County gets favorable ruling in push to extend SR7

Palm Beach County won a big battle in the fight to extend State Road 7 Friday when Administrative Law Judge Bram Carter found that the county had followed all applicable permitting criteria and is entitled to an environmental resource permit.

The county has pushed to extend State Road 7 north to Northlake Boulevard, but the city of West Palm Beach has pushed back, arguing that the extension threatens the Grassy Waters Preserve, a 24-square mile marsh that is the source of its drinking water.

Carter’s recommended order is a major victory for the county.

“The project would not adversely impact public health, safety, and welfare associated with the city’s public water supply in the water catchment area because the project would have no effect on the city’s water supply operations,” the judge wrote. “In addition, there are reasonable protective measures to prevent a spill from entering the city’s public water supply.”

All parties now have 15 days to petition the South Florida Water Management District with errors they believe Carter committed in the order.

If SFWMD agrees that an error has been made, the erroneous portion of Carter’s order will not be followed.

But in an email to county officials, Assistant County Attorney Kim Phan pointed out that un-ringing the bell Carter just struck is no small task.

“An agency’s ability to reject any portion of a recommended order is very limited to conclusions of law and interpretation of administrative rules,” Phan wrote. “Also, the agency may not reject or modify the findings of fact unless it was not based on competent substantial evidence on the proceedings (or) did not comply with essential requirements of law.”

Palm Beach County OKs $1mm toward making Cold War-era sub a reef

(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)
(USS Clamagore Preservation & Memorial Assn)

The Cold War-era submarineUSS Clamagore is one step closer to a final resting place off Juno Beach as Florida’s only submarine artificial reef.

Palm Beach County Commissioners voted 7-0 at Tuesday’s meeting to pay a Miami firm $1 million to coordinate the sinking off the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast” in about 90 feet about 1½ miles off the Juno Beach Pier.

It would be the newest addition to the county’s renowned 150-plus piece artificial reef program.

The money will come from a trust fund fed by vessel registration fees. The state kicks back about $500,000 a year to the county’s Department of Environmental Management.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

The Clamagore: A photo gallery www.mypalmbeachpost.com/clamagore

 

Groundbreaking for Mounts Botanical Gardens’ ‘Windows on the Floating World’ reset for Friday

mounts01mountsmapUPDATE: The county announced today that the Oct. 5 groundbreaking, postponed by Hurricane Matthew, has been reset for 11 a.m. Friday.

Groundbreaking is set for Wednesday afternoon at Mounts Botanical Garden  for its “Windows on the Floating World,” a tropical wetland to complement Palm Beach County’s largest and oldest public garden complex.

Work on the 6,000-square-foot “Windows” is expected to take three to four months, with the garden opening in early 2017.  A small stretch of a walkway will be closed to the public during construction.

Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden raised $470,000 for construction. The Palm Beach County Commission voted on May 3 to throw in $40,000.

The attraction, on the east side of the existing lake, will feature numerous plants from both wetlands and tropical uplands, incorporating them into an existing shade and color garden and an existing bridge overlook.

 

“Nature Awaits’ starts back up next month

022814 ERM nature photo class 5The third season of Palm Beach County’s “Adventure Awaits” series starts up next month. It features, through November, 15 events and a family-friendly festival.

Naturalists from Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management will lead cycling and paddling tours, “a swamp tromp,” nature photography classes, butterfly encounters, and more, including the popular stargazing event.

Events are free but space is limited and advance registration is required. Adventures vary in challenge from “beginner” to “advanced.”

To see the schedule, visit www.facebook.com/PBCERM/events. To reserve your spot, visit www.pbcerm.eventbrite.com.

For more, call (561) 233-2400 or visit www.pbcgov.com/erm/

Expert weighs in on what happens when algae dies — and it isn’t pretty

As bad as the massive algae bloom on the Treasure Coast is now, sometime in the coming days or weeks or months, it’s going to die. And when it does, the impact on flora and fauna will make the current disaster look like a tipped bait bucket by comparison.

That’s the prediction from a local professor who says even now the bloom already is blocking life-giving sunlight in the Indian River Lagoon and sending toxins up the food chain at a rate of as much as 10-fold per dinner.

Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)
Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)

» RELATED: Complete coverage of the algae bloom

The blanket of algae right now actually is generating oxygen, Bill Louda, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s chemistry department, said Thursday morning from Boca Raton.

But, he said, it also is blocking sunlight from reaching the entire water column. That kills algae and sea grass at the bottom. They rot. That makes them inedible to small marine animals, fish, turtles and manatees.

Read the full story on how the algae bloom’s death will impact marine life.

Send in best photos of Lake Worth Lagoon and you might make the calendar

The new South Cove Natural Area along West Palm Beach's waterfront on May 8, 2013. The county, along with Florida Inland Navigation District and the Lake Worth Lagoon Partnership Program, covered the costs for the $3.5 million project. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
(Richard Graulich/ Post)

What’s your best photo of the Lake Worth Lagoon? Send it in and the county might include it in the 2017 Lake Worth Lagoon calendar.

Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management  is holding its second annual contest, open to photographers of all skill levels and ages. ERM is seeking photographs of landscapes, underwater images, wildlife and people at the lagoon, which stretches some 20 miles from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge.

You may submit up to five digital images and enter into a general or youth category. You must fill out a submission and sign a release.

The 2017 calendar will be distributed free, while supplies last, on Nov.  12 at the third annual LagoonFest, a family-friendly celebration of the lagoon set for the West Palm Beach GreenMarket on South Flagler Drive along the downtown waterfront.

For more, visit http://www.LagoonFest.comand select the “Photo Contest Rules and Entry Form” under “Photo Contest.”

 

Abrams: I’m sizzling mad over “meatless Mondays” proclamation

ribeye

Abrams
Abrams

At least one county leader is broiling mad over a planned declaration of “meatless Mondays.”

The commission is set to issue the proclamation at next Tuesday’s meeting. It urges people to reduce meat consumption to cut back on the environmental impact of raising animals for food.

Abrams says he won’t sign it.

“The public doesn’t need the county commission to tell them when and what to eat,” Abrams said Thursday in an actual official press release from his office, titled “Abrams has cow over meatless Mondays.”

“Our constituents are smart enough to decide on their own,” Abrams said. “‘Ice Cream Sundays [sic],’ yes, ‘Meatless Mondays’ no.”

While the subject matter would seem light-hearted, Abrams told the Palm Beach Post Thursday it’s consistent with his political leanings as a lifelong “less-government” Republican.

He also said nobody can remember the last time a proclamation was anything but a formality.

“This is a directive from the board and it has policy issues attached to it,” he said. “It’s not the typical “cancer prevention week.'”