Monday, February 8, 2016

Please Call on SB1290--Today--Vote is Tomorrow, Tuesday!

URGENT. SB1290 will be heard on Tuesday, Feb 9,1:30-3:30, by the (ironically named) Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Ironic at this time since it seems that the intent of this bill is neither Preservation nor Conservation.

The bill makes it easier to sell conservation lands and promote other changes in management that are detrimental to wildlife, our public lands, and parks. For more information see Bob Graham's call to action below.

PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL THESE COMMITTEE MEMBERS BEFORE TUESDAY, FEB 9TH, and spread the word. (Do it now so you don't forget) Tell them you oppose SB1290 and urge them to oppose it as well.

Chair: Senator Charles S. "Charlie" Dean, Sr. (R)
(850) 487-5005

Vice Chair: Senator Wilton Simpson (R)
(850) 487-5018

Senator Thad Altman (R)
(850) 487-5016
Senator Greg Evers (R)
(850) 487-5002

Senator Alan Hays (R)
(850) 487-5011

Senator Travis Hutson (R)
(850) 487-5006

Senator David Simmons (R)
(850) 487-5010

Senator Christopher L. Smith (D)
(850) 487-5031

Senator Darren Soto (D)
(850) 487-5014


Florida’s protected state lands, purchased over the past three decades via the wildly popular Florida Forever program and its predecessor programs, are under attack. The Governor and Legislature are planning to sell conservation lands and are promoting changes in management that are detrimental to wildlife.

We know from the success of Amendment 1 that conservation of important natural lands still has the utmost significance to the vast majority of Floridians. These lands are the places where our natural heritage is conserved and protected, including wildlife, their habitat, and our precious water resources. They also provide public recreation for our exploding population and are integral to our economy and way of life.
The following provisions in HB 1075/ SB 1290 threaten Florida’s ability to acquire, preserve and manage state conservation lands:

- Section 5 and Section 6 allow the State to surplus and sell state lands when it determines that the land’s short-term management goals are not being met, if it is not actively managed by any state agency, or if a management plan has not been completed. Failure to meet short-term management goals, an incomplete management plan, or lack of active management may be a direct result of inadequate land management funding by the Legislature, or other temporary or avoidable situations, and should not be used as an excuse to dispose of conservation lands. Instead, the Legislature should ensure adequate funding for the management of Florida’s conservation lands.

- Section 6 also directs the Division of State Lands to review all state-owned conservation lands every ten years to determine whether any can be surplused. This is a duplicative and unnecessary provision since each land management plan requires a review for surplus on a rotating basis when the management plan is updated.

- Section 8 allows private land owners who own land contiguous to state-owned lands to exchange it for the state-owned land, including state park land, if the state is given a permanentconservation easement over both parcels in the exchange. Conservation easements are often less protective of the environment than the management plans for state-owned land, resulting in practices that diminish the conservation values of the lands. Placing state lands in private ownership also reduces the ability of the state to comprehensively manage conservation lands. Finally, this type of exchange will often result in the loss of public access to lands that are currently owned by the state, diminishing the recreational value of the land. This daunting prospect would have a significantly negative impact on such beloved places as Paynes Prairie State Park and Myakka River State Park were they to be placed into private ownership under this provision.

- Section 14 allows money from Florida Forever, the state’s premiere land acquisition program, to be used to fund all water resource development hardware, including the construction of treatment, transmission, and distribution facilities. Utilizing Florida Forever funds for the construction of water supply infrastructure is currently prohibited under state law. This change comes on the heels of Floridians overwhelmingly approving Amendment 1 in an effort to restore funding for land acquisition. With billions of dollars needed for local water infrastructure projects around the state, this provision could readily exhaust the funds set aside in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, leaving inadequate funding available for acquiring conservation land, and negating the benefits of Amendment 1.

- Sections 15, 17, 21 and 22 allow state lands to be managed for conservation OR recreational purposes, deleting the requirement that state lands be managed in accordance with the purpose for which they were acquired. This could result in conservation lands being managed solely for recreational purposes, which might include converting natural lands into golf coursesand other such inappropriate uses, harming the conservation value of the lands and betraying the original intent of acquiring the lands.

If you love Florida’s state lands, speak up for them today. Call or e-mail the members of the House State Affairs Committee (see below) and ask them to oppose HB 1075! Then call or e-mail the chair of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Senator Dean (see below), and urge him not to agenda SB 1290. To use our templates, click here to write the House State Affairs Committee and here to write Senator Dean.

Thank you, as always, for your work. Without direct contact by voters, the legislators will only be speaking with the special interests promoting these terrible changes.

