Read Algae task force fine tunes recommendations to help heal Florida’s ailing waterways - “A state task force charged with cleaning up Florida's ailing waterways is wrapping up a list of recommendations that will soon go before lawmakers. The Blue-Green Algae Task Force met Monday in Gainesville to finalize several issues it says are at the core of the state's water quality issues. Suncoast Waterkeeper Andy Mele said he wants to see more focus on the Florida Department of Health and how it reacts to blue-green algae blooms, one of which crippled the Caloosahatchee River and estuary last year. "As the water goes, so goes Florida," Mele said. "We suggest that before too many more people go into the water and come out sick and perhaps infected, we suggest you do more monitoring at swimming beaches and put up consistent signage round the state." Health officials were criticized in public last year for not adequately responding to a blue-green algae bloom that was strong enough to cause then-governor Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency. Many people wanted more signage to warn would-be-swimmers about potentially toxic conditions...Topics on which the task force is making recommendations vary from agriculture pollution to septic tanks and the impacts of blue-green algae blooms on human health. Deborah Foote with the Sierra Club Florida Chapter said her group was satisfied with the task force's approach to agriculture pollution. "We find that the recommendations regarding agriculture and Best Management Practices (BMPs) are strong, particularly the statement that the effectiveness of BMPs be supported by adequate data to justify the presumption of compliance granted upon enrollment and implementation," Foote told task force members. Recommendations from the task force will be delivered to lawmakers before the next session. "Increased delivery of nutrients to Florida’s water bodies is widely recognized as the primary driver of algal proliferation and subsequent degradation of aquatic ecosystems," a draft copy of the recommendations reads. "Major sources of nutrients include, but are not limited to, agricultural operations, wastewater treatment plants, onsite sewage disposal systems and urban storm water runoff." Agricultural practices that are supposed to remove nutrients from the historic Everglades system don't seem to be working because blue-green blooms are problematic in the system much of the year…” Chad Gillis reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.
Read State algae task force, meeting at UF, adds focus on inland springs - “A state task force formed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to find ways to reduce algae blooms that have plagued coastal Florida turned its attention inland, to the natural springs that surround Gainesville, as the group met Monday at the University of Florida. Blue-Green Algae Task Force members changed their draft report on restoring state waterways to better reflect that the impacts of high levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus aren’t only a South Florida problem. “Clearly your focus has been on the Lake Okeechobee basin, which is in desperate need of some attention, but we urge you not to restrict the recommendations that are in this document to exclusively South Florida waterways,” said Jen Lomberk, a water protection advocate with Matanzas Riverkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the St. Augustine waterway. “We certainly have our fair share of issues in the northern sections of Florida,” Lomberk said...The task force made changes to its draft document by including further references to groundwater contamination and aquifer recharge, two issues especially pertinent for Florida’s natural springs. [Wendy] Graham also suggested the inclusion of more specific language relating to the impacts of nutrient pollution on human health, with added references to sea-level rise and more intense storm surge and high tide events. The task force further changed its section on the analysis and review of agriculture records to address concerns about transparency at the expense of sharing trade secrets…” Emily Mavrakis reports for the Gainesville Sun.
Read Fort Lauderdale residents learn to navigate new law to challenge developers in court - “...[Stan] Eichelbaum is the president of the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Civic Association and a citizen activist. He organized a public forum for people to ask a panel of three land-use attorneys questions about a new state law: House Bill 7103. The law changes the way private citizens can challenge developers in court. Because of how many controversial developments have been challenged by private citizens in recent years - the WAVE Streetcar and the Bahia Mar development - the law is also changing the conversations among civic groups in Fort Lauderdale. "Now, when a private citizen challenges in court a final decision on a development, they risk having to pay legal fees for the developer if they lose," Frank Schnidman explained. A retired land-use attorney and University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University professor, he was the evening's moderator. “We’re here to talk about the level of caution that you need to exercise as a community activist,” Schnidman told the crowd...The land-use attorneys on the panel weighed the law's pros and cons. Jane West, policy and planning director for the environmental advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida, said that, since the bill was signed into law, she has seen clients drop cases against developers out of fear of having to pay their legal fees if they lose. The nonprofit is suing the state and several state officers over HB 7103. “We’re taking action on this because at the end of the day, it basically causes the average Floridian not to participate in the public process,” she said. “This is a complete game changer for what Florida is going to look like.” “Florida’s biggest environmental problem … is all tied to how we make our land use decisions,” West said…” Caitie Switalski reports for WLRN.
