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Environmental Roundup June 10, 2021

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Collared panther known as FP 110 and her kitten
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Courtesy FWC Flickr

We are all connected by the environment we share. The Earth is our home. This is the space where we share the environmental stories that caught our attention this week in Florida and beyond.

FLORIDA:

Earlier this week the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's registration of the pesticide aldicarb for use in Florida citrus groves. The systemic pesticide and known neurotoxin, manufactured by AgLogic, will not be allowed for use on Florida citrus. In April, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services denied AgLogic's state registration for the use of aldicarb on oranges and grapefruit.

Last Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will severely limit the ability of local governments to raise impact fees, the primary tool local governments use to finance required infrastructure for new developments.

Last week, Lee County Commissioners Kevin Ruane asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to go back to the drawing board when it came to the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. Multiple public meetings on the subject are scheduled. See information below, under "Want to influence your local environment? There's probably a public meeting for that."

Collier County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve two controversial proposed villages in eastern portions of the county. Commissioners approved the villages of Longwater and Bellmar, which cover about 1,000 acres each in prime endangered Florida Panther territory. The new developments are planned to be a part of a new Town of Big Cypress. Commission chairwoman Penny Taylor was the sole 'no' vote on all three projects.

State wildlife officials have documented 18 Florida panther deaths so far this year, which could be putting 2021 on pace to be record-setting year for deaths of the endangered cats. In all of 2020, only 22 panther deaths were recorded. The primary cause of death was being hit by a vehicle, while two died of starvation.

Scientists think nutrients from the Piney Point wastewater spill are fueling blooms of toxic algae and red tide in Tampa Bay.

A 13-mile highway expansion over Everglades wetlands that an administrative law judge found violated Miami-Dade County’s comprehensive plan is back under review.

BEYOND:

Carbon dioxide has reached its highest level in 4 million years. Carbon dioxide fuels climate change.

Civil Eats reports on how pesticides are harming soil ecosystems: Pesticides either directly killed the organisms studied or significantly harmed them by impairing their growth, for example, or decreasing their abundance and diversity.

California sea lions face 'unprecedented rate of cancer', primarily due to pesticides such as DDT and PCBs. Nearly 25% of adult California sea lions suffer from cancer--the highest cancer rate of any mammal, including humans.

Massive flooding in Mississippi and Arkansas has destroyed hundreds of homes and ruined crops. Twenty inches of rain fell from Tuesday to Thursday alone. Levees broke. The rains are unprecedented, and fueled by climate change.

Learn about all this and more, including regular updates on blue-green algae and red tide, on our website, WGCU.org, and be sure to sign up for our monthly environmental newsletter, Green Flash.

Scallop Harvesting

Do & Learn

  • Bay scallop season starts June 15 between the Fenholloway and Suwannee rivers.
  • The Florida Python Challenge starts July 9. If you’ve ever wanted to protect the rare Everglades habitat and the animals that live there from invasive pythons, this is your chance. The challenges runs through July 18 and includes cash prizes. Learn more and register now.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is encouraging people to hunt wild hogs this summer. Learn more at MyFWC.com/hunting/wild-hog.
  • Captains for Clean Water has a short educational video about blue-green algae.
  • Naples Botanical Garden invites essential workers and their families to visit the Garden on a complimentary basis through September 30, 2021.

Want to influence your local environment? There’s probably a public meeting for that.

The next meeting of the Lee Board of County Commissioners will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 15, in the Old County Courthouse Commission Chambers located at 2120 Main St., Fort Myers. The agenda is available to the public a week in advance of the meeting by clicking here. If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to comment on an agenda item, please submit an eComment no later than 11 a.m. Monday, June 14. Every meeting is broadcast live on LeeTV (available online and most televisions), YouTube, and Facebook. Video transcripts are available online approximately 24 hours after each meeting.

The Collier County Development Services Advisory - Land Development Review Subcommittee (DSAC-LDR) will meet on Tuesday, June 15, at 3 p.m. in Conference Room 609/610 of the Growth Management Department building, 2800 N. Horseshoe Drive, Naples. For more information, call Eric Johnson at (239) 252-2931.

Check out Collier County’s full public calendar here.

Multiple area non-profits are organizing to influence the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers future plans for Lake Okeechobee. These include the Everglades Trust, Captains for Clean Water, and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, has announced a Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Project Delivery Team (PDT) Meeting, to be held Thursday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and LOSOM PDT Technical Workshops on Tuesday, June 22 and Wednesday, June 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the public are welcome. The data sets for the Iteration 2 Alternative Array of the six balanced schedules are available at this link: ftp://ftppub.sfwmd.gov/outgoing/LOSOM/Iteration_2/ Frequently asked questions on how to access the data are available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/.

LOSOM PDT Meeting – Iteration 2 Performance Revie - Thursday, June 17, 2021, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. https://usace1.webex.com/meet/earl.t.gysan Call-in toll-free number: 1-844-800-2712 / Call-in number:1-669-234-1177 / Access Code: 1997788788

LOSOM Iteration 2 Evaluation Technical Workshop - Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. https://usace1.webex.com/meet/lisa.e.aley +1-844-800-2712 US Toll Free / +1-669-234-1177 US Toll / Access code: 199 737 9512 / Password: 1234

LOSOM Iteration 2 Evaluation Technical Workshop - Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. https://usace1.webex.com/meet/lisa.e.aley +1-844-800-2712 US Toll Free / +1-669-234-1177 US Toll / Access code: 199 737 9512 / Password: 1234

There will be designated opportunities for public comment during the PDT meeting and technical workshops. For those who cannot attend the online meeting or technical workshops, but wish to provide a comment, please send those comments by email to LakeOComments@usace.army.mil. Additional information is available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/

Charlotte County still has several committee vacancies to fill and many have something to do with the environment. Learn more at https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/news/charlotte-county-committee-vacancies.stml

Upcoming Charlotte County meetings include:

Monday, June 14, 1: 30 p.m. — Planning and Zoning Board, Charlotte County Administration Center, Room 119, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte

Tuesday, June 15, 9 a.m. — County Commission Workshop, Charlotte County Administration Center, Room 119, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte, FL 33948. Topics include water quality monitoring, signs and billboards, habitat conservation plan, swimming pool operations and commissioners, administrator and county attorney comments.

Tuesday, June 15, 1:30 p.m. — County Commission Focus Area Workshop, Charlotte County Administration Center, Room 119, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte.

Wednesday, June 16, 10 a.m. — Burnt Store Village Street & Drainage MSBU Advisory Board, Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda.

Thursday, June 17, 1:30 p.m. — County Commission Preagenda, Charlotte County Administration Center, Room B106, 18500 Murdock Circle, Port Charlotte.

Thursday, June 17, 2 p.m. — MPO - Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Cultural Center of Charlotte County, President's Room, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte.

South Florida Water Management has the following upcoming meetings:

Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative Meeting: June 14 at noon.

Loxahatchee River - National Wild & Scenic River Management Plan Workshop: June 28 at 12:30 p.m.

Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council: June 28 at 2 p.m.

Governing Board Workshop: June 29 at 10 a.m.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) Internal Investigations Section is undergoing assessment to retain accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA). The assessment, which is required every three years, will review the OIG’s compliance with approximately 40 standards. The general public is invited to offer comments to the assessment team. For more information regarding CFA or for persons wishing to offer written comments about the DEP Office of Inspector General’s ability to meet the standards of accreditation, please write: CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, FL 32302, or email info@FLAccreditation.org.

Got an environment story or tip to share? Email Valerie Vande Panne at Vvandepanne@wgcu.org.