Sierra says "No!" to Exotic Grass for Biomass Fuel in Highlands and Desoto Counties
The Polk Group has gone on record as strongly opposing a proposal to grow the exotic grass, Arondo Donax, as a biomass fuel in Highlands or DeSoto Counties. Biomass Industries has proposed plantations of the grass to supply power to a Jacksonville electric utility, JEA. While not currently listed as an Invasive Exotic species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, there is plenty of evidence that its introduction to the Central Florida area would be disastrous. The National Park Service considers the grass to be an ecological threat: "Giant reed chokes riversides and stream channels, crowds out native plants, interferes with flood control, increases fire potential, and reduces habitat for wildlife...The long, fibrous, interconnecting root mats of giant reed form a framework for debris dams behind bridges, culverts, and other structures that lead to damage. It ignites easily and can create intense fires."
Our group's objections are based on the adoption of the Biomass Standards which were developed by the Florida Sierra Chapter's Energy Committee. The Standards call for evaluations of potentially invasive biomass crops. To date, no authoritative information has been provided to refute the strong evidence that A. donax is likely to exhibit invasive characteristics in Florida.
The proposed state constitutional amendment, which would let city and county residents vote on any changes to the comprehensive plans, is being unfairly characterized by some opponents as too expensive. Passage of this amendment would NOT create a need for special elections. Any proposed change to a comprehensive plan would be voted on at a regularly scheduled election. If a developer just couldn't wait until a regularly scheduled election, he could pay for a special mail-in ballot run by the appropriate supervisor of elections.
To put this amendment on the ballot, you should obtain a copy of the petition, fill it out, and mail it as instructed. For more information or copies of the petition, contact Marian Ryan at 863 293-6961 firstname.lastname@example.org or Gail N. Bond at 863 298-8134 email@example.com or go on line at: www.FloridaHometownDemocracy.com
Winter Haven Votes to Dedicate New Boardwalk to the Memory of Richard L. Coleman
The memorial at the entrance to the new extensive boardwalk at the South Lake Howard Nature Park will read in part:
As you take this walk with nature, please appreciate one special Winter Haven resident who not only advocated the construction of the Lake Howard Nature Park, but also dedicated his life to the preservation of natural Florida.
This boardwalk is dedicated to the memory of Richard L. Coleman. Mr. Coleman served on the City of Winter Haven Lakes Advisory Committee for 17 years and also advised state and national officials on such issues as the restoration of the Kissimmee River, the management of mined phosphate lands, and the protection of the Green Swamp.
Richard's quick smile, booming voice, and fearless dedication to the protection and improvement of our natural environment will never be forgotten. "If you really enjoy the out of doors, you will work to protect it."
Polk Group member, Marian Ryan, was recently elected to a second term as Chair of the Polk County Water Policy Advisory Committee. The 10 member volunteer advisory committee, which was appointed by the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), was created in July of 2001. The Committee had a specific Charge to develop policies and action plans regarding surface and groundwater issues in Polk County within a six month period. They successfully completed that task and were re-authorized by the BoCC as a standing committee in May of 2002. The Committee has since been charged to assist the BoCC in the orderly implementation of Polk County’s Water Policy as adopted on May 15, 2002. In addition, the Committee will continue to review and make recommendations as necessary to the BoCC, to refine and improve the Water Policy and in the development of a Water Supply Plan.
The Polk County website has a new Water Resources page which provides general information on a variety of water related topics: http://www.polk-county.net/county_offices/county_manager/water_resources/advisory_committee.aspx
Sierra Club Florida