FCC News Brief - October 4, 2019

Read Nikki Fried unveils sustainable energy legislative package - “ Florida’s only Democratic statewide elected official called on expansion of solar power, improvements to energy storage grids and a study of energy efficiency for all state facilities, among other sweeping measures. “The science is clear that we have a cause and a crisis that is urgent,” Fried said. “We need action now, and we need to be taking it together.” She held a press conference alongside U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Kathy Castor, as well as state Rep. Margaret Good, all  also Democrats. There, Fried stressed the need for innovation in addressing and adapting to climate change...She sourced numbers showing greenhouse emissions in Florida leapt 400 percent since 1950. Meantime, some 900 people a day move to Florida, putting greater demand on resources. “Florida consumes 800,000 barrels of oil a day,” she said. “We have no choice but to make changes.” Fried called on lawmakers to fund two studies this year: One on the impact of energy efficiency in low-income communities, and the other on how infrastructure improvements affect energy storage abilities in Florida. She requested funding for a pilot program using new bridge storage technologies. She also announced a Florida Advisory Council on Climate and Energy, tasked with studying the issue in Florida. Her legislative agenda this year includes creating a greenhouse gas inventory for state buildings. She wants a vehicle demonstration program for farm energy-efficient equipment, while also calling on energy and water audits of farms. And she wants $5 million over five years to pay for an 80-percent cost share program for up to $25,000 on improvements…” Jacob Ogles reports for Florida Politics.

Read Watered-down plan advances to filter algae from Lake Okeechobee overflow - “Plans to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee – which environmentalists say won’t be large enough to filter toxic algae that can flow into waterways leading to Florida’s coasts – took a step forward on Thursday. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida Crystals Corp. has agreed to an early termination of its lease on state-owned land now used to grow sugar cane in favor of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. In a letter to the South Florida Water Management District, the company said cultivation would continue “on a field-by-field basis until its operations are incompatible” with development of the reservoir...The $2 billion project is a key component of former Senate President Joe Negron’s plan to filter overflows of water laced with noxious blue-green algae from the lake. The plan originally was to let polluted lake water flow into a 60,000-acre basin and wetlands south of the lake to remove the toxins that have sickened humans and wildlife and damaged the tourist economy. However, the final plan would restrict the reservoir to 17,000 acres – not enough to really solve the problem, according to an environmentalist the Florida Phoenix interviewed in August. William J. Mitsch of Florida Gulf Coast University has modeled the plan and estimates it would take some 100,000 acres to sufficiently filter the water. The toxic algae thrives on nutrients derived from fertilizer, animal wastes, and human sewage and septic tanks…” Michael Moline reports for the Florida Phoenix.

Read What’s the next step in the lawsuit over the Rodman Dam? - “It’s 50 years and counting for this Florida battle. In 1968, the Cross Florida Barge Canal began construction. The state intended to dig a ditch across Florida to connect the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. At the thought of that, a non-profit group called the Florida Defenders of the Environment was created. They eventually succeeded at stopping the barge canal plans and removed all of the physical structures the Cross Florida Barge Canal created. All structures except one. That one is the Rodman Dam. Located in both Putnam and Marion counties, the dam allows for the existence of the Rodman Reservoir. Additionally, the water there gets filtered through the dam and flows into the St. Johns River. However, plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed two years ago say the Ocklawaha River (adjacent to St. Johns) is harmed in the process. The Florida Defenders of the Environment filed a federal lawsuit in 2017 against the U.S. Forest Service on the grounds that the federal agency’s permit to keep the dam expired in the 1990s. Two years later, a federal judge on Monday made a decision in that lawsuit. Harvey E. Schlesinger, the judge, came to the conclusion that his court didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on this case. Joseph Little, one of the lawyers with the Florida Defenders of the Environment who filed the lawsuit to remove the dam, said that they had about 30 days to decide their next course of action. They could either ask the judge for a rehearing or appeal the case to the federal circuit court of appeals. “This is a once in a career kind of case,” Little said. “The FDE have been working to see the Ocklawaha river restored for 50 years now…” Julia Collins reports for WUFT.

Read Red tide, fish kills return to Southwest Florida - “Red tide has returned to Collier County beaches while a low-density patch of red tide has lingered offshore of Lee County for about a week. The latest test results for Collier County show red tide is present at four of the five test sites. Test results for water samples collected Monday showed Tuesday that the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was detected at medium concentrations at Barefoot Beach and Vanderbilt Beach. Low concentrations were found at Seagate Beach and the Naples Pier. Only South Marco Beach did not have red tide present...Red tide blooms have been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s, according to the FWC. However, scientists think nutrients running off the Florida landscape increase the frequency and duration of these events. Karenia brevis, the red tide organism in Florida, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, killing them. Last year, Southwest Florida and other parts of the state were plagued by one of the worst red tide spells in recent memory as toxic algae ravaged beaches and marine life. That red tide bloom began in October 2017 and lasted until February 2019…” Patrick Riley reports for Naples Daily News.

