Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by
Go to the Everglades-Hub homepage

     Search Site:

EvergladesHUB Home > News > Archives > AUGUST'12-TEXTS     2012: JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL      2011: J F M A M JU JL A S O N D    2010:  Ja Fe Mr Ap Ma Jn Jl Au Se Oc No De


Put environment front and center
August 31, 2012
It's not among the most discussed topics in the race for president, but the environment remains a hot issue in Florida. The state and federal governments have invested heavily in restoring the Everglades. Tallahassee and Washington remain in a fight over clean water rules. And Floridians understand the necessity of protecting beaches, preserving wetlands and improving air quality. Mitt Romney should spend at least as much time talking about those issues as about expanding oil drilling on federal lands and offshore.
Romney has not spelled out an environmental agenda, offering only a broad narrative that environmental regulations are job killers and that clean energy projects need to develop on their own. He would amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating global-warming carbon emissions. Romney said he would reduce regulations and fast-track the permitting process, and require that any new environmental restrictions take into account the costs for industry to comply. He also would end tax credits for wind farms - though not similar subsidies for oil and gas - and roll back incentives that have helped jump-start the alternative energy industry.
This is the wrong approach for a coastal state whose economy depends on sustaining a stressed and vulnerable ecosystem. At the very least, Romney should support a continuation of the federal-state Everglades restoration project. He should underscore that his call for budget austerity will not endanger the conservation of a watershed that provides one in three Floridians their drinking water - and for millions, flood protection and a livelihood. The campaign also needs to explain how it would recast the EPA, which Romney has singled out for criticism as "the most active regulator" under the Obama administration.
Romney's broader promise to undo a regulatory environment that he says drives up costs and destroys jobs also has serious implications for Florida, given the role the federal government plays in enforcing clean water and antipollution laws across state lines. He criticized Obama for holding up oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico as the federal government worked to institute new safety reforms in the wake of the BP oil disaster. And would Romney's more accommodating stance give a green light to his political supporters in the state - notably, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi - to keep fighting Washington over the enforcement of clean water standards in Florida?
Floridians rely on a healthy ecosystem to protect the state from a range of natural disasters, serve a growing population and to keep millions employed in fishing, agriculture, tourism, construction and the services industries. Forward-looking Republicans in the state such as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are leading the search for ways to develop renewable energy. Romney should realize that pitting regulations against jobs isn't a clear winner in a state where residents have a vested stake in standing for the environment in a tough economy. He would broaden his party's appeal and make inroads with independents by realizing that his environmental agenda still has room for a few good policy proposals.


Officials battle false rumors of breach in the berm between Corbett Wildlife, Acreage
Palm Beach Post
August 30, 2012
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Water managers and western Palm Beach County officials today sought to quash any hysteria or panic caused by rumors that a berm containing the south side of the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area had failed, and was gushing Tropical Storm Isaac’s flood waters into The Acreage.
 “There have not been any breaches,” Jeff Kivett, the South Florida Water Management District’s bureau chief of Engineering and Construction said as he toured the Corbett today. He was joined by other water managers, officials from the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and state Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach.
The Indian Trail Improvement District, which governs drainage and roads in The Acreage and the Village of Wellington, sent out a statement today also seeking “to clarify misleading and false information circulating on Facebook and other social networking sites.”
 “There are false claims that the Corbett Berm has breached and water is being pumped into The Acreage,” the Village of Wellington release states. “The Indian Trail Improvement District and the South Florida Water Management District are monitoring the berm around the clock, and it has not breached.”
Indian Trail Board President Michelle Damone said she received so many calls and e-mails from residents on Wednesday claiming the berm had breached and was flooding The Acreage that she drove to the area at 1 a.m. today and saw the berm was intact.
Tommy Strowd, South Florida Water Management’s director of Maintenance Operations and Construction, said Wednesday that the district was concerned about the possibility of water in the Corbett putting pressure on the berm as flood waters in The Acreage recede. As a precaution, they are patrolling the berm looking for any damage.
Kivett, on Thursday, showed Rooney a giant stockpile of rock the district has on nearby county-owned land as a precaution to fix any berm damage found.
But water managers said unequivocally they have found no areas where the berm appears damaged or is failing, and no points where water was flowing over the berm.
Another rumor being propagated online and by people e-mailing The Palm Beach Post Thursday claimed more flood water was being pumped into the Corbett by the water district. Kivett said that was not only false, but the water district had installed four temporary pumps that were pumping water out of the Corbett into the L-8 and C-18 canals.
The water levels peaked at about 24 feet in the Corbett, and as of Thursday afternoon had gone down about 1.5 inches because of the pumping, Kivett said.
Mike Anderson, the FWC’s biologist in charge of the Corbett, said they will probably drain the area down to around 21 feet, where it was before the storm. Going lower than that could create a wildfire danger, he said. The FWC’s permit allows maximum of 22.5 feet.
Indian Trail has two gates that allow the Corbett to discharge water into a canal that runs along the south side of the berm. Both those gates are closed right now. Water could be seen bubbling through those two culverts under the berm Thursday, but it was not enough to cause any flooding, Kivett said.
What’s more, the road and most of the homes immediately south of the berm and the canal appeared dry on Thursday afternoon.
Rooney, a former water district board member and whose state congressional district includes parts of The Acreage, said while residents moved to the community to have a rural life without lots of paved roads or street lights, there should still be a way to provide them “some of the amenities of living in the 21st century” like flood protection.


Small gesture by one Treasure Coast government reinforces importance of funding, completing big environmental restoration project – Editorial
August 30, 2012
One Treasure Coast government reinforces importance of completing C-44 Reservoir.
It was a small, but important, gesture.
The C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area is a massive project in western Martin County. Its 12,000 acres includes four planned aboveground reservoirs and the first of three new stormwater treatment areas designed to clean water from the 116,000-acre watershed north and south of the C-44 Canal between Port Mayaca and the St. Lucie Locks. When it is completed, this $364 million project will help reduce sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River.
This project — a key component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan — is vital to the environmental restoration of our region and must be completed.
To stress this point, the Martin County Commission recently approved a resolution — by unanimous vote — asking Florida's congressional delegation to continue to support funding for the remainder of the project.
That may be a tall order given the myriad fiscal challenges confronting Congress — both now and in the future. Nonetheless, this is an important project that must be funded and completed — in accordance with the timeline established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the project.
The C-44 Reservoir and Treatment Area is scheduled to be completed in three phases. The first — at a cost of $32 million — is expected to be finished in early 2014. The Corps has these funds in hand and currently is working on this phase.
Beyond that, there is a lot of uncertainty. Congress has yet to allocate money for either the $270 million second phase or the $60 million third phase. Those contracts are set to be awarded in August 2014 and April 2017, respectively.
In 2000, the state and federal governments launched the $10 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. But year after year, the federal government failed to provide adequate funding or the Corps of Engineers failed to adequately build working structures, such as the Ten Mile Creek project in St. Lucie County, which fails to work even after a $33 million taxpayer investment. It's estimated to cost an additional $13 million to put it into working order.
Many other projects that were funded went ... nowhere.
In February 2009, Earth magazine summarized a decade of CERP's failures:
"According to the National Research Council, none of CERP's 50 projects have been completed, and even relatively modest proposals, such as the Tamiami Trail bridge project, which would elevate a highway blocking marsh water flow, have been derailed by contentious politics, litigation and soaring costs," wrote author Mary Caperton Morton in the article, "Everglades restoration efforts make dismal progress."
Is the massive C-44 project destined to become another unfinished project? Perish the thought!
The resolution adopted by the Martin County Commission doesn't just reflect the sentiments of one local government body; it reflects the sentiments of many throughout our region who've tired waiting for the federal government to follow through on its promises and commitments.


Officials anxious to move forward with next phase of canal project in Indiantown - by Sade M. Gordon
August 29, 2012
INDIANTOWN — With over a quarter of the first phase of the C-44 canal's construction complete, Martin County commissioners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are even more anxious for the scheduled approval of the second contract for the canal's restoration project.
The first contract, which Congress funded as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project with more than $32 million in 2011, includes an intake canal, access roads, drainage canals and a new bridge on Citrus Boulevard. But it's the second contract, which kicks off construction of a huge stormwater reservoir, that Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society, says will start making the big changes the St. Lucie Estuary needs to restore its natural balance of fresh and salt water.
Perry cited the recent Tropical Storm Isaac as clear proof of how necessary the reservoir is.
"Water shouldn't be pouring into the St. Lucie Estuary," he said. "It should be stored here."
Project Engineer Paul Sadowski of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said he estimated the first phase of the project to be "26 percent complete." The area has been cleared of trees and top soil, he said, while work on the bridge for the intake canal and relocation of the drainage canal are under way. There are about 120 workers on hand for the restoration project, but Sadowski couldn't confirm whether or not they were hired locally.
If all goes as planned, the first phase will be done by early 2014.
By August 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Martin County Commission hope to be awarded $270 million by Congress for the second portion. The second phase is a three-year endeavor that will result in 12,000 acres of above ground storage that would collect excess water from four different canals.
Perry expressed concern that the reservoir was going to store water above ground, however. The danger of above-ground storage is the weakness of the dikes that surround the water. He gave Lake Okeechobee's deteriorating dike as an example of what could eventually happen to the projected 2014 reservoir. Instead, he suggested using the surrounding orange groves upstream and making deals with farmers to create on-site underground storage and treatment.
Even so, he said, it was "critical that storage be put in place."


Florida Keys park violates toxic runoff and water contamination rules – by Judson Parker
August 28, 2012
Tallahassee — Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park has a dirty secret. The park is dangerously contaminated but state officials have blocked efforts to assess or clean up the problem, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The group is asking the Inspector General for Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to get to the bottom of the murky mess.
Located on the northern tip of Key Largo in the Florida Keys, Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park shelters two federally listed species (the Key Largo Woodrat and the Key Largo Cotton Mouse) found nowhere else. Prior to becoming a state park, however, part of the land was used as a Nike missile launch site which included a popular skeet shooting range. These prior uses, especially the range, left a toxic legacy. In 2003, the DEP hired a consulting firm to survey the area, leading to a site investigation in 2006.
That site investigation, which PEER obtained under public record laws, collected soil samples from the former skeet range showing arsenic and lead levels exceeding both residential and industrial exposure limits. Samples from the park’s mangrove areas were no better. They showed lead and arsenic levels exceeding industrial direct exposure limits and antimony exceeding residential limits. Besides these toxic metals, sampling also detected high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), such as benzene.
DEP park officials, however, prevented the consulting firm from opening any monitoring wells or removing contaminated soil. As a result, the full extent of contamination remains unknown.
 “This is outrageous. DEP has known about serious toxic contamination in one of its own parks for half a dozen years and has not lifted a finger,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP enforcement attorney. “If this was some mom-and-pop gas station DEP would have thrown the book at them, but the agency somehow exempts itself from its own rules.”
The PEER complaint details the state rules that DEP ignored at the Key Largo park, including:
· Notice must be given to the public that the site is contaminated, including warning signs;
· DEP must fully analyze the area (including groundwater and surface water) where hazardous wastes are found to determine the exact nature of the contaminants and the risks they pose to people and the environment; and
DEP must develop and execute a plan to clean up the contaminated site.
The surface waters bordering Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park are Outstanding Florida Waters and thus entitled to the highest level of protection that can be afforded by the state. They are particularly susceptible to contamination due to the area’s porous soils, high water table and strong tides.
 “We are asking the Inspector General to find out why the DEP violated its own very clear rules designed to protect our citizens and our environment,” added Phillips. “At Key Largo, DEP did not just drop the ball but kicked it over the fence hoping no one would ever find it.”


SFWMD in recovery operations from TS Isaac to ease flooding situations - by Mark Young
August 27, 2012
West Palm Beach, FL — The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has begun recovery operations from Tropical Storm Isaac and continues to operate the region’s flood control system to reduce flooding where possible.
The storm produced heavy rainfall across South Florida, with some areas receiving as much as 12 inches of rain. As a result, some communities experienced localized flooding and high water in lakes, swales and on roadways.
Additional rainfall of up to 4 inches is expected throughout the day in some areas of the region from trailing storm feeder bands. This is on top of District-wide 7-day average rainfall totals of 5.57 inches, including more than 10 inches of rain in Palm Beach County and significant rainfall on the lower east coast and areas surrounding Lake Okeechobee.
“The District is operating the regional flood control system at full capacity to move water as efficiently as possible,” said Susan Sylvester, SFWMD Chief of the Water Control Operations Bureau. “The regional system has responded well, even as we are still seeing rainfall from this storm. It will take some time for the system to recover.”
24 Hr Rainfall Estimate Chart
Overnight Rainfall
The District-wide rainfall average was 3.5 inches during a 24-hour period that ended at 6:30 a.m. today, with the heaviest rain concentrated in Palm Beach and Broward counties. An intense period of rain during a 3-hour span overnight Sunday and into early Monday morning left several local areas with up to 10 inches of rain and localized flooding.
Significant rainfall was recorded in the following areas:
•Wellington and the Acreage, Palm Beach County – 6 to 8 inches
•Canal Point near Lake Okeechobee – 9.50 inches
•Sunrise, Broward County – 6.39 inches
•Homestead, Miami-Dade County – 5.54 inches
•Eastern Caloosahatchee, Lee County – 2 to 3 inches
•Eastern Collier County – 3 inches
•South Golden Gate Estates , Collier County – 3.07 inches
In addition to its pre-storm activities, the District has taken the following actions:
•Dispatched rapid response assessment teams to provide real-time ground information, supplementing automated data gauges and field crews
•Focusing resources on areas receiving the heaviest rainfall – Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties
•Moving water away from populated regions through the canal system to areas that have storage and to tide
•Continuing coordination with county officials and drainage districts to enhance the ability of local drainage facilities to route excess runoff into the District canal system
The District continues coordinating information with the state Emergency Operations Center as well as federal and local partners. The District will continue to closely monitor conditions around the clock.
Useful Storm Links:
•Radar & Satellite Images
•Hurricane Tracking/Tropical Storm Forecast
•Hurricane and Storm Models
To report flooding or damaged or blocked water control structures, call the SFWMD Citizen Information Line toll-free at (877) 429-1294 .
For updates in case of an emergency, residents and visitors can follow the District’s Twitter feed (@SFWMD) and its list of weather and emergency management tweeters related to South Florida (@SFWMD/emermanagement).
Related posts:
1.SFWMD Prepares for Potential Storm Impacts. Water managers closely monitoring weather forecasts SFWMD Prepares for Potential Storm Impacts Water managers closely...
2.Isaac Nears Hurricane Strength, Dumps Flooding Rains on South Florida Isaac Nears Hurricane Strength, Dumps Flooding Rains on South...
3.Isaac Dumped Plenty of Rain Throughout Palm Beach County Isaac Dumped Plenty of Rain Throughout Palm Beach County ...
4.Isaac Now a Tropical Storm, Still a Big Threat – LIVE Streaming Video Isaac Now a Tropical Storm, Still a Big Threat By...
5.Isaac Nears Louisiana, Lashes Northern Gulf Coast Isaac Nears Louisiana, Lashes Northern Gulf Coast By Donna Thomas,...


Conversation starter - Editorial
August 26, 2012
The announcement this week that the Adena Springs Ranch is reducing its permit request for groundwater from 13.2 million gallons per day to 5.3 million gallons predictably was met with mixed reactions.
Supporters of Frank Stronach's $80 million-and-growing grass-fed cattle operation trumpeted the move as evidence the billionaire industrialist-horseman is sensitive to Florida's environment while at the same time stimulating its economy. Opponents of the withdrawal of millions of gallons to raise grass for cattle see it as merely a shell game, with Adena Springs simply moving much of its cattle-raising operations to "satellite" farms that will still take water from the Floridan Aquifer.
Both sides are right. Stronach's team has shown a willingness to consider irrigation alternatives and has invested significantly in looking at best practices around the world. At the same time, reducing the permit request by 60 percent is clearly a victory for advocates of the increasingly distressed Silver Springs.
Yet, the protest of the Adena Springs' consumptive use permit is about much more than just Silver Springs. The groups that have formed as a result of this controversy — notably, the Silver Springs Alliance locally, and the Florida Conservation Coalition statewide — have seized on Silver Springs' fame to bring attention to all of Florida's water issues, from dwindling supply to increasing pollution to archaic state policies.
Moving a sizable portion of its cattle operation to farms in other counties around North Florida will, indeed, ease some of the pressure on Silver Springs and the Silver River. Yet, it does not solve the problem of overpumping and inadequate water planning that is being felt across the state. Even as they approve millions upon millions of gallons of new pumping permits, our water managers warn us that our groundwater supply is limited and insufficient to accommodate not-too-distant needs.
Moreover, it does not take a hydrologist to recognize that we have a water crisis that goes beyond a drought. In Keystone Heights, long known for its picturesque lakes, lake beds these days are frequently nothing more than grass-covered depressions in the landscape. Along the famed Suwannee River, once-bubbling springs not only have stopped bubbling, they are mere puddles compared to what they once were. In the Putnam County community of Hastings and the coastal hamlet of Cedar Key — on opposite sides of North Florida — residents are experiencing salt water intrusion into their drinking water supply.
No, the protest over the Adena Springs permit is not just about a cattle ranch outside of Ocala and Silver Springs. It is about the desperate need for Florida's governor and lawmakers to finally quit looking the other way and begin dealing aggressively with our growing water crisis in creative ways.
What has been painfully obvious from the start of this spirited public debate about Adena Springs is the lack of participation by our public officials. Florida is in a water crisis — the people know it even if our elected representatives refuse to acknowledge it. Adena Springs lowering its permit request by 60 percent is a good public relations move and potentially a good environmental move, but the conversation about Florida's water is far, far from over; indeed, it has yet to get started in earnest.


