May 2004 Newsletter Articles
After years of discussion, it appears that work to improve the water quality of Lake Hancock will soon begin; the initial projects will be of greater benefit down stream to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor than to Polk County and the lake per se. Nonetheless, since the Sierra Club has had a keen interest in Lake Hancock and its associated wetlands for years, we applaud the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for starting a process which, we hope, will eventually expand to include the entire lake which is one of the County’s largest and, without question, its dirtiest.
The project, about to start, has two goals. The first being to raise the lake’s water level by approximately 1.5 feet in order to provide a reservoir that can be used to maintain suitable flow levels in the Peace River during periods of low rainfall. The second will be to devise and construct mechanisms that remove excessive nutrients from the water exiting the lake and thus improve the quality of water entering the Peace River.
SWFWMD has assigned responsibility for coordinating activities related to the first goal to Harry Downing. Janie Hagberg will lead activities related to exit-water quality enhancement. Both individuals proved to be excellent speakers and provided up-to-date information about their respective projects. Each of these projects should greatly enhance marshlands around the lake. Raising the water level will provide new wetlands along the lake‘s shoreline; filtration marshes are almost certain to be created on the former Old Florida Plantation Property as part of the method used to improve the quality of water downstream.
Unfortunately, neither of these projects will affect the hypereutrophic state of the lake. To improve this will require identification and correction of the sources of pollution entering the lake as well as removal of the muck which has accumulated on the lake bottom. We must renew our efforts to see that these improvements also occur. At the same time we should continue to work with other interested groups to take full advantage of the opportunities for water fowl enhancement which will result as new marshes are created by rising lake levels.
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The South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are hosting a celebration of two decades of Kissimmee River restoration progress on May 7th. The contributions of people like Richard Coleman will be recognized. Tours of the Pool C restoration will be offered and plans for further restoration in Pools B and D will be explained. The Polk Sierra Group needs a new Kissimmee Issue Chair; until a new champion steps forth a group will continue to monitor the progress of our oldest cause.
....Frances H. Coleman
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Bob Taylor, Craftsman Supreme (and also Group Chair), has just a few memorial nesting boxes still available. The ducks love them - and so do the owls. The boxes are constructed out of rough cut thick cypress and will last for years - they make great gifts! (Reminder: Mother's Day and Father's Day are just around the corner.) The suggested donation is $35; all money in excess of costs will be sent to the Coleman Scholarship Fund. Call Bob at 439-2251.
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Greetings from the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club nominating committee. We are officially looking for nominees for Florida Chapter officers. Five officer positions are up for reelection this year and we would like to get as diverse a representation as possible. Nominees must be members of the Sierra Club since December 31, 2003 according to our standing rules. Please submit your nominees to any of our committee members. We ask that all group chairs put a call out to their members.
The deadline for nominations is July 19, 2004. Members who wish to be nominated and were not nominated by the committee may petition to be nominated by obtaining the signatures of 50 verifiable members of the club and delivering them to the Chapter by August 11, 2004. The chapter will provide a membership list to those petitioners upon request.
Kathy Cantwell, Chair Nominating Committee, email@example.com, 52-395-744
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Use Your Personal Computer to Crunch Global Warming Data
climate change, and our response to it, are issues of global importance, affecting food production, water resources, ecosystems, energy demand, insurance costs and much else. There is a broad scientific consensus that the Earth is likely to warm over the coming century, but estimates of how much vary hugely.
The climateprediction.net experiment has been developed to allow a state-of-the-art climate prediction model to be run on home/ school/ work computers. By getting data from thousands of climate models, researchers will generate the world's largest climate prediction experiment.
By taking part in the climateprediction.net experiment you can help to improve scientific forecasts of 21st century climate. The aim of climateprediction.net is to investigate the approximations that have to be made in state-of-the-art climate models. By running the model thousands of times researchers hope to find out how the model responds to slight tweaks to these approximations - slight enough to not make the approximations any less realistic. This will allow them to improve their understanding of how sensitive the models are to small changes and also to things like changes in carbon dioxide and the sulphur cycle. This will allow them to explore how climate may change in the next century under a wide range of different scenarios. In the past, estimates of climate change have had to be made using one or, at best, a very small ensemble (tens rather than thousands!) of model runs. By using our personal computers, they will be able to improve man’s understanding of, and confidence in, climate change predictions more than would ever be possible using the supercomputers currently available to scientists.
How do you participate?
Researchers want you to run a climate model as a background process on your computer. It should not affect any other tasks you use your computer for. If you choose to download the model, you will be supplied with your own, unique, version of the model. As the model runs, you can watch the weather patterns over the globe evolve. The results are sent back via the internet, and an interactive portal is being developed to allow you to compare your results with other people's as the experiment progresses. The Open University will be offering a short course based on the project, and there will also be opportunities to get schools involved with the project.
Log on to the following internet addresses to get started.
http://www.climateprediction.net/index.php and http://www.climateprediction.net/download/participate.php
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Bob Taylor has recently been appointed to the Paynes Creek Historic State Park Advisory Group. This committee will review and update the Management Plan.
