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September 16 Weekly Newsletter


FPL's Solar Initiatives in Indian River County

In a presentation to the Indian River County Soil & Water Conservation District this past week, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), discussed the ongoing and future solar initiatives in Indian River County (IRC).


FPL has 65 universal solar energy centers spread across 24 counties in Florida. In IRC, FPL serves around 86,000 residential homes. Currently, there are four active solar energy centers in the county: Indian River, Blue Cypress, Orange Blossom, and Grove. This number is set to rise to six with the addition of the Turnpike and Orchard Solar Energy Centers, slated to commence operations in 2024.


Once the Turnpike and Orchard Solar Energy Centers are completed, FPL will be capable of powering 82,500 homes with the solar power plants in Indian River County (for reference, FPL serves about 86,000 residential homes in the county). This is reducing the county's carbon footprint by eliminating annual emissions equivalent to 77,000 cars. In 2021, FPL also contributed nearly $6.7 million in tax revenue to the local economy.


FPL emphasizes the low-impact nature of their solar facilities, which have a height of 6.5 feet and involve environmentally conscious components. These centers are designed to coexist with agricultural communities, offering long-term benefits such as protection against urban sprawl and the creation and preservation of habitats for local wildlife through partnerships with organizations like Audubon Florida. FPL has adopted eco-friendly maintenance practices, limiting the use of chemicals and employing manual mowers, solar powered robotic lawn mowers, and even sheep, to manage grass levels. Adding to this, they are considering the integration of pollinator plants at their sites. Finally, the land housing these installations retains its agricultural zoning, a status preserved even beyond the lifespan of the solar centers.


The efforts of FPL in IRC are helping us move towards a cleaner, greener future. We're thankful for what they've done so far and we encourage them to keep going, by growing their renewable energy projects and looking into other sustainable options, not just solar. It's important for them to work hand in hand with the local communities and organizations to help everyone learn more about renewable energy and how we can use it in our daily lives. As we move forward, we — as a community and with the help of FPL — need to use what the Sunshine State gives us in a way that’s good for both the people and the planet, always looking for ways to do better.


To see a PDF of the PowerPoint Presentation from the meeting, please click here.


 

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Save the Date!

📅 When: Tuesday, October 10, 5:00 to 6:30 PM (drop in/drop out) 📍 Where: Walking Tree Brewery, 3209 Dodger Rd., Vero Beach (near the airport) 🍻 Enjoy: Award-winning beers, wines, sodas (available for purchase)


Join the Indian River Neighborhood Association for a relaxed evening of conversation and camaraderie at Walking Tree Brewery. Talk with local officials and Sebastian and Vero Beach City Council candidates in an informal setting. We have found this offers everyone attending a chance to discuss pressing issues and get to know each other better. This is a great opportunity to connect with those who are and will be shaping our community.


Feel free to bring a friend or neighbor, everyone is welcome! Looking forward to seeing you there.


 

The Indian River Neighborhood Association (IRNA) is partnering with the Pelican Island Audubon Society (PIAS) to develop a Native Plant Garden at the Beach U.S. Post Office on Cardinal Drive in Vero Beach. This endeavor, part of the PIAS’ Trees for Life/Plants for Birds initiative, aims to plant 100,000 native trees and plants in the area, building on the success of previous gardens established in 2022 and earlier this year.


So far, volunteers have prepared the ground by using cardboard and pine straw to nurture the soil, paving the way for the planting of native shrubs and plants next month. This garden, promoting the utility and beauty of native plants, hopes to encourage residents to adopt more sustainable landscaping practices.


We wanted to take a moment to emphasize the educational aspect of the project. Gardens such as this one offer a practical demonstration of how native plants can benefit both the environment and local ecosystems while looking great. The initiative also seeks to educate the public on the role of native gardens in combating climate change and protecting the Lagoon’s ecosystem. Stay tuned for more updates on this eco-friendly venture and if you have a space for such a garden at your business or home, let us or PIAS know and we can provide advice on how you too can convert.


 

This past week, the IRNA reached out to the City of Sebastian to express our gratitude for their proactive steps towards enhancing community safety. We applaud the council's dedication, which is evident through the development of the Marine Law Enforcement facility at the Twin Piers. This venture will promote positive changes and enhance the safety of the North County.


While this facility will provide a quick response avenue for law enforcement during emergencies and patrols, there will still be sufficient space available for the public to enjoy. The underutilized docks present an optimal balance between maintaining community access and supporting swift and more robust law enforcement actions, creating a safer environment for all. Click here to read the full letter.


