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August 26, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

Did you know that some places in Florida still boast extensive seagrass coverage? So much so, they require signs (like the above) instructing boaters on how to avoid Propeller Scarring, also known as “prop tracks,” and other damage to seagrass beds. You can learn more here. Another common issue is anchoring; anchors from recreational boats can harm seagrass fronds and roots when they embed into the seabed. Dragging an anchor can uproot seagrass and can scrape the seabed as it pivots around the anchor.

One notable location that still has an abundance of Seagrass is the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve (NCAP), Florida's 42nd aquatic preserve, designated in 2020. It is the second-largest aquatic preserve in Florida, encompassing 800 square miles and 625 miles of shoreline along Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties. It protects over 350,000 acres of seagrass beds, mangrove islands, salt marshes, and more.

The preserve's establishment aims to uphold the region's biological, scientific, and aesthetic value. Imagine having so much seagrass coverage that you need signs to guide boaters to avoid damage during recreation (click the pictures below of scarring in seagrass beds to expand them). In contrast, we once had far more coverage in the Indian River Lagoon, but various factors and pollution have led to significant loss here in Indian River County.

Seagrass scarring images from Be Seagrass Safe.

I've had the privilege to join the 23rd class of the National Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI), thanks in part to the support of the Indian River Neighborhood Association and our members. Over the course of eight sessions, spanning the next few months, I will travel across the state learning about some of our state's many natural resources. The goal of NRLI is not only to explore the amazing variety and richness of Florida's natural resources but also to teach how to engage with diverse perspectives, foster collaboration, and bridge divides as we move forward together on issues.

Our inaugural three-day session took place this past week, and it was an inspiring experience. I had the opportunity to connect with 20 passionate natural resource professionals from across the state, including nonprofits, state organizations like FDEP, water management districts, law enforcement, private companies, and more. Together, we delved into ways to enhance our collaboration and to include as many varied perspectives as possible. I look forward to sharing what I learn with you and applying this knowledge to the betterment of our community.

Thank you for your support in this endeavor and for all your support of our organization.

Dan Lamson

Executive Director

Indian River Neighborhood Association


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Important info about the 17th St. Bridge (Alma Lee Loy Bridge)

17th Street Bridge to Undergo Full Closure for Traffic Shift Operations, August 29 through August 31, 2023

Click here for a flyer with more information about the whole project.



News Headlines and Articles

A new law is supposed to boost affordable housing. South Florida cities are furious (Miami Herald) - This is something to keep an eye on. The Live Local Act, a new law aimed at boosting affordable housing in South Florida, is encountering challenges due to provisions that override local zoning controls on building height and density. The law allows developers to build larger projects in exchange for setting aside apartments at lower rents for those who meet certain income criteria. However, cities and counties are required to approve these projects without hearings or public input, even if they violate existing height and density restrictions. Critics are concerned about the potential impact on local neighborhoods, existing infrastructure, and the overall effectiveness of the law in addressing the housing crisis.

Congressman Posey sends letter on Haz Mat Threats (Vero News) - Congressman Posey has written a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) expressing concerns about the potential hazardous material threats posed by the Florida East Coast rail route, highlighting the risks to residents' lives and the health of the Indian River Lagoon, urging further assessment and protection measures due to the presence of toxic chemicals being transported on trains, and calling for a comprehensive threat assessment to prevent potential accidents and breaches along the route. Read the full letter here.

Qualifying period ends for city council elections in Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach (TCPalm) - The municipal campaign season has commenced in Fellsmere, Sebastian, and Vero Beach, with the qualifying period for city council candidates concluding. While Fellsmere will not hold a local election due to the sole filing of incumbents Inocensia Hernandez and Gerald Renick for reelection, the race is more competitive in Sebastian and Vero Beach. In Sebastian, six contenders are vying for three two-year seats, including Damien H. Gilliams, Damien L. "Junior" Gilliams, Sherrie Matthews, incumbents Fred Jones, Bob McPartlan, and Christopher Nunn. Meanwhile, in Vero Beach, three candidates are competing for two two-year terms: incumbent John Cotugno, Taylor Dingle, and Honey Minuse. The November 7 general election will determine the outcomes in these municipalities.