Marian Ryan and Frances Coleman are now serving on the Winter Haven Lakes Advisory Committee. This committee studies lake related problems and possible solutions and provides advice to the City Commission.
Many Sierrans participated in the Polk Vision Meetings which have recently been held in many towns around the county. They made certain that environmental and quality of life issues were recognized. Marian Ryan will participate further in this process as a task force representative.
We would like to recognize all of our members who are serving their communities by working on environmental committees or boards of local government. Please call or email the editor with this information (863 956 3771 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
….Frances H. Coleman
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Get connected! Stay up to date on Polk's group activities. We have some very active members who keep us up to date on current local, state and national issues - and also some great outings. Email me at email@example.com to be added to our email list.
We do not pass your email address to anyone else. We will try to send out reminders of activities a few days ahead of time (for those of us who hate to miss out, but are sometimes forgetful.) It would be great if we had at least half of our members on our list, so email me now.
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Chuck McGrady, Director and Past President of the Club, was happy to report there were 171,616 votes cast in the recently concluded National Sierra election; this represents 23% of the Sierra Club's membership. He wrote that both in terms of the issues at stake and the participation of the voters, this was an historic election. The turnout was more than double last year's election and, according to him, can be judged a manifestation of a vigorous and healthy democratic culture. The winners were five candidates chosen by the Nominating Committee and recommended by the current leadership.
....Frances H. Coleman
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You should recently have received a letter (dated March 30th) from the Florida Sierra Chapter asking for a contribution to the Annual Fund Appeal. March is the only time of the year when we can ask our members for contributions, and in the present political landscape, we can use your help. You may make a contribution for any amount (and no amount is too small) to: the Polk (Florida) Sierra Foundation, Florida Sierra Chapter or the Florida Sierra Political Fund. Only the first is tax deductible and the Polk Group would get 100% of it. A separate check is needed should you donate to more than one and the check(s) should be mailed to: Florida Sierra Club, c/o Don Lieb, 888 Willow Run, Ormond Beach, FL 32174.
Please help us if you can. Your support is appreciated.
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The public is invited to join the Polk County Historical Museum’s opening celebration for our permanent exhibit “Florida’s Natural World" on Saturday, May 15th. The event will take place from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Old Courthouse in Bartow.
An Eco-Fest will be held on the museum grounds, where games and activities will be available to educate our visitors to the wonders of our natural world. Participants will include the Sierra Club, Keep Polk County Beautiful, Friends of the Parks Foundation, Polk County Environmental Lands, Extension Services, Water Resources, Solid Waste, the Transportation Department, LE/AD, and Historic Bok Sanctuary. Flint knapping demonstrations will be presented by Claude Van Order and John Allen; Steve Henry will show his reptiles and amphibians.
The Florida Springs Initiative will be hosting a speaker program during the opening on the "Revitalization of Kissingen Springs", a once popular swimming hole that was located south of Bartow. The spring stopped running in the early 1950s due to phosphate mining in the area. A free shuttle bus tour will be offered on May 15th to those interested in viewing what was Kissingen Springs. The Florida Springs Initiative hopes to one day revive the spring to its former glory as a popular recreation area.
This new exhibit highlights the diversity of Polk County’s environmental landscape and the historic changes that affected the settlement and industry of the region as well as our stewardship responsibility as caretakers of the environment.
From the critical water source of the Green Swamp to the unique biodiversity of the Lake Wales Ridge, Polk County and Central Florida are home to many endangered species and distinctive ecosystems.
The Polk County Historical Museum, located at 100 East Main Street, Bartow, is open Tues.- Fri 9:00 to 5:00 and Sat. 9:00 to 3:00. Admission is Free. Please call 863-534-4386 for more information. Visit our website at www.polk-county.net/museum
....Brenda McLain, Curator
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Polk Group volunteers have been busy at Earth Day and other events.
Cynthia Raulerson, Karen Tiano, Jenny Jacobs, John Ryan and Marian Ryan manned the Sierra Club display at Rotary Park in Winter Haven for the April 17th Earth Day event. They distributed literature and helped children make their own colorful butterfly or fish badges. Jenny collected signatures for the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment. Attendance at the event was estimated between 400 and 500.
Karen Tiano, Cynthia Raulerson, Gail Bond, Marian Ryan and John Ryan participated in the Children's Nature Festival that was held at the Tenoroc Fish Management Area in Lakeland on April 24th. Approximately 100 children went home with their hand colored badges. Peace River Restoration, Friends of Green Swamp and other club refrigerator magnets were very popular with the attending crowd. Gail successfully collected Florida Hometown Democracy amendment signatures.
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Get Those Petitions In!
We are very close to having the number of petitions approved that is needed for the review by the Florida Supreme Court. If you have questions, can help get signatures, or need petitions, call or email Gail Bond at 863 298-8134 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the web site www.FloridaHometownDemocracy.com. You can get petitions from either source to complete and then mail.