentives, Fried said Wednesday as she helped open the Florida Energy and Climate Summit in Tampa. “Wetter wets, drier dries, higher temperatures are reshaping our land, our water and our cities, and meanwhile our federal government has left us stranded,” Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat, said. “It’s time, as the third-largest state, the third with the most energy usage, to start preparing for the future of our state and our country,” Fried continued. “We need to increase energy efficiency, diversify energy sources, modernize our energy policies, look at our most vulnerable of our consumers.” Fried also announced Wednesday that her Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is setting up a panel to focus on climate change called the Florida Advisory Council on Climate and Energy.” From the News Service of Florida.
Read Florida issues new rules on prescribed burns that begin immediately - “Smoke and ash have been an annual nuisance for Floridians living next to sugarcane growers. Tuesday the state promised to help clear the air with new rules for prescribed burns. Those are intentionally set fires used to maintain vegetation and prevent wildfires. Effective immediately— Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fired announced new restrictions on cane growers who in October start pre-harvest burns to prep fields. They’ll now need a two-field buffer zone on dry, windy days. They can’t burn on foggy mornings. Nighttime burns are banned without permission...Fried said sugar operations knew the change was coming and believes they’ll be able to adapt. “Change is not easy for any industry. This is something that they knew that day one— this is a promise that I made to the people of the state of Florida. We were going to be bold, we were going to come in and look at changes.” Growers for the most part aren’t outwardly critical of the new rules. Florida Crystals said in a statement it looks forward to continued work with the state on the changes. The Sierra Club, however, felt the change wasn’t enough. It’s been pushing for a total ban on sugarcane burns due to pollution concerns.” Forrest Saunders reports for WPTV.
Read Making the case for a drilling ban - “Protecting Florida’s coastline means protecting its economy, its way of life and its diverse environmental treasures. And that means keeping oil rigs away from its offshore waters. That should be obvious to anyone who has ever resided in the Sunshine State — including the current occupant of the White House. Certainly it’s clear to members of Florida’s congressional delegation (with the inexplicable and frankly, inexcusable exception of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville.) Florida voters certainly get it: Last year, they approved a ban on offshore drilling in state-controlled waters by a 2-1 margin. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a permanent extension of the Florida drilling bans that have been in place, in one form or another, since the 1980s. But the hard part is still ahead: Getting the bill through the Senate will be a challenge. Sen. Marco Rubio has already filed legislation that would extend the current ban until at least 2027. It took him awhile, but Sen Rick Scott finally signed on to Rubio’s bill. The real hurdle, however, is the White House. In a sharp reversal of his 2018 position — when his administration announced that offshore drilling was “off the table” for Florida — the president is now threatening to veto any ban that passes Congress. It may well fall to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has strong ties to the president, to remind Trump of his promise to protect Florida’s fragile shoreline. DeSantis could start by sharing some of the harrowing images of damage that Florida endured from the catastrophic failure and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010 — including pictures of befouled sea birds, dead baby dolphins washing ashore and diseased fish caught in Tampa Bay years after the spill…” From the Daytona Beach News-Journal Editorial Board.
Read Ag Commissioner to Palm Beach crowd: Support local farmers - “Fried spoke Thursday at The Breakers in Palm Beach at the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s 76th annual convention, which had more than 480 attendees… Ensuring that agriculture stays competitive isn’t just about food security and providing food to the state, nation and world, although those are all priorities. It’s about Florida’s future, Fried said. “If you are not successful, you are forced to sell your land for development and that increases the pollution into our area, and increases the congestion of our roads, and we lose that land forever,” Fried said...Rep. Rick Roth, R-Palm Beach Gardens, said that with 800 people a day moving to Florida, conserving land and natural resources is becoming more crucial.Roth asked Fried if there is a way to return to the state buying conservation easements so farmers can continue to farm rather than their land being purchased outright. Fried said that last year she sought more money under the Rural and Family Lands Protection Act, designed to boost land and water conservation, but the Legislature failed to fund it. With more and more legislators from urban areas, there is definitely a shift in their realizing the need for the program, Fried said. But, Fried said, the governor and Cabinet are committed to land conservation programs and are working to convey the message that such programs aren’t just about “paying farmers so they don’t have to work…” Susan Salisbury writes Special to the Post.
