March 2002 Newsletter Articles
Sierra Opposes Bureau of Mine Reclamation IHN Management Plan
The Bureau of Mine Reclamation (BMR) submitted a proposed management plan for the Integrated Habitat Network (IHN) to the Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) for consideration at its February meeting. We believe that our objections to the plan played a significant part in the BMR’s withdrawal of the plan for an indeterminate time.
In general, the IHN is a concept that proposes to use mining reclamation processes, land acquisition and conservation easements to rehabilitate and reconnect the wildlife habitats of the Bone Valley Region that have been degraded, severed or isolated by phosphate mining.
The Sierra Club has been involved in mining and reclamation as well as land management issues in Florida for many years. Many of our group members are knowledgeable on the genesis of the IHN and BMR’s activities in the Bone Valley Region. We have supported, since its inception, the IHN concept that was developed by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and the BMR in the early 1990's. The Sierra Club was instrumental in the inclusion of the IHN as an overlay in the Florida Greenways Project. While we continue to support the concept of the IHN, we have serious concerns regarding the proposed IHN management plan.
The IHN is a subset of Florida’s GEO Plan. The GEO Plan is a guidance document for the multi-agency implementation of critical environmental resource protection throughout the state. The management plan as written does not fulfill the multi-agency implementation strategy. It, in fact, overlaps the jurisdiction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concerning management plan approvals within the boundaries of Developments of Regional Impacts pursuant to F.S.Ch. 380 and its implementing rules, and the Water Management District’s recovery plans for the Peace River Basin in addition to state agency land acquisition strategies. It also overlaps the Lake Hancock/Upper Peace River Restoration Committee’s efforts. And it fails to address re-connection of components mentioned in this management plan, which is a major function of the IHN concept.
The State does not need another land management agency for conservation and recreation lands. We believe that the goal of the IHN plan should be to transfer the management of IHN lands to other divisions of the DEP, the water management districts, the Division of Forestry, the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission or other land management agency as is appropriate. The BMR should only retain management of those mined lands which house their own facilities, pose safety hazards to the general public or provide IHN connections until management by another agency is feasible. Monies in the Mined Lands Trust Fund should be made available to restore, rehabilitate and manage mined lands transferred to the appropriate land management entity. The primary function of the BMR in relation to these lands should be to obtain the legal descriptions and establish the metes and bounds of the lands gained under the Coastal Petroleum Settlement, land donations, and easements where no survey was conducted as part of
the easement transfer.
We will continue to monitor the BMR’s activities regarding any management plan proposals. We believe that each IHN site should go through the ARC process individually. Critical decisions will be the identification of the land management agency best suited to manage the site in question as well as locating funding sources for long term management.
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Help Eradicate Florida's Most Invasive Species
The Backyard Wildlife Habitats program originated with and is directed by the National Wildlife Federation. The following article is information which is important for the implementation of this program in the Central Florida area.
Florida possesses a variety of habitats which are unique to the continental United States. Florida is also home to a large number of Federal and State listed endangered species. Rapid growth and development in Florida has led to the loss of much of this natural habitat and also to a more insidious problem, the introduction of exotic plants. Due to Florida’s tropical habitat and the lack of natural biological controls (such as insect herbivores), these exotic plant species have the potential to invade natural communities and dislocate the native flora and fauna. These invasions may result in a monoculture of exotic plants. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) has developed a list of the most damaging of these plants, known as the Category I Invasive Plant Species. Category I species are plants that are invading and disrupting the native plant communities of Florida. There are many federal, state, regional, local and private groups working to control these species and limit their impact on our natural environment.
Polk County has 21-30 species of Category I invasive plant species. As a homeowner, you can help protect Florida’s native communities by eradicating the species listed below from your property. Additionally, you can educate your friends and neighbors on the issues.
Following is a list of Florida’s most invasive species: air potato (dioscorea bulbifera), Brazilian pepper ( schinus terebinthifolius), chinaberry (melia azedarach), Chinese tallow tree / popcorn tree (sapium sebiferum), cogon grass (imerata cylindrica), rosary pea (abrus precatorius), melaleuca / punk tree / paper bark (melaleuca quinquenervia), suckering Australian pine (casuarina glauca), sword fern / boston fern / fishbone fern / ladder fern (nephrolepis cordifolia), camphor tree (cinnamomum camphora), elephant ears / wild taro (colocasia esculenta), asparagus fern (asparagus densiflorus), orchid tree (bauhinia variegata), woman’s tongue tree (albizia lebbeck), water hyacinth (eichhornia crassipes), surinam cherry (eugenia uniflora), hydrilla (hydrilla verticillata), West Indian marsh grass (hymenachne amplexicaulis), lantana / shrub verbena (lantana camara), Japanese climbing fern (lygodium japonicum), Old World climbing fern (lygodium microphyllum), cat’s claw vine (macfadyena unguis-cati), skunk vine / stink vine (paederia foetida), torpedo grass (panicum repens), water lettuce (pistia stratiotes), guava (psidium guajava), kudzu (pueraria montana), tropical soda apple (solanum viarum), and para grass (urochloa mutica).
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Campaign Finance Reform
National Sierra (and, of course, Polk) has for years advocated meaningful campaign finance reform. Bills that should reduce the dominance of the campaign process by entities of great wealth are, as of this writing, moving through Congress. The House of Representatives passed the Shays-Meehan bill on February 14th. This bill was not perfect but it was a major step toward getting big money, like Enron, out of politics.
Polk Sierra was extremely disappointed that our Representative Adam Putnam voted against Shays-Meehan. We hope that he will rethink his position.
...Frances H. Coleman
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National Club Election Coming this Spring
The annual election for the Club's Board of Directors is now underway. In March, you will receive in the mail your national Sierra Club ballot. This will include information on the candidates for the Board of Directors.
The Sierra Club is a democratically structured organization at all levels that requires the regular flow of views on policy and priorities from its grassroots membership in order to function well. Yearly participation in elections at all Club levels is a major membership obligation. Your Board of Directors is required to stand for election by the membership. This Board sets Club policy and budgets at the national level and works closely with the staff to run the Club. Voting for candidates who express your views on how the Club should grow and change is both a privilege and responsibility of membership.
Members frequently state that they don't know the candidates and find it difficult to vote without learning more. You can learn more by asking questions of your group and chapter leadership and other experienced members you know. Visit the Club's election website - http://www.sierraclub.org/bod/2002election - which this year will include candidate responses to questions posted by various Club entities.
You should use your own judgment by taking several minutes to read the ballot statement of each candidate, make your choices, and then cast your votes. You will find our ballot is quite straightforward and easy to mark. You can even cast your vote electronically!
...Inspectors of the Election, National Sierra
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