Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wading birds' nests down three-quarters from 2002

Endangered Wood Storks nesting in Fred George Basin

Ed. Note: Last year it was reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was considering reclassification of wood storks from endangered to threatened status. At the time many conservation groups including Wildwood Preservation Society expressed concern that such a move was premature. The report referenced in the article below offers further evidence that protection of the fragile wood stork and its habitat must be stronger now than ever.

Wading birds' nests down three-quarters from 2002
By Paul Quinlan
Palm Beach Post

The shipwrecked economy, real estate slump and lousy job market got you down?

South Florida's wading birds feel your pain.

After a string of fat years that began in 2000, wading birds have also fallen on hard times. A recent two-year drought combined with a few unseasonably heavy rains in late spring to make bird life especially difficult this year in the Everglades, a one-time avian Shangri-La.

The number of wading bird nests in South Florida fell 51 percent this year to 18,418, according a report for the South Florida Water Management District. That's down almost three-quarters from 68,750 in 2002 - the best year on record in South Florida since the 1940s - and 59 percent less than the average of the last eight years.

Scientists who study wading birds as a measure of the overall health of the Everglades ecosystem call this year's prognosis foreboding.

"It was a pretty bad year. Certainly the worst year we've had in the last eight years," said Mark Cook, the district environmental scientist who co-edits the annual report. "If the fish aren't doing well, and the other parts of the system aren't doing well, then the wading birds aren't doing well."

All species of wading birds nested significantly less than in other years of the past decade, according to the report, which spotlighted numbers for the wood stork (down almost two-thirds in five years), white ibis (down 61 percent from last year) and the roseate spoonbill (the lowest since records began in 1983).

On the whole, wading birds' fortunes appear to be shifting back to late-1990s levels, undoing the gains that followed 2000.

It's too soon to call the decline a trend. Counting wading birds nests has evolved from the manual labor of an intrepid few to a complex statistical game involving zig-zagging fly-overs and extrapolation. Results can vary widely from year to year.

What's more, scientists say a few years of drought won't kill off the wading bird population. Most live about 14 years and can feed elsewhere - in the case of white ibises, your front lawn, for example.

"Come March or April, if you see large number of white ibises foraging in the urban areas, you know it's not particularly good in the Everglades," said Cook.

Detailed record-keeping that began in the 1980s shows overall improvement - for white ibises in particular, whose nesting figures jumped nearly eightfold during the past two decades.

Cook attributes the gains of the past decade to a shift in focus from Everglades eradication to Everglades restoration and better communication between bird trackers and the water managers who control flows through the ecosystem.

"We had over 50,000 nests in 2002 and 2006, which suggests that we haven't completely lost the system," said Cook. "But the caution is that we need to get going with restoration, because some of these changes could be irreversible."

But despite some recent gains, today's Everglades, which is about half its original size, is still far less hospitable to birds than the Everglades of the 19th century or earlier. Before the 1940s - prior to our carving and fitting the great marsh with today's massive network of drainage canals, pumps, dams and floodgates - scientists estimate that wading bird nests numbered more than 200,000.

Scientists describe an ideal year for wading birds this way: A particularly wet rainy season fills the marsh with water, prompting fish, crayfish and the smaller organisms in the food chain to flourish. A steady dry season then follows, lowering water levels evenly across the system and drawing fish and crayfish into smaller and smaller pools for the birds' easy hunting.

In Everglades National Park, wading bird abundance fell 29 percent this year, with seven of the nine species tracked showing declines in the past year. The worst declines hit white herons (down 51 percent), small dark herons (down 43 percent), great egrets and white ibis (both down 32 percent). Also down were wood storks (down 31 percent), small white herons (down 14 percent), and glossy ibis (down 11 percent). Two species - roseate spoonbills and great blue herons - increased (40 percent and 17 percent, respectively).

Also troubling: The birds are showing up in new places instead of traditional habitats.

