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Mediterranean Blue -Restaurant Fundraiser

Monday, February 27 at 6 PM – 9 PM
at Mediterranean Blue -Fundraiser – https://www.facebook.com/events/136827683503337/
Experience the Best Greek food in Orlando while helping IOF reach folks throughout the state. IOF is on a Mission to preserve and protect our natural resources, wildlife and land via science based education and by showing people how to connect with our natural world. A portion of the proceeds from the evening will benefit IOF. Delight your taste buds while helping reach people of all ages throughout Florida. Bring your family and friends and join us! See you all at Mediterranean Blue

Mon 6-9 PM · 435 E Michigan St, Orlando, FL 32806-4555

Mediterranean Blue has limited parking. (Add’l parking available next door at the insurance company and the lot across the street (brown building). If those are filled, you may park on Jersey Street behind the restaurant.)

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We need your help!

March 3,4,5 Mt Dora Thundering Spirit PowWow
http://thunderingspiritfamily.com
Volunteer tabling opportunity. We still need volunteers for Sat and Sunday.

Educate people of all ages while enjoying the native american spirit.

Contact us at info@imagineourflorida.org to schedule when you can help.

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We don’t have to be SuperHeroes

If each of us gives a little, together we will have
——— SuperHero STRENGTH ————–

Imagine Our Florida has provided several opportunities for you to participate in.
-Volunteer for one of our tabling events and help teach folks of all ages about our iconic black bears. There is a hunt to be voted on and our bears need our voices.
– Enjoy a meal at one of our upcoming IOF nights at Central Florida restaurants.
– Come out to Gandy Beach and let’s get it cleaned up together!
-Attend an FWC meeting and show your support for our bears.
-Keep an eye out for Painting With a Twist opportunities in Miami, Ocala and Orlando
We are exploring a river cleanup in Central Florida too!

Do you have an idea? Would you like to host and event? Contact us. We will work together to protect and preserve our natural resources, wildlife and land 🙂

– In addition to the events below, we need a few volunteers for Earth Day events in the Sunrise/Miami area

LETS PUT ON OUR IMAGINARY CAPES AND DO WHAT WE CAN

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Public Comments Hardrock Mining

The below docket proposes holdoing hardrock miners financially responsible for environmental damage. It states, “EPA expects this proposed rule will, when made final, increase the likelihood that owners and operators will provide funds necessary to address the CERCLA liabilities at their facilities, thus preventing owners or operators from shifting the burden of cleanup to other parties, including the taxpayer. In addition, EPA expects that by adjusting the amount of financial responsibility to account for environmentally safer practices, it would provide an incentive for implementation of sound practices at hardrock mining facilities and thereby decrease the need for future CERCLA actions.’

Feel free to make public comments at the below link.
https://www.regulations.gov/comment…

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Public Comments for Drinking Water

——–Public Comments for Drinking Water——–

The EPA does a review every six years to determine water regulations. Do you have concerns about the safety of your drinking water? Submit your concerns here.

https://www.regulations.gov/document…

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Sandhill Cranes are saying goodbye

Sandhill Cranes are saying goodbye as they begin their early journey north. The effects of Climate Change are revealed all around us, if only we will take time to listen.

“Three subspecies live year-round in Florida, Mississippi, and Cuba. Three other subspecies migrate from northern North America to the southern United States and northern Mexico.” Learn more here:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/gu…/sandhill_crane/lifehistory

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Poaching

This photo was taken by a Florida resident who discovered a poached alligator near Okeechobee, FL. It was left to die while being tied by the neck. Alligator season ended on November 1, 2016. According to FWC it is required that a harvest report is produced for any alligator killed. Their website also states, “Floridians and non-residents who are at least 18 years old to take up to 2 alligators per permit. Applicants who are awarded a permit must pay for two CITES tags and an Alligator Trapping License, or provide proof of possession of an Alligator Trapping License valid through the end of the alligator harvest season.”

