Environment

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Central and North Florida springs are getting an extra $4 million to help supplement ongoing water conservation efforts.

The St. Johns River Water Management District board voted Tuesday to allow the district’s executive director to use the funds the Florida Legislature allocated.

Some environmentalists worry the board signed away its authority to choose which projects get the funds, which could hinder transparency.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

St. Johns River advocates and museum goers attended a first-of-its-kind symposium Saturday at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.

The event was focused on shaping the next generation of river enthusiasts.

Author and self-described springs advocate Rick Kilby took the older crowd back to a simpler time, when Kilby said the springs surrounding the St. Johns River were as clear as the memories he has of summer swimming trips. Since then, he said Florida has been too successful at attracting new residents.

Ray Hollister / WJCT News

Environmental groups in Northeast Florida are criticizing state legislators on how they are shifting funds for an amendment passed last November.

The groups say Amendment 1’s original purpose was to fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund which would then acquire, restore and manage conservation lands.

But now representatives from groups like the North Florida Land Trust are concerned legislators are using funds from Amendment for things other than land purchases.

The North Florida Land Trust purchases land for conservation and preservation.

Duval County Public Schools superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti joins us to discuss his agenda for education on the First Coast. Major changes such as new magnet schools, single gender education, trade schools and more are being considered to improve student achievement. Vitti says he is trying to create more quality educational choices to lure parents and students back from charter and private schools while also saving some under-enrolled, under-performing schools from closing their doors.

US Environmental Protection Agency

The House on Monday approved a measure that would require oil and gas companies to inform the state of chemicals being injected into the ground as part of a controversial drilling process known as "fracking."

The bill (HB 1205) also would prohibit permits from being issued until a study is completed on the potential impacts of fracking.

On the March 2015 edition of WJCT's Policy Matters, host Rick Mullaney speaks with nationally renowned water resource and marine life experts James G. Workman, writer and Deputy Director of the Environmental Defense Fund's Catch Share Design, and Dr. Quint White, Director of Jacksonville University's Marine Science Research Institute.

You can subscribe to the Policy Matters podcast in iTunes.

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

New legislation currently before Congress that would set regulations on an array of environmental hazards is being closely watched here in Jacksonville, a city consistently rated poor in air quality. The upcoming annual Northeast Florida Environmental Summit will discuss how these environmental hazards impact our community, children, and food production. We speak with Eric Hull, summit chairperson and professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, Patricia Pappan, president of the Environmental Law Society, and Dr. Quint White, marine biologist at Jacksonville University.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Whales are on their way to Northeast Florida.

Keith Ramos / Flickr

Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are encouraging people to be especially mindful of manatees this month.

Peter Haden / WJCT

At 310 miles long, the St. Johns is the longest river in Florida. It’s flat and slow - flowing at less than half-a-mile per hour - but not lazy. The St. Johns is the state’s most important river for commerce and recreation. Its significance runs deep, but for some, a stretch of the river needs to run deeper.

Florida will now dedicate a third of its revenues from real estate transaction fees for water and land conservation after voters approved Amendment One Tuesday.

Peter Haden / WJCT

Catherine Dillingham's septic tank is pooped out.

"It's old... I just had [it] pumped about two months ago. It was full."

But a full septic tank is not what qualified Dillingham’s home for a new sewer hookup - courtesy of the City of Jacksonville and JEA. It was a more natural and free-flowing feature.

Sunshine Economy: Amendment 1 - Paying to Protect Florida By the Acre and the Gallon

Almost three and a half million acres of Florida are under the state's care. The federal government is responsible for another three million acres. County and local governments plus special districts such as water conservation and management areas have 3.4 million acres under their control.

More than 92,000 petitions arrived at Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office today urging the governor to announce his plan for fighting climate change. The petitions also call for Scott to cut carbon emissions and invest in solar power, actions that would help the state comply with the federal government's proposed Clean Power Plan

Peter Haden / WJCT

At 310 miles long, the St. Johns is the longest river in Florida. It’s flat and slow, flowing at less than half a mile per hour, but the St. Johns is the state’s most important river for commerce and recreation. Its significance runs deep, but for some, a stretch of the river needs to run deeper.

"Identifying the deepening as a necessity to grow the port happened several years ago," said Nancy Rubin, Director of Communications for the Jacksonville Port Authority. JAXPORT wants to deepen 13 miles of the St. Johns at the mouth of the river from 40 feet to 47 feet.

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