In Other News

In Other News

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Environmental Leaders Applaud Governor Ron DeSantis Signing Legislation to Dedicate Gaming Compact Revenues to Preserve and Protect Florida’s Environment

On April 4, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1638 into law, which directs 96% of the revenue generated from the Seminole Tribe Compact to fund flood control and water quality improvement infrastructure and the continued acquisition and management of Florida’s conservation lands.

Read what environmental leaders are saying about this landmark environmental protection legislation:

“With this dedicated funding, Florida will continue to make impactful strides in protecting our environment. I am looking forward to continuing to work alongside our stakeholders to build a better, more resilient future.” – Dr. Mark Rains, Chief Science Officer, State of Florida.

“When it comes to enhancing quality of life for Floridians, these supplemental revenues for flood protection infrastructure and the conservation and maintenance of our natural and working landscapes leave much less to chance. Governor DeSantis and the Legislature continue to deliver impactful investments that ensure the resilience of our communities and the sustainability of Florida’s natural resources.” – Dr. Wesley Brooks, Chief Resilience Officer, State of Florida.

“It’s a historic moment for conservation in Florida and it’s a privilege to have witnessed Governor DeSantis signing SB 1638 into law. The addition of these funds from the Compact, combined with consistent high-level funding for the state’s land acquisition programs, will serve as a lasting testament to our state leaders’ unwavering dedication to protecting wild Florida and managing our outstanding natural resources. Together, alongside hundreds of partner organizations and in collaboration with our state agencies, we can accelerate the pace of conservation of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, ensuring its protection for generations to come.” – Mallory Dimmitt, Chief Executive Officer, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation.

“Investments in land acquisition, land management, and the Resilient Florida Program make long-term planning possible for Florida’s hardworking and highly knowledgeable land stewards. This unprecedented funding would afford our expert state staff the security they need to strategize future acquisitions and take care of our rare and sensitive conservation lands.” – Greg Knecht, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Florida.

“Audubon applauds this Legislature’s strategic investments in land conservation. Floridians intrinsically understand that everything from tourism to property values depend on healthy wildlands and watersheds. Florida’s prosperity and quality of life are tied to these resources.” – Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida.

“Healthy habitats and waters are the key to healthy fisheries, for which Florida is renowned. Continuing the state’s leadership under Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, this legislation makes significant investments in our natural resources. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is grateful for this continued and substantial support for land management and acquisition, resiliency, and water quality.” – Jim McDuffie, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.

“We are thankful that Governor DeSantis and our state’s leadership continue to invest in Florida’s award-winning state parks. The funds generated from this legislation will support our world-class park staff in managing, protecting, and improving our natural resources.” – Kathleen Brennan, President, Florida State Parks Foundation.


DEP Designates Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park as State Geological Site

On April 11, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) celebrated the designation of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park in Micanopy, outside of Gainesville, as the eighth State Geological Site. Designated State Geological Sites are areas the Florida Geological Survey has determined to be significant to scientific study and the public’s understanding of Florida’s geological history.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park sits on top of the Ocala Limestone, a significant geological formation that plays a crucial role in Florida’s hydrogeology. The Ocala Limestone is porous and permeable, allowing water to move rapidly through the rock replenishing the upper Floridan aquifer that provides drinking water for millions of Floridians.

Naturally acidic rainwater, over geologic time, has dissolved away some of the Ocala Limestone creating many unique features in the park. Some of these features include sinkholes, springs, disappearing streams, and large, shallow basins created by sinkhole activity called poljes.

Specifically, Alachua Sink, which extends for half a mile in the prairie basin, serves as a natural collection point for groundwater and provides a direct connection to the upper Floridan aquifer below.

“State Geological Sites are special places where visitors can learn about Florida’s fascinating geology and hydrology,” said Florida State Geologist and Florida Geological Survey Director Guy “Harley” Means, P.G. “They also provide opportunities to learn about our geologic past so that we can make informed decisions about our future.”


SFWMD Governing Board Proclaims April as Water Conservation Month

On April 11, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board proclaimed April as Water Conservation Month. This annual proclamation highlights SFWMD’s continuing efforts to conserve water and ensure an ample supply now and in the future.

Florida has observed Water Conservation Month since 1998 to highlight how each of us can do our part, in the little ways and the big ways, to conserve water to make sure we all have enough.

Around 3 billion gallons of water are used every day in Central and Southern Florida by 9 million residents and visitors—for watering lawns, drinking and bathing, growing crops, and servicing industries. Future water demands are projected to increase to approximately 4.1 billion gallons per day by 2040. One of the most effective ways to address increasing water needs is through water conservation.