Read Ocklawaha River activists must fight to breach Kirkpatrick Dam - “There is only one way to restore the Ocklawaha River. It is one of the longest environmental conflicts in Florida, a political boondoggle, that began with a bad idea called the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The idea was to cut the Florida peninsula in half so ships would not have to voyage all the way around our pesky peninsula. Along the way, Florida’s aquifer would be damaged, and the Ocklawaha River would be destroyed. Thanks to environmental activist Marjorie Harris Carr, who helped found the Florida Defenders of Environment, the project was abandoned, half finished, during the Nixon administration. Unfortunately, a lasting scar remains. The Kirkpatrick Dam. The earthen dam, long known as the Rodman Dam before the Florida Legislature renamed it in 1998, spans a mile and a half, and it is a crumbling, medieval-looking structure blocking the Ocklawaha River. Water no longer flows freely northward from the largest tributary to the St. Johns River and thousands of acres of floodplain are lost. The Kirkpatrick Dam makes possible the Rodman Reservoir, a 16-mile pool, famous for its bass fishing. There are tournaments every year, and some local people actually rely on the reservoir for sustenance. People can find other places to fish, but what about the tourism dollars the tournaments generate? Never mind that the University of Florida published a research paper indicating more money could be made from the recreational aspects of the river. Never mind that tourists from around the globe would come to see the manatees, who would return to the Ocklawaha River minus the dam. Never mind that, according to riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, breaching the dam would improve the health of the St. Johns River as well. So far, these facts have done nothing to convince politicians, such as Putnam County commissioner Larry Harvey, former president of Save Rodman Reservoir, that breaching the dam is environmentally, morally, and economically sound…” Elizabeth Randall writes Opinion for the Orlando Sentinel.
Read Pasco land sought for preservation is sold for $18.6 million - “A Floral City agricultural company has purchased nearly 3,600 acres in central Pasco that a citizens group had recommended for environmental preservation. The newly formed Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. purchased the 3,567 acres north of State Road 52 and east of Ehren Cutoff for $18.67 million in a deal that closed Sept. 13. The land will remain a cattle ranch, said James P. Fenton, the head of Palmetto Ridge Cattle Co. and several other agricultural interests involved in citrus, berry, pine and cattle operations in Citrus County. "We bought the ranch to run cattle on and will continue to do so,'' Fenton said in a text message. "We had sold our ranch, so we needed to find a new place to run out cattle. Simple as that.'' The sellers were heirs of the late St. Petersburg heart surgeon Dr. J. Clayton Pruitt, who acquired the land in 1997 and made it the home of the Florida Estates Winery. In 2017, a Pasco citizens advisory committee recommended adding the land to the county’s Environmental Land Acquisition and Management Program list as an agricultural reserve. The Southwest Florida Water Management District previously had identified the land as worthy of preservation because of its proximity to well fields and because the land includes streams, reservoirs, marshes, wet prairies and wetland forests. About half of the land is pasture. Pasco County Commissioners balked, however, at even adding the land to its acquisition list as a precursor to negotiations, saying the size and cost could exhaust the environmental program’s treasury funded by the Penny for Pasco sales tax...The land carries a planned-unit development designation, allowing nearly 1,300 homes and 100,000 square feet of non-residential development on about 1,500 acres…” C.T. Bowen reports for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read It’s time to face the facts on energy and climate in Florida - “Energy impacts all of us – all day, every day. From producing our food, powering our homes and devices, moving around our communities, and driving our industries, energy is the foundation of our daily lives. Meanwhile, climate change poses a growing threat to our state, our economy, and our very future. These things are interconnected. Energy, climate, water, air, and other issues don’t exist in a vacuum. And the time is now to take them seriously. It’s time to face the facts on energy and climate. Here are a few of those facts: Since 1950, greenhouse gas emissions have increased by over 400 percent. Here in Florida, 92 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels – the leading driver of accelerating climate change. We’re the third-largest state, consuming the nation’s third-most energy, including 800,000 barrels of oil per day. Florida faces the nation’s highest coastal flooding threat, with 3.5 million people at risk, and the nation’s highest risk of extreme heat by 2050. Up to 30 million people will call Florida home by 2045 – so we need to change how we use energy and how we approach our looming climate crisis. This week, our Office of Energy held the 2019 Florida Energy & Climate Summit in Tampa – the first state-level summit to address climate change since 2008, under then-Governor Charlie Crist. What we learned is that we need partnerships to take on climate change together, we need investments on energy efficiency, resiliency, and mitigation, and we need innovation to meet these challenges. On the summit’s final day, I announced our 2020 legislative package to address energy efficiency, water, and climate change. These common-sense, reasonable proposals will inventory the state’s own greenhouse gas footprint, help farms afford water conservation and energy efficiency upgrades, fund much-needed climate and energy research, and much more…” Nikki Fried writes Opinion for the Tampa Bay Times.