 

News Headlines and Articles


Railroaded forever? Growing Vero Beach, Sebastian face crossing closures when lanes added (TCPalm) - The potential closure of a railroad crossing in Indian River County and its consequences for the growing population and road infrastructure are examined in detail in the article.


Sea turtle nesting season is breaking records across Treasure Coast (Coastal News Today) - Sea turtle nesting season on the Treasure Coast is shattering records, with thousands of loggerhead and green sea turtle nests documented, attributed to conservation efforts and positive human impact, leading to an unexpected but welcome surprise for scientists.


Florida’s ‘live Local Act’ May Boost Affordable Housing – and Reckless Development, Too (Vote Water) - The "Live Local Act" in Florida, aimed at expediting affordable housing projects by diminishing local oversight in their placement and construction, has sparked concerns about the possibility of reckless development and its potential impacts on infrastructure and communities. In our conversations with IRC County Commissioners, it's evident that they are actively addressing these concerns and exploring strategies to mitigate the adverse consequences in our region. Their goal is to ensure that affordable housing initiatives bring benefits without some of the negative aspects outlined in the bill.


Using chemicals to treat Florida’s algae bloom problem is like taking aspirin for a brain tumor (Florida Phoenix) - Opinion Article: Treating Florida's algae bloom problem with chemicals before assessing their environmental impact is likened to addressing a brain tumor with aspirin, raising concerns about the potential consequences of such an approach, and prompting questions about the order of priorities in handling environmental issues.


Registration fee bill aimed at Florida electric vehicle owners over lost gas-tax dollars (Yahoo News) - A proposed bill aims to introduce an annual registration fee for electric vehicle (EV) owners, potentially reaching up to $250 by the end of the decade, with the goal of compensating for lost gas-tax revenue; the bill, SB 28, filed for the 2024 legislative session, suggests a yearly fee of $200 on EVs, in addition to standard registration fees, with an increase to $250 starting in 2029, and a $50 annual fee for plug-in hybrids, reflecting concerns over reduced motor-fuel based revenue streams due to the rising adoption of EVs.


Decades of water quality safeguards erased, advocates say (Coastal News Today) - The recent amendment to the "Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'" rule, reflecting a Supreme Court decision could result in the development of millions of acres of isolated wetlands and pose a significant threat to water quality and coastal estuaries, potentially leading to more water closures, according to advocates.


Climate change is destroying reefs, but the effects are more than ecological - coral’s been woven into culture and spirituality for centuries (Coastal News Today) - The destruction of coral reefs due to climate change not only has ecological and economic implications but also carries a significant spiritual, psychological, and cultural toll, as coral has held symbolic and protective meaning in human lives for centuries, with historical beliefs in its petrifying and curative powers, as well as its role in creating bonds and hope, particularly among marginalized communities and in the face of social injustice.


'A really big problem': Here's what's killing dolphins in Indian River Lagoon (TCPalm) - Bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon are facing a significant threat as they choke on fishing lines, lures, and gear, leading to injuries and fatalities, with many also succumbing to illnesses exacerbated by pollution, particularly toxic algae blooms, as revealed in a recent study by the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.


 

This introductory video clarifies exactly why Florida needs a fundamental right to clean water in its constitution. Please share it with everyone you know who loves and wants to protect Florida's waters in the best way possible.



 

Brevard's first 3D-printed affordable housing to be built by robots in Melbourne (Florida Today) - Brevard County's first 3D-printed affordable housing project, involving two neighboring homes, will be constructed with the assistance of a robotic printer named "Frank," with Apis Cor, a Melbourne robotics technology company, overseeing the project, and the initiative aims to reduce construction costs by 30%.


Focus not blame: Solving Florida’s water woes (South Central Florida Life) - Opinion Article: Discussing the complexity of Florida's water issues and calling for a focus on real solutions rather than blame, this article emphasizes the need for cooperation in addressing the challenges related to water management in the state.


Vern Buchanan says oil spill at SeaPort Manatee likely intentional dumping (Florida Politics) - Vern Buchanan, U.S. Representative, expresses suspicion of intentional oil dumping into waters near SeaPort Manatee, highlighting the need to hold accountable any potential wrongdoers and protect the region's waterways and economy in the face of such spills.


