FCC News Brief - June 11, 2019

Read Wakulla Springs mysteries now include apple snail eggs and a wandering limpkin - “Recent discoveries at Wakulla Springs have birders and environmentalists buzzing with excitement. A limpkin returned. The bird with an iconic-jungle-like cry did not just stay for a day but was spotted for most of May. “This is the most limpkin I’ve seen in the park in 10 years," said Sean McGlynn, the president of the Wakulla Spring Alliance. The dark olive-colored bird with a hooked beak and 40-inch wing span most likely cruised the 6-mile spring run for apple snail eggs, its main food source. McGlynn and others say a May count of egg clusters indicate the snail population is rebounding. The 456 spotted last month is the most counted in May in seven years and more than in any month in three years. The limpkin disappeared from the park in 2000. At the same time staff noticed that apple snail eggs were no longer appearing. The population collapse occurred after a plague of mats of algae appeared on the water and sprouts of hydrilla infested the spring bed. A lack of eggs went unnoticed until the limpkin left. The invasive plants growth was fueled by nitrates in fertilizers and wastewater carried by stormwater from Leon and Wakulla counties into the spring's watershed. The Wakulla River, which the spring feeds, was declared impaired in 2002. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent by the city of Tallahassee, the state of Florida and the counties to stop the flow of nitrates and other pollutants. The city redesigned and upgraded its wastewater treatment plant and the state initiated a series of water management plans and programs to encourage a septic-to-sewer transition…“Limpkins have occasionally showed up since the breeding population disappeared, so this one individual may mean nothing,” said Dana Bryan, a researcher and former parks service employee, who has written extensively about the bird.” “The limpkin occurs where the aquatic apple-snail occurs, so it is conceivable that a water body might be so polluted that snails die out from a certain location,” said Bryan...”  James Call reports for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Read Lauren Book, Krisin Jacobs applaud progress toward new South Florida reservoir - “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill authorizing future operations of a new South Florida reservoir. The facility will be one of two that limits discharges from Lake Okeechobee and help curb blue-green algal blooms. “The importance of this historic measure cannot be overstated as its impact on South Florida water will be felt both in terms of availability of clean drinking water and impacting our environment for the foreseeable future,” said state Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat. The legislation (HB 95) ensures the C-51 Reservoir, which has been fully designed and permitted, will allow the South Florida Water Management to capture 35 million gallons a day. The water currently gets lost to the tide but should be able to be used for later consumptive use once the reservoir comes online. District officials say once the project is fully implemented, the reservoir could store up to 61,000 acre-feet of raw water. “The C-51 Reservoir project has been a labor of love of mine for more than a decade going back to my time as Commissioner and Mayor of Broward County,” said state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Coconut Creek Democrat...But the legislation also follows through on a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 authorizing the district to employ two reservoirs to limit discharges of water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. The discharges from Lake Okeechobee have frequently triggered blue-green algal blooms. Just such an environmental disaster occurred this last summer, with sludge coating large parts of the Caloosahatchee. “Our long term fears of saltwater intrusion due to rising seas and population growth can now be properly addressed in a meaningful and impactful way.” Jacob Ogles reports for Florida Politics.

Read Working together is the only way to tackle issue with Lake Okeechobee levels- “A recent series of hearings on how to manage Lake Okeechobee water levels felt like an argument between opponents at opposite ends of a camel. Each claimed that it is their end that is most important. Folks from close to the lake and from Palm Beach County insisted that low Lake levels are killing Lake O, and it is all the fault of the coastal elite who want to destroy the poor people who work for the sugar companies. Folks from the coastal estuaries claimed that high Lake O levels were killing the lake and causing discharges to the coast full of toxic algae that was making people sick. They are both missing the point. It’s the camel’s hump that’s most important. It is what is between the extremes that defines the problem. When Lake O gets over 16 feet it starts drowning the submerged vegetation. We went past 16 feet in six of the past seven years, and Irma took it to 17 feet -- good-bye submerged vegetation. When the natural stuff dies it quits cleaning the water, and we lose an ally in controlling the nutrient soup that feeds the toxic algae blooms. We lost about as many acres of cleansing plants in the lake as we have built in storm water treatment areas, for a billion dollars. When Lake O gets below 10.5 feet, the opposite thing starts happening: the marsh grasses are drying and dying. Bird, fish and alligator nesting all but stop. A drought once every 10 years can help the lake by solidifying and oxidizing the loose bottom muck. More than that is damaging. What happens in the middle is how you avoid those extremes...” Maggy Hurchalla writes Opinion for the Palm Beach Post.