FWC officers said they see situations like these occasionally. It’s important to report any poaching within the state. This is necessary to reduce the chance of species being hunted to extinction. To report violations you can do so with the following options.

Phone:1- 888-404-FWCC (3922)
Online: https://publictemp.myfwc.com/LE/WildlifeAlert/AlertMap.aspx
Text: Tip@myFWC.com

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IOF Vice-President Addresses FWC

During public comments and today’s FWC meeting Vice-President Aymee Laurain addresses the commissioners with the following regarding Forest Plan Amendment to reassign Management Areas on the Ocala National Forest (Amendment 12).

“I wanted to thank FWC for backing our request to have the Florida Black Bear incorporated into the Forest Plan Amendment to reassign management areas on the Ocala National Forest (amendment 12.) This amendment focuses on management of 50,000 acres of bear habitat within the Ocala National Forest.

According to information from this report of the estimated 1,084-1,564 black bears in the Ocala and St. John’s population there are approximately 310-400 bears within the Ocala National Forest. Many are females of which future bear populations rely on.

The biological assessment for this project identified the following risks for the bears.

“Pre-burn roller-chopping and maintenance burning without prior roller-chopping occurring during the denning months (January 1 to April 15) would cause denning females within these stands to flee and likely abandon cubs.”

“Abandoned cubs could in turn be killed by chopping or burning activities.”

The assessment also states that while xeric oak scrub would in the long-term produce a better harvest yield, the landscape would decrease available denning habitat.

Both scrub oaks and palmetto would not produce a sufficient mast for 2-7 years after fire or mechanical vegetation removal.

We hope the commission will recognize that while these are necessary projects that would benefit many species long term, the short term effects could have a negative effect on the currently black bear populations and similar projects over the past few years, which also provide benefits to other species as well as important benefits to correct water flow from years of soil and landscape damage, many have already impacted the bear population and could have interfered with population estimates. I hope the commission will recognize the need to further monitor the bear populations and make every attempt to withhold from any population reduction. Thank you.”

 

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FWC Meeting Live

Tune in Wednesday and Thursday for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner meeting. Meetings start at 8:30 a.m. both days.

For the meeting agenda:

http://myfwc.com/…/commission-meet…/2017/february/08/agenda/

Watch at:  http://thefloridachannel.org/

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APHIS

Recently a branch of the USDA in charge of monitoring inspections of facilities, monitoring of animal health and disease, and agricultural inspection of imports and exports to ensure safety from parasites and invasive species removed information about facilities which was previously made available to the public. The branch known as APHIS, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, was an important tool which the public could use to monitor potential facility inspections including wildlife rehabilitation facilities and zoos and aquariums who frequently work with FWC to rehabilitate wildlife. While this is an inconvenience, you can still request this information via the Freedom of Information Act. Here’s a link directly from the APHIS page explaining how you can submit it. Feel free to share.
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/…/ct_how_to_submit_a_foia_request

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Florida Water Problems are not for the Birds

-FloWour coastal waters. We have eutrophication from agricultural drainage ditches and Lake Occechobee washing into estuaries, nuclear power plant leaks in Biscayane Bay, waste water pumping, leaks, and overflow all along our coasts causing various bacterial problems, and ongoing problems that remain from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. When we know the problems it’s much easier to develop solutions. In the case of Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg, FL we are still unsure what is causing the death of dozens of brown pelicans. There are several theories out there. The good news is some of these birds were able to be rehabilitated which gives some hope.

St. Pete pelicans released back into the wild after weeks of rehabilitation

 

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FCC Legislative Priorities

From our Friends at the Florida Conservation Coalition

————–FCC Legislative Priorities—————–

Below is a summary of some of the environmental legislation that has been filed thus far in the 2017 Legislative Session. The FCC has agreed to focus on funding for statewide conservation land acquisition and legislation to protect Florida’s waters. We will keep you updated as bills move through the House and Senate and hope you will stay engaged and contact your legislators about the proposed legislation below.
Please feel free to reach out to the FCC and our Member Organizations if you have any questions.
Best,
Gladys
Environmental Appropriations

The FCC will continue to advocate for increased funding for conservation land acquisition in step with the will of the voters who overwhelmingly passed 2014’s Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment.

