“Congress moves to revive National Scenic Byways Program”

“Congress moves to revive National Scenic Byways Program”

Photo: Scenic America

“The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure unanimously moved H.R. 5158, a bill to restart the National Scenic Byways Program, on to the full House! Click here to watch the committee’s discussion on the bill.

This action represents a critical step forward for this bill and for the National Scenic Byways Program. This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the support of friends like you who’ve taken action to contact their Members of Congress in support of this bill. So thank you!

If you haven’t yet, please reach out to your U.S. Representative today in support of scenic byways: www.scenic.org/HR5158

Scenic America has been working hard to achieve the reopening of nominations to the National Scenic Byways Program, and today this goal is one step closer to reality.”

— Mark Falzone, Scenic America
More details at Scenic America

Scenic Florida’s John R. Crescimbeni awarded 2018 Charles E. Bennett Champion Of the Environment Award

Scenic Florida’s John R. Crescimbeni awarded 2018 Charles E. Bennett Champion Of the Environment Award

Photo: Sandy Arpen – John Crescimbini with Amy Fu, Vice Chair of Jacksonville’s Environmental Protection Board

“John Crescimbini was awarded the 2018 Charles E. Bennett Champion of the Environment Award from the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board. The award, which is the EPB’s highest award, was be presented to John on September 14. Last year Bill Brinton received this award posthumously.

Photo: Sandy Arpen – John Crescimbini with Jason Ellis of City Beautiful Jax, Janet Stanko of the Sierra Club, Alicia Grant of Scenic Jacksonville, Inc., Tracey Arpen of City Beautiful Jax and Anna Dooley of Greenscape

The award is named for the late Congressman Charlie Bennett, who was instrumental in establishing the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve in Jacksonville, which now covers. 46,000 acres. He served in Congress for 44 years. Like John, he was a dedicated and hard-working public servant, at one point going 26 years without missing a single roll call vote!”

— Scenic Florida
Environmental Protection Board

Coconut Grove: “Miami will bloom with new orchids”

Coconut Grove: “Miami will bloom with new orchids”

Photo: City of Miami Twitter

“Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood will be flush with orchids in the near future.

On Monday morning, city of Miami officials, representatives from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Million Orchid Project and volunteers began planting hundreds of native orchids in the neighborhood.

The Million Orchid Project was launched in 2014 to bring back the orchid population by having a new generation of seedlings planted in urban areas.

‘Launching the Million Orchid Project to Coconut Grove brings all the things we love about the Grove together: environment, history and beauty,’ Miami city commissioner Ken Russell said on Twitter.

At a press conference Wednesday morning along Main Highway in Coconut Grove, Russell said ‘our goal is to put 100 orchids on every mahogany tree on Main Highway over the coming months…So as these bloom in the coming years, you’re going to see a sense of the Grove that we remember from long ago.’

The orchid species that will be planted in the Grove include the cowhorn orchid, clamshell orchid and butterfly orchid…

More than a century ago, before railroad expansion, the region’s ecosystem bloomed with orchids that grew on native trees, Fairchild officials said…

Last year, the Million Orchid Project planted thousands of orchids throughout Miami Beach and about 250 at Tivoli Lakes in Boynton Beach. ”

— Johnny Diaz,South Florida Sun Sentinel
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“Are underground power lines really the solution to power outages in South Florida?”

“Are underground power lines really the solution to power outages in South Florida?”

Photo: Al Diaz, Miami Herald

“Hurricane Irma was a game-changer for South Florida. Cities are preparing for hurricane season differently now. And the region’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light, is pushing for a method that could turn the lights back on faster after a storm…

Last month, FPL launched a three-year pilot program to put more power lines underground in more neighborhoods. According to FPL, 40 percent of its lines are already under the ground.

After the 2005 double-hitter of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, FPL invested nearly $3 billion to harden its electrical grid, to try to make it more resilient against the storms of the future.

Underground power lines are one of several hardening techniques that help make the grid more storm-resilient. Others include managing trees near electrical infrastructure; replacing wooden poles with concrete or steel ones; and reinforcing utility poles with guy wires (tensioned cables) for more stability.

FPL, which maintains a hybrid system of above-ground and underground lines, says it’s planning to harden all the power lines along major thoroughfares by 2024.

At the May PSC meeting, Olnick said underground power lines performed 80 percent better than overhead ones during Hurricane Irma – which means they were that much less likely to lose power.

‘Which was expected,’ he said.

If Irma had been a water storm, underground power lines would have faced other challenges, namely severe flooding and storm surge…

Buried power lines are kept inside PVC pipes that are made to be watertight. But if water manages to enter the pipes, then the outages can take longer to remedy because accessing buried infrastructure takes more time. (The U.S. Department of Energy estimates repairing ‘widespread below-ground failures an take several weeks.)

…South Florida’s geology compounds the water tradeoff. The pipes are sitting atop a bedrock of porous limestone – essentially a big sponge.

The ground material also varies with geography. Varela, the Miami Springs contractor, says he has hit sandy soil there while Coral Gables is known for its coral rock…

FPL says it’s trying to counter storm flooding. According to Olnick, the company is using flood monitors at substations to keep track of existing water. (During Irma, two substations in FPL’s 35-county territory were de-energized, or powered down, because of flooding.)

In Downtown Miami, the company is experimenting with sub-aqueous power lines that can be submerged in water, according to FPL’s Bryan Olnick.”

— Alexander Gonzalez & Caitie Switalski, WLRN Miami, South Florida
Read entire article including detailed requirements and geographical charts

West Palm Beach: “Vegetation Vigilante” going out on a limb to fix stalled out beautification project

Photo: WPTV, West Palm Beach
“People are going out on a limb to make a statement about beautification on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.

And it’s turned into a unique and fun display of public disobedience.

‘Someone has to “bark” at them,’ said Jim Kovalsky, who has spoken out about empty tree pits on Clematis Street and Dixie Highway. ‘The rest of the planters along this section all have trees.’

But these particular plots across the street from city hall do not have trees and have been this way for at least a year, according to downtown residents.

‘It’s basically become a tripping hazard with no tree in them when we’re trying to have walkability,’ said Kovalsky.

And that’s why a “vegetation vigilante” decided to plant some trees themselves. It’s unknown who put the trees there.

Kovalsky and his friends added to the fun, by decorating it like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

‘Bring some attention in a different way,’ he said. ‘It kind of just branched out from there.’

The trees started a buzz on social media.

‘And very quickly after that, both trees unceremoniously disappeared,’ said Kovalsky.

And then, in place of the trees — a graveyard appeared.

‘It said “RIP Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I have no idea who put that there,’ chuckled Kovalsky.

Here’s some good news — Mayor Jeri Muoio has identified a million dollars to increase tree benefits throughout the city.

According to the city, the focus of this dedication is to support of West Palm Beach Net Zero Green House Gas Emissions by 2050 Initiative and to improve the walkability and bikeability of the downtown space and connectors by increasing shade.

To do this, West Palm beach is concentrating on planting 20 ft. shade trees throughout the community, using native Florida trees and selecting a wide variety of acceptable shade tree species. Howard Park will be receiving 10 new trees in the coming weeks. Working with Florida Power and Light, the City of West Palm Beach is planting the trees to complement the solar tree structures which were recently installed. That project will be completed by late August or early September…”

— Alanna Quillen, WPTV, West Palm Beach
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