Audubon Florida News

Topic: Online Advocacy,State Government



Econ River: Your Voices are Making a Difference

posted on April 24, 2013 in Online Advocacy,State Government

takeaction_econ_bigThank you for speaking up for the Econlockhatchee River.

On Sunday we notified you of the recently added amendment to SB 1684 that would allow 15 square miles of the Econlockhatchee floodplain in Eastern Orange County to be drained without wetland permits. The result will be the conversion of the river’s tributaries into drainage canals and extensive ditches that will degrade the rest of the area’s wetlands. Unfortunately, this amendment passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday. But not without significant opposition, thanks to your vocal support for the important Econlockhatchee River. 

Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) offered an amendment to the amendment that would grandfather in those who already have an Environmental Resource Permit in the floodplain. While we thank Senator Latvala for his efforts, his amendment only addresses part of our concerns.

Audubon Florida would like to thank the St. Johns River Legislative Caucus, represented in the Senate Appropriations Committee by Senator John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine), Senator Aaron Bean (R-Jacksonville), Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park), for expressing concern that Senator Latvala’s amendment did not go far enough to protect the Econlockhatchee and St. Johns Rivers. These three members voted NO on the full bill primarily because of this issue.

Before moving on to other issues, there was commitment from Senators that there will continue to be work on this amendment before the bill is brought for a vote on the Senate floor. Stay tuned for more information, but make no mistake, your letters are working.

Special thanks to St. Johns Riverkeeper’s Lisa Rinaman for her good testimony in today’s hearing. Audubon is looking forward to continuing our work with Senators and our conservation partners to fix this bill and protect the outstanding Econlockhatchee River.

Thank you, Advocates!

Take Action to Protect an Outstanding Florida Waterway

posted on April 21, 2013 in Online Advocacy,State Government

 takeaction_econ_bigEconlockhatchee River at risk from bad amendment – headwater wetlands to be ditched and drained.

A recently added amendment to SB 1684 would allow 15 square miles of the important Econlockhatchee floodplain in Eastern Orange County to be drainedwithout wetland permits. The land in question lies between the St. Johns River and the Econlockhatchee River and is currently made up of mostly flatwoods and cypress domes. The Ranger Drainage District is seeking a change in law that allows drainage districts to be exempt from local and state wetlands laws.

The result will be the conversion of the river’s tributaries into drainage canals and extensive ditches degrading the rest of the area’s wetlands. Your voice is needed right now to protect this Outstanding Florida Waterway, see our email form below.

Orange County regulations have required permits and mitigation for wetland impacts. The Ranger Drainage District has refused all attempts to update its obsolete permits. Instead it hired a lobbying firm to change the lawHB 999 by Rep. Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City) is the vehicle for a dozen similar changes to Florida’s environmental laws. This is the most egregious. 

It is becoming commonplace for those refusing to comply with Florida’s wetlands and water quality laws to just change the laws.

Audubon and others have objected to this odious provision in SB 1684. Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne), the bill’s sponsor, had removed the offending section from his bill. Unfortunately, the change was putback into his bill. Senator Altman is open to removing the Econ amendment but needs our urgent support to help persuade other Senators.

Florida’s wetlands provide habitat for fish, plants, wildlife, and countless species of birds. They have the ability to clean water by storing it and help recharge our drinking water supply. Local governments are the last line of defense in protecting these natural resources and they should not have their statutory authority stripped away because of a bad bill.

The last committee stop for SB 1684 will be on Tuesday, April 23 at the Senate Appropriations Committee. Protect the Econlockhatchee River from wetland destruction, urge Senators to delete the Chapter 298 preemption from SB 1684.

After you make your voice heard, please share this important alert.

Take Action: The Gulf Coast Needs Your Voice

posted on November 9, 2012 in Coastal Conservation,Online Advocacy

Speak up for our coastal wildlife – submit comments or attend a meeting in person.

Least Terns by RJ WileyYesterday, the State and Federal government announced the next two Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) projects proposed for funding, both of which will have big conservation benefits for the Florida Panhandle.