Florida's commitment to protect, preserve water is unparalleled
The – by Drew Bartlett, Director, Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee, FL.
August 26, 2012
I have spent my career studying the impacts of excess nutrients in our waterways, both at the federal level and here in Florida. My team of scientists has worked incredibly hard to craft the most comprehensive water-quality standards in the nation.
David Guest accused the Department of Environmental Protection of failing to protect our state's water bodies and suggested that we have willingly written ineffective water-quality standards to make it easier to pollute our environment ["Scott, Vinyard Pushing Weaker Protections for Bodies of Water," Letter, Aug. 7]. This is simply not true. In fact, these allegations were roundly rejected by an impartial judge after a weeklong trial. Consider this:
According to EPA's website, Florida leads the nation in number of facilities with limits on nitrogen discharges, and ranks fourth in number of facilities with phosphorus discharge limits. With EPA's approval of Florida's water-quality standards, those numbers will increase significantly and Florida will lead the nation in both categories.
Also, Florida has done more to eliminate wastewater discharges to our lakes, streams and rivers than any other state. More than 90 percent of all domestic wastewater treatment facilities have zero discharge to surface waters and those that remain comply with Florida's strict nutrient discharge standards.
Florida's water-quality standards aren't weaker than those proposed by EPA. In fact, in water bodies such as the Santa Fe and Weeki Wachee rivers, Florida's water-quality standards are more protective than those developed by the federal government because our rules require additional algae measurements before declaring a water body healthy. Significantly, the Santa Fe and Weeki Wachee rivers meet applicable federal standards, yet are considered impaired by nutrients because of algae blooms under Florida's rules.
Florida is best equipped to protect and preserve our waters. Our commitment to conducting scientifically verified assessments of water bodies provides a level of protection that a federal agency simply cannot match. Our rules are based on decades' worth of water-quality data and written by scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding the complexity of Florida's unique water bodies. Efforts to diminish or discredit their work do a disservice to our citizens and our environment.


Seminole mine expansion in panther habitat clears hurdle
Sun Sentinel - by David Fleshler
August 26, 2012|,
Rock mine located in northwest Broward County.
A plan by the Seminole tribe to expand a limestone mine in northwestern Broward County would destroy habitat of the Florida panther, but not enough to cause the endangered cats significant harm, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
The tribe has applied for federal permission to destroy 205 acres of wetlands on its reservation to obtain material for improving Snake Road, a notoriously dangerous, winding two-lane highway that runs north from Interstate 75 to the reservation
The road engages in repeated curves on its narrow, 19-mile path, accounting for dozens of accidents and many deaths since its construction in the 1960s.
"Because of its narrow, ribbon-like design that 'snakes' back and forth, Snake Road can be a deathtrap, especially when it causes drivers to veer onto the shoulder and then overcorrect, crossing over the road and driving into the canal on the opposite side," said Gary Bitner, spokesman for the Seminole tribe.
Improving the road has been a multi-year project by the Seminole tribe, Miccosukee tribe and state and federal transportation authorities. Among the planned improvements are paved shoulders, straightened curves, lighting, proper drainage, turn lanes and guard rails.
The tribe applied for a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal agency that decides whether or not wetlands can be destroyed. The corps consulted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the potential impact on the panther, and the service responded with a 101-page biological opinion.
An estimated 100 to 160 panthers — excluding kittens — live in South Florida, from ranches, suburban neighborhoods and farms west of Lake Okeechobee to the southern end of Everglades National Park. The number represents a big increase over 30 years ago. But as the panthers have increased in number, they have been hemmed in by real estate development. Road kills have gone up, as have deaths from male panthers fighting each other over territory.
The wildlife service said that the mine area is clearly panther habitat, with 11 radio-collared panthers recorded 254 times within 5 miles of the site. The site also has substantial numbers of deer and wild hog, the panther's primary prey.
But while the project would result in the permanent loss of 205 acres of panther habitat, this represents just .3 percent of territory that would be used by a single male panther or .7 percent of the territory that would be used by a single female. And it represents .01 percent of the private lands that constitute panther habitat, which means the figure doesn't include the vast swaths of panther habitat on public land such as Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Everglades National Park.
"We anticipate that any resident panthers with home ranges overlapping or in the vicinity of the project area will adjust the size and location of their ranges to account for this loss and that the adjustment will occur concurrently with project construction," wrote Larry Williams, field supervisor for the wildlife service's South Florida Ecological Services Office.
The tribe will compensate for the loss by improving 1,172 acres of existing panther habitat on its land, primarily through removing non-native vegetation.
Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, said this land, near the important panther habitat of the reservation and the northern section of Big Cypress National Preserve, is "not the place for a major industrial development."


Loxahatchee refuge proposes alligator hunt
Sun Sentinel - by David Fleshler
August 25, 2012
Plan likely to face opposition.
The alligators of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge should be nervous.
The refuge, which encompasses remnants of the northern Everglades west of Boynton Beach, proposes to open its gates to alligator hunters next year, allowing them to use harpoons, spear guns, crossbows and bang sticks to kill the giant lizards.
The plan is likely to set up a confrontation between hunters, who have felt shut out of federal lands in South Florida, and environmentalists, who say hunting is incompatible with the concept of a wildlife refuge.
"It's long overdue," said Bishop Wright, a West Palm Beach leader of the hunting community. "It's something we've been fighting for for 10 years. It's part of my Gladesman heritage. Right now I'm wearing an alligator belt and an alligator money clip. If I dress up, I'll wear my alligator boots. And I eat all the meat."
Rosa Durando, a longtime Palm Beach County environmental activist, called the proposed hunt a heartless betrayal of the purpose of Loxahatchee.
"The hunt is cruel," she said. "The alligator is going to thrash around in pain and panic. He's terrified and he's in pain. They ought to get a good dictionary and look up the word 'refuge.'"
The initial hunt would be modest, as described in management documents: 11 permits would be issued in the fall of 2013, with each hunter allowed to kill two alligators, for a total of 22 dead, with the hunt confined to the southern 30,000 acres of the refuge. Airboats would not be allowed.
A 29-page environmental assessment finds the hunt would have no impact on the refuge's robust alligator population. The refuge already allows hunting for ducks and coots, but a proposal 12 years ago for alligator and wild hog hunting drew dozens of opponents to a public meeting.
Rolf Olson, deputy project leader for the refuge, said wildlife refuges across the United States offer hunting for deer, raccoons, birds, squirrels and other animals. "There's a long tradition of hunting at national wildlife refuges," he said.
The initial hunt is being kept small and could be expanded.
"We're trying to be very conservative," he said. "There's pressure to have larger numbers, a larger hunt, and there's pressure to have no hunt."
A public meeting on the proposed hunt will take place on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Boynton Beach Civic Center, 128 East Ocean Ave.
Drew Martin, conservation chairman of the Sierra Club Loxahatchee Group, said his organization had no problem with a hunt so long as it did not allow lead shot, which it won't.
Newton Cook, president of United Waterfowlers of Florida, said the Loxahatchee proposal came about as a way of winning support from hunters for the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge north of Lake Okeechobee, since past federal land acquisitions had squeezed out hunters.
Having hunted ducks at Loxahatchee, he can tell the alligators are populous because they keep snatching his prey.
"I must have lost 100 ducks because the gators are so thick there," he said.


S. Fla. Water Management District working to avoid flooding
August 25, 2012
WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – The South Florida Water Management District has been hard at work in an effort to prevent any severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Isaac.
The SFWMD started preparations on Tuesday. They started lowering drainage canals, inspecting levees and testing pumps on Tuesday in order to maximize storage for storm water runoff.
With up to several inches of rain forecast, canals and water control structures in Miami Dade-County and the Big Cypress Basin in Collier County have been placed in the low range. The structures will open as needed to maintain canals at levels that will help local drainage.
The lower the district’s regional drainage canals go in advance of the storm, the more room for getting rid of potential flood waters that Isaac could bring.
Water levels and flows are monitored around the clock by field staff and the District’s Operations Control Room in West Palm Beach.
Despite their best efforts, SFWMD spokesman Randy Smith said Saturday if a canal gets blocked with storm debris or if too much rain comes too fall in a concentrated area, flooding can be inevitable.
The district anticipates getting between 2 and 5 inches of rainfall in Miami-Dade County and 1 to 3 inches of rainfall in Broward and Palm Beach County’s starting Sunday. Those totals are subject to change depending on the eventual track and intensity of the storm.


Adena Ranch to slash its request for water
Gainesville Sun - by Fred Hiers, Staff writer
August 22, 2012
Adena Springs Ranch announced Wednesday that it was cutting by 60 percent the amount of water it was asking from Florida regulators for its future cattle ranch in Fort McCoy.
The announcement during an Adena-hosted public meeting at the Church of the Spring at Southeast 58th Avenue followed staunch opposition to the 25,000-acre ranch's original request of the St. Johns Water Management District for as much as 13.3 million gallons per day to irrigate the operations. That is more than the City of Ocala is allowed to withdraw for its residents.
Many environmentalists and area residents complained that the original water withdrawal of 13.3 mgd would hurt nearby Silver Springs, which is already suffering severe flow reductions at least in part because of the recent drought and existing aquifer withdrawal. They also feared that the withdrawal would dry private, residential wells outside the farm.
"We have been listening," Adena Springs Ranch manager Mark Roberts told the audience of 150 people after announcing that Adena would change its water request to 5.3 mgd.
Roberts said he and his Adena team had met with many area neighbors and concerned residents when there appeared opposition to the plan.
"We took a lot of information from these people and we listened with an open mind," Roberts said.
The best solution, he said, was to use some of the other area farms owned by Stronach and allow the cattle to stay there, which would mean less water use at Adena.
Although the new plan will mean buying more equipment for the satellite farms and building infrastructure there, "after looking at the whole picture ... the positives outweighed the negatives," Roberts said.
But the announcement still left questions unanswered about water use.
Asked by a Star-Banner reporter which satellite farms would be used and if Adena would make additional water requests for those farms, Adena lawyer Ed de la Parte said that hadn't been decided.
He said that some of the satellite farms may already have water-use permits in place. As for the other farms used under the new plans, de la Parte said they may or may not make applications in the future to meet those farms' irrigation needs. However, he said most of the reduction was due to significantly improved irrigation systems at the Adena/Fort McCoy ranch.
De la Parte said that reducing the 13.3 mgd request was to address the water needs issue at Adena, and that the water needs at other satellite farms was a separate issue.
Behind the project is Canada-based ranch owner Frank Stronach, a former international car parts billionaire and horseman.
Stronach also owns at least 30,000 acres in Levy County. The Adena ranch, and the associated meat processing plant that will be part of it, will create 150 jobs, according to Adena.
Local environmentalist Guy Marwick, who attended the meeting, said he welcomed the reduction announcement, but was still concerned about nearby Silver Springs.
"We're certainly glad to have some of the potential impacts on Silver removed, but where are they going?" he asked during a break in the meeting. "Where are these satellite farms and what kind of permits will be needed there? What spring shed are they moving to?"
In his original water application permit, Stronach told regulators that he would have as many as 30,000 head of cattle. During the Adena presentation Wednesday, Roberts said the ranch would raise about half that.
The ranch's need for the water is based on how the cattle will be raised on the farm.
Traditionally, young cows are sent to western states and fed grain for fattening. Stronach's plan is different.
His plan is to keep the cattle on his ranches where they are fed only grasses. That, however, takes far more grass than when cattle are kept on Florida farms for only a short period of time. And to keep that grass growing requires water, especially during Florida's dry months, November through May.
As for the cow manure produced on the farm, Adena said that will be spread on the land to decompose.
William Dunn, an environmental scientist who is working for Adena in its water application, said that reducing the water use to 5.3 mgd will have less impact on the spring than the 13.3 mgd would have had.
So instead of a predicted aquifer drop of 0.06 feet near Silver Springs at 13.3 mgd withdrawal, engineers now predict a drop of 0.03 feet.
Aquifer-level decline near the ranch's property line under the original application would have been between 0.1 feet and 0.2 feet. Under the new proposal, the aquifer in those areas would drop between 0.05 feet and 0.2 feet.
Matt Baker of Adena said of the pumping requests that when it rains, water won't be pumped from the ground.
"It's an insurance policy (if it doesn't rain)," he said.
Baker said that before the decision to reduce its water application, Adena considered alternative water sources, including getting used municipal water or moving water from other areas of the ranch. He said that turned out to be too expensive or impractical for now.
But most of those people who spoke at the meeting said they were still skeptical of Adena.
"Almost the whole basis (of the project) is driven by Mr. Stronach," said Ocala resident Ed Closter. "If Mr. Stronach died in a year, who would we look to to make sure you're going to do what you say you're going to do?"
Stronach is in his 70s.
Roberts answered, saying Stronach's daughter would take over the oversight of the ranch.
But Cluster said he wasn't convinced.
Robert Knight, director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, said that Florida water districts have been too generous over the years in granting water permits.
"There's no extra water (for Adena). The state has given it all away," he said.
Knight also asked Baker how much nitrogen waste would be generated by the cows that will make its way into the aquifer and pollute it.
Baker said he didn't know.
Knight estimated the amount would be about 200 tons a year, almost half the amount that is already pouring out of Silver Springs.
 Some in the audience thought the farm was a waste of water use.
"I'm kinda thinking this is foolish," said Marion County resident Robert Lee. "It's going to be our water that drives this system."
Lee said the ranch and the county's water will make Stronach an even richer man.
"This is a waste of our resources. It's not yours. It's not Mr. Stronach's," he said.


Palm Beach County wants more info before considering selling off Everglades site
Palm Beach Post - by Jennifer Sorentrue, Staff Writer
August 22, 2012
Palm Beach County commissioners said Wednesday that they wanted more information before considering selling a 1,600-acre site in the western part of the county once eyed for a landfill.
The commission, sitting as the Solid Waste Authority’s governing board, directed authority managers to discuss the possibility of selling the property with the site’s former owner, a subsidiary of Florida Crystals. Under the terms of the complicated land purchase, the company must first be given the right to repurchase the land, before the authority can sell or swap it to another entity.
The authority is in “very preliminary discussions” with South Florida water managers about the possibility of using the site to expand a stormwater treatment area, officials said. Authority managers said last week that there is a possibility the South Florida Water Management District may be willing to swap properties that it owns in exchange for the 1,600-acre site.
Commissioners said Wednesday that they also wanted more information about how a possible sale or land swap might affect the authority’s bond rating. Bond rating agencies consider the land, valued at $8 million to $10 million, as an asset of the authority, and managers warned that disposing of the property could impact the authority’s rating.
Commissioners scrapped a decade-old plan to build a second landfill on the site in 2009, at the urging of environmentalists, who didn’t want it next to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, the northernmost tip of the Everglades.
Commissioners considered building the landfill on alternative sites along 20-Mile Bend but instead agreed to build a waste-to-energy plant capable of burning up to 3,000 tons of trash a day. The plant will eliminate the need for a new western landfill for decades.
Authority managers have recommended against disposing of the site until the new plant opens in 2015.


Sen. Ben Cardin Touts Obama Environmental Policies At Sarasota Stop
Sarasota Patch – by Charles Schelle, Editor
August 22, 2012
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin stopped at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota to campaign for President Barack Obama, touting the president's environmental policies on the Everglades and Gulf of Mexico.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin stopped at Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory Wednesday afternoon as part of a President Barack Obama campaign stop highlighting environmental policies.
Cardin met with several top Florida environmental leaders behind closed doors at Mote Marine before speaking to the press about Obama's plan to preserve the Everglades and protect the Gulf of Mexico.
Mote actually partners with the National Aquarium, based in Baltimore, to assess damage from oil spills, including the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, Cardin explained.
"We very much appreciate this collaboration between two great, world-class institutions," Cardin said. "Their partnerships have made both institutions stronger, and we really do applaud their work on that."
But the focus was on Obama's policy that Cardin supports to protect the Everglades and the Gulf of Mexico, keying in that Obama's approach is science-based and using "best science."
"President Obama believes we should be guided by the best science and do our environment commitments based on what best science tells us," Cardin said. "If we do it the right way, then we'll create more jobs, safe jobs, to keep people healthy. That's what has guided his administration."
Cardin claims that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's support of the budget of his runningmate, Congressman Paul Ryan (Wis.—R) "would have completely decimated the Environmental Protection Agency and its ability to enforce clean water and clean air standards."
Drilling would "jeopardize our environmentally pristine lands" Cardin added.
Science practices now place limits on phosphorous pollution and use a monitoring system that allows scientists to track research and confirm that the Everglades is being preserved and restored, according to the campaign.
Being from Maryland, Cardin has had to do work to see what policies and programs could protect the Chesapeake Bay, which is work "a trillion dollars" to the Chesapeake Bay watershed economy, he said.
The roundtable discussed how parts of the 30-year-old Chesapeake Bay Program can be relevant and used in the Everglades, Cardin told Patch.
"We both have a nutrient problem with too much nutrients being discharged into the Everglades and into the Chesapeake Bay," Cardin said.
The Chesapeake Bay Program uses partnerships between local, state and federal governments, Cardin explained, and private sector.
"You have to have all the stakeholders together — it has to be a fair program that is guided by the best scientific information as to what you can do to improve the quality," he said. "Science tells us we have to reduce the amount of nutrients. We have to deal with phosphorus emissions. How do we deal with that? We need cleaner water coming into the Everglades?"
That has to be done through a balance to protect the economic industries in the region while adding jobs, he said.
"The Everglades is worth a huge amount to the economy of this region, but it's only going to be able to be sustained and improved its environmental qualities," Cardin said. Cardin is also chair of the Senate's Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Patch reached out to the Romney campaign, but a spokesman has not returned a request for comment.
Here's an Associated Press analysis of Romney's stance on environmental policy:
"Proposes to remove carbon dioxide from list of pollutants controlled by Clean Air Act and amend clean water and air laws to ensure the cost of complying with regulations is balanced against environmental benefit. Says cap and trade would "rocket energy prices.
Blames high gas prices on Obama's decisions to limit oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and on overzealous regulation."
North Hills Patch in Wisconsin also posted an analysis of where Ryan stands on the environment:
"Ryan, by all accounts, is an “avid outdoorsman” and he has focused his environmental legislative efforts in the Wisconsin region. He vigorously supports Congress’s Asian Carp effort as well as the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. He supported removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list; the gray wolf population has been increasing in numbers, and many Wisconsin farmers have reported losing livestock to gray wolf attacks.  He is a member of the Congressional Sportsman’s Caucus."
Nonprofit also lists Ryan's stances, including voting to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases and voted against limits on carbon dioxide limit enforcement.
Frank Jackalone, organizing manager of Sierra Club Florida said the same case could be made for Sarasota's spot on the Gulf of Mexico.
"The Gulf of Mexico is also threatened by polluted water," he said. "We've had massive red tides over the past. It's very encouraging the Obama administration has move forward to try to protect our water bodies."
"We have a lot in common with the Chesapeake Bay," he added.
The administration placing $1.4 billion to restore the Everglades and its watershed along with establishing the Picayune Strand Restoration Project in western Collier County. That project is a federally funded construction program that aims to restore 85 square miles that serve as a sanctuary for native Florida plants and wildlife.
The Obama campaign claims that Everglades restoration "will have an incremental impact on employment of about 442,664 additional workers over 50 years."
"If we don't deal with our beaches here in Sarasota or deal with the Everglades, the damage that's caused takes generations to fix," Cardin told Patch. "So we want to make sure that we are mindful that we have a responsibility to future generations to restore the Everglades, to protect the Gulf of Mexico, and I'm just proud that President Obama has understood that."
Editor's Note: Sen. Ben Cardin maintains a Patch blog on Rockville Patch in Maryland that is distributed throughout Maryland Patch sites. If you're a politician that would like to start a blog on Patch, please contact your local Patch editor.