More spoonbills in Everglades National Park meant trouble this year for Florida Bay, where historically 90 percent of the state's spoonbills made their home, said Jerry Lorenz, Florida research director for National Audubon Society.

Spoonbill numbers in Florida Bay are among the best indicators of Everglades health and water management, Lorenz said. They are dependent on the fish and crayfish and are sensitive to changes in the system. Since the mid-1980s, the population there has been collapsing, he said.

Plume hunting in the early part of the 20th century decimated the spoonbill population, which eventually rebounded with nests numbering around 1,250, Lorenz said. Researchers counted only 341 this year in Florida Bay. Low flows of freshwater south through the Everglades have increased salinity in Florida Bay, affecting the food chain and sending spoonbills elsewhere - including, among other places, island colonies in Tampa Bay, he said.

"They would rather be in Tampa Bay than the Everglades," Lorenz said.

Theodore Below, an avian ecologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, says counts in the region he has studied - Southwest Florida around Marco Island - have fallen to less than half their numbers in the 1980s.

"I see more on Naples beach than I have before, and I think it's because they're having to look for food," Below said.

But birds are resilient and even slight improvements to the ecosystem could yield a resurgence and reduce first-year mortality rates of 60 percent to 80 percent, he said.

"In 14 years of breeding, all they have to do is bring two chicks up that make it," Below said. "If they produced a breeder every year, we'd be up to our necks in birds."

Click here to read the complete South Florida Wading Bird Report
South Florida Water Management District
November 2008
The Everglades’ Critical Turning Point
By Sara Fain
E Magazine
December 30, 2008

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Monday, December 22, 2008

18-year-old should have help in fight for Brooker Creek Preserve

Ed. Note: Having gained firsthand knowledge of the hurdles citizens face in fighting land use abuses, Wildwood Preservation Society acknowledges and thanks Mathew Poling for his effort!

18-year-old should have help in fight for Brooker Creek Preserve
By Diane Steinle
St. Pete Times
December 21, 2008

A teenager's lawsuit may finally reveal how Pinellas County government managed to construct buildings in the Brooker Creek Preserve, where land regulations state that nothing may be built.

Pinellas County has almost a million residents, but only one, 18-year-old Mathew Poling, cared enough to use every tool at his disposal to try to figure that out and ensure that the 8,000-acre Brooker Creek Preserve in northeast Pinellas is protected from development.

Along the way, Poling says he learned a lot about roadblocks citizens encounter when they try to fight the government on land issues.

Last week, Poling was fighting the flu and cramming for final exams at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he is a freshman. But to him, the most important thing he had to do all week was get to the Pinellas County Courthouse and file his case against the county.

Poling wrote the lawsuit, motions and subpoenas himself after failing to find an attorney who would challenge Pinellas or do so at a price he could afford. Poling said he learned how to write those legal documents by "doing a lot of research in the law library," and he is paying the costs out of his college money. When the case goes before a judge, Poling will have to represent himself in the courtroom. He will be opposed by the well-staffed and well-funded Pinellas County Attorney's Office.

Soft-spoken Poling, who is nothing if not focused and methodical, says he is "kind of nervous about the whole thing, but I just have to get ready for it."

He has been working to preserve the Preserve for three years, first as a 15-year-old officer in the otherwise all-adult Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve, and now on his own. Others have given up on the difficult research required to figure out what the county is doing in the publicly owned preserve, or they have decided to compromise with county officials who say some kinds of development are appropriate in the preserve.

Poling knows the preserve well, having grown up in a home that borders it. He and his father, Steve, led tours of the preserve and have been outspoken advocates for it.

Poling got upset when the county wanted to build things in the preserve like ballfields and horse stables and water treatment plants. He was appalled when the county flattened 40 acres for a planned water blending plant. He fired off e-mails to county officials, asked detailed but respectful questions at public hearings, read documents and studied maps.