Read More frequent and intense tropical storms mean less recovery time for the world’s coastlines - “Tropical cyclones – storms that bring strong, rotating winds and rain, and which can intensify into hurricanes or typhoons – affect coastal regions around the world. Our research team, centered at the University of North Carolina's Institute of Marine Sciences, has analyzed a 120-year record of tropical cyclones affecting coastal North Carolina, and found that six of the seven wettest storms over this time period occurred in the past two decades. That trend appeared to continue with Hurricane Dorian, which delivered up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain within 24 hours as it grazed the North and South Carolina coasts in early September 2019. This additional rain is a combined result of a warmer ocean and slower-moving or stalled cyclones approaching the coast. More frequent and intense tropical storms have far-reaching ecological impacts on coastlines that last for months or years after storms pass. They affect estuaries, bays and marshes that are crucial nurseries for major ocean fisheries...As rainfall from large tropical storms flows from elevated inland regions toward coastal plains, it carries immense quantities of nutrients, dissolved organic matter, sediments and urban, industrial and agricultural pollutants. This puts a heavy burden on watersheds and downstream coastal ecosystems that receive these discharges. Many of these coastal areas are already influenced by human activities under normal hydrologic conditions. When excess nitrogen and phosphorus build up in rivers and bays, they can cause recurring algal blooms with cascading impacts, including oxygen depletion, fish and shellfish kills and food chain disruptions. There are harmful aesthetic and economic impacts as well, including accumulation of smelly decomposing algae and loss of recreational and fishing habitats. These conditions inconvenience residents and may drive away tourists, harming the local economy…” Hans Paerl writes for The Conversation.

Read Seagrass meadows harbor wildlife for centuries, highlighting need for conservation - “Seagrass  meadows put down deep roots, persisting in the same spot for hundreds and possibly thousands of years, a new study shows. Seagrasses, crucial sources of shelter and food for thousands of species, are threatened globally by coastal development, pollution and climate change. While scientists have documented the health of seagrass meadows over several years or decades, assessing these habitats at the scale of centuries or millennia has been a much greater challenge. University of Florida researchers used modern and fossil shells from seagrass-dwelling animals to estimate the age of these meadows, showing that, far from being transient patches of underwater weeds, they are remarkably stable over time...“This is one more reason to advocate for seagrass conservation and preservation,” said the study’s lead author Alexander Challen Hyman, who conducted the research as a master’s student in UF’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. “This study highlights how vital seagrasses are as habitats. Not only are they hotspots of biodiversity, but they’re enduring and stable hotspots over time.”...But seagrasses are some of the planet’s most threatened ecosystems. A 2009 study revealed that mapped seagrass meadows have decreased globally by an estimated 29% since records began in 1879, and the rate of loss is accelerating…” Natalie van Hoose writes for the Florida Museum

Read Reducing lawns, adding native plants could help dwindling bird population - “Birds are in trouble. A study — reported in the journal Science last month — reveals that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by 29 percent. This is a loss of almost 3 billion birds across diverse groups and habitats...The steep drop in North American bird populations parallels losses elsewhere in the world. The action that I and others in my Audubon chapter believe will do the most to help birds in our area is to reduce lawns and plant native plants. Florida native landscaping recreates habitat destroyed when our homes were built. Native plants are essential as host plants for host-specific butterflies — like the Monarch that has declined for many of the same reasons as grassland birds — and other native pollinators, as well as for the food chain needed by migratory birds....Florida native landscaping has other environmental benefits. Since native plants require no fertilizer and little water once established, Florida native landscaping reduces the need to withdraw irrigation water from our aquifer and fertilizer runoff, protecting the water quality in our springs and rivers…” Deborah Green writes Opinion for the Orlando Sentinel.

Read White House eliminates advisory boards for marine life, invasive species - “The Trump administration is disbanding two federal advisory boards focused on protecting marine life and battling invasive species. As of Tuesday, the government will no longer fund the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the Interior Department’s Invasive Species Advisory Committee, the two agencies confirmed. Both federal advisory panels have been in operation for more than a decade. The discontinuation the committees as well as the end of the work of the various scientists and academics on them comes as the Trump administration has called for cutting at least one-third of all advisory panels. Monday was the deadline for each agency to comply with the June executive order...The panel advises NOAA on ways to strengthen the country’s marine protected areas and identify challenges facing them. It was chartered in 2003 under former President George W. Bush. There are more than 1,700 marine protected areas in the U.S. covering 41 percent of marine waters, which include marine monuments and sanctuaries. President Trump in 2017 issued an executive order asking the Commerce Department to review “future offshore energy potential” at national marine sanctuaries and monuments that had been designated or expanded since 2007…” Miranda Green reports for The Hill.

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:

Conservation Stewardship Coordinator - Tall Timbers

Associate Director - Center for Earth Jurisprudence

Botanist - The Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI)/Florida State University

Associate Director - Blair Audubon Visitor Center

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

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

Upcoming Environmental Events:

For a separate list of upcoming legislative delegation meetings, visit our website here.

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:   weegie1021@aol.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: brown.kevin@flsenate.gov 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 davis.chad@flsenate.gov before noon on September 30. For additional Information, please contact Chad Davis by email (davis.chad@flsenate.gov) 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 robin.steele@myfloridahouse.gov or (352) 313-6542 in Representative Clemons’ office by October 2. For additional information, contact Ellen Boukari, Legislative Assistant to Representative Chuck Clemons at ellen.boukari@myfloridahouse.gov 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.beckett@myfloridahouse.gov 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 alexander.dee@flsenate.gov.

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 alexander.alt@myfloridahouse.gov 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 resourcewisdom@gmail.com.

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 kmcgee@natuastrategies.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 dane.eagle@myfloridahouse.gov.

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.

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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