Save the Halpatiokee Nature Trails! Move the Bridge! Stop destroying us!

Many kudos to Shari Anchor who leads us in this fight to save this important piece of land.

http://www.tcpalm.com/opinion/shari-anker-lessons-from-our-battle-to-save-two-preserve-state-parks_67688320

The story of the Port St. Lucie Crosstown Parkway Bridge tells how we lose Florida’s natural beauty, resources and ecosystems, even if they exist in our preserve state parks. It’s the story of a battle that must be fought if we are to save any of them.

In 1990, the city surveyed federal, state and regional natural resource/regulatory agencies about building a bridge through the North Fork of the St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve using two potential routes. All agencies commented both routes crossed very environmentally sensitive lands and waters, impacting important wetlands, but of the two, they were firmly against what is now known as Route 1C.

Undeterred, the city manager stated that since there was unanimous disapproval, the next step was to go “political.”

Then-Sen. Ken Pruitt was enlisted to lobby for the cause. Engineering consultants were hired for millions of dollars to make the case that Route 1C was the “most beneficial.

In 1996, the city began purchasing properties along the Route 1C corridor, even though the National Environmental Policy Act dictates an objective Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Impact Statement be completed prior to route selection. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection demanded, unsuccessfully, that an environmental-impact statement be performed for the entire proposed Crosstown Parkway from Interstate 95 to Hutchinson Island. Project segmentation does not accurately assess impacts.

By 2006, the bridge project was being reviewed by the Department of Transportation, which solicited input from reviewing agencies such as the DEP. Many agencies “red-flagged” the proposed bridge crossing because of impacts to parks, wetlands and wildlife. No matter, the environmental impact statement declared a road piercing the heart of important public lands was the very best possible route.

If the city chose any other route, the bridge would likely be built by now and for tens of millions of fewer dollars. What’s holding it up is that pesky irritant called the law, at least according to the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper. We filed a federal lawsuit in 2014, arguing the Federal Highway Administration and the DOT violated Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act when they approved Route 1C.

Section 4(f) states there shall be no taking of parkland for incompatible uses such as road infrastructure if any other route exists which would have less or no impact to parklands. Route 1C would take the most parkland, from the aquatic preserve and from the Savannas Preserve State Park Buffer Preserve.

DSC_0003

Taking no parkland, another route, known as Route 6A, would fully comply with this law.

Likewise, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act dictates every effort must be made to avoid the destruction of wetlands. Other less-impacting routes must be chosen. The Army Corps of Engineers states that Route 1C “is the most ecologically damaging” route, with the most impact to the most acreage of the highest functioning and quality wetlands, thereby likely not in compliance with the act.

The South Florida Water Management District has requested a “formal finding” as to whether a bridge through the aquatic preserve is compatible with state law. Of the 10 types of activities permitted in aquatic preserves, none of them involve bridge construction.

Another sleight of hand at work here is the strategy to mitigate for the “worst-case scenario,” suggesting that was what was intended from the get-go. A big, expensive mitigation package was supposed to make it OK to take highly ecologically valuable preserves. Nothing in the law absolves the parties from choosing the least impacting route.

DSC_0008

The Overton Park decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 established that park land must receive priority status in law, otherwise the economic and social factors at play in highway construction would always prevail and no park lands could survive.

It’s up to us to make sure the laws designed to protect park lands count.

Shari Anker is president of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County.

DSC_0015_2

Here is a link to the lawsuit.

http://www.conservationallianceslc.org/uploads/5/0/3/6/50361177/lawsuit_to_move_bridge_location.pdf

Thank you so much Shari, Marty, the Conservation Alliance of St Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper.

This must be saved.

The thought of having a bridge crossing over to the Island and all the construction that will come after that just slays me. People will not be happy with a bridge. They will want giant apartment buildings, places to eat and that whole of the Island that is just beach will destroyed. People complain it’s hard to get there. It should be. It should be hard. No one’s asking anyone to hike in. Just drive in the comfort of their car for an extra 15 minutes.

Let’s get this part done first.

Here is a video I put together of the area last year. You don’t have to sign that petition any more but you should watch to see what we are talking about.

Oral arguments on Oct. 6th at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building Courthouse in West Palm Beach. More info on time when we get it.

Advertisements

I’m Sober, Now What?

Guest Blog: Thank you Darcy Flierl!

I’m Sober, Now What?

by Darcy Flierl

Don’t ask me what to do when you become sober. I’ve yet to successfully give up anything. Rather, I’m a “replacer”.   I gave up nicotine last year, I replaced it with walking and eventually I replaced it with food. Now, I’m struggling with what to replace my poor eating habits with and it’s looking like I’m replacing it with research on how to eat better. I don’t know if I’m actually eating better, but I sure can tell you a lot about it.