Executive Director of
Audubon Florida

‘Legacy' a common-sense approach to conservation
Gainesville Sun - Special by Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida.
August 21, 2012
Florida lawmakers have cut conservation spending more deeply than any other part of government. That's a fact.
Conservation is a value all Floridians deeply cherish across party lines. The Water and Land Legacy initiative simply seeks to hold the environment harmless.
Since 2009, the Florida Legislature has provided only $23 million for the landmark Florida Forever program, a 97.5 percent reduction from previous funding levels. State appropriations for land management and ecological restoration, including the Everglades, have suffered similar declines.
The news that conservationists have launched a grassroots campaign to amend the Florida Constitution to lock in 1 percent of the state's budget for water and land conservation has produced some interesting responses from people who want to protect the status quo and oppose letting voters make this important decision.
We want to let the people decide if clean water and natural land are a legacy they want to leave for their children and grandchildren. And that's what this amendment is all about: conserving land and providing recreational opportunities for Florida's residents and visitors for generations to come.
First, let's be clear about what this proposed amendment would do.
For 20 years, beginning in 2015, the amendment would dedicate one-third of the net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents to restore the Everglades, protect drinking water sources, and revive the state's historic commitment to protecting natural lands and wildlife habitat through the Florida Forever Program.
The amendment would provide about $10 billion for water and land conservation in Florida over its 20-year life, without any tax increase.
This dedicates less than 1 percent of our state's annual budget to protect the drinking water sources important for human life, and the coastlines and natural lands that bring economically vital tourists to Florida.
Look at the numbers and you'll find this is a common-sense proposal.
This year, the documentary stamp tax will generate about $1.3 billion. Of that, $622 million is already pledged to pay for existing environmental bonds and other programs linked to managing land and preserving water resources.
So almost half of “doc stamp” revenue is theoretically available for environmental spending, including paying off bonds.
However, the Legislature doesn't actually spend it all on land and water conservation programs. For the past several years, budget writers have raided environmental trust funds for other spending. The proposed amendment would commit just one-third of doc stamps to environmental purposes, and that hardly seems greedy.
Certainly, in lean times everything had to endure cuts. But environmental programs were cut disproportionately, despite the fact that respected leaders of both parties have long recognized that Floridians want to protect the water and land we rely on for our quality of life.
If the Legislature follows through with current projections on the use of doc stamps, only $381 million ­— just 27 percent of doc stamps — will be available for land and water conservation.
If the Water and Land Legacy amendment is approved, then in the year it takes effect (2015) about $525 million will be available for parks, water resource protection, beach access and Everglades restoration. That is about 20 percent less money than will be spent on preservation bonds, land conservation, Everglades and management this year.
This all raises a common-sense question: What programs get cut, who gets hurt, if the Legislature is constitutionally restricted from diverting dollars that historically have been spent on the environment? The answer: No one gets hurt, no taxes go up and no programs get cut.
Last week the Florida Park Service celebrated a major increase in visitors to the state's award-winning parks. Those parks did not buy themselves. They exist because 10 and 20 and 30 years ago voters and legislators had the wisdom to invest a small percentage of doc stamp taxes for that purpose.
Now, it's just up to the voters. Visit to learn more about this important effort and get involved.


Politics and the Everglades
August 19, 2012
It is a sad commentary that a program to preserve an important natural resource -- the Everglades -- has become hostage to presidential politics in this overheated election year.
Rick Dantzler, a former Democratic state legislator and a Winter Haven lawyer, brought that bad news to a meeting of the Lake Wales Ridge Environmental Working Group last week.
The group is an informal coalition of scientists, land managers and others involved in working on conservation lands primarily in Polk and Highlands counties.
Dantzler is co-chair of the Northern Everglades Alliance, which is made up of landowners, conservationists and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
All three, for various reasons, want to preserve ranches along the Everglades headwaters stretching from Okeechobee to Polk and Osceola counties.
The proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge would provide homes for wildlife being squeezed by the population growth moving inland from coastal Florida, and help preserve the Everglades by helping to protect its headwaters from pollution.
The refuge would also provide recreational opportunities for residents and tourists.
The federal refuge was officially started in January when The Nature Conservancy donated 10 acres in Polk County for what is envisioned to be 150,000-acre area in the Kissimmee River Basin.
Some of that land will be purchased by the federal government, but most of it will stay in private hands, protected by what are called conservation easements.
Under that system, the landowners are paid not to develop their land or allow more intensive use, but they continue to own it and control it.
If, for instance, the landowner is a rancher then that business stays as long as the owner wants. The owner can sell the land, but not to a developer.
This is all done voluntarily.
Charlie Pelizza, the refuge's manager, said 30 landowners who control 170,000 acres are interested in participating, Ledger reporter Tom Palmer reported.
And the federal government has appropriated $1.5 million to start the program, with President Barack Obama requesting another $3 million for the project that is expected to ultimately cost more than $400 million, Palmer reported.
And this is just one of three refuge projects being considered, Pelizza said.
Also in the works are plans to expand the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and to create Fisheating Creek National Wildlife Refuge in the Everglades system in Southwest Florida.
But all these plans are stymied by presidential politics, Dantzler said.
While the Obama administration backs these efforts, federal officials are afraid of criticism from Republicans about putting too much of the state under federal control, he said.
Florida is an important swing state to both parties' presidential aspirations, so both parties are wary of doing or saying anything that can be turned against them and are looking for openings to attack their opponents.
Neither party is above distorting the truth for political advantage, as has been demonstrated repeatedly over the last few months.
That battle for political power has now hurt an effort that has the support of business, landowners, conservationists and sportsmen to protect a large tract of natural Florida.
Let us hope that after Nov. 6 the work to preserve and protect this important resource can continue.


Site once considered for landfill may become stormwater treatment area
Palm Beach Post - by Jennifer Sorentrue, Staff Writer
August 19, 2012
A 1,600-acre site next to the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge once eyed by Palm Beach County officials for a landfill may instead be used for water storage.
Palm Beach County’s Solid Waste Authority is in “very preliminary discussions” with the South Florida water managers about the possibility of using the site to expand a stormwater treatment area.
In a memo to county commissioners, authority managers said there is a possibility the South Florida Water Management District may be willing to swap properties that it owns in exchange for the 1,600-acre site.
“The district has an interest in the property as part of their effort to expand the existing stormwater treatment area,” authority managers said in the Aug. 6 memo. “It is possible that the district may have other property compatible with the authority’s needs, which they may be willing to swap.”
Randy Smith, a spokesman for the district, confirmed Friday that water managers and authority officials had “some preliminary discussions” about the property, but said there are “no active negotiations.”
County commissioners scrapped a decade-old plan to build a second landfill on the site in 2009 at the urging of environmentalists, who didn’t want it next to the refuge, the northernmost remnant of the Everglades.
Commissioners considered building the landfill on alternative sites along 20-Mile Bend but instead agreed to build a waste-to-energy plant capable of burning up to 3,000 tons of trash a day. The plant will eliminate the need for a new western landfill for decades.
Authority managers have recommended against disposing of the 1,600-acre site near the refuge until the new plant opens in 2015.



US Senator (D-FL)

Nelson files Everglades funding bill
August 17, 2012
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has introduced legislation that would make the second portion of a key Florida Bay restoration project, as well as three other Everglades projects, eligible for federal funding.
The bill, filed Aug. 2, would jump-start the projects by serving as an alternative to the passage of an updated -- but stalled -- version of the Water Resource Development Act. WRDA, as the act is known, is supposed to be renewed every two years, but hasn't been passed since 2007. Often controversial in its scope, it deals with water-related projects throughout the country.
In June, a congressionally mandated report issued by the National Research Council criticized the scant progress made since Congress passed the $13.5 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan in 2000. The council also noted that four projects, including one that would help increase freshwater flow into Florida Bay, remain ineligible for funding because a new WRDA has not been passed.
Nelson's bill would allow those projects to be authorized outside WRDA.
Audubon of Florida praised the bill in an early August press release.
"Sen. Nelson's legislation moves Everglades restoration forward," Audubon Executive Director Eric Draper said. "The projects in his bill are all necessary steps toward getting more water into the parched Everglades."
The state of Florida put up all $26 million that was spent on Phase 1 of the Florida Bay project, which was completed last December. However, the second phase, which is to involve the replacement of the expansive C-111 canal with a more environmentally sensitive waterway, is likely to be much more costly.
The Nelson bill would also make projects designed to improve water quality in Biscayne Bay and the Caloosahatchee Estuary, as well as one that will improve water storage and treatment in west Broward County, eligible for funding.


Mouseover and/or
CLICK for location MAP:
Invasive species
Mecca Farms

Palm Beach County is
in talks with the SFWMD
to sell the 1,900+ acre
Mecca Farms, west of
Palm Beach Gardens,
to the district. The land
to be used for cleaning
stormwater redirected
to the Loxahatchee

Palm Beach County becoming bigger player in Everglades restoration
Sun Sentinel - by Andy Reid
August 17, 2012
Mecca Farms deal ripple effects could reach Loxahatchee River and beyond.
The Loxahatchee River would get an overdue boost under new Everglade restoration plans, and Palm Beach County officials want to make sure other long-suffering waterways aren't left out.
Lake Okeechobee, the Loxahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon have a long to-do list of pollution clean up and water supply needs. Some of those needs are getting new attention in Florida's new $880 million plan to clean up polluted water that flows to the Everglades.
A key part of that deal includes building new water storage on Mecca Farms in northern Palm Beach County to help replenish the Loxahatchee River.
County commissioners on Tuesday called for a meeting with water managers to discuss how other local needs fit into the regional restoration plan.
Removing more polluted muck from Lake Okeechobee and stopping polluted stormwater from fouling the Lake Worth Lagoon are among long-term clean-up goals with local repercussions.
"We have been talking about Everglades restoration for 20 years," Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick said. "Nothing is written in stone. There are a lot of moving parts. … How does Palm Beach County fit in ?"
No timetable has been set for the county's water needs planning meeting, but Burdick said it should happen before the end of the year.
"A lot of politics; a lot of money [are] at play," Joanne Davis, of the environmental watchdog group 1000 Friends of Florida, said about restoration plans. "I'm glad they are talking about it again."
The new Everglades restoration plan calls for more water storage and treatment to remove the polluting phosphorus that washes off sugar cane fields and other agricultural land.
A key piece of the new Everglades restoration puzzle turns out to be Palm Beach County-owned Mecca Farms — 1,919 acres of west of Palm Beach Gardens.
A $55 million proposal calls for the county to sell the land, once pegged for development, to the South Florida Water Management District. The district would use the former citrus land to store and clean up water needed to replenish the Loxahatchee River.
The Loxahatchee River needs an influx of water to make up for decades of draining South Florida to make way for development and farming.
Storing water on Mecca Farms would compensate for redirecting the water in a reservoir west of Royal Palm Beach that was originally intended for the Loxahatchee River. Under the new Everglades plan, the reservoir water would be sent to the south, and Mecca Farms would hold water for the river.
It already cost South Florida taxpayers $217 million to transform rock mines into the reservoir, but the district never built the $60 million pumps needed to get that water to the river.
Now new water storage and treatment facilities would be constructed on Mecca Farms as part of the new $880 million Everglades restoration plan.
The $55 million Mecca Farms deal falls far short of recouping county taxpayers' costs in a failed Mecca Farms development push.
Palm Beach County invested more than $100 million taxpayer money into trying to turn Mecca Farms into a biotech industry hub anchored by The Scripps Research Institute.
But environmental concerns in 2006 stopped Mecca Farms development plans and moved Scripps to Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter campus.


Bitter battle over Lakes Park restoration project
August 16, 2012
LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The lake at Lakes Park spans 20 acres. It goes right into Estero Bay and eventually it becomes part of the water all of us swim in at our area beaches. Lee County is carving out water channels and planting vegetation to create a natural water filtration system that will clean up Lakes Park. But Jim Humpres, and others we spoke to say this project is a waste of taxpayer money.
"As a resident it is supposed to improve view and water quality and if that is the case we hope our property values go up, but I am not sure that is going to happen," he said.
The Lakes Park Restoration project was part of the Everglades Restoration Project approved by Congress in the late 1990s. The Army Corp. of Engineers headed up the project and 32 others. Lee County's Operation Manager said Lakes Park wasn't high on the priority list and never even made it to the permitting phase before the Army Corp. ran out of money. Lee County and the South Florida Water Management District then took over in July of 2008. That was 20 years after the project began. Today, the project has a pricetag of $2.4 million.
The South Florida Water Management District funds $1.2 million, DEP funds $510,000 and it costs Lee County $700,000.
The county said it spent the last four years hiring a consultant, getting the proper permits, and designing the project. Crews broke ground in February of this year.
Some people we spoke to said it's money well spent.
"You are probably going to have a better quality of fishing in there in the long run and if you like wildlife you are going to have hundreds and hundreds of wading birds, said Bill Gray.
The county had hoped to finish the project in July, but Tropical Storm Debby caused delays. They do expect to have it done by September's deadline.



Co-Chair of the Northern
Everglades Alliance

Politics stall Everglades wildlife-refuge project - by Tom Palmer, Ledger Media Group
August 15, 2012
LAKE WALES - Plans for the planned Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge are likely stalled by election-year politics, a group of conservationists was told.
"We're on hold until after the presidential election," said Rick Dantzler, a Winter Haven lawyer and former state legislator who serves as co-chair of the Northern Everglades Alliance.
He made his comments Monday at a meeting of Lake Wales Ridge Environmental Working Group, an informal group of scientists, land managers and others involved in working on conservation lands primarily in Polk and Highlands counties.
The alliance Dantzler represents is a group of land owners, conservationists and outdoor recreation enthusiasts whose intent is to preserve working ranches in the Everglades headwaters areas stretching from Okeechobee to Polk and Osceola counties.
The federal refuge, which was officially begun in January with the donation of a 10-acre tract in Polk County by The Nature Conservancy, is a proposed 150,000-acre expanse in the Kissimmee River Basin.
Although U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials plan to buy some of the land, the majority will be protected with conservation easements on private land.
The easements will allow the land to remain in private ownership, but will restrict future development or intensification of operations.
"This is an emerging conservation model," Dantzler said, saying the same approach has been used in large tracts in Montana to protect working ranches from encroachment by real estate investors.
Federal officials have appropriated $1.5 million for the effort and President Barack Obama has requested an additional $3 million, said Charlie Pelizza, the refuge's manager.
The project's estimated price tag is more than $400 million.
He said federal wildlife officials are working with landowners and scientists to evaluate potential parcels to include in the program.
He said one of the highest priorities at the moment is to acquire more land that can be used to aid the survival of the Florida grasshopper sparrow, whose entire range lies in the dry prairie habitat near the Kissimmee River.
In addition, Pelizza said the program will look at parcels that will help to connect existing conservation lands and preserve some of the highest-quality habitat remaining in this part of Florida that is not already under protection.
He said the reaction to the program has been positive, with 30 landowners who control 170,000 acres expressing interest in participating.
Pelizza said this is one of three refuge projects under consideration.
The groundwork is being laid to expand Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and to create Fisheating Creek National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Florida in other parts of the Everglades system.
Public comment will be sought on those proposals by early next year, Pelizza said.
But Dantzler said those plans have "come face-to-face with presidential politics."
He said although the Obama Administration supports the expansion, it is nervous about getting involved out of fear of attracting criticism from Republicans for allegedly trying to put too much of Florida — an important state in this year's election — under some kind of federal control.
Conservation preservation has come under attack from Tea Party activists in the Republican Party who tie land preservation to something called Agenda 21, a United Nations proposal they say threatens national sovereignty.
Danztler said political support for land conservation will face a big test over the next two years that will be tied to the results of a proposed constitutional amendment that supporters want to put before Florida voters in 2014.
Proponents of the proposal, which involves setting up a dedicated state fund for conservation purchases, recently announced their petition drive to get the measure on the ballot.
"It's not a slam dunk to get it on the ballot or to get it passed,'' Dantzler said.



Back to back-pumping ?

Water district shows weakness on Everglades commitment
Palm Beach Post – Editorial by Randy Schultz
August 15, 2012
Despite the new agreement between the state and the federal government, the chances for Everglades restoration look shakier after last week’s vote that could make Lake Okeechobee dirtier.
Five years after abandoning the self-destructive policy known as back-pumping, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted to study whether a supposedly new approach to back-pumping supposedly would do more than good than harm. If the goal is to restore water quality in the Everglades, however, the wrong kind of water would be moved in the wrong direction.
Sending dirty water from farms north into the lake would mean less for farmers to clean up, and would provide them a backup water supply. Helping the Everglades, however, means sending more water — and water that is cleaner — south from the farms. Five years ago, the district board that included current Executive Director Melissa Meeker rejected back-pumping. These days, six of the nine board members were appointed by Gov. Scott, who also chose Ms. Meeker, and the farmers want to back-pump.
Ironically, the same Gov. Scott touts his $880 million plan for the Everglades. That plan, though, depends on the water district board approving money for it. If the farmers have become the priority, the Everglades is in trouble.
In a letter to The Post, Florida Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative Chairman George Wedgworth called the restoration plan “a fraud on the taxpayers” that would come at the expense of education and health care. Fortunately, a federal judge still is monitoring the cleanup, and his priority remains the Everglades.