And he discovered something curious. The county had done a lot of building in the preserve: two office buildings, two water treatment facilities, an education center, a pole barn, roads and parking lots. The county had done all that even though Brooker Creek Preserve lands are designated as preservation in the countywide land use plan, a plan created under state law, and none of those activities are allowed in the preservation category.

Poling was convinced the county was illegally developing the preserve, but he was stunned to discover that land development law gave him no route to challenge the county unless he was a landowner directly affected by the county's projects.

His desperation grew when the county began work in recent months to amend the countywide land use rules in ways that would make those structures legal and allow further construction of things like water lines, wells, water storage tanks and even a reservoir on parts of the preserve. Public hearings on those amendments are set for Jan. 6 and Jan. 20.

Back at the law library, Poling searched for some way to stop it. He decided that the county's construction in the preserve met the state's legal definition of a public nuisance — "any place where any law of the state is violated" — and as a citizen, he believed he could sue on behalf of the state to stop and abate a public nuisance.

So he did. Last week he also filed a motion for a temporary injunction to prevent the county from using the facilities in the preserve or from amending the countywide land use rules before his lawsuit goes to court. A judge will hear that motion Jan. 7.

The county has admitted no wrongdoing and is expected to mount a well-prepared and professional defense — that is, if Poling's lawsuit isn't thrown out on some technicality that he didn't unearth in the UF law library.

Poling's solitary fight strikes me as a little sad, since there should be an army of environmental types lined up behind him to keep things like five-story structures and reservoirs out of Brooker Creek Preserve. But perhaps it is no surprise that it took the energy and idealism of a young person to get this far in such a one-sided fight.

And it should be no surprise to anyone that Poling's goal in life, after all this, is to become an attorney specializing in land use law.


Learn more by clicking here to visit the Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve website.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Florida environmental and wildlife news for the week ending 12-19-08


Questions remain about proposed biomass plan
By John Crawford
Tallahassee Democrat
Related: Biomass Q&A
A proposed biomass gasification plant in Tallahassee could create jobs and cleaner energy using some of the most advanced technology in the country, according to the company that wants to build it.

Florida panthers need new territory, federal officials say
By Craig Pittman
St. Pete Times
Florida's panther population has boomed so much over the past 15 years that it has run out of room in fast-growing southwest Florida, according to a new federal plan for saving the endangered species.

Why Is Miami Developer So Determined To Build? (includes audio)
By Greg Allen
A Miami home builder is seeking approval for a 7,000-house development in the midst of the biggest housing downturn since the Depression. And the new community would be built in an area that now is off-limits to big development, just three miles from the Everglades.

U.S. Sugar land deal is approved -- with an escape clause
By Curtis Morgan
Miami Herald
South Florida water managers approved the controversial purchase of U.S. Sugar land considered essential to Everglades restoration.

Without a Net: Top Ten Wildlife, Fish and Plants in Need of Endangered Species Act Protection
Endangered Species Coalition
This report includes the top ten species plus three honorable mentions that are in danger of extinction, but are not protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under the Bush administration, listings have greatly decreased—accounting for the lowest per year listing average of any president in the history of the Endangered Species Act. With the new leadership of President Obama, we have the opportunity to get the implementation of the listing program and the Endangered Species Act back on track.


The Audacity of Parkland
By Alan Farago
Parkland is a zoning application to move Miami-Dade's abused Urban Development Boundary closer to the Everglades.

Progress Energy to close coal plants after nukes come online
By Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Community Radio Tampa
Today Progress Energy CEO Jeff Lyash announced that his company has agreed to retire its oldest two coal-fire units at its Crystal River Energy Complex in Citrus County.

Hurdles remain for Florida-U.S. Sugar land deal
By Curtis Morgan and Mary Ellen Klas
Miami Herald
Skeptical lawmakers and a House committee review loom among upcoming hurdles for the state's controversial Big Sugar land buy.

Study: FPL plant slightly boosts health risks
By Jim Waymer
Florida Today
A $1 million study of air pollution in Port St. John found that the particles pumping out of Florida Power and Light's old oil and gas plant just slightly increase the risk of asthma attacks, asthma-related emergency room visits, premature death and other health problems.