Read Near-record ‘dead zone’ predicted in the Gulf of Mexico this summer - “The annual Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" – a region of oxygen-depleted water off the Louisiana and Texas coasts that's harmful to sea life – will be the second-largest on record this summer, scientists announced Monday. This year's zone should be about 8,717 square miles, an area roughly the size of New Hampshire, according to researchers at Louisiana State University. The average Gulf dead zone is about 5,309 square miles, the record is 8,776 square miles set in 2017. A dead zone occurs at the bottom of a body of water when there isn't enough oxygen in the water to support marine life. Also known as hypoxia, it's created by nutrient runoff, mostly from over-application of fertilizer on agricultural fields during the spring. Nutrients such as nitrogen flow from North America's corn belt through streams and rivers before ending up in the Gulf. Heavy rains fueled near-record flooding along the Mississippi River throughout the spring. The low oxygen conditions in the Gulf's most productive waters stresses organisms and may even cause their death, threatening living resources, including fish, shrimp and crabs caught there.  A separate forecast from federal scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also predicted an unusually large dead zone, one that's approximately 7,829 square miles, which is about the size of Massachusetts. NOAA cited "historic and sustained river flows" as a cause of the large dead zone.” Doyle Rice reports for USA Today.

Read Fish Island: There’s a home stretch- “Over the past year, a coalition of citizens organized, spoke up and advocated to save Fish Island. In mid-May we celebrated a major victory when the North Florida Land Trust signed a contract to acquire the property for conservation. This was a huge step toward permanently protecting Fish Island. But as The Record so eloquently stated in its May 25 editorial, “The fat lady ain’t sang.” it is not over just yet. Two major questions still need to be answered before we can uncork the champagne: who will manage the property and will the Cabinet allocate money to purchase it? To the first question, the City of St. Augustine is the natural choice to manage Fish Island. When you consider the environmental, historical and archaeological significance of Fish Island, there is no question the property is a priceless investment for our city... In addition to its historical legacy, Fish Island should be protected for its environmental importance. The land serves as an important natural buffer for our community against hurricanes, flooding, and sea level rise. The wetlands and uplands help capture nutrients and other harmful runoff from polluting the Matanzas River and provide critical habitat for flora and fauna. The city of St. Augustine has built its brand on a commitment to preserving history and protecting the environment. The management of Fish Island would be a natural nod to that commitment. The question of management comes before the City Commission on June 10, and we urge the commissioners to step up to preserve this important piece of history. With regard to the second question of funding: if everyone who wrote to our city officials writes to Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Cabinet, we are confident that they will get the message loud and clear…” Patty Scott writes Opinion for the St. Augustine Record.  

Read Climate should be top issue in 2020- “Of all the sins committed by President Donald Trump, the most unforgivable are his moves to reverse any progress made on climate change. Trump was schooled on the subject of climate change during his recent visit to Great Britain by Prince Charles, of all people...In contrast, two top Democratic presidential contenders over the past week proposed ambitious plans to address climate change. Former Vice President Joe Biden presented a plan to eliminate the nation’s net carbon emissions by 2050, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released a $2 trillion green manufacturing plan. Climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue — especially in Florida, the state most at risk from extreme storms and rising sea levels... DeSantis last month appointed the University of Florida’s Tom Frazier as the state’s first chief science officer. His administration is now considering applicants for the new position of chief resilience officer, intended to coordinate the state’s climate-change response. Hopefully resilience doesn’t just mean hardening the coasts and hoping for the best, but includes long-term plans to move development away from areas likely to be inundated. This is the fiscally conservative position, after all, rather than wasting taxpayer money on rebuilding places that are repeatedly flooded and ravaged by storms. Florida also faces the challenge of cutting emissions from cars and power plants while the population keeps growing, which DeSantis made harder to do by approving new toll roads likely to bring sprawl through rural areas. Gainesville’s experience with the biomass plant shows how leaving it up to local governments to reduce emissions can have costly consequences. Communities like ours could use the help of the state as well as the federal government in moving to clean energy. That is unlikely under Trump, who has spent his presidency promoting coal and reversing the environmental initiatives of the Obama years. Climate change should be the top issue in the 2020 election. If Trump lacks the “passion for future generations” needed to understand and address the problem, he shouldn’t be president…” Nathan Crabbe writes Opinion for the Gainesville Sun.