(mouse over photo) :
Invasive species


Click HERE for location
of Adena Springs
Ranch and of the
proposed wells

Read a BLOG note too:
BLOG with Bo-

Frank Stronach’s cattle ranch triggers Florida water war – by Randy Boswell
August 14, 2012
Canadian billionaire Frank Stronach’s controversial bid to build a massive cattle ranch in north-central Florida — a planned 15,000-cow operation requiring 49 million litres of water a day from the state’s famed Silver Springs aquifer — is approaching a key deadline after months of protests by environmentalists and angry residents around the city of Ocala.
Stronach’s ambitious Adena Springs Ranch would utilize state-of-the-art methods of “rotational grazing” to produce organic, grass-fed beef cattle, and expertly manage fertilizers, manure, abattoir operations and all other aspects of the “humane and productive” business meant to serve as a model for modern agriculture.
But the proposed ranch has ignited a firestorm of opposition across Florida, intensified by critics’ claims that the vital Silver Springs resource is already threatened by depletion and degradation from overuse, recent droughts and long-term climate change.
“Imagine a Florida without water,” stated the Florida Conservation Coalition’s rallying cry ahead of a June protest against the Adena Springs Ranch project. “Water is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and essential to our health and quality of life. We must stand up and speak out for our waterways, or we risk losing them.”
The bitter battle over Marion County water rights sparked by the Adena proposal gained national exposure in the U.S. earlier this summer when the controversy was covered by the New York Times. An editorial published last week by the Ocala Star-Banner captured the situation well when it described how concerns over Stronach’s project have “turned an otherwise regional water discussion into a statewide call to arms.”
The Adena Springs Ranch represents one of the main business ventures today for the 79-year-old Stronach, Austrian-born founder and honorary chairman of Toronto-area auto-parts giant Magna International. Having already established a huge presence in the U.S. with his network of thoroughbred race tracks, Stronach’s planned Florida ranch aims to exploit rising demand for high-quality, hormone-free beef from free-range cattle fed a carefully calibrated diet of nutritional grasses — eschewing the industry’s grain-fed standard.
But the vast ranch, expected to scale up to 25,000 acres and eventually use more groundwater than the entire population of the 55,000-resident City of Ocala, requires enormous amounts of a natural resource that Florida conservation groups insist is already in serious distress.
Adena has until Aug. 26 to submit its updated application to the St. Johns River Water Management District for the 13-million-gallon-a-day draw-down from Silver Springs, or to request an extension on the request.
Hank Largin, a spokesman for the regulatory body, told Postmedia News Monday that the agency will eventually assess the company’s request by looking at “whether the water use is in the public interest” and whether it would “harm other water users or the environment.”
Officials with Adena Springs Ranch, meanwhile, are angling to lower the temperature of the debate and trumpet the project’s economic and environmental benefits for Florida.
A newspaper and online advertisement touting the merits of the project has recently appeared, appealing to Floridians’ sense of humour and urging critics — in a message printed above a picture of a cow annotated by various cuts of beef — to “mooove the discussion” to a new, calmer plane.
“A lot has been said about our planned cattle operation,” the ad states. “Most of it conjecture, some of it made up and a lot of it wrong.”
“We want you to know that we have hired some of the best and most experienced hydrologists, biologists, engineers, ecologists, agronomists and other experts. We have done this because we know that they are capable of meeting the high standards set by the owner, Frank Stronach.”
The company’s PR campaign includes the pitch that the ranch can be operated in a way that successfully balances “economic vitality and environmental sustainability.”


Mouseover and/or
CLICK for location MAP:
Invasive species
Mecca Farms

Palm Beach County is
in talks with the SFWMD
to sell the 1,900+ acre
Mecca Farms, west of
Palm Beach Gardens,
to the district. The land
to be used for cleaning
stormwater redirected
to the Loxahatchee

Palm Beach County endorses $55 million Mecca Farms deal
Sun Sentinel - by Andy Reid
August 14, 2012
Falls short of taxpayers' more than $100 million investment.
Six years ago, environmentalists warned Palm Beach County commissioners that water, not development, belonged on taxpayer-owned Mecca Farms.
Now after a failed "biotech village" soaked taxpayers for more than $100 million, a new deal would transform Mecca Farms into water storage needed for Everglades restoration
The County Commission on Tuesday endorsed a $55 million deal that would allow the South Florida Water Management District to acquire the 1,919 acres west of Palm Beach Gardens, once intended to become home to The Scripps Research Institute.
While the deal leaves county taxpayers far short of getting their money back, it would provide water storage vital to a new $880 million Everglades restoration plan.
"We see this as just a great end to the saga of Mecca Farms," said Lisa Interlandi, of the Everglades Law Center, who represented environmental groups that waged a legal fight against the Scripps deal.
The new deal calls for the water management district to get Mecca Farms in exchange for $30 million and a land trade valued at $25 million.
The land the district proposes to trade includes property at Riverbend Park near Jupiter as well as farmland and other land west of Delray Beach.
The district's board last week agreed to proceed with trying to acquire land that now figures prominently into a revamped state Everglades restoration plan.
Likewise, the County Commission Tuesday approved the general terms of the deal, allowing negotiations and land appraisals to proceed. Final approval of the deal could come by November.
"We have a conclusion, an ideal conclusion, to a problem that has existed for a long time," said County Commissioner Jess Santamaria.
The county in 2004 paid $60 million for Mecca Farms and spent about $40 million more in planning, permitting and initial construction for Scripps. In addition, the county built a $51 million water pipeline to supply development expected on Mecca Farms and surrounding farmland.
The idea was that Scripps would attract spin-off businesses and new jobs to farmland pegged for development.
But environmental concerns in 2006 moved Scripps to Jupiter and left taxpayers with a more than $6 million in annual debt payments for Mecca Farms along with maintenance of Mecca Farms.
The water management district now plans to build stormwater storage and treatment areas on Mecca Farms and then use the land to help restore water flows to the Loxahatchee River.
Selling Mecca Farms would be good for taxpayers, but the county should be trying to get more in return, according to Fred Scheibl, of the Tea Party spinoff Palm Beach County Taxpayer Action Board.
With a new development proposal in the works for the Vavrus Ranch that borders Mecca Farms, as well as the water pipeline the county invested in, the county should be angling for more cash than land in return for the property, he suggested in an email to county commissioners.
"Disposing of Mecca for a fair price is a good thing, but how can we be sure that this is a fair price?" Scheibl asked.


Record-breaking python found in Everglades with 87 eggs
Sun Sentinel – by David Fleshler
August 13, 2012
A monster Burmese python captured in the Everglades has broken the state size record, stretching 17 feet, 7 inches, with its belly bursting with 87 eggs, the University of Florida announced Monday.
The snake was brought to the Florida Museum of Natural History last Friday for examination from Everglades National Park. After the snake is examined, it will be mounted for exhibition at the museum for five years and then returned for exhibition to the park.
“This thing is monstrous, it’s about a foot wide,” said Kenneth Krysko, manager of the museum’s herpetology collection. “It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there’s nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble.”
Feathers were found in the snake’s stomach, and these will be examined by the museum’s ornithologists. The number of eggs was also a state record.
Burmese pythons, native to southern Asia, have established a breeding population in Everglades National Park, arriving in the United States via the exotic pet industry. Park officials are worried about their consumption of wildlife and competition with native predators.
“A 17.5-foot snake could eat anything it wants,” Krysko said. “By learning what this animal has been eating and its reproductive status, it will hopefully give us insight into how to potentially manage other wild Burmese pythons in the future.
17-foot-long Burmese python caught in Everglades Fox News
Monster python caught in the Florida Everglades breaks egg record 
17-foot-long Burmese python caught in Everglades The Associated Press
Everglades Burmese python: Largest in state history found with a ...          WPTV
Huge Burmese python caught in Florida Everglades            KTVB
17-foot Burmese python caught in Everglades
17-foot-long, 164-pound Burmese python caught in Everglades ...  Washington Post
Record-Breaking Giant Python Caught In The Everglades  Business Insider
Scientists find state record 87 eggs in largest python from Everglades        Phys.Org
Record-breaking python found in Everglades           Palm Beach Post
Holy Herpetology! Burmese Python Found With Record 87 Eggs
Scientists examine record python found in Florida in effort to stop ...          CNN
Giant python had 87 eggs       Gainesville Sun
(- and many more)

In Hernando County, a river is dying, but it doesn't have to
Tampa Bay Times - by Dan DeWitt, Columnist
August 12, 2012
As if it weren't obvious from the mats of gray-green algae covering the Weeki Wachee River's once-sugary white bed, the state has made it official:
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the river is classified as "impaired."
Here's some other stuff that's obvious: The Weeki Wachee is the marquee natural resource and attraction in Hernando County. We need to protect it. The first step in doing so should be passing an ordinance limiting fertilizer use. And the county needs to get busy and do this as soon possible and make the law as tough as possible.
The "impaired" designation isn't new. It showed up in a 2009 state Department of Environmental Protection report that cited elevated levels of nitrogen.
This is what feeds the snakelike strands of algae that look bad when they're growing and worse when they start to decay. That's also when they promote blooms of algae that consume dissolved oxygen that fish and all other aquatic animals need to live.
I feel bad that news of the river's impairment slipped my notice, but a little better because it also escaped the attention of a lot of knowledgeable environmentalists and county workers.
It came up because one of these county workers, planner Pat McNeese, was asked to follow up when the County Commission made an earlier decision to not protect the river.
That was in May, when it voted to opt out of a state requirement for the inspection of septic tanks close to major springs such at the Weeki Wachee.
In a token show of concern, commissioners then asked county staffers to look into the cause of the high — and steadily growing — nitrogen levels in the spring-fed river.
That assignment went to McNeese, who on Tuesday is set to tell the commission that nitrogen from organic sources may be part of the problem, but that a much bigger part is nitrogen from lawn fertilizer that seeps into the aquifer.
So, now we come to the fertilizer ordinance: State law requires the ordinance in counties with impaired bodies of water.
McNeese's recommendation will be that passing one can wait awhile. The county has to renew a stormwater runoff permit next year and hire a consultant to do so. It makes sense for the consultant to check into a fertilizer ordinance, she said.
Maybe. But it makes a lot more sense to do it now. And it makes sense to pass something far more strict than the nearly meaningless model law that state lawmakers approved at the urging of the turf grass industry.
"It's super wimpy," said Cris Costello, who monitors this issue statewide for Sierra Club Florida.
Costello said there's nothing stopping the county from banning applications of fertilizer during the rainy season or near bodies of water, or from demanding that homeowners use certain types of fertilizer, such as slow-release varieties that are less likely to end up in our groundwater.
And the county does not need a consultant to come up with an ordinance. It could easily use an ordinance from the 48 other cities and counties that have already passed "strong" ones, Costello said.
You'll hear complaints from lawn services, whose business might be harmed, but — I bet — not crippled. Fertilizer makers and landscaping companies are adapting to these new rules all over the United States.
And let's compare any financial hit they might take to the harm that further degradation of the river will do to home values and tourism.
Nobody ever sold a house or a hotel stay using the word "impaired."


Sun Sentinel

Presidential politics boost Everglades restoration
Sun Sentinel – by William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau
August 12, 2012
WASHINGTON – Everglades restoration, the mom-and-apple-pie of Florida presidential politics, for many years has provided a lush backdrop for candidates to showcase their stewardship of the environment.
This year President Barack Obama and his promoters are claiming bragging rights for pouring hundreds of millions of federal dollars into Florida's sprawling marsh, a cause that could give his campaign an edge in the biggest swing state.
Republicans will not concede the issue, however. Spokesman Jeff Bechdel says Republican challenger Mitt Romney is committed to ensuring that the feds and Florida "work together to successfully complete restoration efforts in a fiscally responsible manner."
All this political posturing is bound to give Everglades restoration a boost, especially in an election year.
Taking advantage of the political momentum, environmentalists are looking ahead and pressing Congress to authorize plans for spending many more millions of dollars on the next big phase of restoration, including new reservoirs and a water-treatment preserve in western Broward County.
"There's not that much time left this year in Congress, but this is important enough that we will work hard to move it forward," said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Audubon Florida's director of Everglades Policy. "We have all these projects ready to go, but we will end up wasting money just waiting. Even if the bill does not pass, at the least it sends a message to folks in Congress that we need to move forward with these projects."
The Obama administration and Congress have been quite generous to projects already under way from the Kissimmee Valley to the Tamiami Trail, bringing $1.5 billion since 2009 to restore a more natural water flow, protect habitat and store water supplies for a growing population.
But the next wave of projects depends on congressional approval of a nationwide bill known as the Water Resources Development Act. Controversies over spending well beyond the Everglades have held up renewal of another WRDA since 2007, leaving many plans on hold.
To try to avoid delays, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, introduced a bill just before the August congressional recess to authorize spending on four Everglades projects already planned and ready for construction:
● Broward County Water Preserve Areas, to build two reservoirs and a wetlands buffer to capture and store rainwater in treatment marshes to reduce phosphorous and other pollutants from entering the Everglades.
● C-111 Spreader Canal, to spread water in wide sheets instead of channeling it into Florida Bay through a massive canal once planned to transport rockets.
● Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, to restore freshwater flows into the bay and prevent saltwater intrusion, which would help re-establish shrimp and other shellfish.
● Caloosahatchee reservoir, to retain fresh water near the southwest Florida coast rather than send it out to sea and help protect rare and endangered species.
Obama promised to back restoration efforts when he campaigned in Florida in 2008, and he and Congress have followed through with funding for the 'Glades even while trying to scale back federal spending elsewhere.
"The president has every reason to remind people of what he's done for the Everglades. He has made it a priority for his administration," said Eric Draper, executive director of Florida Audubon.
An Obama spokesman would not disclose plans or tactics but said the president will campaign on his accomplishments, including Everglades restoration. Environmentalists expect him to show up in or near the 'Glades, which would follow a long tradition.
In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton pledged to restore a natural waterflow to save the shrinking River of Grass. Republican challenger Bob Dole took a helicopter tour over the land of gators and crocodiles. Not coincidentally, Congress that year tucked $300 million of Everglades money into a farm bill.
"That was clearly the result of presidential politics," Draper said. "Likewise in 2000, the Everglades contributed to Al Gore's defeat."
At that time, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader drew votes from environmentalists who criticized Democratic candidate Gore for refusing to oppose plans for a regional airport at Homestead. Critics feared a major airport expansion would encroach on the Everglades.
The airport was never built, and Gore lost to Republican George W. Bush by 537 votes in Florida.
"I don't know what Romney does with the Everglades this year if his platform is to have less government," Draper said. "Well, Everglades restoration is the government. You can't restore it without government intervention."
The Everglades nevertheless are a powerful environmental symbol for both parties. Even critics say restoration plans provide an excellent political prop.
"It's sold as Everglades restoration to save the environment. The reality is something else," said George Gonzalez, a political scientist at the University of Miami, who thinks these projects mainly provide water storage to allow urban growth. "But coming down here to the Everglades represents a great photo-op, and candidates can stress their environmental credentials. It's a lot easier to talk about the Everglades than about global warming, where there's total failure."
Others see the politicking as a welcome balm of bipartisanship during a contentious time.
"It brings both sides together," said Eric Eikenberg, chief executive of the Everglades Foundation and former chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist. "It's an opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it."


A vote for a green Florida - Editorial
August 11, 2012
Is there an environmental ethic in Florida ? If so, it seems utterly lacking in the state's political establishment.
In recent years our political leaders have gutted the state's environmental regulations, all but ended the landmark Florida Forever program, essentially dissembled the Department of Community Affairs, and are now poised to begin selling off water management district lands that were purchased to protect the state's rivers, lakes and wetlands.
This at a time when Floridians are growing ever more concerned over the quality and quantity of their water and the debilitating effects of urban sprawl.
It is clear that the politicians of their own volition will not protect natural Florida. Floridians must do it themselves.
This week a coalition of environmental groups launched a state constitutional initiative to raise $10 billion over the next two decades for the preservation of unspoiled lands and the protection of water resources.
The Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign would accomplish this not by raising taxes, but by earmarking one-third of the revenues from the state's existing excise tax on documents to be spent for land and water preservation.
That would put the funding off-limits to lawmakers, who routinely raid state "trust" funds in order to finance tax cuts and balance the budget.
"This will be the most significant vote in Florida for our environment in our lifetimes," Will Abberger, the campaign's chair, said this week. "We are launching a grassroots effort to let the people decide if clean water and natural land are a legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren — and generations to come." Information about the initiative can be found at
We believe Floridians are possessed of a fierce environmental ethic even if their politicians are not. The Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign is an opportunity to bypass the politicians and secure Florida's green future.



has joined the nonprofit
Arthur R. Marshall
Foundation as Director
of Development

New Director for popular Everglades program – by Staff
August 11, 2012
BOCA RATON, FL ( — The Arthur R. Marshall foundation — which provides Everglades programs to children throughout Palm Beach County — is welcoming a new director.
According to a media advisory:
Nancy Marshall, President of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, which champions the restoration and preservation of the greater ecosystem of Florida’s historic River of Grass, today announced that Ann Paton has joined the nonprofit organization as Director of Development.
“Ann Paton comes to the Marshall Foundation as a seasoned fundraiser and administrator with substantial experience in creating and sustaining strong community relationships that generate committed stakeholders,” said Ms. Marshall. “In fact, her career as a successful fundraiser includes serving as Vice President of Advancement at Barry University for six years, 2005-2011.”
Ms. Paton actually brings to the Marshall Foundation a 20+ year background in higher education fundraising. She began in the early 1990s by managing annual fund and alumni relations programs for Dartmouth Medical School, and then moved to Brown University School of Medicine to run a successful $70-million capital campaign.
In 2004, Frank Brogan, then president of Florida Atlantic University, hired Paton as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. According to Brogan, who is currently Chancellor of the State University of Florida, “Ann Paton and the Marshall Foundation is an excellent match. Her wealth of fundraising experience and knowledge of South Florida’s extended community will help the Foundation expand its visibility and garner new financial support to grow their Everglades education, restoration, and protection programs.”
In her new position, Ms. Paton is responsible for all of the Marshall Foundation’s fundraising efforts, such as securing gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and other private funding sources, as well as long-term development campaigns and various special events, including the annual River of Grass Gala.
The Marshall Foundation’s new Director of Development position is funded by a recent grant from The AWC Family Foundation in Nashville, TN. “We are pleased that the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades has hired a seasoned development leader who will raise the level of funding needed not only to enhance the core mission, but also to help it achieve long-term sustainability,” said Steve Rasmussen, Executive Director of The AWC Family Foundation.
“Formerly known as Messengers of the Healing Wind, The AWC Family Foundation has generously helped the Marshall Foundation numerous times over the last few years, including our first tree planting, the hiring of an Executive Director, the move to our new headquarters in Lake Worth, and now the hiring of a much needed Development Director. We are truly grateful to them for their ongoing support,” added Nancy Marshall.
About the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades:
Based in Palm Beach County, the Marshall Foundation champions the restoration and preservation of the greater Everglades ecosystem through science-based education and outreach programs. Annually, more than 25,000 elementary and high school students in Palm
Beach County actively participate in the Marshall Foundation’s various education programs.
Founded in 1998, the nonprofit organization has in recent years awarded more than $450,000 in scholarships and internships, planted nearly 100,000 native Florida trees in wetland areas, and involved more than 5,000 volunteers in hands-on restoration projects.