Bob Graham

Founder and Chairman, Florida Conservation Coalition

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fracking Bill on Hold in Florida Senate

from the Miami Herald Feb 4, 2016...

Sen. Tom Lee says he's putting brakes on fracking bill until he gets 'honest answers' from regulators
Fracking APThe Senate's budget chief, Sen. Tom Lee, said Wednesday he is putting the bill to prevent local governments from imposing regulations on fracking for oil and gas on hold until the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, which he believes has been absent form the contentious discussion, is prepared to provide some "honest answers."
SB 318 allows the state to regulate and authorize the pumping of large volumes of water, sand and chemicals into the ground using high pressure to recover oil and gas deposits but allows the companies to shield from the public what chemicals are used by labeling them as "trade secrets."
The Senate bill is next scheduled for a vote before the Senate Appropriations Committee which Lee chairs. The bill's companion, HB 191, passed by a 73-45 vote in the House last week, with seven Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the measure.
Lee's home county of Hillsborough on Wednesday passed a resolution urging the legislature to remove the local preemption language from the bill and remove the provision that shields disclosure of the chemicals used.  Download Hillsborough resolution
Lee, R-Brandon, said he was not aware of the commission resolution but while he voted for the measure when it was before the Senate General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, he said he will not hear the bill until he gets more cooperation from state regulators.
"My frustraiton was the DEP was nowhere to be seen,'' he said. "I have told the stakeholders that I will not hear the bill in this committee until such time as the Department of Environmental Protection, which is our regulator, is prepared to come before this committee and answer questions on the record about provisions of that bill.
"We want credible, scientific responses to questions. Not special interest responses. And so I think a lot of people have concerns about a number of differences in the bill as it relates to our substrate made of limerock -- versus where fracking is going on in other places of the country --as well as the preemption language and how there's no sunset to it."
He said he expects his committee "will ultimately agenda the bill" but "we will continue to work with the Department of Environmental Protection to try to get some straight answers."
Lee said that the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners is not alone in its reservations about the proposal.
"There is a growing number of people, not just in the environmental community but in local governments, particularly on the preemption issue, that are concerned about what they believe is an overreach by the state,'' he said.

Photo: In this March 29, 2013 photo, workers tend to a well head during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Oil & Gas Inc. gas well outside Rifle, Colorado. Brennan Linsley AP

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Florida Legislature Pro-Fracking Bill--Please Call!

In the next Senate Committee (Appropriations) we need 10 NO votes on SB 318 (pro-fracking) to stop the bill. For the sake of our beautiful state and to maintain a safe water supply ... please call.
This bill will prevent local governments from banning fracking, doesn't include acid fracking, trusts rule making and enforcement to an understaffed state agency & commissions a study that doesn't address the affect of fracking on public health.
Please call Chair/Senator Tom Lee, who has the power to reject even bringing SB 318 before the committee. If you haven't called him already, please call today 866-583-2908, and ask him to not hear SB 318 in committee.
Please also call the other Senators in this order .... ask them to vote NO on SB 318
Senator Jack Latvala (R) - CALL: (850) 487-5020
Senator Jeremy Ring (D) - Represents Broward County and introduced bill to have referendum on fracking (not heard yet): CALL (850) 487-5029
Senator Denise Grimsley (R): Represents Martin County, St. Lucie, both counties have resolutions against fracking. She has been skeptical of fracking before. CALL (850) 487-5021
Senator Joe Negron (R): Next Senate President, Made Everglades Preservation Promises, 3 of 4 Counties in District have Resolutions (Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie) CALL (850) 487-5032
Senator Thad Altman (R) Has voted the wrong way in previous committees: CALL (850) 487-5016
Senator Don Gaetz (R) - Represents areas in Bay, Jackson, which have are resolution counties, Ebro also is a resolution city. CALL (850) 487-5001
Senator David Simmons (R) - Represents Seminole County CALL (850) 487-5010

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Upcoming Outings for Winter and Spring 2016

Upcoming Outings in 2016

March 5-9am-Hike   Join Turtle Coast Sierra Club for a 3 mile hike through the Malabar Scrub Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is part of the EELS program and is a classic example of Real Florida. We hope to see scrub jays, turtles and other critters. Call 321-432-4346 to reserve your spot and get the meeting location.

March 19th-9:30am-Kayaking
This is a lovely time of year for a leisurely paddle through Turkey Creek, we will be looking for gators, manatees, dolphin, turtles, otters and lots of birds. You may rent a canoe at the Palm Bay Marina nearby if you do not have your own boat. They fill up quickly so call them and reserve asap. Everyone must have a personal flotation device. Water, snacks and sunscreen are recommended. Call 321-266-2786 to reserve your spot and find out the meeting location. The outing will be approximately three hour duration.