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Don't use Fertilizer, What are Density and Sprawl, and more!

Updated: May 21

May 18, 2024 Weekly Newsletter


Have you seen our signs around town?


One Easy Way to Help the Lagoon


Are you wondering, "What can we do to help the lagoon?" Observing the summer fertilizer ban is a key step!


From June 1st to September 30th, residents of Indian River County, Sebastian, City of Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid are required to comply with the local fertilizer ban. This period aligns with our rainy season, when fertilizers are more likely to wash into stormwater systems and ultimately into the Indian River Lagoon. These excess nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, fuel toxic algae blooms, harming marine life and human health.


Key Guidelines:

  1. No Phosphorus: Never use fertilizer containing phosphorus. Did you know most soils in IRC already contain adequate levels of phosphorus for healthy plant growth? Adding more phosphorus can lead to waste, which plants cannot utilize.

  2. Slow-Release Nitrogen: Ensure fertilizers contain at least 50% slow-release nitrogen. Excess nitrogen from fertilizers can run off into water bodies, causing algal blooms that deplete oxygen and harm marine life.

  3. Reuse Water: If using reuse water for irrigation, additional fertilizer is unnecessary due to the nutrients already present.

  4. Buffer Zones: Avoid applying fertilizer within 10 feet of any wetland or water body.

  5. Grass Clippings: Do not blow clippings into storm drains, canals, the lagoon, or onto roadways. This contributes to nutrient pollution, fueling harmful algal blooms that deplete oxygen in water and harm marine life.


Take Action:

  1. Educate Your Lawn Care Provider: Discuss these regulations with them.

  2. Check Compliance: For details on the ordinance and fertilizing tips, visit the County's Website or email Alexis Peralta, Stormwater Educator and Fertilizer Enforcement Officer, at aperalta@ircgov.com.

  3. Report Violators: Help enforce the ordinance by reporting any violations you observe.


By following these steps, we can all play a part in preserving the health of our beloved lagoon. Let's work together for a cleaner, healthier environment!


 

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Indian River County, like many places, faces a big challenge: how to manage growth responsibly. To make smart choices, we need to understand two key concepts: sprawl and density. Some people oppose both, but that means opposing both the problem and the solution. Let's take a closer look.


Sprawl: The Hidden Costs

Sprawl means low-density, car-dependent residential and commercial development that pushes outward from our towns and cities. New neighborhoods pop up on old farmland, stretching roads and services, and eating away at natural areas. This costs us all: worsened traffic, lost open space including wildlife habitat, and higher taxes on current residents and businesses to maintain a sprawling infrastructure.


Density: A Smart Solution

Density means more people and activities within a smaller area. Done right, it means walkable neighborhoods, better public transit, less commuting, and preserved open space. Don't think skyscrapers – in Indian River County, density can mean things like:

  • Row townhouse homes: More houses per acre, with private yards, offering a happy medium for many residents.

  • Multi-story Apartments: You can fit a lot of units into apartment buildings, even if they are limited by height.

  • Mixed-Use Development: Small shops and apartments within neighborhoods, making daily errands easier without always needing a car.

A point to strengthen is that relaxing regulations on the allowable number of residential units per area can be strictly limited to the few areas where it is most appropriate, particularly Vero Historic Downtown. Some fear that increasing density anywhere will lead to increased density everywhere, which no one is proposing. Further, no one is challenging the city or county's building height restrictions.


The Urban Service Boundary: Where We Draw the Line

The Urban Service Boundary (USB) is the line on the map beyond which we shouldn't build new neighborhoods or extend services such as water and sewer. Expanding it can lead to sprawl; keeping it firm forces more responsible use of available land currently within the boundary. This choice is crucial to protecting what makes Indian River County special.


Density Done Right Means Affordability

Denser housing isn't just about efficiency, it's about fairness. Building more units on less land allows for affordable options. This is critical in our county where service workers, young families, and seniors all struggle with housing costs. Don't be fooled: we can create affordable options within current urban service boundaries, accommodating the county’s anticipated population growth through 2050—in places that are more suitable for it than out in the fallow citrus groves and expansive grazing lands.


It's Time to Act

In Indian River County, managing growth is about preserving what we love. Sprawl has been the default, but it's expensive and erodes our quality of life. Embracing moderate density through thoughtful design offers a sustainable path forward that benefits us all. It's time to look beyond old arguments that favor sprawl and oppose density and forge a future where projected growth and a beautiful environment go hand-in-hand.