You shouldn’t have to deal with Lake Okeechobee discharges (Captains for Clean Water) - In a letter from Capt. Daniel Andrews, Co-Founder of Captains For Clean Water, the challenges posed by Lake Okeechobee discharges are highlighted. The damaging effects of toxic discharges to the coasts during past "lost summers" are outlined, emphasizing the negative impact on marine life, ecosystems, and local economies. The need for continued progress in Everglades restoration and improved Lake Okeechobee operations to prevent such devastating events is stressed, with a call for action to ensure a more natural flow of water and the preservation of Florida's waterways.

Climate Change and U.S. Property Insurance: A Stormy Mix (Coastal News Today) - Climate change is causing private insurers in the US, especially in coastal states like California and Florida, to reduce coverage and raise premiums for property insurance, impacting homeowners and potentially leading to economic losses as housing spending constitutes a significant portion of the country's GDP.

A convention center, hotel and museum at Indian River State College? Why do we need this? (TCPalm) - A development team's $326 million proposal for a project at Indian River State College's Fort Pierce campus, featuring a convention center, museum, rooftop restaurant, pool, outdoor gallery, and hotel, raises concerns about its viability given the absence of an airport with commercial flights, limited nearby attractions, and potential discord with the college's educational focus.

Chemical treatments can kill toxic algae – but are they safe? ( - The South Florida Water Management District is conducting tests to ensure the safety and effectiveness of a hydrogen peroxide-based algaecide in addressing blue-green algal blooms while also considering potential environmental impacts and the need for proper dosages.

FEMA Releases New Flood Insurance Rates by ZIP Code. Brace for Impact. (Insurance Journal) - FEMA's new Risk Rating 2.0 flood insurance methodology reveals varying increases and decreases in premiums by ZIP codes, with some areas experiencing significant spikes, like Florida's Hell Gate with a 342% increase, while others may see decreases due to factors including rainfall levels, elevation, and distance from water, indicating a shift from FEMA's traditional flood maps for rate calculations.


Fort Myers Realtor Shane Spring speaks about Everglades restoration and getting involved as real estate agents.


Florida Legislature is weakening local governments. For Treasure Coast, worst may be yet to come. (TCPalm) - Florida legislators' decisions have raised concerns about weakening local governments, but efforts by organizations like the Florida League of Cities, led by Port St. Lucie Vice Mayor Jolien Caraballo, have successfully defended against certain bills that would have reduced city and county government powers, emphasizing the importance of tailored local laws and diplomatic collaboration to address challenges.

Sea level rise flooding to threaten many parts of Florida by 2100 (Palm Beach Post) - Florida legislators' choices have sparked worries over local government weakening, but groups like the Florida League of Cities, guided by Port St. Lucie Vice Mayor Jolien Caraballo, have effectively thwarted bills aiming to curtail city and county authorities, highlighting the significance of customized local regulations and diplomatic cooperation to tackle obstacles.

Reel Time: Generation Alpha speaks out for the future (Anna Maria Island Sun) - A 15-year-old resident of Manatee County expresses concern about reckless development, loss of biodiversity, and proposed changes to regulations that could harm wetlands and natural resources, calling for public action to prevent ecological decline and degradation of quality of life.

Young Floridian aims to save wetlands; clean-water amendment can help | Commentary (Orlando Sentinel) - The commentary praises (the above) 15-year-old Brice Claypoole's article highlighting threats to wetlands in Manatee County due to development and corruption, and emphasizes the need for a constitutional right to clean and healthy waters in Florida to protect wetlands and counter irresponsible decisions by local authorities.

Manatee Size Comparison: Just How Big Do They Get? (A-Z Animals) - The article provides a comparison of manatee sizes with various animals, including dolphins, walruses, elephants, and humans, highlighting their impressive length, weight, and unique characteristics, while discussing the different species of manatees and their habitats. Great for kids!

As toxic algae, Lake Okeechobee discharges loom, Martin County has no voice on SFWMD board (Yahoo News) - The article discusses the vacancy on the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) governing board in Martin County, highlighting the importance of representation and the impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges on the region, while addressing the need for an appointment to the board and the challenges of water management policies.