NOAA’s Multi-Faceted Hurricane Data Collection Efforts Provide a Detailed View of Hurricanes Franklin and Idalia (Coastal News Today) - NOAA's comprehensive hurricane data collection efforts during Hurricanes Franklin and Idalia involved air, sea surface, and underwater observations, providing crucial information to improve forecasts and enhance scientific understanding of these storms. The future is now.


South Florida farmers hit 63% phosphorus reduction in latest SFWMD report (Florida Politics) - Farmers in South Florida's Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) have achieved a 63% reduction in phosphorus discharges compared to the baseline set from 1979 to 1988, exceeding water quality standards and demonstrating their commitment to improving water quality in the region, according to the latest report from the South Florida Water Management District.


Biden says global warming topping 1.5 degrees in the next 10 to 20 years is scarier than nuclear war (CNBC) - President Joe Biden stated in Vietnam that the global temperature rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next two decades is scarier than a nuclear war, emphasizing the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for wealthier nations to support less wealthy ones in climate adaptation efforts.


Florida insurance crisis threatens DeSantis’ 2024 bid as hurricane season intensifies (Yahoo News) - Florida's property insurance crisis, marked by skyrocketing premiums, has come under scrutiny as hurricanes hit the state, posing a potential challenge to Governor Ron DeSantis' 2024 presidential bid, with critics arguing that the crisis is driven by factors beyond litigation and fraud.


 

New County Website and Email Address Information



On September 15, 2023, the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners moved from ircgov.com to a newly designed website at indianriver.gov. The move will also include a switch for staff email addresses to [user]@indianriver.gov. The new website is being designed to be interactive, inviting, and engaging, allowing residents, visitors and business partners to complete their tasks quickly and easily using any device. View the full press release here.


 

New NOAA report confirms widespread coral damage from Port Miami dredge (Coastal News Today) - A new NOAA report reveals extensive coral damage caused by the dredging of Port Miami, with at least 278 acres around the reef buried in silt, potentially costing Miami-Dade County hundreds of millions of dollars for repairs and raising concerns about future dredging projects.


2023 Worst Year On Record For Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters, NOAA Says (Coastal News Today) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2023 is the worst year on record for billion-dollar climate disasters in the U.S., with 23 such disasters causing over $57.6 billion in damages and the likelihood of more such events increasing unless significant action is taken to combat climate change.


What Arizona and other drought-ridden states can learn from Israel’s pioneering water strategy (The Conversation) - Arizona's water crisis prompts consideration of importing desalinated water from Mexico, drawing lessons from Israel's multifaceted water management approach that includes conservation, efficiency, recycling, and desalination as part of an integrated series of solutions.


A 920-pound Florida alligator was caught after a 4 hour fight with hunters (Insider) - Massive alligators weighing nearly 1000 pounds each were caught in Florida and Mississippi, with gator hunters performing a community service by helping control the population and funding wildlife protection through hunting licenses.


How Did Florida Get Its Name? Discover the Origin and Meaning (A-Z Animals) - Florida got its name when Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon discovered the state's abundant flowers and named it "Florida" due to its floral richness. Good resource for kids to learn more about Florida.


Environmental groups sue US over sluggish pace in listing the rare ghost orchid as endangered (AP News) - Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in Florida federal court, urging the U.S. to immediately protect the rare ghost orchid as an endangered species, citing delays by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in making a decision on its status, with the population having significantly declined, partly due to theft and habitat destruction.


 

Sea Turtle Nesting Update! Green turtles and loggerheads continue to build on a record-breaking year for nests, according to preliminary counts!

The preliminary statewide totals as of August 31st are as follows: 133,414 loggerheads nests (previous annual record was 122,707 in 2016) 74,308 green turtle nests (previous annual record was 53,102 in 2017) 1,748 leatherback nests 10 confirmed Kemp’s ridleys nests

Leatherback and loggerhead nesting season has essentially concluded for the year, but green turtles will continue to nest to some extent in September. How did sea turtle nests fare during Hurricane Idalia? Our researchers are currently collecting information on the effect that the storm had on active nests, but fortunately, sea turtles have a nesting strategy that accommodates for such natural events. Each female lays several nests throughout the nesting season, hedging her bets to make sure that even if a storm hits at some point, there is a high probability at least a few of the nests will incubate successfully. In addition, we have reports that turtles continued to nest in several areas around the state following the storm. Thankfully, no storm season is a total loss for Florida’s sea turtles!

Please report sea turtles that are sick, injured, dead, entangled or are in danger to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline (888-404-3922).


 

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