  • One project will direct $4.7Mover 5 years to Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle for beach-nesting bird conservation (essential activities to protect nesting birds from disturbance and predation).
  • The second will direct $4.3M over 4 years to Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle for nesting marine turtle conservation (mostly retrofitting coastal lighting to prevent disorientation).

The total for the Florida components of these two programs will be $7.7M, funded by BP. Your voice is needed to make sure these projects become a reality, please click here. Don’t hesitate; your support is needed by December 10!

During the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Florida’s shorebirds and sea turtles, especially those in the Panhandle, suffered sweeping breeding season losses as a result of the spill and response. Under theOil Pollution Act (OPA), state and federal partners have since been assessing this damage and placing a value on it through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process. This evaluation is the justification for restoration projects like these funded with BP fines.

Join Audubon at a Public Hearing

Join Audubon Florida’s Director of Wildlife Conservation Julie Wraithmell at the meeting in Pensacola to speak in support of these good projects.

When: Tuesday, November 13, 6-9PM CST

Where: Escambia County Central Complex Building (Rm 104, 3363 West Park Place)

It is important that we make it clear that there is a constituency for coastal wildlife and we support these meaningful projects!

Please contact jwraithmell@audubon.org if you plan on attending.

 

Thank You Advocates for Your Support of the Everglades Water Quality Plan

posted on August 13, 2012 in Everglades,Online Advocacy

Thank you to our Audubon Advocates and environmental allies who spoke out to support the bold Everglades Water Quality Plan. The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board heard your voices and passed a resolution in a 8-1 vote to move forward with the next steps of the landmark Everglades Water Quality Plan. The plan is a key part of solution that will provide infrastructure needed to move forward with providing clean water for the Everglades.

Audubon has long pushed for the next wave of action to clean up the water leaving agricultural fields and entering theEverglades. If not treated, polluted water alters the balance of life and is responsible for significant loss of wildlife habitat. The new water quality plan announced in June between the State of Florida and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will build and enhance the performance of treatment areas that clean up water before it enters the Everglades.

Put Everglades Restoration Back to Work

posted on June 21, 2012 in Everglades,Online Advocacy

You have probably noticed the cycle of extreme droughts and flooding experienced across the South Florida region over the past few years. This frustrating pattern perfectly illustrates the critical need to restore natural drainage patterns throughout the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.

At the same time, water that should be going into the Everglades is still too dirty – carrying farm and urban chemicals that alter life forms. While state and federal agencies are committed to finding solutions, budget cuts have made action difficult and eliminated much of the science work needed to make sure water supply and water quality projects achieve the ecological results necessary to restore our River of Grass.

We need your support right now to put restoration back to work. Your contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more to Audubon Florida will:

  • Fund vital scientific monitoring and analysis,
  • Support advocacy work to assure restoration projects will benefit the natural environment,
  • Help Wood Storks and other iconic species return throughout the Greater Everglades, and
  • Inform decision-makers and the public on why water must be cleaned up before it is released into the Everglades.

Our Everglades scientists in the field will be looking for results now that many of our most vital, long-term Greater Everglades goals are finally nearing completion: including a one-mile bridge that will lift the Tamiami Trail to improve water flows into Everglades National Park and the C-111 canal project that will increase freshwater flows into Florida Bay.

A new plan to clean polluted water in the Everglades has recently been agreed upon by the South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and includes many Audubon-supported projects.

Thanks to supporters like you, progress is being madeBut we can’t stop hereThe critical time is now to turn plans into results.

You can help us see that the next wave of restoration work is implemented with the best interests of the Greater Everglades and Florida’s iconic wildlife in mind.

Together, we are making a difference in the future of this remarkable ecosystem.

Contribute Button

 

Click here to see our Everglades Donor Honor Roll and learn how you can join our fight to get Everglades restoration Back to Work.

