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November 18, 2023 Weekly Newsletter

Updated: Dec 2, 2023


Support The IRNA This Thanksgiving Season: A Time to Give Thanks and Give Back

As we approach the season of gratitude, the Indian River Neighborhood Association is reminded of the invaluable support from community members like you. Our weekly updates, insights, and stories of environmental and community progress are made possible by your generosity – all delivered without charge. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we're reaching out for your continued support to further our mission.


Your donations, big or small, are more than just contributions; they're a testament to your commitment to a better, cleaner future for Indian River County. This Thanksgiving, as we express our gratitude for the bounties of the year, we invite you to extend your spirit of giving to support the IRNA. Your generosity is the cornerstone of our community work, empowering us to advocate for change and enhance our outreach and educational initiatives.


In this season of giving, consider joining our Monthly Donor Circle. Your regular monthly donations will be a continual source of support, allowing us to plan and execute our projects with greater efficacy, ensuring a lasting impact on our community.


To make your contribution, simply click the button below or visit IndianRiverNA.com/Join. Here, you can choose to make a one-time online gift or opt for ongoing support by selecting a monthly donation. If you prefer, you're welcome to mail a check to PO Box 643868, Vero Beach, FL 32964.


Your support is not just a donation; it's a partnership in nurturing the health and vibrancy of Indian River County. Together, let's give thanks by giving back and keep our community thriving. Your generosity is the heart of our collective success. Join us in this season of gratitude and be a part of the positive change we all cherish.


 

Explore Our Fall 2023 News Magazine!

We're excited to share with you our latest issue of the IRNA News Magazine, which is brimming with a range of compelling topics that reflect our ongoing efforts in Indian River County. Here’s a glimpse of what’s inside:

  • IRNA's 2024 Legislative Priorities: Discover our roadmap for a sustainable future, including initiatives for water quality, home rule, and responsible growth.

  • Protecting Water: Dr. Edith Widder imparts her expertise on safeguarding our precious waterways.

  • Affordable Housing in IRC: Commissioner Susan Adams dives into the critical issue of housing affordability.

  • New Native Plant Demonstration Garden: Dr. Richard Baker takes us through the importance of native flora in our ecosystems and various demonstration gardens around our area.

  • An Innovative Project by Vero Beach: IRNA and CWC, along with many other stakeholders, have embarked on a project that will help us take significant strides towards creating a more sustainable future.

  • The IRNA and NRLI: IRNA Executive Director, Dan Lamson, shares his experiences in the Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI).

  • Low Income Septic to Sewer Project: Keith Drewett discusses a pivotal project for improving local water quality.

  • The Right to Clean Water and Other News: Stay informed about our fundamental water rights and some news about your IRNA.

Every article in our news magazine is a testament to our dedication to advocacy and community education. As you leaf through the pages, we hope you find motivation and information that galvanize you to action. Dues-paying members should have already received this issue by mail, but if you would like a paper copy, reply to this email and we will get you one. If you know a place where we could distribute some to the community at large, please let us know and we will arrange a drop-off. You can read the magazine on our website here.

Thanks to the generous donations from supporters like you, we are able to continue producing and distributing this impactful magazine.


 

In observance of Thanksgiving, we'll be pausing our newsletter next week. Wishing you and your loved ones a delightful holiday! Looking forward to reconnecting on December 2.


 

Are you new? Would you like to receive it in your email weekly? If so click here to sign up! We're happy to have you!


 

IRNA is still working hard collecting petitions we could use your help! Reach out to Karen Wynn at kwynn826@gmail.com to sign up for a shift!


 

News Headlines and Articles

Beaches expected to take a hit again from two-day storm that pounded Treasure Coast (TCPalm) - A storm tracking north along Florida's southeast coast caused high winds, large waves, and significant rainfall, leading to potential beach erosion in Treasure Coast areas, with assessments planned for the following week.


Up to 14 inches of rain floods Fellsmere, Vero Lake Estates (TCPalm) - Northern Indian River County in Florida experienced severe flooding with up to 14 inches of rain, particularly affecting Fellsmere and Vero Lake Estates, leading to road closures and suspended waste collection services.