FL Capitol

Florida Water and Land
Legacy Campaign for
FL Constitutional

Campaign seeks Florida ballot issue to protect state's environmental treasures
Miami Herald - Editorial
August 10, 2012 
Tough economic times and a penchant in Tallahassee for "easy solutions" to close budget gaps have left the state's environmental treasures and wildlife programs in the dumps. What these recreation and conservation lands need is a stable, dedicated source of funding.
Enter the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign, a coalition that includes the Trust for Public Land, Audubon Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife and other groups that want to preserve Florida's natural beauty -- and its clean water -- for generations to come.
The campaign will be gathering signatures of registered voters -- it will need at minimum 676,811 certified signatures -- to put the issue on the ballot in 2014. If voters agree, and there are many reasons they should, the program would raise about $10 billion over 20 years -- without any new tax or a tax increase.
It would simply require the Florida Legislature to keep its paws out of the trust funds meant for environmental and parks programs -- guaranteeing at the very least that one-third of the revenues from the existing excise tax on documents during the sale of property goes toward designated environmental programs. That tax is now collected, but it's not being used for its intended purpose.
Once approved by voters, the amendment would take effect July 1, 2015, and the money would be dedicated to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund until 2035 to clean up Florida's River of Grass, the Everglades, and to protect drinking water sources, support fish and wildlife programs and revive the state's commitment to buying and protecting ecologically fragile land and habitats through the Florida Forever program.
Florida desperately needs a stable program to protect its most precious resources.
In the past three years, the Legislature earmarked only $23 million for Florida Forever -- the state used to spend 10 times as much on land preservation. This year, legislators approved only $8.5 million for water protection and land conservation in a $60-billion budget.
As this new coalition points out, that pittance is less than two-hundredths of one cent that will go toward conservation from every dollar spent in the state budget -- less than $1 for each Floridian.
"When it comes to dedicating funding to protect Florida's environment, the Great Recession has led to a complete depression. State funding to protect our most precious natural resources has slowed to a trickle," Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, said in a press release this week announcing the grassroots amendment effort. "This amendment is not a tax increase. It is the dedication of an existing funding source back to its historic purpose. Passing this amendment will ensure Florida's long-term traditional conservation values are secure and protected from short-term political pressures."
For sure, this amendment is not a tree-hugging exercise in futility. It would protect the land and water that Florida needs for its economy to grow. And Florida has a long, nonpartisan tradition in environmental protection. No one wants to go to a beach, river or lake where the water is toxic, and protecting the Everglades will be critical to the state's ability to ensure safe and clean drinking water for South Florida.


Rock mining

Rock mining in the
vicinity of the
Everglades does result
in a variety of

Water district considers tapping rock mining money for Everglades restoration
Sun Sentinel - by Andy Reid
August 10, 2012|
Rock mining money could pay for transforming farmland into wetlands under a new proposal to finally make use of costly land bought for Everglades restoration.
The South Florida Water Management District is working on a new plan to restore more than half of the 26,800 acres that in 2010 cost taxpayers $197 million in a deal with U.S. Sugar Corp.
How to pay for this plan is raising concerns with some environmental advocates, worried that the district's proposal would siphon money away from other restoration commitments.
The district proposes turning almost 15,000 acres of citrus groves north of Everglades National Park into a "mitigation" project. Rock miners would pay to restore the farm land in compensation for the environmental damage they cause by digging and blasting stone two counties away in Miami-Dade County.
That could be worth more than $150 million — recouping taxpayers' investment in that portion of the U.S. Sugar land purchase, paying for restoration of that property and potentially supplementing other district restoration efforts.
"It's a very good use [of the land]," said Ernie Barnett, the district's director of Everglades policy. "Putting it back to the way it was."
While environmental groups support the restoration of the former U.S. Sugar land, some object to using the rock mining money to do it.
Redirecting rock mining mitigation money to restore the former U.S. Sugar land in Hendry County would fail to compensate for the environmental damage from mining dozens of miles away in Miami-Dade, according to the National Parks Conservation Association.
"It seems to fly in the face of keeping mitigation local," John Adornato, regional director for the environmental group, said about the funding proposal. "It seems like a stretch."
On Aug. 29, the proposal goes before a state board that oversees Lake Belt-area rock mining in Miami-Dade. If that board gives its blessing, restoration work could begin on the Hendry County citrus land in 2014, according to the district.
The mitigation project approach would raise "a significant amount of money" for the budget-strained district and deliver real environmental improvements, according to district Executive Director Melissa Meeker.
The restoration work would remove citrus trees, drainage ditches and levees and turn the land back into a mix of wetland prairies and tree islands to become a new extension of the Everglades, according to the proposal.
"Take what is now a citrus grove and turn it into native habitat," Meeker said.
The land comes from a watered-down version of then-Gov. Charlie Crist's $1.75 billion bid in 2008 to buy all of U.S. Sugar's 180,000 acres and use the land to store and treat stormwater needed to replenish the Everglades.
The national economic downturn and other hurdles whittled the deal down to $197 million for 26,800 acres, as well as a 10-year option to buy the rest of U.S. Sugar's land.
The land acquired in 2010 included 8,900 acres in Palm Beach County, east of Lake Okeechobee, and 17,900 acres of citrus land in Hendry County, northeast of Everglades National Park.
So far, that land has yet to be put to use for Everglades restoration, and is being leased back to U.S. Sugar for continued farming.
New Everglades restoration plans call for trying to trade the Palm Beach County portion of the former U.S. Sugar land for property in other areas targeted for Everglades restoration. Those plans also include building a shallow reservoir and other water storage on about 3,000 acres of the citrus land acquired in the U.S. Sugar deal.
Tapping into the rock mining mitigation money would enable the district to pay for its new plan to turn the rest of the Hendry County property back into wetlands and other vital habitat — prime for panthers, black bears and migratory birds.
While the district would get money for restoration, the rock mining industry would earn the mitigation "credits" it needs to keep mining.
Rock mining mitigation money needs to be spent on environmental efforts such as protecting water flows to Biscayne Bay, not cleaning up Everglades pollution problems created by farming, Adornato said.
The Sierra Club was still reviewing the district's new mitigation proposal, but group representative Jon Ullman said that relying on mitigation to compensate for environmental damage typically "is not an equitable solution."
"Mitigation has shown to be a net loss of wetlands," Ullman said.


Environmental Groups
Want Guaranteed
$10 Billion Expenditure
in State Constitution

Could the environmentalists come up with a crazier idea ? - by Nancy Smith
August 9, 2012
Just when you think Florida environmentalists can't get any further out in left field, they go and drop back against the wall. I'm talking about their latest plan to budget their causes by ballot initiative.
Listen to this.
A coalition of environmental groups thinks it's a good idea to fund Everglades restoration and other environmental programs with a $10 billion marker locked into the state Constitution for the next 20 years. And, yes, that's billion with a "b."
Right now a whole slew of them have a petition drive going to get the measure on the ballot. It's called the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign.
What the amendment would require is that for the next two decades, 33 percent of all doc stamp revenue be earmarked for environmental programs. The proposal would go into effect July 1, 2015 and collections would not be deposited into general revenue, but go directly into the state's Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, told the News Service of Florida, "We've been left with no options." The Legislature just hasn't been lashing out $300 million a year, as it did before the economy turned sour, to buy more land.
Wait a minute here. Can we please look at this in common sense terms ?
This isn't the way government is supposed to work.
Florida has a budget process. Good times or bad, the state anticipates its revenue, assesses its shortfall and shortcomings from the previous year, and through legislative committees and subcommittees, priorities for spending take shape. Those who believe they belong higher on the priority list do their homework, get off their backsides and get to Tallahassee to push their case.
Force-feeding the Florida Constitution with a single priority among dozens -- among hundreds, no doubt -- is the consummate unbalancing act. It demeans the constitution and shortchanges the people of Florida.
Joe Negron, R-Stuart, rumored to be the Senate's next appropriations chairman, called the environmentalists' petition drive "the wrong way for government to work."
Negron told Sunshine State News, "A constitution grants authority to the government and sets out how it will operate, it isn't there to be used as a budgeting tool. The last time we did something like this petition drive calls for was when we put the classroom-size amendment in the constitution and made it the law of the land and ended up building schools we didn't need.
"To be honest, if we hadn't put the class-size amendment in the constitution, there might have been more money for land buys and environmental programs," he said.
Do land and conservation efforts present a more urgent need than, say, children's issues, or the needs of citizens with disabilities, or the looming demand of Medicaid in the next decade, which is threatening to swallow up more of the state's prosperity.
What happens during those 20 years of $500 million payouts each, when truly pressing needs arise ? Emergency expenditures, for instance ? Where do we find the money to pay for our constitutional obligation ? Do we enlarge our commitment to gaming ? Raise the rate of doc stamps?
No state does a better job of using its constitution as a tree to build must-have nests than California. And look how it worked out for those folks. California’s budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just a few months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if, as Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday, voters fail to approve tax increases in November.
I thought one of the commenters on Wednesday's story "Environmental Groups Want Guaranteed $10 Billion Expenditure in State Constitution," said it best in summing up the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign:
"To lock in roughly 1 percent of the state budget for a non-emergency item for 20 years without the ability of the Legislature to control it would be a great error. How much conservation land is enough ? The GSA is studying excess federal holdings with the intent of reducing them.
"In Jacksonville, roughly 17 percent of the surface area, including more than half of the ocean frontage, is government-owned, federal, state and local. Jacksonville does not have the money to effectively use the part it owns and is also studying disposal of some.
"I strongly oppose it."
Thank you, Henry Rogers, ACL, CCIM.


Mouseover and/or
CLICK for location MAP:
Invasive species
Mecca Farms

Palm Beach County is
in talks with the SFWMD
to sell the 1,900+ acre
Mecca Farms, west of
Palm Beach Gardens,
to the district. The land
to be used for cleaning
stormwater redirected
to the Loxahatchee

Proposed Mecca Farms land swap moves forward
Palm Beach Post - by Christine Stapleton, Staff Writer
August 9, 2012
The Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District gave tentative approval on Thursday to a land swap involving Mecca Farms — a vacant orange grove owned by the county but crucial to the district’s efforts to restore the northern Everglades.
The unanimous vote by the nine-member governing board allows staff to continue negotiations with the county and hire an appraiser to value Mecca Farms, a 1,920-acre former orange grove the county purchased for $60 million with the hope of luring The Scripps Research Institute to the site in 2004. Scripps chose another site and the land has become a reminder of the costly purchase.
Under the terms of the proposed land swap, the county would give the district Mecca Farms and the district would give the county $30 million plus 1,495 acres of district-owned land, including 97 acres that is home to the Palm Beach Downs equestrian training center, the 313-acre West Delray Regional Park, which has been used as an archery range and airfield for radio-controlled aircraft and the district’s 60 percent interest in the 571-acre Pero Farms, which it owns jointly with the county.
“The availability of the Mecca property provides and unprecedented opportunity,” Ernie Barnett, the district’s Everglades Policy Director told the governing board. “This is a key piece of the restoration strategy for the northern Palm Beach plan.”
The $30 million is already in the district budget and is part of the $880 million Everglades restoration plan that recently received federal approval, Barnett said. The Mecca Farms land would be used to build a flow-equalization basin, which will store excess water that can be used to provide fresh water to the Loxahatchee River and maintain consistent water supply to stormwater-treatment areas, which filter out phosphorus pollution from water headed to the Everglades.
Representatives of six environmental groups also spoke at the meeting and offered unanimous support for the deal. The Palm Beach County Commission is scheduled to vote on a similar conceptual approval on Tuesday.
“This is a topic we have followed for years and years,” said Joanne Davis, Community Planner for 1000 Friends of Florida. “It’s a wonderful idea and we are very pleased the district is considering this.”


Protecting the best of Florida – Editorial by Staff
August 9, 2012
Florida environmental groups have launched a campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would establish a dedicated funding source for land and water conservation.
The benefits of this worthy idea would extend far beyond woods, beaches and springs.
Florida's continued growth and economic prosperity depend on its wonderful quality of life, which is based largely on its natural assets.
Water shortages, polluted rivers and paved-over beaches won't create jobs or attract businesses.
And lawmakers have shown they can't be counted on to protect Florida's treasures.
They've all but abandoned Florida Forever, the land-buying program that relied on a share of the documentary tax stamp on real-estate transactions.
Given the economic downtown, a cutback was understandable. But lawmakers cut funding by nearly 98 percent — at a time when land prices plummeted and tracts could be acquired at bargain prices.
At the same time, lawmakers systematically gutted growth management regulations that protected taxpayers from being stuck with the costs of new roads, schools and other costly requirements generated by far-flung development.
So it's necessary for voters to act.
The proposed amendment would not raise taxes but simply ensure that conservation funding was continued as envisioned when former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez launched Preservation 2000 in 1990. The effort, which later became Florida Forever, also was strongly supported by Govs. Lawton Chiles, Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
If the amendment makes it to the ballot and is passed by voters in 2014, it would dedicate one-third of net revenues from the existing tax documents to conservation, including the protection of water sources, restoring the Everglades and acquiring environmentally valuable lands.
The measure does not mandate a spending level. When fewer land transactions occur, funding would drop. When real estate activity rebounds, revenues would as well.
The document tax is projected to generate $10 billion over 20 years — a reasonable amount given the importance of Florida's natural heritage to its economic welfare. The state, for example, spends about $7 billion a year on transportation.
Beyond safeguarding residents' quality of life and averting costly growth problems, conservation creates jobs and attracts visitors.
Ecotourism is the fastest-growing part of the state's $65 billion-a-year tourism industry, and the Florida park system alone has an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion.
Notably, the amendment allows the conservation funds to be used to buy development rights, a useful tool that enables ranchers and others to continue agricultural operations.
Indeed, Florida Forever proved to be an efficient way to protect both landowners' rights and wildlife habitat.
The task of getting the signatures of at least 676,811 registered voters to get the amendment on the 2014 ballot won't be easy.
But everyone should see the value of making certain we keep Florida the natural paradise that makes it such a great place to live and work.
Proposed amendment would guarantee money for environment       Palm Beach Post
Campaign to preserve Florida’s land and water         TopNews United States
Green Florida  Gainesville Sun, Editorial
Florida environmentalists launch $10B conservation campaign         Bond Buyer
Petition drive seeks tax to preserve Florida's natural resources (blog)
Environmental Coalition Launches Drive to Save Florida Forever ...           WUSF News
Florida environmentalists launch petition drive toward land ...        WUFT



Pumping polluted water OK'd for Lake Okeechobee
Sun Sentinel - by Andy Reid
August 9, 2012|B,
Water District agrees to lift "back-pumping" ban
An old source of Lake Okeechobee pollution could return after South Florida water managers Thursday opened the door to renewed "back-pumping."
In a bid to boost water supplies, the South Florida Water Management District board agreed to explore pumping some of the polluted stormwater that drains off South Florida farmland back north into Lake Okeechobee for storage.
The district stopped that controversial practice five years ago because of environmental concerns about sending water containing polluting phosphorus as well as pesticides into the lake.
But the district, now under new leadership, has agreed to pursue a watered-down back-pumping proposal that would redirect less farmland runoff water back into the lake than in the past.
Supporters say back-pumping during the rainy season would make more water available for agricultural and environmental needs during droughts.
"Let's look at every option," said district Board Member Daniel DeLisi, who pushed for the back-pumping measure. "We can not back down from looking for a solution."
Environmental groups and the U.S. Department of the Interior counter that the potential increase in pollution isn't worth the water supply boost that comes from allowing back-pumping.
They favor cleaning up the water and using it to replenish the Everglades, instead of pumping it north.
Twelve environmental groups, including Audubon Florida and the Sierra Club, signed a letter opposing the back-pumping proposal.
"The lake is a lake. … It's not to be used as a reservoir," said Mark Perry, of the Florida Oceanographic Society. "[Back-pumping] adds pollution to the lake and to the estuary downstream."
More phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrient-rich pollutants that result from farming would flow into the lake if back-pumping resumes. That can lead to algae blooms, fish kills and other damage to the lake's ecosystem.
Back-pumping also seems to run counter to multibillion-dollar Everglades restoration efforts aimed at getting more Lake Okeechobee water flowing south to Everglades National Park.
"Anything that takes water supply from the Everglades is not a good thing," said Joan Lawrence, of the U.S. Department of the Interior. "I'm just skeptical."
District officials say their proposal makes use of water that otherwise would get drained out to sea for flood control and would not lessen water going to the Everglades.
They plan several more months of computer modeling to try to gauge the water supply and water quality effects of back-pumping. The district also still needs state and federal approvals before it can resume back-pumping.