Read North Florida’s drought brings water levels in Apalachicola system to near-historic lows - “North Florida’s drought conditions are expected to continue and there’s no sign of relief anytime soon. The lack of water is beginning to take a toll on the Apalachicola Bay and river. In Tallahassee alone, there were 16 days of 95 degree or higher temperatures this summer. Florida state climatologist David Zierden says the region’s present drought conditions will remain for the next few weeks...The drought is also impacting the area’s imperiled Apalachicola Bay. Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman notes water flow has slowed, and impacts the people and economy that depend on the river and bay. “That can lead to challenges both the water quality coming into the Apalachicola Bay which you’re probably familiar with some of the history of the oyster industry in the challenges we’ve had.” The river contains plants, animals, and other natural resources that are vital to North Florida's ecosystems. Researchers have been trying to restore the Bay’s health and revive the oyster industry, but that depends on strong river flows. Drought doesn’t help those efforts. A federal hearing in a long running lawsuit over water flow and sharing between Florida and Georgia is set for Oct. 17 in New Mexico. Florida has accused Georgia of keeping too much water upstream, hurting the system downstream…” Brittany Jarret reports for WFSU.
Read Climate change could make borrowing costlier for states and cities- “Someday soon, analysts will determine that a city or county, or maybe a school district or utility, is so vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, drought or wildfire that it is an investment risk. To be sure, no community has yet seen its credit rating downgraded because of climate forecasting. And no one has heard of a government struggling to access capital because of its precarious geographical position. But as ratings firms begin to focus on climate change, and investors increasingly talk about the issue, those involved in the market say now is the time for communities to make serious investments in climate resilience — or risk being punished by the financial sector in the future. “We look not just at the vulnerability of state and local governments, but their ability to manage the impact,” said Emily Raimes, vice president with Moody’s Public Finance Group. “While we’ll be looking at the data on rising sea levels and who may be more vulnerable, we’ll also be looking at what these governments are doing to mitigate the impact.” Moody’s has been especially vocal about its climate change concerns. The firm has issued numerous papers assessing climate risk, and two months ago it purchased a majority stake in Four Twenty Seven, a climate-risk data firm…” Alex Brown reports for the Florida Phoenix.
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:
For a separate list of upcoming legislative delegation meetings, visit our website 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. 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 5th -9:00am- Butterflies, Wildflowers & Prescribed Burns: Wekiva Springs State park tour - (Apopka) - Join the Friends of Wekiva River for a park tour. This is a time of year when many butterflies are active so we should to see a variety of species. After an introduction, we will hop on the park tram to tour various area in the park. The Rangers leading this trip are on a specialized burn team for the state. They have extensive knowledge of the park, the burn process, and the positive impact of burning on our ecosystems. A profusion of wildflowers decorate the landscape and the butterflies should be taking advantage of this display. Nancy Prine will be sharing her extensive knowledge of the wild flowers, butterflies and their relationship to each other. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the Recreation Hall in Wekiva Springs State Park. Reservations are required. Field trip is limited to 30 people. Email Weegie Henry for reservations: email@example.com From more information call 407-788-2619.
October 7th – 5:30pm-7:00pm – Escambia County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Pensacola) - Members of Escambia County’s State Legislative Delegation will hold a public hearing at the Pensacola State College Jean and Paul Amos Performance Studio, 1000 College Boulevard Pensacola, FL. 32504. Delegation members will consider local bills, hear presentations from government entities, and take public testimony on proposals for the 2020 Regular Session of the Florida Legislature. Any member of the public is welcome to attend. To request an appearance form to be placed on the meeting agenda, individuals should contact Senator Doug Broxson’s office at (850) 595-1036 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
October 7th – 1:00-6:00pm – Polk County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Winter Haven) – Attend the Polk County Delegation meeting at Polk state College – Center for Publc Safety, 1251 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven, FL 33880. To be placed on the agenda please contact Senator Stargel’s office by sending a request to email@example.com before noon on September 30. For additional Information, please contact Chad Davis by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 863-668-3028.