 

Audubon Florida and St. Johns Riverkeeper Take Adena Permit Concerns to Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper and St. Johns Riverkeeper’s Lisa Rinaman met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Greg Munson today in Tallahassee to express concerns about the 13 million gallon per day groundwater permit requested to support a beef cattle/slaughterhouse operation near Ocala.

The two conservation leaders received assurances that DEP leadership is aware of opposition to the permit and will work with the St. Johns River Water Management District to make sure that water resources are not harmed.

Lisa and Eric pointed out areas of concern including reduction in flows to Silver Springs (nominated as one of Florida’s Special Places) and other springs, impacts to drinking water supplies and impacts to other waterways that are Outstanding Florida Waters.

Lisa pointed out that Silver Springs and the Silver Rivers are water sources for the St. Johns River, which would likely be affected by the massive water withdrawals. The large scale cattle operation would require intensive irrigation and fertilization of pasture grasses on relatively poor soils to grow enough grass to allow tens of thousands of cattle to gain weight before being slaughtered.  Pollution from fertilizers and manure will leach through the sandy soils into groundwater, springs and other waterways.

Audubon Florida and St. Johns Riverkeeper are working with other conservation allies and local communities to keep people informed and rally opposition to the permit.

Stay engaged; join Audubon at the Silver Springs & Florida’s Imperiled Waterways Forum in Jacksonville on May 15, presented by St. Johns Riverkeeper, Silver Springs Alliance and the Florida Springs Institute.

You can help right now by sending an email using Audubon’s easy email form: Defend Florida’s Silver Springs.

       

Senator Bill Nelson’s RESTORE Act Amendment Passes

posted on March 8, 2012 in Gulf Oil Spill,Online Advocacy

In a big win for Florida and the Gulf Coast region, Senator Bill Nelson’s RESTORE Act amendment passed today in a 76 – 22 vote. The amendment was part of a larger Transportation bill that will go for a full vote next Tuesday. We are confident it will pass, but as you know, a lot can happen between now and then. Please share this message (see buttons below) with your personal network of friends and conservation allies so we can see the RESTORE Act through to final passage. Thank you for all that you do.

Here’s what the RESTORE the Gulf Act and the Land Conservation Act could do for conservation:

    • Specifically direct 80 percent of Clean Water Act civil penalties resulting from the oil spill to restoration of the Gulf Coast environment and local economies.   This could mean as much as $10-20 billion.
    • Distribute resources fairly and equitably to the  affected Gulf Coast states, allowing them to launch immediate  recovery efforts .
    • Ensure that the funds are spent responsibly and for their intended purposes.
    • Establish the Gulf Coast Ecosystem  Restoration Council which will develop and fund a comprehensive plan for the ecological recovery and resiliency of the Gulf Coast.
    • Provide $1.4 billion over the next two years for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for buying precious lands across America.

Congratulations to all our Audubon Advocates who spoke up on this critical issue. Together, we made a difference for Florida and our Gulf Coast as a whole.

Add Your Name to Protect Florida’s Water Resources

posted on February 7, 2012 in Everglades,Online Advocacy,State Government

Urgent Button

Audubon is asking 1000 citizens to sign a petition to Governor Scott and legislative leaders to remove water resource spending caps.

We’ve made some significant progress on defending our water resources this year. Thank you for all that you have done to make a difference. Now you can take a stand below to restore funding to Florida’s water management districts including the agency that conducts Everglades restoration.

Last year the Legislature passed and Governor Scott signed SB 2142 (see our press release here) with major cuts and spending caps for water management districts. Since then, hundreds of scientistsresource managersregulators, and administrative staff have lost their jobs. The water management districts are selling off public lands claiming they cannot afford the management costs. Stormwater, wetland, and water-use permit applicants are having an easier time now that regulators’ budgets are cut and hands are tied.

House & Senate leaders and Governor Rick Scott have admitted that last year’s bill was a mistake and that the cuts went too deep. SB 1834 by Senator Alan Hays would remove spending caps but imposes a complicated process for legislative control of water management district budgets.