Water District endorses buying Mecca Farms for $55M
Sun Sentinel – by Andy Reid
August 9, 2012
County bought failed biotech site for $100M; fails to recoup initial investment
Mecca Farms' move from biotech blunder to environmental restoration took a key step forward Thursday in a deal that still falls short of recouping taxpayers' investment.
Palm Beach County has sunk more than $100 million into trying to turn the 1,919-acre Mecca Farms into a biotech industry hub that never took root.
Now a new $55 million deal that surfaced in May calls for the South Florida Water Management District board to acquire the former citrus groves and use the land to store water that would help replenish the Loxahatchee River.
Palm Beach County would give up Mecca Farms in exchange for $30 million and five properties totaling about 1,500 acres and worth about $25 million.
That's far less than what Palm Beach County taxpayers already invested in Mecca Farms, but it does allow the county to cut into it's debt for the property. It also makes the land available for a new state Everglades plan that relies on the district finding more room to store water in Palm Beach County.
On Thursday, the district board agreed to pursue buying Mecca Farms as part of the larger $880 million Everglades restoration plan aimed at cleaning up South Florida water pollution.
Mecca Farms' availability offers an "unprecedented opportunity" to help restoration efforts that would ultimately reach from the Loxahatchee River to the Everglades, according to Ernie Barnett, the district's director of Everglades policy.
"This is a key piece of the restoration strategy," Barnett said.Palm Beach County officials once thought selling Mecca Farms to developers would be their insurance policy for recouping taxpayers' money if the Scripps deal fizzled.
But ever since the South Florida housing boom went bust, the county hasn't had any serious takers for the Mecca Farms until the district proposal.
The county's new goal is to try to get "fair values" for Mecca Farms, said Todd Bonlarron, the county's legislative affairs director.
In addition to the $30 million, the collection of district-owned properties the county would receive includes land at Riverbend Park near Jupiter as well as farmland and other properties west of Delray Beach.
"It doesn't get all of [the money] back," Bonlarron said about the proposed deal with the district. "I don't think there's any expectation that we will be able to recoup everything."
The Mecca Farms deal goes before the Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday. If commissioners agree, negotiations on final terms will continue and final approval could come by November.
Environmental groups that fought turning Mecca Farms into a "biotech village" anchored by The Scripps Research Institute have long advocated using the land for restoration.
"It really is going to have some good benefits for the ecosystem," said Jane Graham, of Audubon Florida.
The county in 2004 paid $60 million for Mecca Farms and spent about $40 million more in planning, permitting and initial construction for Scripps. In addition, the county built a $51 million water pipeline to supply development expected on Mecca Farms and surrounding farmland.
The county envisioned Scripps' headquarters and research labs as the anchor for spinoff biotech companies and other high-tech industry, as well as new neighborhoods with thousands of homes.
Instead, environmental objections to allowing such intense development to spread to more agricultural land eventually stopped the Mecca Farms plans.
The county in 2006 agreed to move Scripps' proposed campus to Jupiter.
After years of Mecca Farms sitting vacant and wracking up maintenance costs for the county, the new Everglades restoration plan makes the farmland a hot property for the water management district.
The district in 2008 completed a $217 million reservoir from rock mines west of Royal Palm Beach that was supposed to help replenish the Loxahatchee River and boost some community water supplies.
But the pumps needed to get the reservoir water to the Loxahatchee River have yet to be built. Now under the new restoration plan, much of that reservoir would be sent south to help the Everglades.
To compensate for redirecting the reservoir water, the district would turn Mecca Farms into a new water storage area to supply the Loxahatchee River.
The new Everglades restoration plan is Florida's attempt to resolve more than 20 years of litigation with the federal government and environmental groups over stymied efforts to meet water quality standards.
It calls for spending $880 million on stormwater storage and treatment improvements over more than a decade to clean up the water needed to replenish the Everglades. That's on top of about $700 million the district already spent on farmland and unfinished reservoirs from past sidetracked Everglades restoration projects.
This plan aims to improve the effectiveness of 57,000 acres of stormwater treatment areas Florida build to filter polluting phosphorous from water that flows off agricultural land and into the Everglades. That already cost the state $1.8 billion.
The costs are high, but restoring the Everglades protects South Florida's water supply, according to district officials.
"The cost of not doing this is even higher," district board Chairman Joe Collins said.


FL Capitol

Florida Water and Land
Legacy Campaign for
FL Constitutional

Environmental groups want guaranteed $10 billion expenditure in State Constitution - by Michael Peltier, News Service of Florida
August 8, 2012
Future funding for Everglades restoration and other environmental programs would be enshrined in the state Constitution under a ballot initative proposal to guarantee the spending of $10 billion on such programs over the next 20 years.
Frustrated over withering funds for the state's marquee land-buying program, Florida Forever, and sporadic funding for a host of other environmental concerns from drinking water and springs to beaches and historic sites, a coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday launched a volunteer effort to begin gathering signatures to put the issue on the ballot in 2014.
Dubbed the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign, the petition drive is being pushed by a coalition of groups that include the Trust for Public Land, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, and Defenders of Wildlife.
"We've been left with no options," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida.
For years, lawmakers set aside about $300 million a year for land-buying, but have rejected that type of spending in the economic downturn of the most recent few years. Since 2009, the state has set aside a total of $23 million for Florida Forever. In 2012, lawmakers earmarked only $8.5 million and prohibited state officials from buying new land.
 “When it comes to dedicating funding to protect Florida’s environment, the Great Recession has led to a complete depression," said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, in a statement. "State funding to protect our most precious natural resources has slowed to a trickle.”
The amendment would require that 33 percent of all document tax revenue be earmarked for Everglades restoration and other environmental programs for the next 20 years. The proposal would go into effect July 1, 2015. Collections would be deposited into the state's Land Acquisition Trust Fund, not general revenue.
Before any vote, the group must gather at least 676,811 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The Florida Supreme Court would also have to approve the ballot title and summary and determine that it satisfies the state's single subject rule, which prohibits citizen petitions from encompassing multiple issues.
The court, however, won't review the ballot language until the coalition has turned in more than 67,811 signatures, a milestone Draper said the group hopes to complete by the end of the year. Once on the ballot, it would have to be approved by at least 60 percent of voters.
Since its inception, Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, have funded the purchase of more than 2.5 million acres of environmentally sensitive lands, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. Since July 2001, Florida Forever has acquired more than 682,000 acres of land at a cost of $2.9 billion


Florida environmentalists launch $10B conservation campaign - by Shelly Sigo
August 8, 2012
BRADENTON, Fla. — Major environmental groups in Florida this week unveiled a campaign to ask the state’s voters to approve a new bond program that could fund as much as $10 billion in conservation programs.
Florida has spent billions of dollars over two decades for some of the largest environmental acquisition and restoration programs in the country.
But a dearth of state funding since 2009 prompted environmentalists to launch the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign — a constitutional petition drive aimed at providing a dedicated source of revenue to purchase land for conservation and recreational purposes, organizers said.
The groups need 676,811 registered voters to put their proposed constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot.
If voters approve the amendment, it would take effect July 1, 2015, and would dedicate one-third of the net revenues from the state’s documentary stamp tax on real estate to land and water programs over 20 years.
“Our feeling is that voters will support land conservation programs,” said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida.
As Florida regains population growth and construction patterns stunted by the economic downturn, Draper believes voters will be interested in protecting the quality of life that is underpinned by Florida’s natural resources, he said. Organizers expect documentary tax collections to begin slowly growing in 2015 as the real estate market improves.
“By that time, we expect documentary stamp taxes collections will increase considerably, and we could leverage that money to sell bonds,” he said.
Currently, Florida’s constitution — as amended by voters in the past — allows state funds to be spent on environmental programs.
Previous constitutional amendments did not dedicate specific funds or require that the Legislature appropriate funds annually for conservation programs. As a result of the amendments though, lawmakers over the last 20 years implemented a number of major environmental bond programs.
The current programs for which bonds are outstanding are Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever, as well as a separate program to fund Everglades restoration.
About $5.25 billion in bonds have been sold in addition to spending $1 billion in cash over the years to support those programs, according to Ben Watkins, director of the state’s Division of Bond Finance.
“It’s been an extraordinary program and accomplished purchasing over a million acres of real estate in Florida,” he said.
Currently, about $2 billion of bonds are outstanding. The bonds are secured by 63.3% of current documentary stamp tax collections. The last time new-money bonds were sold for environmental programs was early 2010, and issuances since then have been refundings.
Revenue collections from the stamp tax have declined to just over $1 billion in recent years from a pre-recessionary high of $4 billion in 2006, according to Watkins.
Though Florida has purchased many environmentally sensitive lands, Draper said Everglades restoration is overdue and many projects remain unfunded on the Florida Forever land acquisition list. “There’s not a lack of projects,” he said.
In 2009, as state revenues declined from the economic downturn, lawmakers suspended additional funding for environmental programs.
“The programs were not suspended because we didn’t want to continue conserving land, but because of the dramatic decline in revenue caused by the financial crisis and the Great Recession,” Watkins said. “The Legislature had to prioritize.”
Watkins said there is some “marginal capacity” in the current program now, though not enough for the size of the program environmentalists envision because of debt-service requirements on the outstanding bonds. In fiscal 2011, the state paid $434.03 million in combined debt service for the three existing programs.
When the Preservation 2000 bonds are paid off next year, the commitment of documentary stamp taxes for debt service will drop by about $256 million a year, according to Watkins.
“There is slow growth projected in the documentary stamp taxes,” he said, cautioning that it is a volatile revenue stream as seen the past few years.
Another metric to consider is the fact that the state remains above its self-imposed 7% cap on debt-service payments as a ratio of available state revenues, Watkins said. At the end of 2011, that ratio was 7.64% because of declining revenues and not due to increased borrowing.
Florida has significantly decreased the annual issuance of new bonds the past few years, and focused on paying down debt in part because many elected officials are debt-averse, including Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.
Draper said the environmental campaign did not arise because of the political reluctance to sell bonds, but because previous governors and lawmakers felt environmental spending was a priority along with other needs of the state.
“The state’s gone through a recession, but at the same time taxes are being cut,” he said. “Our feeling is that voters will support land conservation programs.”
Draper also said he believed that the Legislature could have continued to fund the Everglades restoration and Florida Forever programs at modest levels between $100 million or $200 million a year. “Nothing was cut as dramatically as the environmental programs,” he said.
Documentary stamp tax collections have just begun to see improvement, and increased 7.2% to $1.15 billion last year, though collections are still far below the $4 billion seen six years ago during the height of the real estate bubble.
As state revenues begin to rise, Draper said the environmental coalition believes that lawmakers “will not find it in their hearts to help with land acquisition needs,” and voters will.
“I think we’ve been successful in Florida and had a good track record of local and statewide approval of land conservation measures, and as the state starts growing when we get to the ballot there will be plenty of signs of growth,” he said. “We think people will say, 'Hey, Florida is a special place and we want to keep its quality of life.’ ”
In addition to Audubon Florida, other groups backing the constitutional initiative include the Trust for Public Land, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife, the Conservation Trust for Florida, the Florida Conservation Alliance, the Conservation Fund, the Alachua Conservation Trust, and others.
The Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign’s website is


Florida's Audubon demands hearing over sugar producers' Everglades pollution
August 08 2012
Florida's Audubon Society took on the state's largest sugar producers on July 27, challenging recently issued permits that allow the pollution control practices the companies use on 234,932 acres of farmland in the Everglades.
 The permits were issued after the South Florida Water Management District approved the companies' "best management practices", procedures growers undertake to reduce pesticides, fertilisers, animal waste and other pollutants that flow off from their fields.
(Article continues – access upon registration only)



Keep more polluted water out of Lake Okeechobee
Palm Beach Post - by Randy Schultz, Editor of the Editorial Page
August 8, 2012
In August 2007, as a member of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, Melissa Meeker voted not to pump polluted water into Lake Okeechobee. She did so despite the protests of sugar farmers, who wanted a backup supply of water during a drought.
On Thursday, now with Ms. Meeker director of the water management district, the staff will present to the governing board the idea of a plan to pump polluted water into Lake Okeechobee. The stated reasons are different, and district officials say conditions are different. Back-pumping, though, remains a bad idea.
For decades, Lake Okeechobee was South Florida’s cesspool. In the 1970s and 1980s, great quantities of pollution-laden farm runoff were back-pumped from the south while great quantities of pollution-laden farm runoff flowed in from the north. Cleaning the lake is key to restoring the Everglades. After that decision in 2007 came another by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2008 not to keep the lake artificially high. Since then, back-pumping has taken place only occasionally, much to the displeasure of sugar growers.
Item 33 on Thursday’s agenda, though, proposes that the district study whether “Water Supply Augmentation” — the same term once used by a leading sugar grower to describe back-pumping — could help the Caloosahatchee River estuary on the southwest Florida coast. The Caloosahatchee, which flows out of Lake Okeechobee, has suffered from a shortage of freshwater due to low lake levels. Increased salinity has harmed marine life in the estuary.
Tommy Strowd, the water district’s director of operations, argues that the amount of water would be roughly one-tenth of what was back-pumped during the 2001 drought. At that time, the district called it “harvesting the rainfall.” As The Post reported, that back-pumping caused the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in Glades cities’ water to spike. Mr. Strowd said it makes sense to “relook at a different application” of back-pumping. He acknowledged receiving “pressure” from the west coast, just as pressure from farmers came in 2007.
All major environmental groups, though, remain opposed to back-pumping. The damage to Lake Okeechobee would be bad enough. More important, the action would set a bad precedent of deviating from the only two justifiable reasons to back-pump: for flood control and to ease a water supply emergency. By speaking up for the Caloosahatchee now, farmers could speak up for themselves later.
Mr. Strowd says the district is not “anywhere near a point” of deciding whether to back-pump. The 2012 governing board can avoid getting too near that point by behaving like the 2007 governing board. Keep more pollution out of Lake Okeechobee.


Petition under way for state amendment protecting water, land
The Daytona Beach News Journal - by Dinah Voyles Pulver, Environment Writer
August 8, 2012
A new coalition of Florida's environmental groups launched a statewide petition drive Tuesday to place a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot that would dedicate money to conserve lands statewide, protect drinking water supplies and restore the Everglades.
The Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign includes Audubon Florida, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club and 1000 Friends of Florida.
The proposed amendment will be "the most significant vote in Florida for our environment in our lifetimes," said campaign chair Will Abberger, director of conservation finance for the Trust for Public Land. "We are launching a grassroots effort to let the people decide if clean water and natural land are a legacy we want to leave for our children and grandchildren - and generations to come."
But first the proposed ballot measure needs at least 676,811 verified registered voter signatures.
The purpose of Tuesday's announcement was to start drafting volunteers to help collect signatures on election day in November, said Federation president Manley Fuller. "We've got a lot of work to do," Fuller said, adding he's confident Floridians will support the effort.
Coalition members point out their plan would dedicate one third of the net revenues from an existing excise tax on official documents to restore the Everglades, protect drinking water supplies and revive the state's commitment to protect natural lands and wildlife habitat through the Florida Forever program.
If approved, it would take effect July 1, 2015, and generate an estimated $10 billion during the next 20 years. More than 72 percent of voters that went to the polls in November 1998 approved a similar constitutional amendment, but organizers of the new petition drive said Tuesday state legislators have failed to carry out the voters intentions and properly fund the state's land-buying program.
"The reason we have this initiative is so the people can bring forward things the Legislature is not willing to do," said Clay Henderson of New Smyrna Beach, who is working with the group and was one of the architects of the 1998 amendment. For four years, the Legislature virtually sat on the program, Henderson said, "at a time when we have had a great opportunity to acquire the last remaining significant conservation lands, which could be protected in perpetuity."
"We're tired of being on the defensive and we're ready to go back on the offense," Henderson said.
The 1998 amendment, in addition to creating the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, extended the state's bonding ability to allow more money to be dedicated to preserving conservation lands. More than 74 percent of those who cast ballots in Flagler County endorsed the amendment, while 73 percent of Volusia voters supported it.
But Florida Forever, once funded at $300 million a year, received no money the past two years and only $8.5 million this year, a victim of growing budget pressures from the economic recession.
Eric Draper, Audubon's executive director, said they're reaching out to "business leaders, conservationists, people of every age, ethnicity, creed, and political stripe, to ask them to protect what is fundamental to our economy and our quality of life in Florida - the land and water that makes this such a special place."
Those who would like to volunteer or who want to support the measure can visit, , call  850-629-4656, or email .
"Regardless of political party and in good times and bad, for more than 20 years Legislatures and Governors have supported these programs. Since the recent economic downturn, our water and land, our beaches and springs, have suffered greater cuts and more damage than almost any other area of statewide concern," said Abberger. The coalition figures that for every dollar spent in this year's state budget, less than two-hundredths of one penny will go to water and land conservation - less than $1 for each Floridian. "We can't protect this state on less than a dollar per year per Floridian," Draper stated. "It just won't work." The amendment would create Article X, Section 28, of the Florida Constitution. Under the amendment, Florida's Land Acquisition Trust Fund would receive a guaranteed 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on document to support financing or refinancing the acquisition and improvement of: Land, water areas, and related property interests and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; Lands that protect significant water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; Lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Section 7(b) of Article II of the Florida Constitution; Beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; historic, archaeological, or geologic sites as well as management of lands acquired; and Restoration of natural systems related to the enhancement of public access and recreational enjoyment.
Coalition of environmental groups launches petition drive for ... (blog)
Environmental groups want guaranteed $10 billion expenditure in ...‎           Sunshine State News
Environmental groups launch amendment drive to create enviro ...‎ (blog)
Environmentalists seek Florida funding amendment‎             Sacramento Bee
Environmentalists seek Florida funding amendment            Daily Comet
Groups seek amendment to fund conservation          Gainesville Sun


World over-using underground water reserves for agriculture
Reuters - by Chris Wickham
August 8, 2012
LONDON Aug 8 (Reuters) - The world is depleting underground water reserves faster than they can be replenished due to over-exploitation, according to scientists in Canada and the Netherlands.
The researchers, from McGill University in Montreal and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, combined groundwater usage data from around the globe with computer models of underground water resources to come up with a measure of water usage relative to supply.
That measure shows the groundwater footprint - the area above ground that relies on water from underground sources - is about 3.5 times bigger than the aquifers themselves.
The research suggests about 1.7 billion people, mostly in Asia, are living in areas where underground water reserves and the ecosystems that rely on them are under threat, they said.
Tom Gleeson from McGill, who led the study, said the results are "sobering", showing that people are over-using groundwater in a number of regions in Asia and North America.
Over 99 percent of the world's fresh and unfrozen water sits underground, and he suggests this huge reservoir that could be crucial for the world's growing population, if managed properly.
The study, published in the journal Nature, found that 80 percent of the world's aquifers are being used sustainably but this is offset by heavy over-exploitation in a few key areas.
Those areas included western Mexico, the High Plains and California's Central Valley in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, northern India and parts of northern China.
"The relatively few aquifers that are being heavily exploited are unfortunately critical to agriculture in a number of different countries," Gleeson told Reuters. "So even though the number is relatively small, these are critical resources that need better management."
Previous research has shown that it takes about 140 litres of water to grow the beans that go into one cup of coffee, whether they are cultivated in arid Ethiopia or the Colombian rain forest.
"The effect of this water use on the supply of available water will be very different," the researchers wrote. "Until now, there has been no way of quantifying the impact of such agricultural groundwater use in any consistent, global way."
Gleeson said limits on water extraction, more efficient irrigation and the promotion of different diets, with less or no meat, could make these water resources more sustainable.
Water sitting in underground aquifers was the subject of research by British researchers published in April that mapped huge reserves sitting under large parts of Africa that could provide a buffer against the effects of climate change, if used sustainably.
A team from the British Geological Survey and University College London estimated that reserves of groundwater across Africa are about 100 times the amount found on the continent's surface.
Some of the largest reserves are under the driest North African countries like Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan, but some schemes to exploit them are not sustainable.
The biggest is Libya's $25 billion Great Manmade River project, built by the regime of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi to supply cities including Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte with an estimated 6.5 million cubic metres of water a day.
The network of pipes and boreholes is sucking water out of the ground that was deposited in the rocks under the Sahara an estimated 40,000 years ago, but is not being replenished.
It is unclear how long this water source will last, with estimates ranging between 60 and 100 years.


sugar cane

Agriculture’s role in ecosystem services
USDA Blog - by Jenna Jadin, AAAS Fellow/Advisor
August 7, 2012
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Most of us accept that some services—such as waste water treatment and emergency response, for example—have an economic value. As citizens, we decide to support these services for our safety, security and comfort. And yet there are many other functions going on every day, all around the world, that are not directly supported but still enable our planet to maintain favorable living conditions for all living creatures—functions like bees pollinating our crops, forests absorbing excess carbon dioxide, or dung beetles breaking down animal wastes.
These functions, known as ecosystem services, include all the jobs performed by the components of an ecosystem, coming from biotic components like plants and insects, to abiotic components, such as the soil and wind.  Ecosystem services include things like pollination (approximately one third of the human diet comes from insect pollinated plants), water filtration (wetlands protect water quality by trapping sediments and retaining pollutants such as heavy metals), energy (7 percent of US power comes from hydroelectric plants), and tourism (nature-based tourism or ecotourism is predicted to grow to 25 percent of the world travel market by 2012).  And these services, without most of us even knowing it, add substantially to our economy.  For example, the value of insect pollination has been estimated at up to $15 billion in the United States annually, and ecotourism has a worldwide value of approximately $473 billion per year.
As a growing world population slowly pushes ecosystem services to new limits, the issue that more and more scientists and policymakers are trying to confront is how to value ecosystem services.  Because we don’t directly support many of these services, we may undervalue them.  Yet ecosystem services are very valuable to agriculture, which is why USDA scientists and policy makers are increasingly working to understand ecosystem services and find ways to elevate our understanding of their importance and value them at the same time.
Many USDA agencies have active research programs in the area of ecosystem services. For example, ERS is investigating the economics of ecosystem services and design issues for ecosystem service markets, including the use of greenhouse gas offsets and interactions with conservation programs.  NIFA has several programs that address environmental markets, including a program on enhancing ecosystem services from agricultural lands and the National Integrated Water Quality Program, whose goal is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of our nation’s surface water and groundwater resources through research, education, and extension activities.  And ARS has a Water Availability & Watershed Management National Program which addresses the highest priorities for agricultural water management including erosion, sedimentation, and water quality protection, and improving watershed management and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes.
Agriculture plays a major role in protecting ecosystem services, and in turn can reap great benefits from services that are functioning properly. Given that, it’s encouraging to know that USDA scientists and policy makers will continue to do their part to ensure that America’s ecosystems are able to provide the services we all need long into the future.


