NEWS FROM THE CHAIR June 2016


By Maryvonne Devensky

Memorial week end is here and to remember veterans and values they defended, I propose that you listen to Larry Kirby, a WWII veteran reading an essay about WWII and American values. Please go to http://onpoint.wbur.org/2016/05/26/wwii-vet-larry-kirby  to listen to the 91 year old vet reflecting on the power of community.

Sharing the values of community and to link this back to our SSJ Sierra Club community, I want to thank Scott Camil, Vietnam Vet and founder of our local chapter of Vets for Peace, and his wife Sherry Steiner as well, for the work they are doing in support of our community.  Last weekend, on May 22, Scott and Sherry organized a party for Stand By Our Plan (SBOP) supporters to thank them for their help in the opposition to the Plum Creek/Weyerhaeuser (PC/W), for attending the various County Commission meetings we had last February…and also to remind all who attended that the opposition to PC/W is not over…We have elections coming up for two County Commissioners who stood by our plan and voted against PC/W’s proposal. Both of these Commissioners now have opposition from candidates who support PC/W.  These races will be decided during the August 30, 2016 primary, not in November with the presidential elections. Please study the candidates’ stance on this issue and vote in the Democratic primary August 30th!   

Also important: When you vote on August 30, support Amendment # 4 to allow Solar Choice to all citizens, contrary to the “Smart Choice” Amendment #1, on November 8, 2016 – with that  one local and state regulators would maintain control over solar energy production.

NEWS TO SHARE

I have the pleasure to share the news that the Sierra Club has hired a new staff person for our area: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson whose name may already be known to you. She will start to work for the Sierra Club on June 1, 2016, as advocate for our Springs.  Her incredible commitment and amazing energy will be compensated by a salary, even though I feel that she is “priceless”….

For the time being, she will work out of her business location,  “Rum 138”, which is based on the Santa Fe river in Fort White. More information to share later as Merrillee develops goals to continue working for protection of our springs and rivers, and for water conservation.

MOMENTUM IS GROWING AGAINST THE SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE

May 15, 2016, about 30 people met at the Suwannee River State Park (some of us had met there on January 16) and took a hike through the area where the Sabal Trail company staked the path of their pipeline. This time Congressman Ted Yoho was with us as well as Senator Nelson Regional Director Mary Louise Hester, John Quarterman, President of WWALS, Jennifer Rubiello, Director of Environment Florida, Kimberly Williams, from Environment America.  Dennis Price, geologist, led the hike with Chris Mericle and we could all see that the ST documentation is not accurate, contains errors or omits information regarding the terrain. That day Congressman Ted Yoho promised us that he was going to intervene in your name to request a supplemental environmental impact survey from the Army Corps of Engineers.

You need to remember that this project “is not a done deal”…The Army Corps of Engineers and the Water Management Districts have not given their permit yet, so we need to push for a more complete Supplemental Environmental Impact Survey from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Our main concerns is still that Sabal Trail documentation so far has not included important sinkholes and other geologic features typical of Northern Florida Karst geology – which is unique in the world – with dozens of springs, creeks, caves and caverns.

A correct Supplemental Environmental Impact Survey (SEIS) from USACE is necessary and we need to keep demanding it from our County Commissioners in ALL the Counties affected by the Sabal Trail pipeline. Unless the Corps is willing to allow other studies on the record and consider them through the SEIS process, we will continue to see agencies trusting that Sabal Trail has done their jobs correctly. So I would suggest continuing putting pressure on Marion County BOCC for the SEIS. Keep speaking up about your concerns (only 3 minutes at BOCC Meetings), sending emails and letters to all members of that Commission.

See the correspondence between Marion County BOCC, Sabal Trail administrator and USACE at this link:

http://www.marioncountyfl.org/departments-agencies/departments-o-z/office-of-the-county-engineer/sabal-trail

With the summer coming, some of us on Excom and some of you, will travel and be away for a while. Stay in touch and stay informed by going to http://www.spectrabusters.org or to the website of the WWALS Watershed Coalition.

LAST ICO OUTINGS AT PRAIRIE CREEK PRESERVE

Thank you to all the ICO volunteers: Dan Rountree, Amanda Nichols and Pete Monte.  The students said they “enjoyed the hike the most”, “seeing the lightning bugs”, “seeing a tree frog and the scrub lizard”, as well as sleeping in the tent and making S’Mores.

FUTURE FALL PROGRAMS:

No General meetings in June, July and August.

September 1st:  Adrian Hayes-Santos, City Commissioner recently elected.

October 6th:  Meryl Clark, Forest Ranger at Morningside Nature Center, will tell us about John Muir when he hiked Florida from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key in 1867.

Enjoy your summer…and do not forget to vote on August 30, 2016. The August 30 democratic primary in Alachua county will be a chance for residents to vote, directly, on the Plum Creek issue.