TRCP: How Fishing Guides Accelerated Everglades Restoration Efforts

TRCP: Written by Alycia Downs. December 14th, 2018.

As fishing guides, charter captains, and other small business owners share their stories, decision-makers get inspired to make conservation happen in South Florida

From the top of a poling platform in the Florida Keys, a fishing guide scans the flats for a slender outline or a silver flash, whispering instructions to an angler at the bow. “There’s one at ten o’clock. Drop it right in front him. Strip… faster, now…” The more precise the directions, the greater the chance of hooking into the targeted fish. Patience and perseverance are critical, especially when almost every element is outside of your control.

In a moment of such pure concentration, politics should be the furthest thing from the mind of a guide. The unfortunate reality, however, is that our unique experiences on the water—not to mention the livelihoods of countless outdoor recreation business owners in south Florida—are directly affected by decisions made every day in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Adam C. Smith. January 13th, 2019.

Winner of the week

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Can anyone remember a Florida governor starting off with a better, more consequential first week in office than this guy? Even Democrats were applauding the conservative new governor whose remarkably busy week included naming the first Cuban American woman to the Florida Supreme Court, visiting and shining a spotlight on the continuing struggles of hurricane-ravaged north Florida communities, pardoning the Groveland Four, issuing sweeping environmental reforms and suspending assorted local officials. Oh, and he had an emergency landing in St. Petersburg, too. Runner up: Sarasota Republicans. The new chairman of the Florida GOP is Sarasota's Joe Gruters. The new vice chairman of the GOP is Sarasota's Christian Ziegler.

Loser of the week

Sen. Rick Scott. Florida's new senator, in contrast, seemed to go out of his way to leave Tallahassee looking like a jerk.

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HERALD TRIBUNE: Red Tide: DeSantis wants ‘war footing’ in water fight

Herald Tribune: Written by John Kennedy. January 14, 2019.

But lawmakers may settle for skirmish

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis used his opening week in office to underscore a campaign pledge to tackle Florida’s deepening environmental problems, with the former Navy lawyer saying he wanted the state on a “war footing.”

But signs are emerging that fellow Republicans in the state Legislature may be considering a more narrow approach — one some critics dismiss as a mere skirmish against the enemies of red tide and toxic algae that fouled both coasts.

“The public wants us to take on the entire problem, and that’s what we should be doing,” said Rep. Thad Altman, R-Merritt Island, whose Brevard County district was plagued by “brown tide” last spring and summer, an algae bloom that caused massive fish kills.

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TC PALM: Nikki Fried, new Ag Commissioner, vows to get tougher on water quality | Thumb up

TC Palm: Written by Treasure Coast Newspapers Editorial Board. January 10th, 2019.

Complaining that "there has been no enforcement of best management practices," Florida’s new Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has vowed to take a leadership role on water quality issues, including enforcement of agricultural water quality regulations.

Fried — the only statewide elected Democrat and the first Democrat to serve on the elected Cabinet in eight years — told Politico her department has a "tremendous" impact on water quality. Her ascent to office comes on the heels of two huge water crises — the red tide that fouled much of the Gulf Coast for much of 2017-18; and the toxic algae blooms that once again choked the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries last summer.

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MIAMI HERALD: When it comes to saving Florida’s environment, DeSantis gets it — so far

Miami Herald: Written by Carl Hiassen. January 11, 2019.

Gov. Ron DeSantis got lots of attention when he focused on the environment for a handful of paragraphs during his inauguration speech last week.

The unusually optimistic reaction shows that Floridians who hope to preserve a few precious pieces of this remarkable place are starved for hope and desperate for leadership.

DeSantis began his green passage with an understatement: “Our economic potential will be jeopardized if we do not solve the problems afflicting our environment and water resources.”

In truth, Florida’s economy won’t merely be “jeopardized” if we don’t clean up our act; it will be strangled. Witness the crushing impact of the marathon red-tide outbreak and blue-green algae blooms upon businesses in coastal communities. That was a harrowing, nauseating, tourist-repelling glimpse of the future.

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WMNF: Ron DeSantis directs Florida DEP to oppose fracking and off-shore drilling

WMNF: Written by Sean Kinane. January 10, 2019.

Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, announced several changes to water policy today. In an executive order, DeSantis made moves to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking), dedicate money to Everglades restoration, fight algae blooms, appoint a Chief Science Officer and create an Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency.

For reaction, WMNF News spoke with Michelle Allen, senior Florida organizer with Food and Water Watch.

“Today – on Thursday January 10th – Governor Ron DeSantis put out a statement announcing that he is going to direct the state Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] to adamantly oppose and ban fracking statewide in Florida. We are very happy to see the governor fulfilling the promise that he made on the campaign trail to protect Florida’s water by banning fracking statewide.”

And [DeSantis] also said that he wants [the DEP] ‘to take necessary actions to oppose all off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast.

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TC Palm: Bill would expedite Everglades restoration projects approved under CERP

TC Palm: Written by Staff. January 10th, 2019.

Expediting Everglades restoration is the aim of a U.S. House bill filed Thursday.

Currently, such projects must be authorized en masse through the Water Resources Development Act that Congress approves periodically, but this new bill would allow projects to be authorized more quickly and on a case-by-case basis.

The bill would approve shovel-ready projects already approved as part of the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, also known as CERP.

U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, filed the bill. Other Florida lawmakers have filed similar bills for several years, but they all stalled.

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TC PALM: Gov. Ron DeSantis asks all SFWMD board members to resign over Florida Crystals lease

TC Palm: Written by Ali Schmitz. Jan 11th, 2019. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis, on his third day on the job, asked for the immediate resignations of all South Florida Water Management District board members during a news conference in Stuart.

The Senate would have to remove any board members who refuse, such as Vice Chair Brandon Tucker of Palm City, who said he plans to serve the last two years of his term.

"I believe I made a commitment to serve out my term," Tucker told TCPalm. "I haven't had an opportunity to meet with the governor and his staff and tell them about the issues and my positions on them."

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: Rick Scott made 84 last-minute appointments. That’s not going over well with Ron DeSantis.

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Emily L. Mahoney and Steve Contorno. January 9th, 2019.

TALLAHASSEE — Former governor and now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott appeared fleetingly in Tallahassee on Tuesday, sitting next to Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis for just under an hour before he left to take his private plane to Washington.

Scott ended up missing DeSantis' speech, where he was praised for bringing a "laser-like focus" on job creation during his eight years governing Florida. DeSantis tweaked his pre-written remarks to tell the crowd that Scott had to leave early for his own 4 p.m. swearing-in ceremony, but wished him well.

It was a small moment, but not the first time Scott disrupted his successor's plans to take the reins.

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CBS 12: After a toxic 2018, River Warriors are hopeful for a clean 2019

CBS 12: Written by Erin MacPherson. January 7th, 2019.

STUART, Fla. (CBS12) — New year, same clean water fight.

For months, the St. Lucie Estuary has been clear of toxic blue green algae ever since the discharges from Lake Okeechobee stopped. It's been a breath of fresh air for Martin County residents -- literally.

"It feels good," said Jennie Pawlowsky as she walked along the river walk in Downtown Stuart. "It becomes beautiful again."

Pawlowsky has been fighting for clean water for years.

But last year, things changed.

"When things get so bad, I think people start to realize it’s gotta get fixed," Pawlowsky said.

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