Green groups divided over choice of Salazar to head Interior
By Kate Sheppard
Grist Magazine
Ken Salazar, Obama's choice to head the Department of the Interior, is provoking controversy in the environmental community.

FPL may have to refund $6 million to customers
By Julie Patel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
The state is expected to decide today whether to require Florida Power & Light Co. to refund customers more than $6 million in costs related to a 2006 power outage blamed on an FPL contractor.

Call for halt to Progress Energy rate hike grows louder
By Asjylyn Loder
St. Pete Times
State Sen. Charlie Justice joined the chorus calling on Gov. Charlie Crist to freeze Progress Energy's nuclear rate increase, which is due to hit bills in January.

Stop the Turtle Brokers
Lakeland Ledger
Floridians have been trying to save sea turtles since the late University of Florida naturalist Archie Carr began to track their migratory patterns nearly half a century ago.

Parents Learn, Weigh-In On Biomass Plant (includes video)
Reported by Liza Park
WCTV News Tallahassee
Only a couple more days of school before Leon County kids get out for the holiday break... but many parents and other residents aren't taking a break from the controversy on a proposed biomass plant in Tallahassee.

Conservancy sues to block Naples golf development
By Eric Staats
Naples News
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida sued the federal government and a Naples-based developer Friday to try to stop plans for a golf course community in northern Collier County.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Florida environmental and wildlife news for the week ending 12-12-08


Saving the Fred George Basin
Reported by Liza Park
WCTV CBS News Tallahassee
Environmentalists have been working for two years to save what's left of the Fred George Basin and Tuesday night their work paid off.

Biomass hearing draws a crowd
By John Crawford
Tallahassee Democrat
For all intents and purposes, Wednesday night's public hearing dealing with the proposed BG&E biomass plant was over before it began.

Progress Energy plans nuclear power plant north of Tampa
By Alex Pickett
Creative Loafing Tampa
Related Tampa Tribune article: Progress Energy rate hike generates controversy
Florida doesn't get much more rural than Levy County.

Refusing to save Florida's springs
Ocala Star-Banner
In each of the past three years an influential state lawmaker has introduced a bill into the Florida Legislature to initiate a meaningful springs protection program.

Bush revises protections for endangered species
By Dina Cappiello
Associated Press
Just six weeks before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, the Bush administration issued revised endangered species regulations Thursday to reduce the input of federal scientists and to block the law from being used to fight global warming.

Florida's imperiled species struggling to survive
By Kevin Spear
Orlando Sentinel
A very quiet drama is playing out in Florida as rare grasshopper sparrows and snail kites face extinction while panthers, black bears and bald eagles find new hope after a once-uncertain future.


Florida sugar giant decries rival's Everglades deal
By Craig Pittman
St. Pete Times
Florida's two sugar giants slugged it out in public Friday, arguing over whether Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed buyout of U.S. Sugar is actually a sneaky government bailout of an ailing company.

Farm bureau blasts U.S. Sugar deal; government group expresses concerns
By Jennifer Sorentrue and Paul Quinlan
Palm Beach Post
A major Florida farming group came out today against the state's $1.34 billion land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp. - just days before South Florida water managers are set to vote on the purchase.

Lawmakers seek to postpone vote on sugar deal
By Curtis Morgan
Miami Herald
Miami-Dade lawmakers, with a litany of concerns over state's sugar land-purchase deal, asked for a legislative review.

Crist, Fla. Cabinet OK $7 million land deal
Associated Press
Tampa Tribune
Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet have agreed to pay $7 million for a conservation easement in central Florida opposed by an environmental group.

Tallahassee residents debate, learn more about biomass plant
By Angeline J. Taylor
Tallahassee Democrat
Voices in favor of and in opposition to the proposed biomass plant in Tallahassee continued to ring out at different events Monday.