Discharges leaked at St. Lucie Lock and Dam for second time in two weeks (News-Press) - Water discharges from C-44 canal to St. Lucie River estuary occurred twice in two weeks due to heavy rain raising canal level above 14.5 feet, impacting navigation and causing erosion; efforts by South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers continue to manage water supply and weather conditions.

Hundreds of dead fish wash up on beach in Hollywood and Hallandale (Sun-Sentinel) - Unusual amounts of dead fish, possibly due to high water temperatures and stormwater runoff, are washing up on Hollywood and Hallandale beaches, raising concerns about the impact of rising temperatures on marine life in South Florida's waters.



There is another marine heat wave in US waters, this time in the Gulf of Mexico (Coastal News Today) - Unprecedented marine heat waves in the Gulf of Mexico, driven by climate change, are causing record-high ocean temperatures that could impact hurricane intensity and rapid intensification, with the region experiencing temperatures beyond historical norms, potentially affecting marine ecosystems and storm development.

The Clean Energy Future Is Arriving Faster Than You Think (New York Times) - The United States is rapidly transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, with record-breaking installations and investments in clean energy, driven by falling costs, government subsidies, and increasing awareness of the climate crisis, even in traditionally oil and gas-dominated regions like Oklahoma and Texas.

‘We’re All Water-Bottle Freaks’ (New York Times) - I enjoyed this headline... Americans are buying billions of dollars worth of both reusable and single-serving water bottles as they grapple with the convenience and trust factors of tap water, highlighting the complex relationship between hydration habits, environmental concerns, and consumer behavior.

Biden-Harris Administration makes $240 million available for habitat restoration and coastal resilience (Coastal News Today) - The Biden-Harris Administration has allocated $240 million for transformative habitat restoration and coastal resilience projects to enhance the climate resilience of coastal communities by restoring marine and coastal ecosystems. The funding opportunity aligns with the administration's climate action plan and aims to support underserved communities and tribes. Proposals are due by November 17, 2023.

Developers, Mosaic win big as Manatee County set to strip its own wetland protections (Yahoo News) - Manatee County commissioners are removing local wetland protections, favoring developers and The Mosaic Co., based on recommendations from a private consultant, sparking concerns from residents about environmental impacts and political connections between commissioners and developers.

‘Forever Chemicals’ Are Everywhere. What Are They Doing to Us? (New York Times) - Pervasive PFAS "forever chemicals" used in countless household products have been detected globally and linked to a range of concerning health effects like cancer and liver damage, but the full impacts of these persistent compounds on human health remain uncertain due to their complexity and the thousands of different PFAS formulations in use.

Lake County wants homeowners to give up septic tanks for the environment. They’re offering funding to help (ClickOrlando) - Lake County is launching a septic tank conversion program that encourages homeowners to abandon septic tanks to reduce nutrient pollution in waterways, offering funding to cover the cost of connecting to the county's wastewater treatment system, with the installation process taking about a day and homeowners charged $660 per year for wastewater services through property tax assessment.

Upon the Seas of Algae (Naturalist with Numbers) - Blue-green algae blooms in Florida's waterways stem from nutrient overload and warm water temperatures, with addressing the issue necessitating costly measures such as transitioning homes from septic systems to municipal sewers, despite challenges and costs, to mitigate the dominant role of septic tanks in nutrient pollution.

Manatees In The Gulf Pic From Navarre Beach Goes Viral (Mullet Wrapper) - A viral picture of 19 manatees swimming together in the Gulf of Mexico off Navarre Beach gained attention on social media, with sightings of manatees increasing in the area in recent years and citizen scientists encouraged to report their local manatee sightings to the Mobile Manatees Stranding Network for tracking trends and data collection.

A 20-year fight for a seawall in New Smyrna Beach (Coastal News Today) - After nearly 20 years of fighting for permits, Bill Roe successfully built a seawall on his New Smyrna Beach oceanfront property to protect against storm damage, despite the high cost and differing views on seawalls as a solution for rising water levels and storms, with the hope that his example will encourage others in Volusia County to consider seawalls as a means of protecting property and the environment.


All the Iceberg By Rachel Arnow on August 21, 2023. Source.


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