Read More stalled hurricanes and less wind shear - bad news for U.S. coasts - “The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season has started even as impacts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons are still being felt in the United States. Over the past 2 years, lives, property, and economies from the Caribbean to the mainland U.S. were destroyed by hurricanes bearing names like Harvey, Maria, Michael, Irma, and Florence. Questions always arise about whether we have entered a generation of naturally-varying hurricanes "juiced" by a climate change steroid. The NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory website is, in my view, a definitive source on where the science stands on climate change - hurricane linkages. There is so much inaccurate information swirling around questions like "Is climate warming causing more frequent or stronger hurricanes?" I strongly urge the reader to visit the website, which is continuously updated by hurricane experts, rather than play "Twitter tennis" with people on whether changes in hurricane activity are natural or anthropogenically-impacted (By the way, it is almost always "and" not "or"). Four recent studies in the peer review literature show that hurricanes and their environments along the U.S. East Coast are changing...The study that originally caught my eye was a new study published in Nature. The paper is entitled, "Hurricane stalling along the North American coast and implications for rainfall." The study found that average speed of tropical cyclone movement has slowed since the middle of last century. Specifically, North Atlantic tropical cyclones (hurricanes) are more likely to "stall" near coastlines.  This is precisely what we saw with Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas in 2018 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Both storms produced record-breaking, life-altering, and economy-devastating flooding…” Marshall Shepherd reports for Forbes.

Read E.O. Wilson at 90: The conservation legend shares dreams for the future - “Wilson, who turned 90 on June 10, sat in the plant-filled conservatory at his retirement community outside of Boston and reflected on three-quarters of a century of insights into the astounding diversity of species on Earth, the mounting troubles at the intersection of nature and human nature, and strategies for saving wild things and, in so doing, saving ourselves. In each comment, Wilson, retired only in the most technical sense, looked forward more than back, eager to spur everyone from school children to the world’s elected leaders to save space for non-human life and fend off a brewing mass extinction. He described his work on the final stages of another book, which he’s calling “Tales from the Ant World,” preparations for a July 6 “bioblitz”—a saturation exploration by students and scientists of the nearby Walden Woods immortalized by Thoreau—and correspondence with officials in his home state of Alabama about a long-held vision to expand parks there. He laid out afresh his argument for the audacious conservation target he called for in his 2016 book, Half-Earth: for humans to set aside half of our planet’s terrestrial and oceanic space for other species within the next few decades. He insists that it is both essential and achievable Conserving this amount of space for nature, he has calculated, can safeguard some 85 percent of the world’s species, offering the prospect of a sustainable long-term human relationship with the planet once our population stabilizes and we learn how to satisfy human needs without undermining ecological health...“We're hearing a lot of talk in the present political arena now of values,” he said. “And I believe that we're on the edge of a new era, in which value is extended to saving the rest of nature. Knowing it, preserving it, studying it, understanding it, cherishing it, and holding on until we know what the hell we're doing.” Andrew Revkin reports for National Geographic.


From Our Readers

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Job Openings:

Organizing Representative, Wildlands Campaign - Gainesville - Sierra Club

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

Staff Attorney - Everglades Law Center

Upcoming Environmental Events:

June 10. 6:00pm - June Earth Ethics Environmental Education Series- (Pensacola)- Join us at Ever'man Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street. This month we welcome Mr. Vernon Compton. Mr. Compton works for The Longleaf Alliance as Director of the Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership.  The Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership is a voluntary public/private landowner partnership formed in 1996 that now sustains over 1.3 million acres of diverse habitat in northwest Florida and south Alabama.  The partnership allows the partners to combine their expertise and resources to more effectively manage their individual properties and to meet the challenges of restoring and sustaining the larger longleaf ecosystem.  Vernon has a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from LSU and prior to joining The Longleaf Alliance in 2010 worked for the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Forest Service at Blackwater River State Forest.  Mr. Compton will discuss "The Importance of Trees." Check out the Eventbrite page here, and Facebook event here. For more information, email earthethicsaction@gmail.com

