FCC News Brief - October 10, 2019

Read State’s new bear management plan does not call for another bear hunt - “Florida wildlife officials are not recommending the state hold another bear hunt as part of a proposed management plan for the animals they released Tuesday. Instead, the 209-page draft plan from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission talks about managing the bears’ habitat and access to trash bins in order to help prevent conflicts with humans. While the plan does mention hunting as a population management tool in other states, there’s no recommendation to hold a successor to the hunt that happened in 2015. “That’s a policy decision,” wildlife commission executive director Eric Sutton said Tuesday. That means his bosses, the commissioners, “are the ones who would have to decide this.” The commission is seeking public comment on the new bear plan, with commissioners scheduled to discuss it and those comments at their meeting Dec, 11-12. The fact that there’s no recommendation for a new hunt is “good news for the bears,” said Frank Jackalone of the Sierra Club, an organization that had tried to halt the hunt in 2015. “We’re hopeful” that Florida is done with bear hunting, said Kate McFall of the Humane Society’s Florida chapter. “We will be continuing to watch this closely.” On the wildlife commission’s website, a list of points about the new management plan says it “acknowledges that, as both the human and bear populations continue to increase in Florida, at some point the number of bears will need to be addressed in some way.” The options listed include not just a possible hunt at some point in the future, but also hiring contract trappers, relocating bears or manipulating their fertility or their habitat…” Craig Pittman reports for the Tampa Bay Times. 

Read Cutler Bay imposes moratorium on development to study impact of sea level rise - “The town of Cutler Bay has imposed a six-month moratorium on development to study the impact of sea level rise. Since mid-July, all properties east of Old Cutler Road have been under the moratorium, impacting about half the city. The town has been researching environmental regulations aimed at addressing sea level rise and ensuring sustainable development in the future, according to the unanimously approved ordinance initiating the moratorium. “We want to look at, if and when we have new developments, what can we do to protect more of the natural environment?” said town manager Rafael Casals. As part of the moratorium, the town will also study traffic and mobility, along with landscape standards and designs. Construction and renovations on single-family homes will not be affected by the environmental component of the moratorium, nor will ongoing or already approved development projects. Cutler Bay encompasses a host of coastal wetlands habitat overseen by various regulatory agencies, including the Miami-Dade Department of Environmental Management (DERM). While much of that land is already protected from development, the town’s goal is to make sure those critical areas remain healthy. “Coastal wetlands and mangroves provide a buffer for storm surge, they are sort of like the first line of defense,” said Lisa Spadafina, chief of DERM’s Natural Resources Division. “These areas really do provide some significant protection to the developed areas in the county.” Protecting sensitive wetlands from storm water runoff is one key, Casals said. As part of that, there have been discussions to reintroduce natural landscaping to minimize the need for fertilizer or irrigation in those areas. New road berms and canals may be built as buffers. The Corradino Group has been contracted to help study new regulations to implement, the town manager said. While municipal leaders are confident that the moratorium is in the best interests of the town, real estate growth has slowed in Cutler Bay, according to Realtor Rebecca Carmona...Councilman Roger Coriat, whose entire district has been affected by the moratorium, said he has not faced pushback from constituents or developers. He said that many people, like himself, recalled evacuating from the area during Hurricane Irma in 2017 along with thousands of other residents…” Jack Brook reports for the Miami Herald.

Read Florida to use big chunk of VW settlement money for cleaner school buses - “New public-transit and school buses that run on electricity and alternative fuels would get much of Florida’s share of a federal payout from a Volkswagen emissions scandal, under a plan rolled out Tuesday by the state. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued what is known as a request for information on a $116.4 million initiative intended to voluntarily remove older buses from the road. The funding would account for 70 percent of the money Florida is slated to receive from the 2017 settlement over allegations that Volkswagen violated emissions requirements. The Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund called the request for information “a victory for climate action.” “Every day, diesel school buses expose 2.7 million Florida students to toxins and known carcinogens,” Aliki Moncrief, the fund’s executive director, said...The initiative, in part, would cover up to 100 percent of the cost of new government-owned buses and privately owned buses under contract with public schools, transit and shuttle programs. Along with electric-powered vehicles, money could go to buses that run on fuels such as propane and compressed natural gas. For buses used by other private entities, the state would cover up to 75 percent of the cost for new all-electric vehicles and 25 percent of the cost of new vehicles using alternative fuels. The state is also moving forward immediately with $5 million in offering --- on a first-come, first-served basis --- to fully fund the replacement of 2009 and older diesel school buses with electric battery-powered school buses and associated charging infrastructure. A priority for that initial replacement program would be designated “air quality priority areas,” which include Miami, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and Pensacola…” Jim Turner reports for the News Service of Florida.

