The origins of EREF date back to some of the very first summertime fertilizer blackouts in Florida. As you know, many local governments believe that eliminating ALL fertilizer applications during the summer will result in improved water quality, particularly if they have impaired or polluted water bodies. However well-meaning these ordinances may be, they do not square with the evidence and are likely more harmful that beneficial.
EREF’s approach to fighting these ordinances has evolved and can be summarized in the following bullets:
- EREF supports the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) updated Model Fertilizer Ordinance, as well as the findings in its comprehensive fertilizer study which can be found at this link. https://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/turfgrass-science/nutrient-management-research/fdep-funded-study/
- The fertilizer blackout ordinances are not supported by FDEP, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), any of the State’s water management districts, nor any academic/research institutions.
- While exemptions to the summertime blackouts exist in many of the ordinances for certain industry stakeholders, it is false comfort – the blackouts erode public confidence in industry best practices across the board.
- There is ZERO peer-reviewed evidence of adverse impacts resulting from properly-applied urban fertilizer, and considerable peer-reviewed evidence supporting its safe and sustainable application by professionals and BMP-trained homeowners.
- There is ZERO evidence of benefit to any of the jurisdiction who HAVE adopted blackouts. In most cases, other causalities have been clearly identified including septic discharges and others unrelated to urban fertilizer.
In an effort to minimize the adverse impacts of the blackouts and to support the universal goal of protecting water quality in Florida, EREF has taken the following position in recent public hearings:
- EREF believes blackout ordinances can serve two beneficial purposes – to educate the public about the proper application of fertilizer, and to reduce the potential impacts associated with those who do not follow best practices, specifically those who fertilize driveways and sidewalks, and who blow grass clippings into storm drains.
- Exemptions for BMP trained professionals are earned, appropriate and should be immediately extended to licensed lawn-care professionals in many jurisdictions where only golf, sports turf and farming are currently exempted.
- Regardless of exemptions, blackout periods should coincide with dormant/cooler months and not be imposed during the active growing season for plants and turf. Legislating that fertilizer can only be applied outside of the growing season serves to dramatically increase the likelihood of adverse consequences resulting from reduced take up by plant materials in or near dormancy.
This simple approach is an important first step in conforming public policy on managed greenspaces to the clear and convincing evidence. Amending existing ordinances to extend exemptions to licensed lawn-care professionals is a key EREF strategy, along with resisting any expansion of summertime blackouts elsewhere in the state.
EREF’s efforts extend beyond these issues as well. Please follow EREF on Twitter @EREFlorida, on Facebook @EREFlorida, and please support your industry by making a donation on our website at www.EREFlorida.com/support.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend two different meetings of representatives of the Florida Golf Course Superintendents Association (FGCSA).
The first meeting was with the Board of Directors of FGCSA at their winter board meeting in Amelia Island on September 30th. That visit resulted from a discussion I had with the FGCSA’s Executive Committee about the funding prospects for EREF. Over the last year or so, the EREF board has been looking at various options on how to improve stakeholder involvement and financial support for EREF. We discussed those options with each of our major stakeholders, including the FGCSA, and garnered a lot of good information from them about the workings of their organization and their industry, as well as about the funding options under consideration. As part of that discussion, I was able to provide an update that framed EREF historically, and in terms of what it expects of its future. This was a great example of how even long-time allies can benefit from ongoing communications and personal interaction. The Board was an impressive group and I was very grateful for their warm and professional treatment.
On October 24th, I was invited by Dan Elchert of the FGCSA’s Palm Beach Chapter to go to Jupiter and give a water-policy and advocacy presentation to their joint meeting with the Treasure Coast Chapter. The bad news was that I had to follow a fantastic presentation by Greg Pheneger of Johns Island Club and the FGCSA ‘s Government Affairs director. I got to know Greg through years together at the Florida Turfgrass Association and he is a veteran of numerous efforts to improve relationships and policy outcomes with local governments around the state as they pertain to golf and the larger green industry. His practical and disciplined approach toward involvement and advocacy is THE blueprint for the industry. As much of this stuff as I also do, I learned new and nuanced approaches from Greg’s talk.