Attend one of the remaining Urban Service Boundary Workshops and make your voice heard:

  • May 22nd – 11:30 & 6:30, IG Center on Oslo Road

  • May 29th – 11:30 & 6:30, County Commission Chambers


This article is the first in a series aimed at educating the community about the potential move of the urban service boundary. The IRNA is not endorsing any single solution but is deeply concerned about the possible loss of greenspace and wildlands outside the current boundary. Our goal is to inform residents so we can make the best decision together as a community.


 

Vero Beach in high demand: Prudence needed to boost, preserve downtown (Opinion, TCPalm) - Rushing to increase downtown density in Vero Beach without thorough planning and community consensus could lead to long-term setbacks and failed referendums.


Vero Beach turns to referendum to aid downtown revitalization efforts (TCPalm) - Urban planner Andres Duany has introduced a master plan for revitalizing downtown Vero Beach, which hinges on a November referendum to increase allowable city density to support more residential development.


Pre-qualifying period for local candidates begins (Indian River Guardian) - The pre-qualifying period for Indian River County candidates to review necessary documents for countywide or special district office positions starts on May 28 and ends on June 7, with formal document acceptance beginning on June 10.


ORCA scientists and community members are working together to gather data needed to optimize conservation efforts. (ORCA) - ORCA's Citizen Science Projects are actively engaging the community in environmental monitoring to optimize conservation efforts in the Indian River Lagoon, focusing on data from projects like the One Health Fish Monitoring Project to understand pollutant transfer from waterways to fish, and the Pollution Mapping Project to assess water and sediment quality across various shoreline types.


Treasure Coast steps up burn restrictions amid dry, windy, hot days (TCPalm) - Dry, windy, and hot weather conditions have prompted Red Flag Warnings and burning restrictions in various counties on the Treasure Coast to prevent critical fire risks.


Lightning suspected cause of 3 brush fires across Indian River County (TCPalm) - Lightning strikes, suspected to be caused by a passing storm, initiated three brush fires in Indian River County, all of which were quickly contained and extinguished by rainfall and firefighter efforts.


Storms followed by increasing temps, rain chances into weekend (TCPalm) - The Treasure Coast is experiencing unusually high temperatures following a storm, with heat index values expected to reach up to 110 degrees into the weekend, despite a forecast for lower rain chances and continued warm weather.


Comeback sign for manatees as fewer died here (Vero News) - Manatee deaths on the Treasure and Space coasts have significantly decreased in 2023, indicating a potential recovery from previous years where starvation was the main cause of mortality, now largely replaced by watercraft collisions and natural causes.


 

In a twist that feels straight out of the theater of the absurd, Florida has removed climate change from its laws and removed prioritizing the impact of climate change from the state's energy policy goals. This move is especially ironic given that 90% of Floridians believe in climate change, and nearly 70% want more government action to address it.


A survey by Florida Atlantic University highlights this contradiction: Floridians face stronger storms, more flooding, and hotter days, yet lawmakers are erasing climate change from state policies. It's like mopping up a flood while denying the existence of water.


Despite these realities, Governor DeSantis signed a bill passed by the legislature removing climate change from the state's energy policy, focusing instead on energy affordability and security. Meanwhile, Florida is investing billions in resilience efforts without acknowledging the root cause. The state has also turned down millions in federal climate funding, while cities like Miami and Tampa eagerly seek it.


In Florida, the climate crisis is undeniable to its residents, but those in power are playing a strange game of legislative hide-and-seek. Here’s to Florida, where the laws might ignore climate change, but the people and the weather certainly don’t.


 

Pick battles when spending money on Treasure Coast beach renourishment (TCPalm) - Treasure Coast governments have spent over $100 million in the past five years on beach renourishment, despite the natural ebb and flow of sand, raising questions about the financial efficacy and long-term sustainability of continually fighting against natural shoreline processes.


Does Sebastian Inlet District owe us millions for sand? (Vero News) - Bob Bruce contends that the Sebastian Inlet District owes Indian River County $40 million for not fulfilling its legal obligation to replace sand blocked by the inlet, leading to a contentious debate over the proper accounting and responsibility for sand restoration along affected beaches.


County eyes new tack in ridding lagoon of derelict boats (Vero News) - Indian River County is adopting a new strategy to manage derelict boats in the Indian River Lagoon by creating Anchoring Limitation Areas across three municipalities, aiming to reduce the burden of removal by limiting how long boats can anchor and enhancing enforcement measures.