Fuel seeps into Indian River Lagoon from sinking boat near Sewall’s Point (TCPalm) - Contractors and officials in Martin County responded to a large fuel leak in the Indian River Lagoon, caused by a boat that capsized near Sewall's Point due to strong weather, with efforts underway to contain and manage the spill.


Florida's majestic beauty is why we 'Vote Water' (VoteWater) - VoteWater.org highlights the need to protect Florida's fragile waterways, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the state's rivers, inlets, wetlands, and mangrove forests through stunning photographs.


Biodiversity: Almost half of animals in decline, research shows (BBC) - A Queen's University Belfast-led study reveals that nearly half of the world's animal species are experiencing population declines, indicating a more severe global biodiversity crisis than previously understood, with implications for ecosystems, disease spread, and economic stability.


Stinky seaweed has spiked tremendously. Here’s why summer blooms now grow so huge. (Sun Sentinel) - A new study reveals that the massive increase in sargassum seaweed along South Florida and the Caribbean is driven by higher nutrient concentrations in the Atlantic, likely from various sources including river discharges, atmospheric deposition, and human activities, significantly impacting coastal environments and economies.


WATCH: Florida manatee greets paddleboarder with rainbow spray (WFLA News) - In Ocala, Florida, a paddleboarder experienced a unique encounter with a manatee that created a rainbow effect as it surfaced, due to the sunlight hitting the water at the right angle.


 

The Indian River Land Trust has broadened its environmental stewardship with the acquisition of a new 33-acre conservation property, marking a milestone as their first property outside the Indian River Lagoon. Located along the St. Sebastian River's South Prong, this land hosts a rich ecosystem of Old Florida cypress forests, diverse wildlife, and is the only natural tributary to the Indian River Lagoon in the county. Formerly a citrus grove, the area now comprises uplands with native oaks and cabbage palms, as well as forested wetlands. This acquisition, strategically nestled between two existing conservation areas, enhances the vision of the St. Sebastian River Greenway, a project initiated by the Land Trust in 2006 to establish a nature trail along this vital ecological corridor. Learn more here.


 

Biochar: A game changer for Florida’s climate change challenges? (The Invading Sea) - Biochar, a charcoal-like material created by heating biomass in low oxygen, could be a game-changer for combating climate change in Florida, offering a sustainable alternative to harmful agricultural practices by improving soil health, increasing crop yields, and sequestering carbon.


Designing coastal waterfronts for South Florida’s wet future (Sun Sentinel) - Martina Potlach from Florida International University advocates for using nature-inspired green infrastructure to adapt coastal South Florida to rising sea levels and intensifying storms, proposing a layered approach with coral reefs, seagrass beds, oyster barriers, and mangroves to dissipate wave energy and enhance marine habitats.


‘Lake to Lagoon’ Central Florida conservation program awarded $25M (WFTV) - The "Lake to Lagoon" conservation program in Volusia, Lake, and Flagler counties of Central Florida received $25 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support its efforts in conserving environmentally sensitive lands, as part of a nationwide initiative to address environmental challenges.


A Florida industrial site put millions of gallons of toxic water into bay. What’s the fix? (Miami Herald) - At Piney Point, a former phosphate processing plant in Manatee County, Florida, significant progress is being made to close the site and mitigate environmental risks following a 2021 leak that released contaminated water into Tampa Bay, with the first of four ponds now closed and an underground injection well operational to safely dispose of treated water.


Florida lawmakers approve millions for home hardening. Does it help insurance costs? (Coastal News Today) - Florida lawmakers have allocated an additional $180 million to the My Safe Florida Home program, which assists homeowners in making their homes more hurricane-resistant and aims to reduce insurance costs, but the state has not established a system to collect data or conduct studies on the program's effectiveness in curbing insurance expenses.


Toxic water in paradise: a silent killer harms Florida's water (Nicholson Student Media) - Cyanobacteria, or toxic blue-green algae, increasingly poses a threat to Florida's waterways and marine life, impacting ecosystems and potentially human health with neurological effects; this issue highlights the need for more conservation efforts and activism to address agricultural runoff and other pollutants contributing to the problem.