An old friend suggested I write about how a recently sober person can manage the first year of sobriety, how to manage the discomfort and emotion that comes up when one gives up their drug of choice. First, let’s review the difference between use, abuse and addiction. We also need to clarify that drug use, abuse or addiction is all about dopamine and that our drug of choice can be prescriptions, weed, alcohol, heroin, sugar, coffee, sex, porn, exercise, even a person or relationship!

“ In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. Most types of reward increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and a variety of addictive drugs increase dopamine neuronal activity. Other brain dopamine systems are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of several other important hormones.” (Desai, Vishal. “Role of Copper in Human Neurological disorders”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved 15 Aug 2015.) Basically, whatever your drug of choice is, you are searching to increase your dopamine levels. The danger of some drugs is that when consumed, you are increasing your dopamine levels to unnatural states that are impossible to duplicate without the drug.

dopamine

So, what makes an addiction anyway? Last night I had 2 drinks. I used alcohol. Five years ago, during my divorce, I was consuming a bottle of red wine a night, I was likely abusing alcohol to avoid uncomfortable feelings.   When you “use” your “drug”, you get some personal enjoyment, a nice dose of dopamine, but no one gets hurt because all returns to normal and you are back to living your life and your brain is accepting of that. Abuse is shakier ground. Likely you are seeking out that dopamine to avoid feelings, thoughts or responsibilities. When you abuse a substance, you may be doing it unconsciously, but it truly is a choice, on some level. When we “abuse” our “drug”, we begin to suffer some negative consequences. This IS the crossroads. This is the moment one does or does not cross the threshold into addiction. I’ve never crossed the threshold of addiction with alcohol or anything else I may have dabbled in throughout my life, with the exception of nicotine. Nicotine, taught me ALL about addiction. Nicotine is almost worse than other drugs because although no longer considered “sexy” and even with the grim reaper effect, one doesn’t suffer social consequences like jail, so it makes it much easier to continue the addiction.

Continue reading

Florida! Let the Good Times Roll!

Florida! Let the Good Times Roll!

florida-fun

Sometimes I think I live in this other world where we see things and then there is this other place where things get reported and the only thing I can say is “huh?”

From the Florida Water Daily

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-lake-water-waste-20150704-story.html

What if instead of draining away about 2 billion gallons of water a day, there were better ways to put that water to use?

“nearly 200 billion gallons of Lake Okeechobee water was drained to the east and west coasts to ease the strain on the erosion-prone dike that protects South Florida from flooding.”

*SEVEN MONTHS OF DRINKING WATER: The amount of Lake Okeechobee water drained east and west and out to sea was enough to supply about seven months of drinking water for the nearly seven million people in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys. Water plants in southeast Florida churn out about 840 million gallons of drinking water a day.

*NEARLY 40 PERCENT OF EVERGLADES’ WATER NEEDS: Everglades advocates have called for moving almost 500 billion gallons of Lake Okeechobee water south each year to help replenish Florida’s struggling River of Grass. The volume of lake water drained east and west for flood control between January and June equated to almost 40 percent of that Everglades restoration goal.”

What can I say. I have posted hundreds of hours of video of people pleading to save our water.

This is recent letter to the Miami Herald from Maggy Hurchella.

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article28476553.html

When you kill the environment to get more water, you end up with less water and you end up with very dirty water.

This is the same James Moran who lectured a crowded meeting room in May.

The crowd was there to ask the SFWMD Board to buy land and send the water south.

Moran said that was impossible and unnecessary, “And I don’t know why you claim it will save the Dade County water supply. They get their water from wells.”

He finally seems to have figured out that Miami-Dade’s wells are in aquifers that are recharged by water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee.

Too late.

Maggy Reno Hurchalla, Miami”

These are people in charge of our water. We know what’s happening. They don’t.

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/levelthree/water%20conservation

On the website on SFWMD they have loads of information about water conservation and have been on the news multiple time even having the nerve to tell us to conserve ( I don’t have an issue conserving but I do have an issue with them not conserving. Not just not conserving. Just totally wasting millions and millions of gallons of water send out to tide and destroying our estuary.

Then this happened and i knew the world was just turned upside down.

Rick Scott gets an environmental award.

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-developer-to-give-gov-rick-scott-environmentalist-award-7782775

“But Rodney Barreto thinks Scott has been a tree-hugging warrior for Mother Gaia. The Miami developer, who also chairs the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, announced via email this week that at the BlueGreen gala this fall, he’ll honor Scott for his conservation work.

“Governor Scott has been instrumental in helping develop a strong connection between fish and wildlife conservation and traditional outdoors activities like hunting and especially fishing,” Barreto says in a release.

Local environmentalists are aghast at the news. “It’s laughable,” Alan Farago, president of Friends of the Everglades, tells New Times. “In terms of the environment, I think he’s the worst governor in modern Florida history.”

Aghast doesn’t even cover it.”