During the joint meeting, I provided an overview of the increasingly active efforts of local governments in bringing restrictive “blackout” fertilizer ordinances back to the table (Citrus and Seminole Counties currently) and what EREF and others were doing to address those efforts. In addition, I reminded the group that there are many entry points for unfriendly policy – on water use (permitting and pumpage limitations), on landscape design (restrictive plant lists, limited turf footprints, turf variety limitations), on chemical use (glyphosate restrictions), as well as on nutrient management. For example, how would a Paspalum-only mandate grab you? The conclusion that both Greg and I shared in our presentations is that we have a great story to tell, that many outside of our industries are unaware of the great work we do on environmental and natural resource protection, and that we are going to have to be increasingly active in getting that message out.
Going back to the benefits of ongoing communications, I took some questions after the Palm Beach / Treasure Coast meeting and was advised that EREF’s conditional willingness to support a winter fertilizer ban as being more consistent with recent research was NOT a general position that the FGCSA could agree with. I had to confess that EREF was not making it clear that this was a position relative only to residential turf management coming out of the FDEP / UF-IFAS studies on St. Augustine and Zoysia nutrient leaching, and that it must be accompanied by a professional lawn care exemption. It was healthy for me to be reminded that winter is prime time for our golf allies and that winter nutrient management is critical, is highly managed and protective of the environment, and is their particular specialty. Suffice it to say that EREF’s communications will make this important distinction more clearly going forward. My special thanks to Christy Lyle and Steve Wright for getting me lined up on this!
I will say again that it was great to have these opportunities to spend time with our golf allies and I hope to get some more of them.
Lakeland, Florida / January 18, 2016 – The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (“EREF”) and Carraway Consulting announced today the appointment of Mac Carraway as its consulting Executive Director. Mr. Carraway is a 23-year veteran of Florida’s agricultural and green industries and is the President of Carraway Consulting in Bradenton, Florida.
Acting EREF Board of Directors Chairman Mac Briley of ValleyCrest in Orlando, Florida, detailed the announcement. “Mac [Carraway] has been involved with EREF since its inception, and was its first Chairman until accepting this appointment as EREF’s Executive Director. The Board felt it was the logical next step to have Mac formally assume these responsibilities to help EREF further its mission in 2016 and beyond.”
Mr. Carraway has a long history in environmental and water management issues related to agriculture and the green industries. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (SWFWMD) Agricultural Advisory Committee and is a two-time gubernatorial appointee to its Manasota Basin Board. He is a past Chairman of the Florida Turfgrass Association and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and has served on numerous water conservation and water quality organizations including the Florida Chamber of Commerce Water Task Force.
Mr. Carraway stated, “I’m looking forward to 2016 for EREF in this new role. We have a critical and exciting mission of education, outreach and advocacy for those in the lawn care, turfgrass, golf, sports and landscape industries. These industries are made up of great people and great organizations that are absolutely determined to continuing their decades-long commitments to sustainable and responsibly maintained greenspaces. I am very proud to represent them and grateful for this opportunity”.
The Environmental Research & Education Foundation is a non-profit industry association located in Lakeland, Florida. Its mission is to protect Florida’s environment and natural resources through the funding of environmental research and the sharing of sound scientific findings on the environmental and human-health benefits of properly maintained greenspaces and urban landscapes.
Carraway Consulting is a financial and agribusiness consulting firm located in Bradenton, Florida.
Understanding the Benefits of a Green Lawn
Synopsis: There are many benefits to be gained by keeping a healthy lawn. From Florida Trend Magazine.
Healthy Lawns, Waterways Can Easily Co-Exist
Synopsis: An Article from the Daytona Beach News-Journal by Mac Carraway explaining why healthy lawns and waterways can successfully exist together.
Click below to download the article:
Matt Reed, Florida Today – Follow label, save our lagoon
Synopsis: Following labels on fertilizer, applying at the right time of year, and knowing that more is not better when it comes to feeding your lawn will lead to healthier lawns and lagoons.
Click below to read the article from 12/9/13 in Florida Today: