FCC News Brief - October 11, 2019

Read The Ocklawaha’s lost springs - “One or more Florida legislators, yet unnamed, have the enviable opportunity to undo the tragic mistake of a previous generation and be lauded as Florida springs champions. With bipartisan support in the House and Senate appropriations committees, these champions are uniquely positioned to convince the 2020 Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis to do what no other legislature/governor in the past 50 years has been willing or able to do — restore the 20 lost springs of the Ocklawaha River… Flooded by the artificial impoundment called the Rodman Pool or Reservoir, Blue and the other springs with names like Bright Angel, Catfish, Cedar Landing, Sims, Bud, Mullet Cove, Indian Bluff, Tobacco Patch and Cannon have been lost for 50 years, since the 1968 closing of the dam as part of the ill-advised Cross-Florida Barge Canal. Only visible intermittently when the state of Florida draws down the level of water held in the Rodman Pool to flush massive rafts of rotting vegetation downstream to the St. Johns River, the uncovered springs of the Ocklawaha were compared to “blue eyes” peering skyward from the Floridan Aquifer by noted river guide and Florida author, Lars Anderson...During the past 50 years, a long list of former Florida governors and senior agency staff have called for the restoration of the Ocklawaha River and springs. But, in an unfathomable twist of modern society, the will of these powerful leaders has been stymied by a small but vocal group of bass fisherman that oppose restoration….Ocklawaha restoration is clearly in the public’s interest and inevitably will be part of Florida’s future. The only question that remains is, who in Florida’s government will open those “blue eyes” and be the river’s champion?...” Robert Knight writes Opinion for the Herald-Tribune.

Read Florida needs oil drilling bans, not Trump’s promises - “We don’t know if the U.S. Senate will have to decide on an impeachment trial. We do know that the Senate’s business must go on, and that includes two bills of great importance to Florida. House Resolution 205 would make permanent the ban on oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida’s coast. Former Sen. Bill Nelson got the ban through Congress in 2006. It is scheduled to expire in 2022. House Resolution 1941 would create a permanent ban on drilling off the Atlantic coast. The ban also would apply to Pacific Ocean areas on the outer continental shelf. The House passed both bills on Sept. 11...Twelve Republicans nationwide joined nearly every Democrat in voting for the second, wider bill. Among them were six GOP lawmakers from Florida. Francis Rooney, who represents the southwest coast, sponsored the first bill and voted for the second. Unfortunately, the Republican-led Senate may not even take up the bills. Failure to pass them would leave Florida at the mercy of President Trump. When it comes to the environment, that’s a bad place for a state to be. In early 2018, the Trump administration announced plans to open almost all federal waters to drilling. Trump’s action would have brought rigs to within 10 miles of Gulf Coast beaches. The current barrier is 125 miles. The Interior Department could have issued drilling leases off the Atlantic coast and even in the Florida Straits. After bipartisan criticism from Florida lawmakers, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the plan somehow would exempt Florida. He did so while appearing with then-Gov. Rick Scott, who was about to announce his challenge of Nelson. Zinke is gone, but before his departure, he backtracked on that promise. Nor has the Interior Department changed its approach under Trump that federal lands are to be exploited, not protected. The department official in charge of drilling just left to take a job with … a company that wants to drill in the Arctic…” From the South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board.

Read Charting a new direction for Florida’s waters - “Water is the lifeblood of our state — and, as our state continues growing, it’s a challenge we have to meet. Under the leadership of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s Office of Agricultural Water Policy is taking decisive steps to improve existing water resource programs, and spearheading conversations to address the challenges posed by the impacts of our climate crisis. As director of that office, I recently spoke before a Florida Senate committee on how we’re addressing issues in watersheds across the state. From updating research on the water resource benefits of agricultural best management practices, to prioritizing cost-share funding to help farmers acquire the best technology, we’re putting a new emphasis on innovation to protect Florida’s waters...Right now, we’re in the process of reviewing and updating our best management practice manuals, to assist our farmers with incorporating the latest scientific and technical research into their operations to protect water resources. Some of these BMP manuals haven’t been updated since the mid-2000s, despite newly available research and innovative practices, and many need improvements that take water resource conservation and protection into account...Partnerships are crucial to success, and we’re working closely with agencies like DEP and the state’s water management districts. In particular, we’re working together to develop BMAPs that accurately identify agricultural activities and projects that can improve water quality in priority basins. Fixing Florida’s waters is a challenge worth getting right — that’s why this legislative session, we’re requesting funding to hire 10 new positions to increase site visits for BMP enrollment and implementation verification. We’re also requesting $30 million in cost-share dollars to expand the use of innovative technologies and fund projects to achieve water quality improvements…” Christopher Pettit writes Opinion for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Bad news for birds - really bad - in just released Audubon climate change projections - “Climate change could wipe out almost two-thirds of North America's birds, according to a new report from the National Audubon Society. The report shows 389 of 604 North American bird species are at risk of extinction if the planet's temperature rises another 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Southwest Florida’s vivid roseate spoonbills are among the birds that could be squeezed out, said Julie Wraithmell, Audubon Florida’s director, as are those that raise their young along the Gulf. “You’re going to see impacts to birds like black skimmers that nest on our beaches,” she said. “Beach-nesting species are going to get squeezed between the city and the sea as sea level rises.” As go the birds, so go the Earth's other lifeforms, Wraithmell said. "Yes, the report focuses on birds because we’re Audubon and that’s what we do, but of course it’s more than just birds that are going to be impacted," she said. "They're just one part of a larger system." As it sounds the alarm, Wraithmell emphasizes that Audubon also offers positive action plans and the good news that if communities act now, three-quarters of the at-risk species can be helped. "It’s not a reason to throw up your hands and say, ‘Well, it’s over,' " she said. "It’s far from over.” The nonprofit has also released a toolkit for municipalities and leaders looking to tackle climate change. Ideas include everything from green roof guidelines to improving infrastructure for electric vehicles. "All of these things add up," Wraithmell said, "and it's going to take all of us working together to meet the ambitious goals that we need to make a better future for the birds and for us…” Amy Bennett Williams reports for the Fort Myers News-Press.

Read These state birds may be forced out of their states as the world warms - “Each state in America has an official state bird, usually an iconic species that helps define the landscape. Minnesota chose the common loon, whose haunting wails echo across the state’s northern lakes each summer. Georgia picked the brown thrasher, a fiercely territorial bird with a repertoire of more than 1,000 song types. But as the planet warms and birds across the country relocate to escape the heat, at least eight states could see their state birds largely or entirely disappear from within their borders during the summer, according to a new study. The research, released Thursday by the National Audubon Society, projects that hundreds of bird species across North America are likely to drastically shift their ranges in the decades ahead in response to rising temperatures and other threats from climate change. The report raises the prospect that many bird species could struggle to cope as warming forces them into unfamiliar territory or shrinks their existing habitats. And it illustrates how thoroughly the avian world as we know it may be remapped if humans continue pumping greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere...The Audubon report is a much more detailed update of a study the group published in 2014 on how climate change might disrupt bird populations. And it comes on the heels of a recent paper in the journal Science estimating that the total number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 29 percent since 1970, with 2.9 billion fewer birds in the skies today. Much of that decline, experts say, was likely caused by factors such as habitat loss or pesticide use, not climate change…” Brad Plumer reports for the New York Times.

Read Red tide on Marco Island presents issue for marine life, birds - “There’s the bird’s eye view we’re used to—beautiful beaches with white sands and blue waters—and then there’s the “fish eye view” that shows the real time impact of red tide: shorebirds picking at dead fish washed ashore on Marco Island. “My heart is totally broken,” said Kathy Graf, who lives on Marco Island. She had plans to walk the beach, but one look and one sniff turned her away. “I couldn’t even breathe when I got down there. I was coughing,” she said. The most common human health problems caused by red tide are respiratory or gastrointestinal. On Wednesday, some beachgoers sat toward the back of the beach, avoiding the shoreline. “Quite a few dead fish and a lot of birds enjoying that,” said Bob McMahon of Marco Island. And some startling photos of sea turtles were also shared with us. A sea turtle was found dead of Marco Island Wednesday Morning. Red tide is not confirmed to be the cause of its death. But heavy red tide traces have been recorded off the coast of Marco recently…” Hannah Vogel and Briana Harvath report for Wink News.

Read Manatees and Key deer are being pushed to extinction by climate-fueled superstorms - “The beloved Florida manatee and the tiny Key deer, already at risk of extinction, could be pushed more quickly to the brink as climate change supercharges storms and intensifies the destructive power of hurricanes. Manatees and Key deer are among 10 species that are particularly at risk of disappearing as intensifying hurricanes bring more rainfall, storm surge and winds that destroy coastal habitats, the Center for Biological Diversity said Wednesday in a report titled “Blown Away.” “For many of these species there are just a few small and isolated populations left, making them even more vulnerable to climate change,” said Shaye Wolf, the Center’s climate science director and author of the report.. “A single superstorm can lead to a significant decline.” The nonprofit, an environmental advocacy group, has frequently sued the federal government over new regulations that weaken the Endangered Species Act. In the latest issue, the departments of Interior and Commerce said in August they would change the way the Act is applied, making it easier to remove species from the endangered list. The new rules, which allow wildlife managers to conduct economic assessments when considering the status of a species, significantly weaken key conservation efforts and leave threatened populations more vulnerable to the threats posed by a changing climate...Manatees inhabit Florida’s coastal waters and swim into warmer springs and rivers when temperatures drop. They are already threatened by habitat loss, rising boat traffic and temperature extremes caused by climate change: warming waters encourage algae blooms which can be toxic, and cold snaps can kill manatees. Over 8,000 manatees are estimated to live in Florida, according to the report. When storms hit, these gentle mammals can be forced far out to sea or they get stranded on land after being pushed by storm surge. In 2016 Hurricane Hermine left seven manatees stranded in a golf course pond in Crystal River, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission…” Adriana Brasileiro reports for the Miami Herald

Read FWC seeks public input on Florida black bear management plan - “Florida's black bear population, which numbered as low as 300 in the 1970s, has climbed to over 4,000 in 65 of the state's 67 counties. To keep the population above 3,000 bears, the state has a management plan, created in 2012, that needs updating for the next 10 years. So it's seeking public comment on the plan, which aims to ensure the long-term survival of bears while addressing problems, from dangerous to simply annoying encounters in areas heavily populated with people too. Nov. 6 is the deadline to comment on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's comprehensive Florida Black Bear Management Plan. The updates to the original plan include new data, an expansion of the Bear Management Unit Profiles and a new section on population management techniques. The agency will host webinars on the draft update — available at MyFWC.com/Bear — from 6 to 8 p.m. (EST) Oct. 24 and Oct. 29. FWC staff will give the same presentation on the updates, followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. People throughout the state are invited to provide their feedback by completing an online survey at MyFWC.com/Bear…” Ed Killer reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Read Demand more from transportation bill - “Americans now face the impacts of climate change in our everyday lives. Flooding and wildfires endanger us from Miami to Houston to Los Angeles. Rising seas will now inevitably impact our coasts, while rising temperatures threaten the habitability of cities nationwide. This crisis is spurring both the American people and U.S. politicians to act. Against this backdrop, it might seem encouraging that, over the summer, members of the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously advanced a bill, the America's Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), that The Washington Post called "the first transportation bill to acknowledge climate change." After all, transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. What the headlines don't say is that the ATIA "acknowledges" climate change in the same way that sending a pallet of bottled water to Flint, Mich., "acknowledges" the lead crisis. The bill's historic contribution to climate change is a $10 billion program to pay for projects that reduce emissions and protect infrastructure from the effects of climate change. But the same bill would add $32 billion to traditional road programs that states use to expand and widen highways, encouraging us to drive more often, for longer distances. This bill doubles down on the programs that have bequeathed the United States the most carbon-intensive transportation system in the developed world...The received wisdom on Capitol Hill is that we clamor for a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure, regardless of whether that deal offers real hope for a sustainable future. That's an old idea for an old world. In today's world and despite the fact that it includes a few good programs the ATIA looks too much like cynical politics. It treats the climate like any other interest group, not the urgent fight of our time. We have to demand more.” Steven Higashide writes Commentary for the Tribune News Service/ South Florida Sun Sentinel.

From Our Readers

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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 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.


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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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