October 7th – 1:30pm – Gilchrist County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Trenton) – Attend the Gilchrist County Delegation meeting at the Gilchrist County Commission Meeting Facility, 201 S Main St., Trenton, FL. To be placed on the agenda, please contact Robin Steele at email@example.com or (352) 313-6542 in Representative Clemons’ office by October 2. For additional information, contact Ellen Boukari, Legislative Assistant to Representative Chuck Clemons at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 313- 6542.
October 7th - 8:00am - FDEP Blue-Green Algae Task Force - (Gainesville) - – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is hosting the sixth meeting of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force.The key focus of the Task Force is to support funding and restoration initiatives, such as prioritizing solutions and making recommendations to expedite nutrient reductions in Lake Okeechobee and the downstream estuaries. This meeting will consist of public comment and final action on the first Task Force Consensus Document. The agenda is available on the Task Force website. The final draft of the Consensus Document will be made available on the website later this week. Where: University of Florida, Martin Levin Advocacy Center, Room 106, 309 Village Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611.
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 8th – 9:30am – Broward County Legislative Delegation meeting (Miramar) – Attend the Broward County Delegation meeting at the City of Miramar Commission Chambers, 23000 Civic Center Place, Miramar, FL 33025. Members of the public and representatives of organizations are entitled to address the Delegation at the public hearing appropriate to their subject matter. Click on the Speaker's Form to sign up to speak. The completed form will automatically be forwarded to the Delegation office. Please have this form to the Delegation Office at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing. In addition, you may sign up at the hearing. Speakers will have 2 minutes to present information to the Delegation. If providing handouts to the members please bring 20 copies and give to the Delegation Assistant at the start of the meeting.
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.
October 9th - 4:00pm – 5:30pm- 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. Interested citizens wishing to be placed on the agenda for the October 9 public meeting are asked to contact Senator Bean’s Office at 904-757-5039, prior to close of business Friday, October 4. All materials or handouts for this meeting should be sent to Senator Bean’s Office no later than Friday, October 4. Information can be mailed to 13453 North Main St, Suite 301, Jacksonville, FL 32218 or emailed to Dee Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 11th - 8:00am-11:00am - Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting - (New Port Richey) - Attend the Pasco County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Performing Arts Center at Pasco-Hernando State College West Campus, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey, FL 34654. This annual public meeting is an opportunity for citizens, elected officials, cities and local government, and other civic organizations to address the delegation before the start of the 2020 Legislative Session. If you would like to be placed on the printed agenda, please contact Representative Mariano’s Office at email@example.com or (727) 861-4806, by noon on Friday, October 4, 2019. You may also complete a Speaker’s Form on the day of the meeting and you will be afforded time to speak in the order in which it was received. Please submit or bring seven (7) copies of all handouts to the meeting for distribution. If you would like more information regarding this meeting, please contact Alexander Alt by email (at the above listed email address) or call (727) 861-4806.
October 11th-13th - 2nd Annual Festival of Flight & Flowers - (Eustis, Lake County) - Returning again this year, the Festival of Flight and Flowers weekend will provide visitors and local residents access to professionals and experts that specialize in native plants, outdoor recreation, wildflowers, bird and butterfly watching, and much more around Lake County Florida. This year we are lucky to have Birding by Bus join us as our Keynote Speakers and special trip leaders. The weekend comprises of a one day festival on Saturday, October 12, in downtown Eustis, Florida, surrounded by field trips, conservation walks, and bird watching throughout Lake County, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We have biologists and nature experts leading the way on guided immersive field trips all over Lake County allowing you to experience Real Florida, as well as educational lectures and presentations all day on Saturday. For more information, visit the website here.