Fishing. Yes I dare you Rick Scott to come swimming in the Indian River Lagoon.

http://eyeonmiami.blogspot.com/2015/07/gop-puzzled-by-gov-rick-scotts.html?spref=tw

“Today, a report by AP’s Gary Fineout, “Florida Gov. Scott against at odds with Florida Republicans” sheds light on the award, in the context of a deeply strained relationship between court-penalized Republicans, shuddering at the prospect of having to draw fair districts, and an isolated governor.

What to do with a governor hunkered down in his coastal multi-million dollar estate from which he doesn’t emerge, except to his private jet clutching talking points? Give him an environmental award! Cheer up his mysterious spirits, unknowable except to special interests and cronies.”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-environment-award-rick-scott-maxwell-20150728-column.html

“On Tuesday morning, I began reaching out to other sponsors of the event. But Tuesday afternoon, the foundation had removed all the sponsors’ names from its website.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Even the sponsors know its BS. But it will interesting to see who sponsors this event. Let’s stay tuned for that one.

Here is the new guy he picked for the SFWMD board.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article29209648.html

Accursio, 52, whose family owns and farms 2,000 acres in South Miami-Dade County, has been among farmers bitterly complaining about Everglades restoration efforts flooding fields and causing crop losses in the region.

Florida Back Roads: Kissimmee River Restoration

Florida Back Roads: Kissimmee River Restoration

Ever since I’ve been involved with water issues I’ve heard about the restoration of the Kissimmee River.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kissimmee_River

The Kissimmee River arises in Osceola County as the outflow from East Lake Tohopekaliga, passing through Lake Tohopekaliga, Lake Cypress, Lake Hatchineha and Lake Kissimmee. Below Lake Kissimmee, the river forms the boundary between Osceola County and Polk County, between Highlands County and Okeechobee County, and between Glades County and Okeechobee County before it flows into Lake Okeechobee. The river was originally 134 miles (216 km) in length, 103 miles (166 km) of which was between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee. It forms the headwaters of the Kissimmee River-Lake Okeechobee-Everglades ecosystem.

The Kissimmee River watershed of 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) is adjacent to the Eastern Continental Divide, with triple watershed points at the Miami (north), Withlacoochee (northwest), and Peace (west) rivers’ watersheds and the Lake Okeechobee watershed (southwest).The floodplain of the river supports a diverse community of waterfowl, wading birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Every time I drove out there all I saw was this.

DSC_0094

Kissimmee River at Basinger

and this

DSC_0088

Kissimmee River looking north at Basinger

I was always whizzing through and  I never took the time to stop and explore.

It took us a while to find what we were looking for.

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/kissimmee%20river

“The Kissimmee Basin encompasses more than two dozen lakes in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes (KCOL), their tributary streams and associated marshes and the Kissimmee River and floodplain. The basin forms the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades; together they comprise the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades (KOE) system. In the 1960s, the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control (C&SF) Project modified the native KOE system extensively throughout South Florida, including construction of canals and water control structures to achieve flood control in the Upper and Lower Kissimmee basins.

Major initiatives in the Kissimmee Basin are the Kissimmee River Restoration Project (which includes Construction Projects), the Kissimmee River Restoration Evaluation Program, the Kissimmee Basin Modeling and Operations Study and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Long-Term Management Plan. A number of activities are associated with these projects, including ecosystem restoration, evaluation of restoration efforts, aquatic plant management, land management, water quality improvement and water supply planning.”

We ended up here.

DSC_0024 DSC_0022

Whoops.

Then we ended up here .

11390018_10206486755984097_7255714453957998372_n

It was one of those “It’s got to be here somewhere!”

Then we found this

DSC_0057

You are here!

DSC_0059 DSC_0063 DSC_0070 DSC_0074

We were disappointed that you could not walk out on the lock.

and a little down the road heading south you can put in with your canoes or kayaks.

So this was great right!

http://www.protectingourwater.org/watersheds/map/kissimmee_river/

“The very northern end of the Kissimmee River Basin is primarily urban and includes a small portion of the city of Orlando, three large theme parks (Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios), Orlando International Airport, and the cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud. There are some pockets of residential development along the Lake Wales Ridge (in the cities of Lake Wales, Avon Park, Sebring, and Lake Placid) and a military installation (Avon Park Air Force Range). However, agricultural lands (citrus groves, cattle ranches, caladium fields, and sod farms) as well as wetlands and upland forests dominate the remainder of the Kissimmee River Basin and all of the Fisheating Creek Basin.”

So every time someone flushes a toilet at Mickey’s a seahorse dies in the Indian RIver Lagoon.

It was everything I imagined except for the lock part. If we have Locks that go down the river why do we need water storage and farming to hold the water back?

I tried to find a map but I couldn’t but I did find this. I found four locks.

http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/nr_2011_0131_kissimmee_lock_renovations.pdf

Just as a reminder here is our great teacher Mark Perry telling us how important the restoration of the Kissimmee River is.