The world is awash in plastic. Oil producers want a say in how it's cleaned up (NPR) - Negotiations for a legally binding United Nations treaty to address global plastic pollution, involving around 150 countries, are being influenced by various groups including the oil and gas industry, which is advocating for recycling and waste management over substantial cuts in new plastic production, despite research indicating recycling's limited effectiveness in reducing plastic waste.


 

The Pelican Island Audubon Society (PIAS) received two awards at the Annual State Audubon Florida Society Assembly meeting: Best Chapter Education Project 2023 and Best Chapter of the Year 2023. The Best Chapter Education Project Award was given for their Audubon Advocate Programs with four Title 1 elementary schools, benefiting over 800 fifth graders through activities like hiking, bird watching, and learning about the environment. PIAS also held Seasonal Nature camps for the Children’s Homeless Foundation of Indian River County, focusing on nature as a healing modality and introducing conservation principles to 50 campers.


In addition to these programs, PIAS was active in community outreach and environmental education. They continued their efforts to address "nature-deficit disorder" among students from disadvantaged backgrounds and held a special Stormwater Summer Camp. Their "Transforming Landscapes for a Sustainable Future" conference and "Trees for Life/Plants for Birds" program have been instrumental in promoting native plant growth. PIAS's environmental advocacy extended to legal actions to protect local habitats and involvement in local environmental education initiatives. They expressed gratitude to their community, volunteers, donors, and sponsors for their support in achieving these accomplishments.


 

A Tangle of Rules to Protect America’s Water Is Falling Short (New York Times) - A New York Times analysis reveals that America's management of groundwater relies on outdated and lax state and local rules, leading to ineffective oversight and depletion of this crucial resource, with many states lacking comprehensive data on well numbers, water usage, and regulatory enforcement.


1 year after Tropical Storm Nicole, coastal residents in Daytona Beach area still struggle (Coastal News Today) - A year after Tropical Storm Nicole hit the Volusia-Flagler coastline in Florida, residents and business owners in the area, particularly in Wilbur-by-the-Sea, continue to struggle with the storm's aftermath, facing damaged properties, bureaucratic delays, and ongoing recovery efforts. The storm, compounded by the effects of Tropical Storm Ian, caused significant damage to homes, infrastructure, and dune systems along the coast.


Millions of rural Americans rely on private wells. Few regularly test their water. (Duncan Banner) - Millions of rural Americans relying on private wells for water are at risk due to infrequent or nonexistent testing for contaminants, despite concerns about farm and industrial runoff, and harmful minerals like arsenic. While states like Iowa offer aid for well testing and repairs, many residents remain unaware of these services or the potential dangers of untested water, and a significant portion of private wells have contaminant levels above safe standards.


How PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ are getting into Miami’s Biscayne Bay, where dolphins, fish and manatees dine (FIU News) - Studies from Florida International University have found higher concentrations of PFAS near urban canals, suggesting significant contamination from urban sewage and industrial sources. Despite their presence below current advisory levels, there's concern about their bioaccumulation in marine food chains, potentially affecting species like dolphins, sharks, and humans who consume fish from the bay.


Add another heat record to the pile: Earth is historically and alarmingly hot. Now what? (USA Today) - Recent reports reveal that Earth's global average temperatures have reached new highs, likely warmer than any other time in the past 125,000 years, with 2023 predicted to be the hottest year in recorded history. This trend of record-breaking temperatures aligns with earlier climate predictions, with extreme weather events now exceeding forecasts.


Cosmic currents: Preserving water quality for astronauts during space exploration (Space Daily) - Scientists are conducting experiments on the International Space Station to study bacterial growth and biofilm formation in life support systems, aiming to protect water quality for astronauts during space exploration. Some of this research could benefit those of us still on earth, as well as future space explorers.


AI tool helps ecologists monitor rare birds through their songs (British Ecological Society) - A new deep learning AI tool called ECOGEN was developed to generate lifelike birdsongs to train bird identification tools, helping ecologists monitor rare species. The future is now!


 

Here are some ways to save water during the Thanksgiving holiday.


 

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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