Read How do we know if our beaches are poop-free and safe for swimming? We don’t. - “How do we know if our South Florida beaches are toxin-free and safe for swimming? We don’t in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. By the time the red flags go up by the lifeguard stand, ocean waters may have been contaminated with fecal matter for days. That’s because Miami-Dade and Broward report to residents a positive test result only after a second test confirms high levels of bacteria. That’s unacceptable given the times. The retesting can take up to four days. During that time, people with autoimmune disorders, plus children and the elderly could be exposed to harmful bacteria that puts them at risk of illness, skin rashes, and even death for the frail. It’s time to revisit reporting practices — and notify the public as soon as health officials know that waters are contaminated with fecal matter, aka poop. The same goes for other toxins. Do we have to wait for the collection of dead fish to appear when the stench is telling you the water couldn’t possibly be safe? With the pumping of standing water that accompanies excessive rain, sea-level rise and king tides — and the constant sewer pipe breakages of our aging infrastructure — the misery of our beaches is no longer a temporary condition… According to the Florida Healthy Beaches Program (given the decline statewide, it should be Florida Unhealthy Beaches Program), “enterococci are enteric bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of enteric bacteria can be an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage. If they are present in high concentrations in recreational waters and are ingested while swimming or enter the skin through a cut or sore, they may cause human disease, infections or rashes.” That’s hardly a risk to keep from the public — no matter how it might adversely affect tourism. Surprisingly for a state that wants to overpower home rule at every opportunity, the Florida Department of Health gives counties discretion over when to report water contamination to the public…” Fabiola Santiago writes Opinion for the Miami Herald

Read Algae board backs protection for downstream parts of St. Johns River - “Algae-feeding pollution at the start of the St. Johns River should be regulated tighter to protect places downstream as the river flows toward Jacksonville and the ocean, a state task force said Monday. The Blue-Green Algae Task Force that Gov. Ron DeSantis created in January included the recommendation in a “consensus document” that members approved with a promise their work wasn’t finished… The panel recommended developing rules called basin management action plans (BMAPs) to lower the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus — chemicals called nutrients because they nourish algae like plant food — in the river’s marshy beginnings in the upper basin, roughly from Indian River County north into Seminole County. BMAPs have been used for years to regulate pollution in the lower basin, which includes Jacksonville. But while basin plans should eventually help manage the river’s algae trouble, they’re so dependent on data and carefully set work plans that even supporters sometimes look for faster ways to get results. “That will take years for that to happen,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, who said she’s trying to get members of Florida’s Legislature to support changes to state law in 2020 that could have an effect faster. Nutrients that start upstream have been part of Jacksonville’s algae problem for many years...Phosphorus moving downstream has become a bigger issue since rules written to protect water around the Everglades led South Florida utilities to truck sewage sludge to farmland in the unprotected upper basin instead of around the Everglades. The real answer, Rinaman said, is for protections from sludge spreading around the St. Johns to be the same as around the Everglades, so pollution from one part of Florida isn’t just moved down the road. She said she’s talking with lawmakers, but none have committed so far to sponsor legislation while the state Department of Environmental Protection is drafting a new rule affecting sludge disposal. A similar effort in the last legislative session ended in disappointment…” Steve Patterson reports for the Florida Times-Union.

Read New study shows Florida panther breeding program helped rescue endangered state animal - “A new study shows that a breeding program that paired endangered Florida panthers with Texas pumas likely has helped save the official state animal from extinction. The study shows that genetic diversity in offspring from the Florida panthers and Texas pumas has tripled, alleviating the threat of physical defects related to genetic inbreeding. Bob Fitak of the University of Central Florida is a co-author of the study. He says the 1990s breeding program was among the first of its kind. “So not only does this help Florida panthers, but we now have a better understanding for the future for genetic rescue in other endangered species. And this now is happening throughout the world with these protected animals.”The Florida panther is the most endangered of the state symbols with a population of between 120 and 230 animals, up from 20 or 30 before the breeding program. The study appeared in the journal, G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics.” Amy Green reports for WMFE

Read The sea is running out of fish, despite nations’ pledges to stop it - “As global fish stocks that feed hundreds of millions of people dwindle, nations are scrambling to finalize by year’s end an international agreement to ban government subsidies that fuel overfishing. Yet as negotiations at the World Trade Organization resume this week in Geneva, Switzerland, new research shows that governments have actually increased financial support for fishing practices that decimate marine life, despite public pledges to curtail such handouts. In an exhaustive survey of 152 countries, scientists at the University of British Columbia found that ocean-faring nations spent $22 billion on harmful subsidies in 2018, or 63 percent of the total amount expended to support the global fishing industry. That’s a 6 percent rise since 2009. Harmful subsidies is a term that refers to those that promote overfishing and illegal fishing that would otherwise not be profitable, such as subsidies that underwrite fuel costs allowing industrial trawlers to sail to the farthest reaches of the planet. Fuel subsidies alone accounted for 22 percent of all fishing subsidies last year...Marine scientists and policy experts say a legally binding accord to ban destructive fishing subsidies is critical as climate change disrupts marine ecosystems. A landmark United Nations report issued in September found that the maximum catch from fisheries could decline by as much as 24.1 percent by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated…” Todd Woody reports for National Geographic.


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 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 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 resourcewisdom@gmail.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 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 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.

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.

Petitions

Stop South Florida's Sewage Sludge from Polluting the St. Johns River!

Stop Giving Away Florida’s Water

Save Lake County-Say NO to the Round Lake Road Extension

Save the Heritage Trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park - Winter Park

Help Save Our Panthers

Thinking of going electric? Nextcar Pledge

Another Gulf is Possible

Save the Serenova Tract in Pasco – Say NO to the Ridge Road Extension

Florida Solar Bill of Rights

Protect Florida’s Gulf Coast from Offshore Drilling

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

We hope you enjoy this service and find it valuable. Our goal is to provide you with the latest and most relevant environmental news for Floridians. Our hope is that you will use this information to more effectively and frequently contact your elected representatives, and add your voice to the growing chorus of Floridians concerned about the condition of our environment and the recent direction of environmental policies.

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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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