Lawmakers: Cut off energy company's ‘advanced recovery cost’
By Ryan Burr
Panama City News Herald
Two Florida lawmakers on Monday requested Progress Energy Florida Inc. suspend indefinitely its "advanced recovery cost" on customers that was designated to pay for two nuclear power plants.

As U.S. Sugar vote looms, job-fearing Glades residents demand action from Crist
By Paul Quinlan
Palm Beach Post
With just nine days left until water managers vote on a $1.34 billion land deal aimed at rescuing the Everglades, residents of neighboring farm communities have a question for Gov. Charlie Crist: Who's going to rescue our jobs?

Agencies lower water levels in the Everglades, save wildlife
By Curtis Morgan
Miami Herald
With some help from nature, agencies have dropped water levels in the Everglades and ended the threat of massive wildlife losses.

Growth binge gives Florida a hangover
By Kenric Ward
TC Palm
The development industry is the Viagra of Florida. At least it used to be.

Save the turtle
Gainesville Sun
Floridians have been trying to save sea turtles since the late University of Florida naturalist Archie Carr began to track their migratory patterns nearly half a century ago.

State Needs Tougher Rules To Protect Softshell Turtles
Tampa Tribune
Gov. Charlie Crist, who successfully fought plans to take the manatee of the state's endangered list last year, is once again using his influence on behalf of an imperiled Florida creature.

Action alert: Click the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust logo above to learn how you can help ban wild freshwater turtle harvesting.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Leon County Commission unanimously supports Fred George Basin Greenway land purchase

Yesterday the Leon County Commission voted unanimously to complete the purchase of the first – and most environmentally sensitive – of five land parcels slated for conservation in the Fred George Basin. This marks the culmination of a two and a half year process that, although not yet completed, will eventually create the 170+ acre Fred George Basin Greenway.

Wildwood Preservation Society would like to thank our entire Save Fred George Basin coalition and everyone that has contributed to this victory for conservation. Without the overwhelming public support this project has received we would never have gotten this far. We would especially like to acknowledge the FSU Environmental Service Program, Preston Robertson of the Florida Wildlife Federation, Tom Asbury and the late Pepper Ghazvini with RP Properties, and the entire Leon County Commission but especially Commissioners John Dailey and Cliff Thaell for their leadership on this issue from the beginning.

It is important to emphasize that more important work lies ahead. There are four additional land parcels identified for inclusion in the Fred George Basin Greenway. Wildwood Preservation Society will not rest until all these lands are protected, and the complete vision of a preserved Fred George Basin is realized.

Below is local news coverage from yesterday’s meeting.

Fred George Basin news coverage 12-9-08

Saving the Fred George Basin
Reported by Liza Park
WCTV CBS News Tallahassee
December 9, 2008

Environmentalists have been working for two years to save what's left of the Fred George Basin and Tuesday night their work paid off.

The Fred George Basin is a large sinkhole and ecosystem along Fred George Road in northwest Leon County.

Those who want to preserve the area say much of the original basin has been lost to development.

Tuesday night Leon County Commissioners agreed to offer $900,000 of "Blueprint 2000" funds to purchase the land and another $200,000 for clean-up costs.

"The city of Tallahassee gets water directly from this sinkhole and we really need to preserve this area for future generations and we finally did it today and we're just very pleased," says Misty Penton of the Wildwood Preservation Society and who spearheaded efforts to save the basin.

The state is matching the funds spent on the preservation which will be turned into a public park.

Endangered wood storks nesting in Fred George Basin, May 2008.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Action Alert: Help needed for critical vote to save Fred George Basin

Endangered Wood Stork in Fred George Basin, photo courtesy Richard Baas.

This Tuesday afternoon, the Leon County Commission will vote on agenda item 21 (purchase of Fred George Basin Greenway), approving the allocation of funds already identified through Blueprint 2000 and Florida Communities Trust, to be used for the acquisition of the ‘core’ parcel (76 acres). This parcel is the first of 5 to be acquired which will preserve the last 172 acres of the Fred George Basin that remain of the more than 500 originally identified for conservation in Blueprint 2000.