FL Capitol

Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign for FL Constitutional amendment

A way to protect Florida’s treasures
Miami Herald - Editorial
August 7, 2012
OUR OPINION: A proposed constitutional amendment would keep environmental dollars where they should be.
Tough economic times and a penchant in Tallahassee for “easy solutions” to close budget gaps have left the state’s environmental treasures and wildlife programs in the dumps. What these recreation and conservation lands need is a stable, dedicated source of funding.
Enter the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign, a coalition that includes the Trust for Public Land, Audubon Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, Defenders of Wildlife and other groups that want to preserve Florida’s natural beauty — and its clean water — for generations to come.
The campaign will be gathering signatures of registered voters — it will need at minimum 676,811 certified signatures — to put the issue on the ballot in 2014. If voters agree, and there are many reasons they should, the program would raise about $10 billion over 20 years — without any new tax or a tax increase.
It would simply require the Florida Legislature to keep its paws out of the trust funds meant for environmental and parks programs — guaranteeing at the very least that one-third of the revenues from the existing excise tax on documents during the sale of property goes toward designated environmental programs. That tax is now collected, but it’s not being used for its intended purpose.
Once approved by voters, the amendment would take effect July 1, 2015, and the money would be dedicated to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund until 2035 to clean up Florida’s River of Grass, the Everglades, and to protect drinking water sources, support fish and wildlife programs and revive the state’s commitment to buying and protecting ecologically fragile land and habitats through the Florida Forever program.
Florida desperately needs a stable program to protect its most precious resources.
In the past three years, the Legislature earmarked only $23 million for Florida Forever — the state used to spend 10 times as much on land preservation. This year, legislators approved only $8.5 million for water protection and land conservation in a $60-billion budget.
 As this new coalition points out, that pittance is less than two-hundredths of one cent that will go toward conservation from every dollar spent in the state budget — less than $1 for each Floridian.
“When it comes to dedicating funding to protect Florida’s environment, the Great Recession has led to a complete depression. State funding to protect our most precious natural resources has slowed to a trickle,” Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, said in a press release Tuesday announcing the grassroots amendment effort. “This amendment is not a tax increase. It is the dedication of an existing funding source back to its historic purpose. Passing this amendment will ensure Florida’s long-term traditional conservation values are secure and protected from short-term political pressures.”
For sure, this amendment is not a tree-hugging exercise in futility. It would protect the land and water that Florida needs for its economy to grow. And Florida has a long, nonpartisan tradition in environmental protection. No one wants to go to a beach, river or lake where the water is toxic, and protecting the Everglades will be critical to the state’s ability to ensure safe and clean drinking water for South Florida.
If you’re interested in helping with this campaign, sign up at, or call  (850) 629.4656.
It’s past time to protect Florida from the political winds.


Silver Springs

Silver Springs

Bad science will not change the facts
The Gainesville Sun – by William Dunn, PhD, partner and principal scientist of Dunn, Salsano & Vergara, LLC
August 7, 2012
In response to the July 28 "Let Me Say This" online opinion by Robert L. Knight: "Adena Springs Ranch in the Court of Public Opinion":
A local environmental activist claims that the advertisements placed by Adena Springs Ranch are false and misleading. When you see things from a single, narrow perspective, it's all you can see. His position is that his opinions are the only correct way to interpret the world in general, and water issues in north Florida in particular. This logic is simple, anyone who disagrees with him is wrong.
From a different perspective, the possible alternatives are bigger and broader and smarter than a single, trite answer; I am always right. Adena Springs Ranch is working diligently to correct the misinformation and “the sky is falling” assumptions and assertions of those who are not interested in real science.
What that activist has done, is take data that is not derived from this project and apply it. This is not sound science. This is misleading. And, it serves no public purpose. It uses the appearance of science to scare people and generate publicity.
Here are the standalone facts that actually derive from and apply to this project and this watershed.
The 0.1-foot measurement that has been quoted by the activist is incorrect. This particular projected impact on the Floridan aquifer was calculated just beyond the property boundary of Adena Springs Ranch. In the vicinity of Silver Springs, the projected impact will be half that; 0.06 feet. His statements also fail to recognize that Adena Springs Ranch is still in sincere, practical assessment of its ultimate irrigation needs, and it is doing this collaboratively with the St. Johns Water Management District. When a permit is issued, the effect on the Floridan aquifer at Silver Springs will be less than 0.06 feet.
Contrary to his claim, upper Floridian aquifer discharges have in fact increased in some locations since 2000-2001.
In his explanation of changes in discharge of Silver Springs he fails to explain the well-documented sharp decrease in flow in Silver Springs and Silver River around in 2000-2001. The persistency and abruptness of the change cannot be purely accounted for by increased groundwater pumping in the springshed. The numbers just don't add up.
Adena Springs Ranch has thoroughly reviewed the Florida Geological Survey map he refers to. Consistent with sound methodology, these scientists have conducted site evaluations, soil type testing, and evaluated aerial maps to determine exactly where the sinkholes and karst topography is most sensitive. This is not a generic, one-size-fits all declaration. It's a site-specific study.
This knowledge now dictates the ranch-wide nutrient management plan that will minimize any potential movement of nutrients offsite to surface waters or groundwater. This nutrient management plan is the control mechanism to ensure any runoff from the site will have minimal if any impact on surrounding water bodies or neighbors.
His claim that “more than 240 tons of additional nitrate will reach Silver Springs each year…” due to the Adena Springs Ranch project is simply another example of glittering generality and limited perspective. His reference is a study that is not specific to Adena Springs Ranch and does not account for the stringent nutrient management plan Adena is developing. No matter how it's presented, speculation is not science.
Finally, he tries to confuse the issue by suggesting the nutrient management plan for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) is somehow relevant to Adena's proposed operations and nutrient management. The EAA consists of approximately 750,000 acres of the historic Everglades marsh converted to intensely managed sugarcane and vegetable crops. The EAA has been operating for more than 50 years. Its agricultural operations are only possible due to thousands of miles of canals, thousands of miles of levees, an utterly massive water pumping system, and huge fertilizer applications. The nutrient pollution issues in the EAA are well documented, but comparing the Adena project to the EAA is not only misleading, it is ludicrous.
When a request to use public water resources is made, it is right to have an open and public discussion on the merits and the issues, the benefits and the potential consequences. But participants in the public discourse have a responsibility to be honest. And, those claiming to represent science in the debate need to hold themselves to a much higher standard.


Environmental groups kick off effort to secure land funds
August 7, 2012
Future funding for Everglades restoration and other environmental programs would be enshrined in the state constitution under a ballot imitative proposal to guarantee the spending of $10 billion on such programs over the next 20 years.
Frustrated over withering funds for the state's marquee land buying program, Florida Forever, and sporadic funding for a host of other environmental concerns from drinking water and springs to beaches and historic sites, a coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday launched a volunteer effort to begin gathering signatures to put the issue on the ballot in 2014.
Dubbed the Florida Water and Land Legacy Campaign, the petition drive is being pushed by a coalition of groups that include the Trust for Public Land, the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, 1000 Friends of Florida, and Defenders of Wildlife.
"We've been left with no options," said Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida.
For years, lawmakers set aside about $300 million a year for land-buying, but have rejected that type of spending in the economic downturn of the most recent few years. Since 2009, the state has set aside a total of $23 million for Florida Forever. In 2012, lawmakers earmarked only $8.5 million and prohibited state officials from buying new land.
 “When it comes to dedicating funding to protect Florida’s environment, the Great Recession has led to a complete depression," said Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, in a statement. "State funding to protect our most precious natural resources has slowed to a trickle.”
The amendment would require that 33 percent of all document tax revenue be earmarked for Everglades restoration and other environmental programs for the next 20 years. The proposal would go into effect July 1 2015. Collections would be deposited into the state's Land Acquisition Trust Fund, not general revenue.
Before any vote, the group must gather at least 676,811 signatures to put the issue on the ballot. The Florida Supreme Court would also have to approve the ballot title and summary and determine that it satisfies the state's single subject rule, which prohibits citizen petitions from encompassing multiple issues.
The court however, won't review the ballot language until the coalition has turned in more than 67,811 signatures, a milestone Draper said the group hopes to complete by the end of the year. Once on the ballot, it would have to be approved by at least 60 percent of voters.
Since its inception, Florida Forever and its predecessor, Preservation 2000, have funded the purchase of more than 2.5 million acres of environmentally sensitive lands, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. Since July 2001, Florida Forever has acquired more than 682,000 acres of land at a cost of $2.9 billion.
Environmental groups launch amendment drive to create guarantee ...
Environmentalists seek Florida funding amendment            Sacramento Bee


National Park Poll.pdf
(994.56 kb

Poll shows vast majority of voters believe Federal Government has responsibility to safeguard, support National Parks
National Parks Traveller
August 7, 2012
America's national parks, places such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, and Everglades, face problems both small and large due to poor federal funding, according to a survey of voters released today.
The survey, of 1,004 registered voters, also found that nearly nine in ten respondents believe it is either extremely important or quite important for the federal government to protect and support the national parks.
Conducted by the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Hospitality Association, the poll (attached below) comes just three months before Election Day.
“From the Everglades to Gettysburg and Yellowstone, our national parks are American icons and inspire visitors from across the world, supporting urban and rural economies nationwide,” said Tom Kiernan, the NPCA's president. “This poll is a clear indication that voters want to see them preserved and protected for the future.”
“The American people understand that national parks are gifts from the past to treasure today and bequeath to future generations of Americans,” added Derrick Crandall, counselor for the Hospitality Association, which represents park concessionaires. “Our nation’s leaders – regardless of party – can’t allow differences on other issues to obscure the unifying force of our national parks.”
So far, however, national parks and the environment have not been part of the presidential campaigns. On the congressional side, great attention has been attracted by efforts in the House of Representatives to sweep aside dozens of environmental laws in the name of border security.
The poll released this morning, though, would seem to indicate the politicians should be paying more attention to the health of the National Park System and working to improve it. Among key findings:
* When voters are asked to think about the major national parks such as Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Everglades National Park, nearly nine in 10 (88%) say it is extremely important (59%) or quite important (29%) for the federal government to protect and support those parks.
* The importance for federal protection for national parks is evident across party lines, with strong majorities of Democrats (92%), independents (90%), and Republicans (81%) saying it is extremely or quite important for the federal government to protect and support national parks.
* Nearly nine in 10 (86%) respondents say they are very or fairly interested in visiting national parks in the future, including 83% of Hispanic voters and 89% of voters under 30.
* 95% of voters agree that protecting and supporting national parks is an appropriate role for the federal government today, and this sentiment is shared by Democrats (98%), independents (93%), and Republicans (91%).
* Only 6% of voters think national parks are generally in good shape, a view held by similar proportions of Democrats, independents, and Republicans. By contrast, the vast majority of voters think national parks face minor (46%) or major (25%) problems.
* Voters are troubled when they learn about the many problems facing national parks as a result of budget cuts. They are particularly concerned, for example, when they read that insufficient funding has resulted in closed or unprotected parks and historic sites (this concerns 80% of voters overall; 46% of voters a great deal). Other troubling problems are inadequate guest services and amenities (76% overall; 40% a great deal), historic buildings and cultural resources in disrepair (74% overall; 37% a great deal), and a maintenance backlog that exceeds several billion dollars (74% overall; 35% a great deal).
* Only 4% of voters overall, and 7% of Republicans, think the federal government is spending too much on national parks. By contrast more than a third (35%) suspect we are spending too little, 23% say we are spend the right amount, and a plurality (38%) do not know enough to say.
* More than three in four (77%) voters say it is very or fairly important for the next president to ensure that parks are fully restored and ready to serve and be relevant to this country for another hundred years.
Voters Want Parks Protected For Their Enjoyment
The poll also found that more than 80 percent of those likely to vote this fall have visited a national park at some point in their lives, and nearly nine in 10 say they are interested in visiting a park in the future, and 60% want to stay overnight in a park lodge.
"National parks are viewed as embodying the American experience, and voters want to see them enjoyed, honored, cherished, and cared for, not left to crumble into disrepair," the NPCA and NPHA said in a joint release.
National parks are a top tourist draw but are a very small part of the federal budget -- less than 1/13th of one percent. Yet they support $31 billion in private-sector spending and 258,000 jobs each year, the release pointed out.
And as the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, a majority of likely voters (77 percent) say it is important for the next president to ensure that parks are fully restored and ready to serve and be relevant to future generations in their second century.
Voters Oppose More Cuts To Park Funding
The poll offers important information as the Administration and Congress consider additional cuts to national parks through the annual appropriations process and the looming across-the-board cut known as “sequestration,” scheduled for January 2013.
The National Park Service could face cuts of as much as 10 percent that would reduce seasonal park rangers and potentially close visitor centers, campgrounds and even some entire national park sites, according to NPCA and NPHA.
The survey was conducted by Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research from June 12-17, 2012, among a national sample of 1,004 registered voters.


Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee
has become Florida's biggest cesspool.

Lee County fights for clean Lake Okeechobee water
August 5, 2012
Some people call it back-pumping; others call it water supply augmentation.
Whatever the name, the idea of allowing water from agricultural fields south of Lake Okeechobee to flow back into the lake to be used for environmental releases down the Caloosahatchee River is causing a stir among environmentalists.
With the South Florida Water Management District considering the idea, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners wants the district to look at other options — the district’s board of governors will discuss the idea at its monthly meeting Thursday in West Palm Beach.
At issue is the fact that, during extremely dry periods, little fresh water is released from Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee, so salinity in the river rises, which can cause environmental problems.
Meanwhile, the agriculture industry gets water during dry periods.
Putting water from the Everglades Agricultural Area into the lake would allow water managers to release more water down the river to balance salinity.
County commissioners voted 3-2 last week to send a letter asking the water district to consider different ways to get fresh water to the Caloosahatchee during dry periods.
“The county’s letter is saying, ‘Make sure you exhaust any other opportunity before looking at something like back-pumping,’” said Kurt Harclerode, operations manager for the county's Division of Natural Resources. “I think that’s what the district is doing, looking at any way to provide relief to the Caloosahatchee without impacting other users.”
The problem with back-pumping, critics say, is water pumped back into Lake Okeechobee from agricultural fields contains nutrients, and when that water is released down the Caloosahatchee, the nutrients can cause harmful algal blooms.
The term “back-pumping” is a misnomer, water district officials said, because water is not actually pumped back into the lake from the Everglades Agricultural Area; the proper term is “water supply augmentation.”
Regardless, the idea doesn’t sit well with Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah.
“To me, this whole proposal regarding back-pumping under the guise of water supply augmentation is an end run to legitimize back-pumping practices that have created devastating impacts on the river and the estuary,” Judah said. “The district still provides back-pumping for flood control. I understand that. But this is back-pumping for water supply. That’s unacceptable because of the damaging impacts to the environment.”
Last week, Judah and Commissioner Brian Bigelow voted against sending the letter to the water district.
“Simply put, I don’t think that in six years I’ve been so angry about the outcome of a board decision,” Bigelow said. “I’m astonished that we just decided to sell our river and estuary to the highest agricultural bidder.”
Water district officials agreed water supply augmentation would add nutrients to the lake, but those extra nutrients wouldn’t mean extra nutrients for the Caloosahatchee.
“The water we send to the Caloosahatchee from the lake in the past, now and into the future does have nutrients in it,” said Terrie Bates, the district’s director of water resources. “If you want additional water from the lake for the estuary, it’s going to have a nutrient load.
“It’s easy to create a worst-case scenario: You create bad conditions for the lake, and that creates bad conditions for the river. But that’s not what our models show. The nutrient levels in the lake have been stable for 30 years. We don’t expect that to change.”