October 14th - 6:00pm (CDT)- Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series - (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics, Inc. at Ever’mans Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street for a discussion on the (restoration of) The Rights of Nature. Find out what is happening locally, around the state and around the globe. Learn how you can get engaged and why it’s important, now more than ever, to do so. Stay up to date or learn more at https://www.facebook.com/events/2150083855285903/
October 15th - 2:00-4:00pm - Environmental Discussions Group of Manatee County - (Bradenton) - The Environmental Discussions Group of Manatee County will hold its next program at the Braden River Library meeting room, 4915 53rd Ave. E, Bradenton, FL 34203. We will host two speakers from Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department. They will visit to describe the habitat of gopher tortoises. Also, they will discuss the plans for conversion of overgrown land at Rye Preserve to a scrub and flatwoods habitat. That type of habitat is prime for the gopher tortoises and the wildlife their burrows support. Be sure to attend to see the exciting surprise display our speakers have planned. The meeting is open to all. Please send an r.s.v.p. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 24th - Save Our Springs and Rivers Academy - (Deland) - The Green Volusia Program is hosting another Save Our Springs & Rivers Academy free adult education classes. This is a six-day class and will include classroom and field trip experiences, guest speakers and hands-on, feet-wet learning to provide an in-depth citizen engagement experience. The free adult education class will be held October 24, 25, 31, and November 1, 8, and 15th. The October 25, 2019 class will participate in the Volusia Water Alliance's Water Symposium at the Wayne G. Sanborn Center in DeLand. On November 15, 2019, the class will attend the Sh.O.R.E. Symposium (SHaring Our Research with Everyone - A Research Symposium for Students, Scientists and the Community) at the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach, presented by Daytona State College's Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies, the Marine Discovery Center and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Advance registration is required. Email Kelli at email@example.com for more information.
October 25th - 26th - State of Our Water Fall Symposium - (Deland) - Join the Volusia Water Alliance for the annual Water Symposium consisting of short presentations on the problems we face and possible solutions by leaders and experts. As our population grows in Central Florida, we are causing serious problems to our natural ecosystem and the Floridan Aquifer under our feet from which we get our water. There are no easy solutions, but the best minds in the business are coming together to work on it. Join us. Learn about the problems. Be a part of the solutions. FREE to the public! (Registration required).
October 26th - 9:00am-4:00pm - Florida Solar Congress - (Tampa) -Join Solar United Neighbors for the 2019 Florida Solar Congress. Solar experts, activists, homeowners, and supporters from all over the state of Florida will be converging in Tampa this October. We’ll discuss the state of solar in Florida in 2019 and celebrate the progress our movement has made so far. Visit the website for more information, RSVP here. Location: Phyllis P. Marshall Student Center, 4103 Cedar Circle Tampa, FL 33620.
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.
October 30th – 9:00am- Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Fort Myers) – Attend the Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting at Florida Southwestern State College, Nursing Building (Room AA-177), 8099 College Pkwy, Fort Myers, FL 33919. The deadline to request placement on the meeting agenda for a general presentation before the Delegation is 5:00pm on Monday, October 21, 2019. All requests to be placed on the agenda must be submitted in writing to State Representative Dane Eagle, Chairman, Lee County Legislative Delegation, 1039 SE 9th Place, Suite 310, Cape Coral, FL 33990, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
November 19th – 9:00am-12:30pm – Osceola County Legislative Delegation meeting – (Kissimmee) – Attend the Osceola County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Osceola County Administration Building 1 Courthouse Square, 4th Floor, Commission Chambers Kissimmee, FL 34741. Members of the public wishing to address the delegation (limit of 3 minutes) must request a place on the agenda by submitting the Presentation Request Form. Forms and materials may be submitted in person or via mail to: 231 Ruby Ave. Suite A, Kissimmee, FL 34741, fax: (407) 846-5011 or email to Beatriz.Marte@MyFloridaHouse.gov. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 8, 2019.
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