Read River flows all across the globe are dropping - “Another slow-motion, man-made environmental disaster has been discovered, and it’s underneath your feet. About 70% of the water pumped out of underground aquifers worldwide is used for agriculture while much of the remainder quenches the thirst of cities. As industrial development spreads at a speedy clip, the rate at which those critical reservoirs are emptied is far outpacing the rate at which they are naturally replenished. But as with the climate crisis, there are plenty of disastrous side-effects on the road to a water catastrophe. A new study released Wednesday says that diminishing groundwater is causing the level of streams and rivers to fall as well. Like the shrinking aquifers, surface water is critical to farms, towns and cities for everything from food to trade to energy production...Watersheds are regions where a set of streams and rivers fed by rain and snow-melt all flow into a common, larger body of water. They include the groundwater underneath. By 2050, more than half of watersheds where groundwater is pumped out may see river flow drop, according to the study, published in the journal Nature...“Our overuse of groundwater resources is one of those quiet, under-appreciated challenges,” says Jason Morrison, president of the Pacific Institute, who wasn’t involved in the study. “The impacts are more profound than we understood. We’re kind of in this Wile E. Coyote moment where we’re over the cliff and we’re running still.”...That threshold has already been eclipsed in as much as 21 percent of watersheds where pumping is common (about half of watersheds overall). Areas already in trouble, like those in the U.S. and India, belong to hotter climates that rely on groundwater for irrigation because rivers don’t supply sufficient volume. In America, the affected watersheds are also home to much of the nation’s agriculture production, a prime culprit in the drop in groundwater…” Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg.
Read As sea levels rise, so do ghost forests - “Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, sea levels are rising rapidly, creating stands of dead trees - often bleached, sometimes blackened - known as ghost forests. The water is gaining as much as 5 millimeters per year in some places, well above the global average of 3.1 millimeters, driven by profound environmental shifts that include climate change. Increasingly powerful storms, a consequence of a warming world, push seawater inland. More intense dry spells reduce freshwater flowing outward. Adding to the peril, in some places the land is naturally sinking. All of this allows seawater to claim new territory, killing trees from the roots up. Rising seas often conjure the threat to faraway, low-lying nations or island-states. But to understand the immediate consequences of some of the most rapid sea-level rise anywhere in the world, stand among the scraggly, dying pines of Dorchester County along the Maryland coast. People living on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary system, have a front-row view of the sea’s rapid advance, said Keryn Gedan, a wetland ecologist at George Washington University. Part of the reason for the quickly rising waters may be that the Gulf Stream, which flows northward up the coast, is slowing down as meltwater from Greenland inhibits its flow. That is causing what some scientists describe as a pileup of water along the East Coast, elevating sea levels locally…” Moises Velasquez-Manoff reports for the New York 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:
For a separate list of upcoming legislative delegation meetings, visit our website 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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 12th - 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 email@example.com.
October 22 - 10:00am - M-CORES Northern Turnpike Connector Task Force Meeting #2 - (Lecanto) - The Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program was signed into law by Governor DeSantis in May 2019. 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. The Task Force for the Northern Turnpike Connector (extending from the northern terminus of Florida’s Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway) will meet at the College of Central Florida Citrus Learning Center, 3800 S Lecanto Highway, Lecanto , FL 34461. Registration begins at 9:00am. FDOT staff will be available at each open house to answer questions and receive your comments. Additional information can be found on FDOT’s website here.
October 23 - 10:00am - M-CORES Suncoast Connector Task Force Meeting #2 - (Lecanto) - The Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program was signed into law by Governor DeSantis in May 2019. 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. The Task Force for the Suncoast Connector (extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County) will meet at the College of Central Florida Citrus Learning Center, 3800 S Lecanto Highway, Lecanto , FL 34461. Registration begins at 9:00am. FDOT staff will be available at each open house to answer questions and receive your comments. Additional information can be found on FDOT’s website here.
October 24 - 10:00am - M-CORES Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force Meeting #2 - (Lakeland) - The Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program was signed into law by Governor DeSantis in May 2019. 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. The Task Force for the Southwest-Central Florida Connector (extending from Collier County to Polk County) will meet at the Polk State College – Lakeland Campus, 3425 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, FL 33803. Registration begins at 9:00am. FDOT staff will be available at each open house to answer questions and receive your comments. Additional information can be found on FDOT’s website here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.
November 11th - 5:30-9:00pm - The Florida Premier of “We The People 2.0” - (Fort Myers) - Clean Water Now, Inc, is hosting a public viewing of the movie “We the people 2.0” to bring awareness of the Global Rights of Nature Movement and how the exercise of your community rights will create laws that bestow inalienable rights upon our eco-communities. The Lee County, Florida initiative is known as “The Caloosahatchee River Bill of Rights” or #CALBOR. Join elected officials, water advocacy groups , community leaders, educators, and businesses from across the State and Nation for dinner, show, and a guest panel. The film will be shows at the Broadway Palm Theater, 1380 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33907. For more information, visit the event page 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.
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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