Conserving this critical land will help protect:

• The quality of Leon County’s drinking water;
• Natural flood storage and aquifer recharge karst area;
• Fragile ecosystems from the closed Fred George Basin all the way to Wakulla Springs; and
• Endangered and threatened species including the American Wood Stork, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis and Gopher Tortoise.

Please take action by:

1. Sending the email below (scroll down and feel free to cut and paste) or, even better, write one of your own to the commissioners and their aides:
proctorb@leoncountyfl.gov; gleer@leoncountyfl.gov; saulsj@leoncountyfl.gov; summerlinl@leoncountyfl.gov; daileyj@leoncountyfl.gov; doughertyj@leoncountyfl.gov; deslogeb@leoncountyfl.gov; tannerb@leoncountyfl.gov; rackleffhsd@earthlink.net; bradyk@leoncountyfl.gov; akinyemia@leoncountyfl.gov; jonesc@leoncountyfl.gov; thaellC@leoncountyfl.gov; greenm@leoncountyfl.gov

2. Calling your County Commissioner:
Bill Proctor (District 1): 850-606-5361
Jane Sauls (District 2): 850-606-5362
John Dailey (District 3): 850-606-5363
Bryan Desloge (District 4): 850-606-5364
Bob Rackleff (District 5): 850-606-5365
Akin Akinyemi (at large): 850-606-5369
Cliff Thaell (at large): 850-606-5367

3. Most importantly, attending the County Commission meeting to show your support:
Tuesday, December 9th at 3pm
Leon County Courthouse, 5th Floor
301 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee 32301

Thank you for your support of this critical conservation project. For more information, go to www.myspace.com/wildwoodpreservation or call Wildwood Preservation Society founder Misty Penton at 850-559-9661. The Agenda Item for Tuesday’s meeting may be viewed on the County website here.


Your friends at Wildwood Preservation Society

PS – Supporters include:
Florida Wildlife Federation
Florida Audubon Society
Environment Florida
1000 Friends of Florida
The Habitat Trust for Wildlife
Cornwall's Voice For Animals
Heart of the Earth
Ochlockonee River Soil and Water Conservation District
Blueprint 2000
Leon County Commission
Apalachee Audubon Society (local Audubon Chapter)
Friends of Lake Jackson
Lake Jackson Protection Alliance
FSU Environmental Service Program
Big Bend Sierra Club
Wildwood Neighborhood
Erin Brockovich
Former State Rep. Loranne Ausley
State Sen. Al Lawson
U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Endangered Wood Stork landing in Fred George Basin, photo courtesy Richard Baas.

EMAIL TO COMMISSIONERS Note: please blind copy (bcc) wildwoodpreservation@gmail.com.

Subject: It’s time to bring Fred George Basin acquisition in for a landing

Dear Commissioner:

Two years ago, on December 12, 2006, the Leon County Commission voted unanimously to acquire the last 172 acres of Fred George Basin that remain of the more than 500 originally identified for conservation in Blueprint 2000. On Tuesday, your vision and leadership are needed again to bring this critical acquisition in for a landing. As you know, conserving this critical land will help protect:

• The quality of Leon County’s drinking water;
• Natural flood storage and aquifer recharge karst area;
• Fragile ecosystems from the closed Fred George Basin all the way to Wakulla Springs; and
• Endangered and threatened species including the American Wood Stork, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis and Gopher Tortoise.

The creation of the Fred George Basin Greenway will also provide a much-needed park in northwest Leon County and help reduce traffic and school overcrowding in this area that has been so impacted by intense development.

With the establishment of the Fred George Basin Greenway the Leon County Commission is taking a critical first step toward protecting our way of life and natural resources for generations to come.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Florida environmental and wildlife news for the week ending 12-5-08


Inaccuracies taint Florida environmental consultant's record
By Craig Pittman
St. Pete Times
For years, Florida's largest environmental consulting firm, Biological Research Associates, has helped private companies win government permits to pave over wetlands and destroy wildlife habitat.

