Audubon Advocate: 2017 Legislative Session - Week 3 Update

Florida Conservation Network Legislative Update

Week Three of the Florida Legislative Session

Alachua County Passes Resolution, Tells Tallahassee to Fund Conservation

Florida Forever and the Rural and Family Lands program ensure land is conserved for water, wildlife, and people. Audubon Florida is urging legislators to approve at least $150 million in funding for land conservation programs. Audubon chapters are working to get county commissions to pass resolutions supporting land conservation funding.

This week, Alachua County commissioners passed the Audubon-supported resolution. Has your county passed a resolution in support of these important conservation programs?

Your help is still needed to build momentum for conservation in the Legislature. Send a message to your legislators and ask them to support Florida’s land conservation programs – Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands. Working together, we can make a difference and help save the places that make Florida special. If you’ve already sent a message to your legislators, you can pick up the phone and call or use old-fashioned pen and paper. Tell your state representative and state senator why you care!

America's Everglades: Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir

The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir continues to be at the core of Senate Bill 10 (SB 10) and House Bill 761 (HB 761).This week Audubon Florida Executive Director Eric Draper spoke to community leaders on Sanibel Island, telling them about the EAA Reservoir’s benefits to coastal communities by reducing freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Audubon Florida’s Roseate Spoonbill research, led by Research Director Dr. Jerry Lorenz, was featured in the Miami Herald. Spoonbills are telling us that the need for more freshwater in the Southern Everglades and Florida Bay is compounded by sea level rise. The EAA Reservoir will hold water that is currently going to the wrong place at the wrong time in order to send it south. This will help Spoonbills and other species who are in decline while waiting for a restored ecosystem to call home. Help Audubon restore America’s Everglades, and tell your legislators to support the EAA Reservoir project.

ICYMI- last week Audubon asked Senator Bradley to improve four parts of SB 10 that are not related to the EAA Reservoir. These changes would preserve the important restoration focus while reducing other impacts to land conservation. 

Have questions? Check out Audubon’s Q&A

The dirty secret about Florida's water pollution

Three million tons of fertilizer are sold every year in Florida. The largest users are sugarcane farms in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Massive quantities of fertilizer end up in springs, lakes, rivers and coastal waters.  But guess what? The actual uses of this fertilizer are a well-kept secret.

SB 1524 by Linda Stewart and HB 1245 by Ben Diamond require that fertilizer applications in the most polluted watersheds be reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to be used to help design cleanup plans. The bills were met with resistance from fertilizer companies and the Florida Department of Agriculture as soon as they were introduced.

Florida’s water resource law requires dischargers of polluted water to use Best Management Practices to reduce pollution. But those practices have never been verified as required by Florida law to be effective in reducing water pollution. We know that when the actual sources of pollution are identified and controlled, the downstream results are better. But somehow the nitrogen that is making your favorite swimming hole a health risk is top secret.  

Florida is a wonderful agriculture state and we should all support Fresh From Florida, but Florida food can be grown without impairing other water uses.  

Wouldn’t you like know the biggest source of the nutrient pollution causing algae blooms and other problems in Florida’s water ways? Wouldn’t you like environmental regulators to know? Let’s see if the Legislature is willing to reveal Florida’s dirtiest secret!  

Read the bills and make up your own mind about whether the public has a right to know about agricultural fertilizer applications.

Audubon’s 2017 Legislative Priorities

  1. $150 million for Land Conservation including Florida Forever and Rural and Family Lands.
  2. Support Senate President Negron’s proposal to buy land for reservoirs to send Lake Okeechobee south.
  3. Advance water conservation and new limits on water pollution sources.

We hope we can count on you to stay engaged. Audubon is Florida’s most influential conservation voice. We show up at the right time, do our homework, and are respected for advancing science-based solutions. We propose more than we oppose. When we oppose, we work hard to stop bad ideas from becoming law. 

Tune In: Audubon on Miami Beach Mayor's Radio Show

P.S. – Did you hear Audubon Florida’s Eric Draper on air recently? Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine sat down with Eric Draper on The Mayor. Florida’s top environmental issues take center stage.

How you can help, right now