During Water Conservation Month, the SFWMD joins with local governments throughout our 16-county region to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation and the ways residents and businesses can reduce water use all year long.

With approximately 50 percent of residential water used for irrigation, it is important to irrigate efficiently. To promote more efficient irrigation and conservation, SFWMD passed a year-round Landscape Irrigation Rule that limits the days and hours allowed for landscape irrigation. The year-round Landscape Irrigation Rule is a component of the District’s Comprehensive Water Conservation Program, which was established to encourage more responsible use of water resources throughout South Florida.

The SFWMD is also encouraging all local governments to adopt a local irrigation ordinance following the District’s year-round rule restricting irrigation to two or three days.


Send Your Middle Schooler to a Weeklong Summer Camp to Dive into the Wonders of Waste

Middle school students are invited to participate in a one-week Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink (4R) adventure into the world of waste. The Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County’s 4R Ambassador summer camp runs June 3-7, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Campers will engage in hands-on activities and field trips to learn all about the environment from an integrated solid waste perspective. Activities will include behind-the-scenes access, allowing them to explore:

  • A home chemical and recycling center that collects hazardous materials
  • A landfill and its planet-protecting construction
  • The Recovered Materials Processing Facility (recycling facility), where recyclables are sorted and processed for market
  • Renewable Energy Facility 2, where trash is turned into electricity
  • A transfer station, where garbage and recyclables are moved from small curbside trucks to larger tractor-trailers
  • The SWA Greenway Trail System and its wild inhabitants
  • Community partners, such as Resource Depot, Loxahatchee River District, and Grassy Waters Preserve

Students interested in the week-long summer camp must have:

  • Completed grades 6, 7, or 8
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA (transcript from school)
  • Membership in a school club (Environmental, SECME, Garden, etc.) and a letter from its sponsor
  • Recommendation letter from a science teacher

For more information, visit swa.org/4r, call 561-640-8949, or email education@swa.org.


March Marks Second Consecutive Month of Below-Average Rainfall for the District

In March, rainfall across the St. Johns River Water Management District was slightly below the monthly average, with frontal systems being the main source of precipitation. Northern counties received the majority of the rain, while southern counties experienced drier conditions. Despite variations, overall rainfall across the District remains above the annual average.

A comprehensive report outlining March’s hydrologic conditions was presented at the District’s Governing Board meeting on April 9, featuring the following highlights:

Rainfall:

  • Districtwide, March’s rainfall averaged 2.70 inches, just 0.77 inches below the monthly average.
  • County-wide monthly rainfall totals ranged from a high of 4.80 inches in Nassau County to a low of 0.86 inches in Brevard County.
  • Over the past 12 months, the District has received above-average rainfall, with a cumulative total of 57.61 inches, surpassing the long-term average by 6.60 inches.
  • County-wide totals varied between 53.37 inches in Alachua County to more than 63 inches in Volusia County.

Groundwater:

  • Upper Floridan aquifer conditions were varied but generally fell within the high or normal range by the end of March.
  • Districtwide groundwater levels, expressed as a single index, fall within the 81st percentile, which is in the high range for this time of year.

Spring Flows:

  • Silver Springs recorded a mean monthly flow of 697 cubic feet per second (cfs), or 451 million gallons per day (mgd), a 4 cfs decrease from February, falling just within the high range for this time of year.
  • Blue Spring station in Volusia County reported a mean monthly flow of 153 cfs, or 99 mgd, within the normal range.
  • Rock Springs experienced a slight decrease in mean monthly flow, just below the high range at 61 cfs (40 mgd).
  • Wekiwa Springs exhibited a slight decrease, recording a mean monthly flow of 66 cfs (42 mgd), consistent with the seasonal norm.

Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights Funding for Land Conservation and Red Tide Mitigation

On April 23, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted $100 million in funding for the Florida Wildlife Corridor as appropriated in Senate Bill (SB) 1638, which the Governor signed earlier this month. Additionally, the Governor signed House Bill 1565, the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative, which removes the sunset provision of the initiative and directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and MOTE Marine Laboratory to continue to coordinate efforts to innovate technologies to address the impacts of red tide on Florida.

“I am proud of our investments in land conservation to conserve and connect Florida’s natural landscapes, preserve working lands, and provide for the safe passage of Florida’s endangered species,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “I am also happy to sign legislation continuing research efforts to mitigate the impacts of red tide and preserve our coastal communities and working waterfronts.”

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