NAACP threatening discrimination complaint over Tallahassee biomass proposal
By Bill Cotterell
Tallahassee Democrat
An attorney for the NAACP and some residents involved in the biomass Renewable Energy Center controversy have threatened the state with a federal race-discrimination complaint if the project gets a permit.

Biomass plant debate continues in Tallahassee
By John Crawford
Tallahassee Democrat
Related: Biomass firm weighs options
A morning news conference, during which officials with the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and environmental experts from the Sierra Club and the Big Bend Climate Action Team voiced support for a proposed biomass plant, went off without a hitch even though, according to critics, it introduced very little new information.

Nature Conservancy Picking Up Land at Bargains
By Art Levy
Florida Trend
More Florida land that would otherwise be facing heavy development pressure has the potential to wind up in conservation instead — compliments of the real estate slump.

The Nature Conservancy bought 1,000 acres at Blackwater River State Forest for $2.2 million this year from Rayonier. [Photo: Laurie Meehan-Elmer, Florida Trend].


Slow down $1.34 billion sugar deal, critics urge as clock ticks toward deadline
By Paul Quinlan
Palm Beach Post
Related: Private suitor makes formal pitch for U.S. Sugar buyout
Gov. Charlie Crist's blockbuster plan to repair the Everglades by buying U.S. Sugar Corp.'s farmlands for $1.34 billion ran into a litany of sharp questions and criticism today - threatening to send all parties back to the negotiating table.

Planning law hasn't prevented Fla. growing pains
By Bill Kaczor
Associated Press
It seemed like a good idea for controlling urban sprawl: Require ample road capacity be in place before a new neighborhood or commercial development could be built.

FPL power plant protesters convicted of seven misdemeanor counts
By Jerome Burdi
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
December 5, 2008 Defense attorneys tried to convince a jury that seven people broke the law out of necessity, to defend the public against environmental havoc and corporate carelessness.

Report: State may top Crist's renewable energy goal
Associated Press
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
A report delivered to state regulators says Florida can exceed Gov. Charlie Crist's goal for using renewable energy but only if everything goes right.

Fla. PSC approves $1.57 a month FPL rate cut
Associated Press
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Florida Power & Light Co. customers will see a small decrease in their bills after state regulators approved a fuel rate adjustment Tuesday.

FWC adjourns two-day meeting in Key West
WCTV News Tallahassee
The agenda focused on boating issues, including proposed legislation on statutes related to vessels and vessel registration

Tiny exotic beetles threaten Florida crops
By Georgia Tasker and Charles Rabin
Miami Herald
Guacamole lovers, beware: An Asian beetle half the size of a rice grain is spreading a fungus fatal to avocados and red bay trees and is working its way south, toward 6,500 acres of avocados in Miami-Dade County.

Florida Should Demand Clean, Efficient Vehicles
Tampa Tribune
Automobile lobbyists argue proposed tough state emissions standards for cars and trucks will cripple the beleaguered industry and prove costly for consumers.

Construction to start on innovative solar plant
Associated Press
Tampa Tribune
December 2, 2008
Florida Power and Light will soon start construction on the first of three solar power projects that will eventually make the state No. 2 in the nation for energy from the sun.

Climate change increases problems for Florida reefs
By Curtis Morgan
Miami Herald
Despite new federal protections, Elkhorn Coral may disappear from the waters off the coast of South Florida

Hurricane season relatively kind to Fla.
By Paul Flemming
Tallahassee Democrat
From Tropical Storm Arthur to Hurricane Paloma, there were 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and 800 deaths in North America and the Caribbean.

Stiffer Emission Rules Proposed
By Lindsay Peterson
Tampa Tribune
State officials return to the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission next week to argue that Florida should adopt California's tough emission standards for cars and light trucks.

