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Scott, Cabinet Eye Land Conservation Projects

May 9, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are expected next month to consider whether to spend nearly $11 million to help limit future development on four ranches and farms in four counties.

The proposals would add 8,388 acres to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations.

Wikipedia.org

Florida’s nearshore waters would be off limits to future oil and gas drilling under a measure that moved closer Tuesday to appearing before voters in November. 

Citizens' Climate Lobby

Environmental advocates from around the country will be gathering at the University of South Florida for the Climate Action 2018 conference.

The goal of the event is to inform both lawmakers and the general public about the consequences that climate change has on the nation and how people may be able to stop it.

In South Florida, they all have alligators. But there are some key differences between national wildlife refuges, national parks and national preserves. Here’s a snapshot:

The state’s lawmakers are hard at work in Tallahassee as the 2018 legislative session continues. This week on the latest edition of our monthly Florida Matters news roundtable series we’re talking about some of their priorities and how they could affect residents.


After drawing widespread opposition from business and agriculture groups, a proposal to redefine legal standing for Floridians on environmental issues won’t go before voters in November.

The Judicial Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Friday unanimously rejected the proposal (P 23), filed by commission member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, with opponents saying it was too broad.

Pixnio

Now that most of the holiday presents have probably been opened, you may be thinking about eco-friendly ways to get rid of the mess. There are plenty of great ways to recycle your holiday clutter, but it’s not always so simple as throwing it all in your recycling bin.


Business Group Takes Aim At State Environmental Proposal

Nov 21, 2017

One of state's most-powerful business groups is gearing up to fight a proposal at the Florida Constitution Revision Commission that the group argues would lead to increased litigation about environmental issues.

Associated Industries of Florida announced Tuesday it has hired attorneys from the Gunster law firm to battle a proposal filed by Constitution Revision Commission member Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch that would give Floridians more legal standing when environmental problems occur.

Florida lawmakers are advancing a plan to allocate $100 million a year to the land buying program Florida Forever. Last year the legislature zeroed out its funding.

Florida Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Monday extolling his proposal for $1.7 billion in environmental funding next year — a more than $200 million boost from the current year.

But some critics are questioning the governor’s motive for the funding increase. Environmental groups who’ve traditionally been at odds with Scott are tepidly supportive of the governor’s proposal.


Gov. Scott Calls For Boost In Environmental Spending

Oct 23, 2017
Photo Courtesy Florida Audubon

Spending on Florida's natural resources and environmental programs would grow by $220 million under a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott as he nears his final recommended state budget.

The $1.7 billion environmental package for lawmakers to consider in 2018 includes increased funding for the state's springs, beaches and parks, along with $355 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million to help the federal government speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and $50 million for Florida Forever, the state's most prominent land-preservation fund.

A Senate panel has approved a plan to appropriate new dollars for the St. Johns River and Florida’s springs.  But the proposal could wind up vying for funding with a beach restoration measure.

Sarasota County

Sarasota County planners will hear a request Thursday afternoon to rezone land for a scrap recycling center next to what has been called the best bird-watching spot in the county.

State officials say Florida is having one of its worst wildfire seasons in years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the impact these fires have on the state's environment and economy, and whether there's an end in sight for this dry season.


Coffee-colored water gurgles near the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam. It flows down the Caloosahatchee River, roughly 30 miles from Fort Myers.

Daylina Miller/WUSF

How do you teach kids about ecology when the natural world is shrinking around them?

In fast growing Florida, one solution is to take environmental studies outside the walls of a classroom.

The Legislature will begin its annual session early this year with the hopes of avoiding the chaos and dysfunction that marked the 2015 session and three special sessions that followed.

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

The United Nations climate change conference takes place in Paris this month. World leaders hope to agree on actions to prevent global warming. At the same time, the “Climate Hope Presentation” is happening in Sarasota on Monday, Dec. 7. Presenters will discuss environmental issues, but there will be a greater emphasis on solutions. WGCU’s Jessica Meszaros spoke with one of the event’s organizers.

Judge Tosses Part Of 'Amendment 1' Challenge

Dec 4, 2015
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

A Leon County judge Thursday removed a major part of a lawsuit that contests how lawmakers decided to spend money that voters approved last year for land buying and preservation.

However, an attorney for four environmental groups challenging the state's spending called the ruling a victory.

Little Bird Key
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Four environmental groups recently sued the state over Amendment One, which overwhelmingly was passed by voters last year. They claim state officials are diverting money that should go into the state’s conservation land-buying fund. So other groups are trying to fill the gap. Recently, one of the most productive bird nesting islands in Tampa Bay was bought by the Audubon Society. WUSF takes us on a trip to Little Bird Key, and tells us why the group is trying to raise money to pay for it.

I hop aboard an outboard with Ann Paul, who manages Audubon Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuaries. She points her boat to the newest wildlife refuge in Tampa Bay.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Aimee Blodgett / USF Communications and Marketing

When thousands of University of South Florida students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas this week, they will be helping to reduce environmental waste.

USF Student Government voted this year to use caps and gowns made from 100 percent recycled materials. Each set is made from about 23 plastic bottles.

With more than 6,300 students in the USF System graduating this week, that translates into the recycling of 150-thousand bottles.

At the Gulf State Park Pier in Orange Beach, Ala., Wetzel Wood casts his fishing line into the rough surf of the Gulf of Mexico. He pulls his bait, a cigar minnow, through the water just beyond where the waves break for the shore.

"On a good day you'd catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel," he says. Wood first learned to fish at the pier with his grandfather in 1969. "I've seen a lot of different things out here. It's been wonderful."

C-IMAGE Consortium

On April 20, 2010, a wellhead a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

In the subsequent leak, more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled out. On the Gulf’s surface, the oil covered up to 68-thousand square miles – an area roughly equal to the size of Florida.

Florida Forever could become Florida Never if Republicans have their way. As Jim Ash reports, that’s how critics are describing paltry spending proposals in the House and Senate for what was once the nation’s largest wilderness preservation programs.

AP Photo

Nesting declines for some species of wading birds shows the long-term damage suffered by Florida's Everglades, and targets set for higher numbers of nests may become unattainable if conditions in the unique wetlands do not improve soon, state officials said.

The Kissimmee: A River Re-Curved

Oct 19, 2014

It sounds almost superhuman to try straighten a river and then recarve the curves.

That's what federal and state officials did to the Kissimmee River in Central Florida. They straightened the river in the 1960s into a canal to drain swampland and make way for the state's explosive growth. It worked — and it created an ecological disaster. So officials decided to restore the river's slow-flowing, meandering path.

Foes of State Conservation Amendment Wary, But Prepared

Sep 11, 2014

Florida voters appear poised in November to pass a constitutional amendment that would require setting aside billions of dollars for land conservation and other environmental projects.

The proposed "Water and Land Conservation" amendment would earmark 33 percent of the state's documentary-stamp tax revenues --- fees paid when real estate is sold --- for 20 years. The money would go to buy conservation lands, protect areas vital to the water supply and restore natural systems that have been degraded, such as the Everglades.

The environment is one of the 10 most important issues among Floridians, with the vast majority saying they would support land conservation programs and candidates who say they support conservation efforts, according to a newly released UF survey. The second annual environmental issues survey by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Center for Public Issues Education, or PIE Center, showed across-the-board support for the environment and endangered species.

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