June 10-14, June 24-28- Camp Kids in the Woods at the Austin Cary Forest - (Gainesville) - Is your 6th-9th grade child looking for fun adventure this summer?  Consider Camp Kids in the Woods! Campers will conduct various field explorations led by local scientists from forestry, wildlife, and water resources. Highlights include: fishing, handling wildlife, exploring local ecosystems, a trip to a local spring, camping out one night at the Austin Cary Forest, building wildlife nesting boxes, and participating in games and scavenger hunts. After a week of fun in the forest, campers gain a better understanding and deeper appreciation of their natural world and what is required to be a good steward of the environment. Camp Kids in the Woods summer program is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. Session 1: June 10-14, 2019; Session 2: June 24-28, 2019. For more information and to register visit: www.campkidsinthewoods.org , or contact the Camp Director, Molly Disabb at kidsinthewoods@ifas.ufl.edu

June 12, 6:00pm - Know your GREEN - (Orange Park) - The St. Johns Riverkeeper is already getting several reports of algal blooms across the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River from Palatka to Jacksonville. Read WJCT’s recent news story covering the issue. Now’s the time to take action and help us raise awareness to get the GREEN out! Join St. Johns Riverkeeper staff for this evening presentation to learn what causes these blue-green algal blooms and why they’re harmful for you and our River. We’ll also teach you ways to help us reduce algal blooms by living a more River Friendly lifestyle. You’ll also learn: What happened on nutrient pollution bills in the 2019 Legislative Session, How to report algal blooms when you see them, and Upcoming algal bloom outreach events, summer volunteer opportunities, and more! Light snacks and drinks provided. RSVP here. Location: Orange Park Town Hall, 2042 Park Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073.

June 13, 6:00pm - Know your GREEN - (Palatka) - The St. Johns Riverkeeper is already getting several reports of algal blooms across the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River from Palatka to Jacksonville. Read WJCT’s recent news story covering the issue. Now’s the time to take action and help us raise awareness to get the GREEN out! Join St. Johns Riverkeeper staff for this evening presentation to learn what causes these blue-green algal blooms and why they’re harmful for you and our River. We’ll also teach you ways to help us reduce algal blooms by living a more River Friendly lifestyle. You’ll also learn: What happened on nutrient pollution bills in the 2019 Legislative Session, How to report algal blooms when you see them, and Upcoming algal bloom outreach events, summer volunteer opportunities, and more! Light snacks and drinks provided. RSVP here. Location: St. Johns River Center, 102 N 1st St, Palatka, FL 32177.

July 8, 6:00pm - July Earth Ethics Environmental Educational Series - (Pensacola) -Join us at Ever'man Educational Center located at 327 W Garden Street. We will be viewing A PLASTIC OCEAN.  A PLASTIC OCEAN begins when journalist Craig Leeson, searching for the elusive blue whale, discovers plastic waste in what should be pristine ocean. In this adventure documentary, Craig teams up with free diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, and they travel to twenty locations around the world over the next four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans, uncover alarming truths about plastic pollution, and reveal working solutions that can be put into immediate effect. We'll discuss what you can do to help reduce your use of plastics! One lucky winner will receive a giftset to jump start a plastic reduced life. Check out the Eventbrite page here, and Facebook Event here. For more information, email earthethicsaction@gmail.com

July 11, 7:00pm - Toxic Puzzle Screening & Environmental Panel - (Orange Park)- TOXIC PUZZLE is a medical and environmental detective story where documentary filmmaker Bo Landin follows ethnobotanist Dr Paul Alan Cox and his scientific team around the world in a hunt for the hidden killer. The pieces come together in a toxic puzzle where cyanobacteria in our waters become the culprit. Are these organisms, fed by human pollution and climate change, staging nature’s revenge by claiming human lives? Join the St. Johns Riverkeeper at the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts in Clay County (283 College Dr, Orange Park FL 32065) for a live screening and panel discussion on the issue of toxic algae blooms and the serious short and long-term health effects it’s having on our communities, wildlife, and habitats of our River and what YOU can do to help.

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 Giving Away Florida’s Water

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

Tell Florida Lawmakers: Stop Destructive Tollway Bills

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

No Fracked Gas in Tampa Bay

Help Save Our Panthers

End collection & removal of tropical marine life from Phil Foster Park

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

Protect Weeki Wachee Springs; Stop the 7 Diamonds Mine in Pasco County

Stop New Phosphate Strip Mining in Florida

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