Florida environmental commission hasn’t met in 7 years. The state spends billions on cleanup (Orlando Sentinel) - Despite Florida's significant spending on environmental cleanups like the Everglades, efforts to prevent ecological damage remain minimal, highlighted by the inactivity of the state’s Environmental Regulation Commission, which hasn't convened in seven years.


Toxic algae could overtake Lake O; and that’s good news? (VoteWater.org) - Algae blooms on Lake Okeechobee are emerging earlier and may dissipate quickly due to lower nitrogen levels and a lack of aquatic vegetation, potentially preventing persistent blooms throughout the summer, though concerns remain about nutrient pollution fueling these outbreaks.


Epidemic of dying sea life shows Florida's lax water quality regulation is fouling our public waters (Tampa Bay Times) - Florida's lax water quality regulations are being criticized as marine species, including endangered smalltooth sawfish, die in large numbers due to unaddressed pollution sources such as fertilizer, sewage, and agricultural waste.


Cape Coral residents stuck living days without water (WINK News) - Cape Coral residents are facing severe water shortages, with some needing costly new wells, as ongoing city growth strains the local water supply, raising concerns about sustainability and municipal responsiveness.


Maya van Rossum Wants to Save the World (Inside Climate News) - Maya van Rossum, who spoke at an IRNA Lunch and Learn in 2023, is a committed environmental activist and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, has dedicated over three decades to protecting the Delaware River watershed and advocating for environmental rights, facing both victories and setbacks in her relentless pursuit to preserve natural resources and influence policy. Find out what she's been up to.


 

Supporting the Florida Right to Clean Water (RTCW) initiative is essential for safeguarding the state's precious water resources. The RTCW amendment aims to ensure that Floridians have the constitutional right to clean and healthy waters, protecting them from pollution and degradation. By supporting this initiative, we can hold polluters accountable and promote sustainable water management practices, benefiting both the environment and public health. Join the movement to secure a cleaner, safer future for Florida's waterways by endorsing the RTCW amendment today.


Learn more and sign your petition here.


 

Cute Alert! Mom Manatee Cuddles Her Baby (iheartdogs.com) - A touching scene of a mother manatee cuddling her baby was captured on video during a clear kayak tour in Silver Springs, Florida, illustrating the strong emotional bonds that exist in the animal kingdom, much like those in humans.


Scientists Want to Know How the Smells of Nature Benefit Our Health (Environmental News Network) - Researchers are exploring how the smells of nature benefit our health by affecting our emotions, thoughts, and physical well-being, aiming to enhance land care, ecosystem preservation, and urban design.


How climate change will affect malaria transmission (ScienceDaily) - A new predictive model for climate change's impact on malaria transmission in Africa reveals that hydrology-driven approaches show a more nuanced understanding of malaria-friendly conditions, highlighting the importance of waterways and suggesting targeted interventions could improve malaria control despite varying regional impacts and future greenhouse gas sensitivities.


New 'forever chemical' cleanup strategy discovered (ScienceDaily) - Scientists at UC Riverside and Clarkson University have developed a new cleanup strategy for PFAS contamination using a combination of UV light, sulfite, and electrochemical oxidation, achieving near-complete destruction of these "forever chemicals" in heavily contaminated water, particularly from fire-suppressant foams at military and commercial sites.


Last Summer Was the Hottest in More Than 2,000 Years (Environmental News Network) - The summer of 2023 was the hottest in the Northern Hemisphere in over 2,000 years, driven by climate change and El Niño, as revealed by a study analyzing tree rings and published in Nature.


A trillion cicadas will emerge in the next few weeks. (Grist) - A rare simultaneous emergence of Brood XIX and Brood XIII cicadas, influenced by climate change, will occur across 16 states, creating a massive natural event that highlights the impact of environmental changes on species with synchronized life cycles.


The world is obsessed with forests' climate benefits. Here's the problem. (Grist) - The increasing focus on forests' climate benefits, particularly carbon sequestration, is leading to unintended consequences such as displacement of Indigenous peoples and ineffective offset projects, highlighting the need for more thoughtful and inclusive forest management practices.


 

Want your voice to be heard? Use this link to easily contact elected officials—from your city council to the President. Your voice can make a real impact. While the IRNA may occasionally prompt you to contact specific officials about urgent issues, we keep this list handy for your convenience. Can't find who you're looking for? Just let us know; we're here to help connect you with the right people.


 


 

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