Audubon and others have concluded that:

  • Water resource budgets are currently not sustainable.
  • Funds for key Everglades restoration and other water resource projects are a critical need.
  • The water management district spending caps should be repealed.
  • Executive oversight is better than legislative micromanagement.
  • Science and regulation is critical to protect water resources.

Please sign the petition to Governor Scott, Senate Budget Committee Chair J.D. Alexander and House Budget Chair Denise Grimsley asking them to lift water management spending caps. 

Please watch this special message from Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper:

State of Florida Supports Everglades Headwaters Initiative

posted on November 17, 2011 in North Everglades,Online Advocacy

everglades headwaters NWR map full - September 2011

Florida’s official comments on the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Conservation Area werejust released, and the state is supporting this 150,000-acre conservation proposal. Through a combination of acquisition and conservation easements, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to protect wildlife habitat and maintain lands that form the headwaters of the Everglades in their natural state.

In a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida’s official comments read:

“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) concur that the establishment of an Everglades Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area offers a potential opportunity to protect natural and cultural resources for the future. It also provides an opportunity to collaborate with private landowners and a variety of organizations with resource management interest to develop a cost-effective way to acquire and manage the NWR and Conservation Area for compatible public use, research and enjoyment.”

It’s now time for conservationists in Florida who have not yet commented on this important plan to send their comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area will utilize full-fee acquisition as well as innovative conservation easements with the owners of Central Florida ranchlands to protect vast tracts of critical habitat essential to the ecology and hydrology of the Northern Everglades. Send your comments of support before the comment period closes on November 25. Support the refuge; send comments using our easy email form by clicking here.

Take Action

Audubon of Florida Executive Director Eric Draper testified earlier this month before Members of Congress about the recent progress in Everglades restoration and the opportunities to achieve the goals of water quality and habitat protection in the Northern Everglades. Click here to read more about this public hearing and read Draper’s written comments.

Take Action for the Northern Everglades

posted on September 20, 2011 in Everglades,North Everglades,Online Advocacy

For fifty years, Florida Audubon has worked with ranchers to protect important wildlife habitat and water resources in the Northern Everglades. These efforts now culminate in a proposal to establish a unique partnership between ranch landowners and the public creating a new National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area protecting and restoring the Everglades Headwaters.

Over 100,000 acres of conservation easements and 50,000 acres of land purchases are now proposed for acquisition in the area north of Lake Okeechobee and south of Kissimmee. The Everglades need you to speak up on behalf of this proposal – click here to use our easy email form!

Take Action

 

Audubon’s Priorities

Audubon supports this proposal because it would aid in the restoration of the Everglades and protect vital habitat for key indicator species – The Everglade Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Crested Caracara, and Grasshopper Sparrow. From a restoration standpoint, the proposed easements help cattle ranches stay in business. These ranches have been good land stewards and are highly beneficial to wildlife and water management.

The new Refuge and Conservation Area will aid other programs to assure a more natural flow of waters into the Everglades. A key example is the “dispersed storage” project of the South Florida Water Management District which compensates ranchers to restore water levels in over-drained areas, thereby reestablishing wetlands, reducing phosphorus pollution and slowing the flow of water to Lake Okeechobee.

Audubon of Florida Asks You to Submit Comments in Support of this Proposal

Comments are due by October 24 – use our easy email form right now and help make a difference for the Greater Everglades! Your comments can also be faxed to (321) 861-1276, or mailed to: Everglades Headwaters Proposal, US Fish and Wildlife Service PO Box 2683, Titusville, FL 32781-2683.

Two Public Hearings are Scheduled:
Saturday, September 24, 2011, 1 – 5 pm , South Florida Community College Theatre for the Performing Arts,600 W. College Drive Avon Park, FL 33825

Saturday, October 1, 2011, 1-5 pm, Osceola Heritage Park, Exhibition Building-Hall A, 1901 Chief Osceola Trail Kissimmee, FL 34744.

Further information on the proposal, including detailed maps of priority properties for acquisition can be obtained by clicking here.


Please share this action alert with your friends, family, co-workers and other Florida nature-lovers. Thank you for making a difference.

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