CRESTVIEW — Here are some of the latest Okaloosa events from area organizations.
FWC receives applications for ‘BearWise’ funding
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will provide up to $500,000 in BearWise funding to local governments to help reduce human-bear conflicts. The funding helps offset some of the costs for residents and businesses to acquire bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. Okalooosa, Santa Rosa and Walton are among the eight counties and two cities that have applied for funds. Their requests total $935,181.
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature approved the $500,000 for the BearWise grants under the condition that 60 percent of the funding goes to communities with BearWise ordinances that require residents and businesses to keep their trash secure until the morning of garbage pickup.
Applicants with BearWise ordinances include Lake, Orange, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties. The city of Apopka is currently in the final stages of consideration for their ordinance, and if approved, would be the second city in Florida to have passed a BearWise ordinance. The first was Fort Walton Beach.
Last year, the FWC distributed over $500,000 in BearWise funding to seven counties and two homeowner’s associations. The funds paid for almost 3,000 bear-resistant trash cans, 3,800 sets of hardware to secure regular trash cans, and to modify 54 dumpsters to keep bears out. A total of 66 percent of last year’s funding was provided to communities with BearWise ordinances.
For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on Live BearWise, watch the BearWise Communities video and read the brochure, A Guide to Living in Bear Country.
Bill includes provision for disabled veterans, Eglin assisted living
The U.S. Senate recently approved a $716 billion annual defense spending bill for the next fiscal year. The legislation, which now heads to the president’s desk to be signed in law, includes several items affecting the military and veterans.
Some of the bill's provisions, which Senator Bill Nelson sponsored, do the following:
•Allow disabled veterans with a permanent disability rating of 100 percent to travel on military aircraft when there are available seats.
•authorize the U.S. Air Force to transfer land necessary to build a new assisted and independent-living care facility for veterans and wounded warriors near Eglin Air Force Base.
•Authorized the Department of Defense to provide grants to state and local governments to help make infrastructure improvements around military installations. Nelson’s provision will allow the Department of Defense to help pay for roads, schools, hospitals, utility infrastructure and other community support infrastructure around them.
•streamline launch approval process at Cape Canaveral, making it easier for commercial space companies to launch from there. It eliminates overlapping Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration approval processes for commercial space companies.
•use $106.8 million to improve and modernize the military’s testing and training ranges, including the testing and training range in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Increasing the military’s investment in the range will help defend against future attempts to allow offshore drilling there.
•Require a report to better manage public access to Naval Air Station Pensacola, which will help in increasing tourism while protecting our servicemen and women at the same time.