Sun, wind energy potential high, but so is price
By Asjylyn Loder
St. Pete Times
If money were no object, Florida could meet nearly all of its energy needs with sun and wind alone.

Crist wisely steps in to save turtles
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has demonstrated more than once that he is a responsible steward of the state's natural resources.
St. Pete Times

Click the logo above to visit the Florida Turtle Conservation Trust website.

Wildwood Preservation Society is a non-profit 501(c)(4) project of the Advocacy Consortium for the Common Good. Click here to learn more.

"it's all connected"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Florida environmental and wildlife news for the week ending 11-28-08


Vehicles, budget threaten Florida panthers
An uncollared male Florida panther was killed by a car shortly after sunset Wednesday on Alico Road.
By Ryan Hiraki
Ft. Myers News-Press

Movement building to save turtles
As state wildlife officials mull new restrictions on harvesting the reptiles, Gov. Charlie Crist has joined a chorus supporting a ban on commercial turtle fishing in fresh water.
By Steve Patterson
Florida Times-Union

What's Killing Florida's Coral Reefs?
The disaster in south Florida is invisible from above water but the damage is horrific.
By Hector Florin
Time Magazine


Restore The Everglades, But Double-Check Numbers
The ambitious proposal for Florida to buy U.S. Sugar land could finally ensure the survival of the Everglades, the hydrological heart of South Florida. So the importance of the proposal can hardly be overstated.
Tampa Tribune

Water managers have 3-week deadline to sign $1.34 billion U.S. Sugar deal
South Florida water managers have just three weeks to sign off on their contract to buy nearly all of U.S. Sugar's farmland for $1.34 billion - the centerpiece of Gov. Charlie Crist's plans to restore the Everglades and the most expensive conservation land purchase in Florida history.
By Paul Quinlan
Palm Beach Post

Solar power costlier for Florida than nuclear, report finds
In a much anticipated report that could affect every Floridian's pocketbook, a consultant hired by the state says solar power could be a competitive source of electricity by 2020 in many scenarios, but it will cost considerably more than new nuclear power and natural gas, the main sources of power for present customers of Florida Power & Light.
By John Dorschner
Miami Herald

Conservationists call for ban on freshwater turtle catches
For years, Jones Fish House bought turtles from fishermen, cleaned them and sold the meat alongside the catfish that brims from its glass cases.
By Jane Musgrave
Palm Beach Post

Save environment, save money
On a brisk morning warmed gently by the sun, more than a dozen houseboats and a handful of powerboats sat idly in the St. Johns River waiting for guests to arrive.
By Sandra Frederick
Daytona Beach News-Journal

Reduce price of sugar land
Before the South Florida Water Management District board considers the $1.34 billion proposal to buy U.S. Sugar's land for Everglades restoration, the board must renegotiate the price lower and find out whether the seller even would be U.S. Sugar.
Palm Beach Post

Florida Vs. Georgia
Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue is hopping mad over Florida's lawsuit to keep his state from grabbing so much upstream water to feed Atlanta's growth.
Lakeland Ledger

All-out ban needed on softshell turtle harvesting, and quickly
When state wildlife officials were poised to tinker with the manatee's conservation protections, Gov. Charlie Crist stepped in with a plea not to risk the sea cow's survival.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida Forever Acquisition Protects Civil War Battlefield
Governor Crist and Cabinet today approved the purchase of 54.74 acres of land adjacent to the Natural Bridge Historic State Park in Leon County.
Press Release

Turtle harvest assailed
Fishing for softshell turtles has been a source of income for William Shockley and his family for three generations in the rural Central Florida town of Okeechobee.
By Kate Spinner
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Pinellas should buy Walmart's Tarpon Springs property for parkland
Walmart's unexpected announcement Friday that it has put its controversial Tarpon Springs supercenter project on hold opens the door to a great opportunity.
Related: Wal-Mart puts a hold on plans for supercenter
St. Pete Times

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