Springs Vent Special Edition – 2015 Year in Review

Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute 2015 Year in Review As we move forward into the New Year, we look back on the many accomplishments that occurred in 2015; a time in which the Florida Springs Institute (FSI) continued to fight tirelessly for our treasured, yet suffering, springs. We begin 2016 with a renewed resolve to promote springs science and education, while also advocating for stronger protection and meaningful restoration of these truly unique and greatly admired environmental wonders. Let us take a brief moment to reminisce on the FSI’s productive activities during this past year before charging forward into a new year of continuing battle to protect the natural aquatic environments that we seek to preserve for generations to come.  Florida Springs Council On the very first day of 2015, the FSI announced the formation of a new coalition of springs organizations coming together to promote the goal of springs protection through education, legislation, and action. Since its formation, the Florida Springs Council has grown to 35 member organizations representing over 125,000 Floridians. In January and August, the Council hosted roundtable meetings to allow for collaboration between its member organizations on important springs issues. During the last two months of 2015, the Council was an active voice on both water bills as they moved through the sub-committees of the House and Senate, recommending significant improvements to the bills to strengthen the springs protections contained therein. In the first few days of 2016, the Council’s legislative committee is already working to promote several key amendments for consideration in this year’s water legislation. In October 2015, the Council hosted a legal strategy workshop to discuss possible action to prevent further degradation to our springs. In December 2015, a letter about the inadequacies of the Basin Management Action Plan for Silver Springs was sent by the Council to the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is awaiting review. Also in 2015, the Council began the planning process for a statewide springs conference to be held in 2016, which will include an update on the current health of our springs and panel discussions on key issues for protection and restoration. Science & Monitoring The FSI conducted several new and existing springs ecology monitoring projects in 2015, allowing us to expand our knowledge of Florida’s springs ecosystems and to recommend improved management options. The FSI continues to advise local and state leaders on improving their efforts to reduce excessive pollution and water withdrawals that negatively affect springs health. With assistance from the Protect Florida Springs Grant Program, the SPRINGSWATCH program was extended to Homosassa Springs in 2015. Adding to the work of citizen scientists at Silver and Ichetucknee Springs, the Homosassa SPRINGSWATCH helps fill in monitoring gaps at our most imperiled springs by providing regular monthly updates on springs ecological health. [read more…]

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