Appropriations will be shaped by last year’s Legacy Florida Act and several other bills discussed below.
Other Environmental Legislation of Interest
Land Acquisition Trust Fund (2014’s Amendment One Dollars)

SB 10 (Sen. Bradley), “Reservoir Project in the Everglades Agricultural Area”: This bill is related to Senator Negron’s proposal to buy land in the Everglades Agricultural Area, south of Lake Okeechobee, for construction of a reservoir to help reduce discharges to coastal estuaries and send water south into Everglades National Park. SB 10 permits all costs associated with the reservoir, including the costs for land acquisition, construction, and operation and maintenance, to be funded out of the Florida Forever program – historically the primary source for statewide conservation land acquisition. The bill authorizes bonding of $1.2 billion to purchase land either through a willing seller or by executing the existing contract with U.S. Sugar. The FCC is still analyzing the bill to determine how it will impact allocations from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund and funding for other conservation priorities.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation (February 7, 2:00 PM, 412 Knott Building); Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

SB 112 (Sen. Brandes), “Flood Hazard Mitigation”: This bill would:
Subject to appropriation, allocate up to $50 million annually from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (2014’s Amendment One dollars) for flood hazard risk reduction policies and projects, including the acquisition of flood-prone property and development of green infrastructure to reduce the risk of flooding. Funds would be used for a matching grant program through the Division of Emergency Management.
Require an annual appropriation of a sum not to exceed $820,000 from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to the Emergency Management, Preparedness, and Assistance Trust Fund for nonrecurring administrative costs of implementing the grant program.
Add Flood Mitigation Projects to the list of projects that the Florida Communities Trust program can fund, undertake, and coordinate.

Senate Referrals: Banking and Insurance; Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development; Appropriations

SB 230 (Sen. Artiles), “Nonnative Animals”: This bill would allocate $300,000 annually, for two years, from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (2014’s Amendment One) to implement a pilot program focused on mitigating the impact of tegu lizards and other invasive species on public lands. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, would establish this pilot program with the goal of examining the benefits of using strategically deployed hunting teams to target the invasive species and simultaneously collect information for research purposes. FWC would submit a report of findings and recommendations regarding the pilot program to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2020.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

SB 234 (Sen. Bradley), “Land Acquisition Trust Fund”: This bill would require an annual allocation from (2014’s) Amendment One dollars for the St. Johns River Water Management District to help fund projects dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of the St. Johns River and its tributaries or the Keystone Heights Lake Region. The allocation is for $35 million annually.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

HB 551 (Rep. Stone), “Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems”: This bill would require an annual appropriation of $20 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (Amendment One dollars). These funds would be used to help property owners retrofit their septic systems or switch to central sewer when DEP finds that their septic systems are contributing excess nutrient pollution to the Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. The funds would also be used for muck dredging and storm-water improvements in the northern Indian River Lagoon.

Additionally, this bill would require the adoption of septic tank remediation plans where DEP determines they’re necessary for meeting pollution reduction goals set by Total Maximum Daily (Pollution) Loads for water bodies. Plans would include options for septic system repair, upgrade, or replacement; drain field modification; the addition of effective nutrient-reducing features; and connection to central sewer.

Water

HB 285 (Rep. Fischer; Rep. Leek; Rep. Massullo), “Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Inspections”: This bill would require septic system inspections at the point of sale for real estate transactions.

House Referrals: Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee; Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; Commerce Committee

HB 413 (Rep. Antone), “Water Oversight and Planning”: This bill would establish a Water Oversight & Planning Board to oversee regional water supply and water quality planning, flood protection planning, and environmental restoration. The board would include two members appointed by the Governor, several industry-minded members, and one representative from an environmental organization. The stated purposes of this Board are basic functions of the water management districts. The Board would further weaken the autonomy of the water management districts.