SFWMD, FWC Expand Kissimmee River Recreation Area
SFWMD – Press Release
August 4, 2012
Opening 60 acres to outdoor activities is the latest effort to provide access to public conservation lands.
Okeechobee, FL — Outdoor enthusiasts have a newly expanded area for a variety of outdoor activities near the restored Kissimmee River as part of the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) effort to expand public access for recreation on conservation lands.
Working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the District is adding an additional 60 acres to the expansive Kissimmee River Public Use Area. Hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing are among the activities allowed in the new section.
“One of the most inspiring locations to view successful restoration and a healthy ecosystem is along the Kissimmee River,” said SFWMD Governing Board Vice-Chairman Kevin Powers. “Opening more of these restored lands for compatible recreation provides an opportunity for the public to really get out and enjoy the natural South Florida landscape.”
Comprised of more than 30,000 acres, the Kissimmee River Public Use Area stretches along the Kissimmee River from State Road 60 south to Lake Okeechobee. Access is primarily by boat and is facilitated by a number of boat ramps within an area that spans portions of Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, Osceola and Polk counties.
From camping and bike riding to hunting and horseback riding, the area offers a variety of outdoor experiences. A portion of the Florida Trail traverses the area, where hikers may see wildlife including white-tailed deer, alligators, wild turkeys, gopher tortoises and many species of wading birds. (Special-use licenses available from the District may be required for some activities, and FWC rules apply.)
This is the second time in recent years the District has worked with FWC to expand the Kissimmee River Public Use Area. In 2008, the SFWMD Governing Board passed a resolution requesting coordination with the FWC to add the 3,722-acre Chandler Slough to the public use area.
Inclusion of conservation lands into the public use area was inspired by the effort to restore the Kissimmee River, which once meandered for 103 miles through central Florida. The Kissimmee River Restoration Project will return flow to 40 miles of the river’s historic channel and restore about 40 square miles of river/floodplain ecosystem. The restoration project — a 50-50 partnership with the District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — is projected to be complete by 2015.
Throughout South Florida, the District provides recreational access to its public lands while continuing to manage them to support environmental restoration, water supply, water quality and flood control missions. At present, the District owns 621,000 acres of land that are open to the public. Many of these properties are in their natural state or have enhancements such as picnic tables, informational kiosks, primitive campsites and hiking trails.
For more information on recreational opportunities throughout the District’s 16-county region, visit



Conservation Coalition: Silver Springs Splash
August 3, 2012
Silver Springs, just east of Ocala, was an obvious rallying point for those opposed to the Adena Springs Ranch consumptive-use permit request to pump 13 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer. But turning the Adena Springs debate into the symbol of all that is wrong with Florida's water policies, however, took more than local residents' protests.
That required someone, indeed something, bigger and more far-reaching.
Enter former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. The populist Graham saw opportunity in Silver Springs' image as one of Florida's great water resources, and called on his friends and supporters in the environmental lobby to seize the moment and come together like they never had before.
They responded, and the Florida Conservation Coalition was formed, creating what is likely the most formidable environmental group ever to get behind a single issue in Florida.
Last month, the coalition delivered more than 15,000 petition signatures to Gov. Rick Scott's office calling not only for the brakes to be put on the Adena Springs permit, but for the creation of a statewide "resource management committee" by gubernatorial order to begin a serious evaluation of the condition of Florida's waterways and what remedies there are for saving them.
It wasn't the biggest petition signing, but it was the first time all of Florida's environmental organizations showed up, locked arm-in-arm, to tackle what is clearly the environmental issue of the 21st century in Florida.
Having such an impressive partnership, led by a marquee civic leader such as Graham, is a huge step forward in what has become known as Florida's water wars. It's a first, and it couldn't come at a more critical time.
This time, those fighting for the people are organized, informed and connected — and united. Let's hope it's enough to save Silver Springs and Florida's other endangered waterways.



Don’t pump more pollution into Lake Okeechobee
Palm Beach Post – Commentary by Tom Van Lent, Ph.D., Senior Scientist for the Everglades Foundation
August 3, 2012
Next week, the South Florida Water Management District will discuss a proposal to divert water south of Lake Okeechobee into the lake for eventual delivery into the Caloosahatchee River, which flows to southwest Florida. The Everglades Foundation believes that this plan is bad for the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, and is bad water and environmental policy.
Some may think taking water from the Everglades Agricultural Area and storing it in Lake Okeechobee for later use in the river would improve the health of the Caloosahatchee. In reality, this short-term solution would offer little to help the river in the long-term. Instead, the plan would harm the Everglades and return us to the damaging days of back-pumping polluted water into Lake Okeechobee.
The National Academy of Sciences reviews of progress on Everglades restoration all point to the urgent need for more water to the Everglades, to help stem the damage from decades of misguided water management. Instead, the district is proposing to take nearly all the water going to the Everglades during droughts, water that is being cleaned before it’s sent to the Everglades, and pump that polluted water into Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee.
Some questions must be addressed: Why would we take water from the already fragile Everglades? Why would we harm one part of the Everglades ecosystem in a questionable attempt to help another part of the ecosystem? Why would we back-pump polluted water into the already polluted Lake Okeechobee? How could we ensure that, once we begin back-pumping, the practice will not be opened up for other consumptive uses?
Ongoing environmental issues must be addressed to protect and improve the health of the Caloosahatchee River. For too long, this river has not received the care it needs. It is a vital link to the overall Everglades ecosystem and a critical part of the region’s economy. We must renew efforts to complete projects that will ensure the health of the river. Part of the solution is completion of the Lake Hicpochee project, west of Clewiston in the natural headwaters of the river.
What we cannot allow is further degradation of Lake Okeechobee by adding to its pollution. We must not defeat the pollution-reducing effects of the stormwater treatment areas by adding new sources of pollution. We cannot deprive the Everglades of water when it needs it most. And we should make certain that agricultural interests cannot take a disproportionate share of water supplies.
In a 2008 newspaper column, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation wrote: “The practice of back-pumping from the EAA into Lake Okeechobee is not a sustainable solution for the health of south Florida. It undermines the significant financial investments and commitment the State has made in cleaning up the lake and estuary discharges. It is failed water policy.”
We urge the South Florida Water Management District not to return to that “failed water policy.”


EPA can't find livestock farms
August 3, 2012
Alternative, collect data from states, local agencies.
CHICAGO — The report to Congress was blunt: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had failed to regulate pollution from the nation’s livestock farms — many capable of generating more waste than some cities — because it lacked information as basic as how many farms existed.
Four years after the U.S. Government Accountability Office raised concerns and 40 years after the Clean Water Act gave the EPA the authority to protect the nation’s waterways, the agency still doesn’t know the location of many livestock farms, let alone how much manure they generate or how the waste is handled.
Most of that information is kept by various state and/or local agencies — or not collected at all.
At the same time, water-quality experts throughout the country cite livestock waste as a major contributor to water-quality problems including in areas like the Chesapeake Bay, where manure runoff is believed responsible for up to one-fourth of phosphorus, which stimulates algae growth. If the EPA knew all the sources of that waste, it might be easier to stop it, environmentalists say.
So they were flabbergasted when the EPA recently decided against adopting a rule that would require livestock operators to provide the agency with information, opting instead to try to cobble it together from other state, local and federal sources — a decision they said puts the EPA right back where it started.
“It’s been (decades) since we first started regulating them, and we’re not at a point where we know where they’re at?” said Kelly Foster, senior attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance, one of several environmental groups that sued the EPA to get it to start collecting information on concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
It’s not unusual for CAFOs to have thousands of cattle, tens of thousands of hogs or millions of chickens in one location. The animals’ waste is often stored in underground pits or outdoor lagoons until it’s spread as fertilizer on cropland, ideally in a manner that avoids runoff into waterways.
But pollution from faulty manure storage or runoff happens often enough to generate complaints, and environmentalists suspect many more problems go undetected.
To settle Waterkeeper’s lawsuit, the EPA agreed to propose the rule requiring livestock operations to report information to the agency. But, it didn’t promise to adopt it.
Farm industry's perspective
Industry officials said there’s no reason for farmers to have to give the EPA information, especially if another government agency already has it or a farm isn’t doing anything wrong.
“We’re not keeping them from getting the information, but we don’t need to turn it all over,” said Michael Formica, an environmental lawyer for the National Pork Producers Council, which threatened to sue if the rule was adopted.


Everglades water permits to restore Everglades water quality OK’d by EPA
August 3, 2012
Permits submitted by the state of Florida under the federal Clean Water Act to improve the quality of water flowing into the Everglades will satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency’s permit objections and will meet the requirements of the CWA in EPA’s Sept. 3, 2010 Amended Determination, the agency has announced.
The submission contains a suite of projects to be built and implemented by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) that will reduce phosphorus discharges into the Everglades.
The projects and related implementation schedule will be formalized through FDEP water-discharge permits issued to the SFWMD under the CWA and through an enforcement consent order between the two state agencies. EPA retains authority to enforce the permit requirements and will maintain an oversight role under a framework agreement between EPA and FDEP.
“The Obama Administration is firmly committed to protecting and restoring the Everglades, an extraordinary ecosystem and international treasure,” said Gwen Keyes Fleming, regional administrator for EPA’s southeastern region.
  “A healthy Everglades is vital to the well-being of Florida and contributes jobs and billions of dollars to Florida’s economy.”
In response to an order from Judge Alan Gold of the U.S. Court of the Southern District of Florida, on Sept. 3, 2010, EPA released a plan, known as the “Amended Determination,” that established a detailed blueprint for the actions required under the CWA by Florida to achieve CWA standards for reducing total phosphorus in water delivered to the Everglades.
EPA later objected to draft Florida permits for phosphorus discharges that did not meet federal requirements.
EPA gave Florida the opportunity to submit an alternative to the Amended Determination that was effective in meeting water quality goals and was enforceable. On September 29, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott provided an alternative plan to federal officials.
EPA, FDEP and SFWMD then engaged in extensive discussions about the Governor’s plan in which EPA recommended enhanced water treatment projects and other features to improve water quality protections and the parties developed an enforceable framework of permits and State orders to achieve phosphorus discharge limits.
 Phosphorus is a nutrient that comes from both natural sources and fertilizers. Too much phosphorus causes chemical and biological changes that degrade natural systems, such as wetlands, lakes and coastal areas.
“This action is the culmination of an intensive seven-month process of discussions among EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the SFWMD, and other key federal agencies, including Interior and the Department of the Army, on the plan to clean up the Everglades,” Keyes Fleming said.
“We appreciate the hard work that all parties have undertaken to deliver this final package to EPA.”
The permits and orders submitted by the state establish for the first time a science-based protective limit (WQBEL) on phosphorus pollution discharges into the Everglades, projects to remove phosphorus to achieve that limit, a robust plan of monitoring and scientific research to confirm that the restoration is moving forward, and an enforceable framework to insure compliance.


Please see also
the Everglades

Florida Nature: Environmental Issues
August 3, 2012
With all the beauty of Florida nature, comes the responsibility of  keeping the state eco-friendly for all it's wildlife inhabitants. Florida has long been one of the fastest growing states in the country, but the price of this growth has been steep. Sprawling development has carved wildlife habitat into smaller and smaller pieces, divided by highways or paved over altogether for shopping malls and office parks -- threatening state symbols such as the Florida panther and the Florida black bear. Many of Florida's coastal marshes and barrier islands -- home to endangered wildlife such as manatees, wood storks and loggerhead sea turtles -- have been transformed into marinas and condominiums. The Everglades, a unique ecosystem that is home to 68 federally endangered or threatened plant and animal species, has already lost half of its area to agricultural and urban development and continues to face pressure from South Florida's booming development.
Clean Water - Chances are, you've made Florida your home because of the breathtaking environment, great climate and access to abundant lakes, rivers and shore. Unfortunately, this precious resource that we hold so dear is in big trouble. Industrial and municipal facilities throughout Florida discharge large amounts of toxic chemicals and other pollution into our waters. This degrades the places we fish and swim, contaminates our drinking water, and threatens our health.
Land Preservation - The lush mangrove and sawgrass marshes of south Florida are the last of a great wilderness that, until the 20th century, stretched for hundreds of miles.  Our Everglades shelter countless species, including endangered Florida panthers, Cape Sable seaside sparrows and American crocodiles. But this natural wonder is besieged.  Fifty years of encroaching development have disrupted natural water flows, harmed wildlife with pollution run-off and destroyed 50 percent of the Everglades' unique, species-rich wetlands. Like the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River, the Everglades is a cherished part of the American landscape.  Over time, however, this unique ecosystem has experienced the negative effects of human development - loss of wetlands, disrupted timing and flows of water, deterioration of water quality, reductions in wading birds and other species, declining lake and estuary health, and loss of native habitat to exotic species. In the 1980s, Miami-Dade County planners created the Urban Development Boundary to stop development that would disrupt natural water flows, harm wildlife with pollution run-off and destroy the Everglades' unique, species-rich wetlands. The intention was to direct development in a way protects the Everglades and other areas that are vital for agriculture and natural habitat, that help to replenish our drinking water supply, and help control floods during major hurricanes. A recent deal between the state of Florida and US Sugar to purchase vast areas of land near Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration is good news.
The Green Swamp - The real liquid heart of Florida is the 560,000 acre Green Swamp, which includes portions of Polk, Lake, Sumter, Pasco, and Hernando counties, which lies over and feeds the Green Swamp potentiometric high. The Green Swamp potentiometric high rises up to 132 feet above mean sea level near Polk City and, like a water tower, provides the underground pressure to a multitude of free-flowing springs, the base flow of five major rivers, and hydologic support for countless lakes, ponds, seeps, and wetlands. Its ground water pressure supplies water to the majority of Florida's population and prevents salt-water intrusion into the aquifer along the heavily populated east and west coasts. The incredibly gradual slope of the Green Swamp plateau retains annual rains, reduces the flood peaks in the rivers, and allows the aquifer to recharge over an extended period of time. The wetlands of five river systems: the Withlacoochee, Ocklawaha, Hillsborough, Peace and Kissimmee provide invaluable wildlife habitat and are Florida's foremost wildlife corridor. The five major river systems reach from the Swamp to all corners of the state from Ft. Lauderdale to Yankeetown and Jacksonville to Flamingo. The water supply is especially vulnerable to groundwater pollution because the Floridian Aquifer is very close to the surface here and is exposed through porous sand, lime rock out croppings, and mines. Development and the habitat fragmentation caused by transportation and utility corridors are still major threats to the Green Swamp - Agricultural practices have historically drained wetlands and over-used surface and groundwater supplies. The draining of wetlands, the destruction of upland and wetland forests, poor soil conservation practices, and over pumping reduces the quality and quantity of water available to recharge the Floridian Aquifer and to ecosystems downstream of the Swamp.
Off Shore Drilling - Oceans cover over two-thirds of the earth's surface, helping to control the planet’s weather and containing a rich variety of life forms. Yet our oceans are in deep trouble. Offshore drilling, destructive overfishing, coastal pollution from fertilizers and toxic materials, habitat destruction from bottom trawling, coastal dredging and filling, and rising ocean temperatures all effect the ocean’s health and ability to bounce back from changes. To restore the oceans to health, Environment Florida supports a moratorium on new offshore drilling, a halt to destructive overfishing, establishment of marine protected areas, policies to reduce the flow of nutrients and toxics into coastal waters, and aggressive action on global warming.
Lawn Care - One of the many environmental issues in Florida stems from lawn care. There are currently five million acres of lawns in the state. “Most people are watering more during the rainy season,” Monaghan said. “Those who have an irrigation system often overwater.” Fertilizers and insecticides used in lawn care often run off into our water systems, causing damage not only to the water quality, but to all flora and fauna along the water system.


The Fertilizer Institute commends court decision on Florida water quality
August 3, 2012
• The decision was commended by The Fertilizer Institute and a strong coalition of stakeholders representing diverse interests ranging from agriculture, employers and local government to utilities and unions.
• It clears the way for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to send the state’s numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) rule to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for quick approval, TFI says.
Florida Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter’s has ruled that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection acted within its legal authority when it established Florida-specific regulations for water quality.
The decision was commended by The Fertilizer Institute and a strong coalition of stakeholders representing diverse interests ranging from agriculture, employers and local government to utilities and unions.
It clears the way for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to send the state’s numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) rule to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for quick approval, TFI says.
Upon EPA approval, the state rules would replace the costly approach proposed by the EPA.
EPA’s efforts to impose numeric nutrient criteria in the state of Florida have been repeatedly challenged by TFI and myriad agriculture and other business organizations on the basis that the criteria are not science-based and will have a disastrous impact on Florida’s economy.
Backing up this point, an independent economic review by the National Research Council earlier this year showed that the EPA significantly underestimated the costs of its unprecedented Florida-only rules.
“Protecting Florida’s water resources is in the interest of all who live, visit and do business in the state,” said TFI President Ford West.
“Florida DEP’s water quality standards are protective of the environment and we urge the EPA to stand aside now and allow implementation of a Florida-specific approach to address Florida’s water quality needs.
“Fertilizer is a critical component of Florida’s economy and world food production,” says West. “This decision places us just one step closer to insuring that the state’s water quality standards are science- based, while avoiding unnecessary costs to Florida’s citizens.
“Establishment of a science-based system for protecting the environment and producing food is critical not only to agriculture, but to feeding a growing world.”


Everglades bill promotes next round of restoration
Sun Sentinel – by William Gibson
August 2, 2012
Florida environmentalists hailed legislation introduced in the Senate on Thursday that would authorize spending on the next big round of Everglades restoration
projects, including a new water preserve area in western Broward County.
The Obama administration and Congress have been quite generous to the Everglades in recent years, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to the state to improve water flow, preserve wildlife and secure water supplies for a growing population.
But the next wave of projects depends on congressional approval of a nationwide authorization bill known as the Water Resources Development Act. Controversies over spending well beyond the Everglades have help up passage of another WRDA since 2007, leaving many restoration plans on hold.
To try to avoid further delays, Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, introduced a bill on Thursday calling for authorization to spend federal money on several Everglades projects that have been planned and are ready for construction.
“While citizens wait for politicians to take action, the Everglades is dying,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, Aububon Florida’s director of Everglades Policy. “That could turn around today with this new legislation.”
The bill points to four major projects:
Broward County Water Preserve Areas, designed to provide two reservoirs and a wetlands buffer. It would capture and store rainwater and help prevent water from seeping out of the Everglades into urban areas. Treatment marshes would help reduce phosphorous and other nutrients from entering the ‘Glades.
C-111 Spreader Canal, a project to shift distribution of water through a massive canal that was once planned to transport rockets between Florida Bay, the Atlantic and the Everglades. The project would improve the timing and quality of water that runs through Taylor Slough.
Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands, designed to restore freshwater flows into the bay to reduce threats from saltwater intrusion and help re-establish shrimp, shellfish and oyster reef habitat.
Caloosahatchee C-43 reservoir, to retain freshwater rather than send it out to sea and help protect rare and endangered species.



1208dd Title - Source - Author - Date - Text


1208dd Title - Source - Author - Date - Text



  2009-2014, Boya Volesky