The FWC has distributed the following email which describes a public input meeting where we can express our opinion about vessel speed during flood periods. OSFR has written about its position in an earlier post on April 30, 2015 which outlines the many reasons to not only not increase speed limits, but make the river a no wake zone.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement’s Boating and Waterways Section, announces a public workshop to which all persons are invited.
DATE AND TIME: Thursday, July 9, 2015, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
PLACE: Fort White Community Center, 17579 SW State Road 47, Fort White, FL 32038
PURPOSE: The purpose and effect of this workshop is to address possible rule changes to Rule 68D-24.020, Florida Administrative Code (Suwannee and Santa Fe River Boating Restricted Areas) affecting vessel speed during flood conditions within the Santa Fe River, and dividing the river into four (4) independent zones for the purpose of regulating vessel speed during flood events; activating and deactivating the zones independently, which would more accurately reflect the public safety needs during various flood events occurring within the basin, referencing current United States Geological Survey river stage gauges and datum, and raising the trigger level in the lower portion of the Santa Fe River basin to more closely align with the official river flood stage as was intended by current Florida law from 17’ to 18’.
A copy of the agenda may be obtained by visiting MyFWC.com/Boating and look up “Workshops” under the heading “Waterway Management.” Additional information will be posted as it becomes available. You can also contact Captain Gary Klein, Division of Law Enforcement, Boating and Waterways Section, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600, (850) 488-5600, or email: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Key to this issue is the fact that the Santa Fe River is designated an Outstanding Florida Waterway, and as such merits special protecion. Here is the explanation from our earlier post:
OSFR takes issue with this as there is absolutely no concern here for the increased erosion of shorelines, detrimental to trees and causing changes to the river course by man-made altering forces unnatural to nature. Seemingly forgotten by our state agency is the fact that both the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe River are designated “OFW’s” and as such fall under special protection, the authority of which is:
Section 403.061(27), Florida Statutes, grants the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the power to establish rules that provide for a special category of waterbodies within the state, to be referred to as “Outstanding Florida Waters,” which shall be worthy of special protection because of their natural attributes.
Activities within an OFW must meet a more stringent public interest test. The activity must be “clearly in the public interest.” In determining whether an activity is not contrary to public interest,DEP or SRWMD must consider and balance the following factors:
Whether the activity will adversely affect the public health, safety, welfare or the property of others;
Whether the activity will adversely affect the conservation of fish and wildlife, including endangered or threatened species, or their habitats;
Whether the activity will adversely affect navigation or the flow of water or cause harmful erosion or shoaling;
Whether the activity will adversely affect the public health, safety, welfare or the Whether the activity will adversely affect the fishing or recreational values or marine productivity in the vicinity of the activity;
Whether the activity will be of a temporary or permanent nature;
Whether the activity will adversely affect or will enhance significant historical and archaeological resources under the provisions of S. 267.061; and
The current condition and relative value of functions being performed by areas affected by the proposed activity.
How much clearer could it be? Number 3 is right there. OSFR believes that FWC and DEP and SRWMD must convene and read the Florida law to coordinate among themselves a ruling which follows that law, that they should consider the public input which they requested, and then lower the levels from the current ones instead of raising them. They must also reconsider their stance as being unaffected by any reason other than human safety and take into account what Florida law says about protecting OFW’s. This includes shoreline erosion and the property of others.
Think about shoreline erosion as well as safety and come to the meeting to express your opinion.