SB 532 (Sen. Galvano/Sen. Stewart), “Public Notification of Pollution”: This bill would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to publish a list of substances that would present an immediate and substantial risk to public health, safety, or welfare if released at specified quantities. If these substances are released into the environment, the owner or operator must report the release to DEP within 24 hours. If an owner or operator of an installation fails to comply with this law, they would be subject to up to $10,000 per day of civil penalties for each violation.

The bill would also require to DEP to share each report under this law with the public within 24 hours.

“Fracking”

HB 35 (Rep. Jenne), “Well Stimulation Treatments”: This bill prohibits a person from performing well stimulation treatments for exploration or production of oil or natural gas, including “fracking.”

House Referrals: Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee; Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee; Government Accountability Committee

SB 98 (Sen. Farmer), “Stop Fracking Act”: This bill would ban extreme well stimulation techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida. It would prevent a person from performing these operations and DEP from authorizing these operations.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

SJR 108 (Sen. Farmer), “Extreme Well Stimulation Ban Resolution”: This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would ban extreme well stimulation techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

SB 442, (Sen. Young/Sen. Perry/Sen. Farmer/ Sen. Latvala/ Sen. Stewart), “Advanced Well Stimulation Treatment”: This bill would ban “advanced well stimulation” techniques, including “fracking,” in Florida. It makes it clear that a permit for drilling or operating a well doesn’t authorize the performance of “advanced well stimulation treatments.”

An identical bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Miller: HB 451.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources; Appropriations

Environmental Regulation Commission

SB 198 (Sen. Stewart/Sen. Rodriguez), “Environmental Regulation Commission”: This bill would:
Establish a deadline of 90 days for filling vacancies on the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC)
Require a supermajority of the ERC to approve standards in rules relating to air pollution; water quality standards; regulation of consumptive usage of water; hazardous substance release notification; ambient air quality standards; emission standards for stationary sources; surface water quality standards; ground water classes, standards, and exemptions; and drinking water classes, standards, and exemptions.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Ethics and Elections; Rules

Renewable Energy

SB 90 (Sen. Brandes), “Renewable Energy Source Devices”: This bill would implement 2016’s Amendment 4.

Previously renewable energy source devices were exempt from consideration when assessing the value of residential property. This bill extends this exemption to commercial properties as well.

This bill would also exempt renewable energy source devices from ad valorem taxation until December 31, 2037.

Senate Referrals: Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities (February 7th, 2:00 PM, SOB 301); Community Affairs; Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax; Appropriations

SB 456 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Public Utilities”: This bill would exempt certain producers of renewable solar-based energy from being defined as a public utility. It would allow, for example, apartment complexes who produce solar power to sell power to their tenants without having to go through a utility.

Plastic Bags

SB 162 (Sen. Rodriguez), “Disposable Plastic Bags”: This bill would allow coastal communities with a population of fewer than 100,000 to implement pilot programs testing regulations or bans of disposable plastic bags. The pilot programs would take effect on or after January 1, 2018 and would end on or before June 30, 2020. The pilot regulations or bans cannot include new taxes or fees on the use or distribution of disposable plastic bags. Municipalities that implement such pilot programs would collect data on the impact of their regulations or ban and submit a report by April 1, 2020 with this information to the governing board of their municipality at a public hearing. They would also provide a copy of this report to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Senate Referrals: Environmental Preservation and Conservation; Community Affairs; Commerce and Tourism; Rules

www.floridaconservationcoalition.com

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Terracycle has accepted IOF as one of the recycle charities

——–Help us raise money while recycling odd items——-
Do you have odd items around your house that you can’t put in your recycling bin? Items such as snack bags, Bausch + Lomb contact lenses, Earths best baby food pouches, Colgate Oral Care items, cigarette butts, and more can be recycled. Sign up at Terracycle and start collecting. Send them in for points and assign Imagine Our Florida, Inc. as your charity. Help us continue our education outreach efforts while making the planet a greener place.
https://www.terracycle.com/en-US

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