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Environment

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The City of Sarasota has declared a state of emergency over the toxic red tide bloom that began in November.

Todd Kerkering is the emergency manager for the city of Sarasota. He has lived there since the 1970s and said he doesn't remember ever hearing about an emergency declaration in Sarasota because of red tide. 

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

A toxic red tide algae bloom that’s been persisting in Southwest Florida for nearly a year is now making its way to the Tampa Bay area. It’s been most recently reported as far north as Pinellas County.

This past weekend, beachgoers on Anna Maria Island in Manatee County witnessed thousands of dead fish and other marine life wash ashore from red tide poisoning. 

Jessica Meszaros

As much of Florida battles water quality issues caused by toxic algae or red tide, a statewide event to highlight the issue is scheduled for Sunday.

Everglades advocates are telling Congress to get moving on a major restoration project needed to help prevent future algae blooms like the ones currently choking inland and coastal waterways in Florida. 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida plans to eliminate plastic straws at its six casinos in the state.

Hillsborough County Public Schools

There are more than 200,000 students attending hundreds of schools across the Hillsborough County Public School district. The average age of those schools is 50 years old.

Now, the district is in the process of voluntarily testing drinking water for lead in those school buildings and its other facilities.

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A manatee famous for traveling as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has died after being hit by a boat back home in the Florida Keys.

The apples won't be harvested until October. But when fourth-generation fruit grower Phil Schwallier walks through his orchard in Sparta, Mich., he already knows which ones he won't be able to sell.

The survival of a rare mouse considered crucial to the ecosystem of a north Florida island rests on the restoration of the coastal dune habitat destroyed by recent hurricanes.

Once upon a time, the Red Wolf roamed the south and eastern United States, from Texas to Pennsylvania. Today, there are fewer than 40 wolves left in the wild. The species is what’s called “functionally extinct”— with most of the remaining 200 or so wolves in captivity. The Trump administration is proposing changes to the Endangered Species Act that conservationists worry, could end what little protection the Red Wolf has left.

Thousands of blacktip sharks ordinarily swim languidly off the South Florida coast. But this year the shark count is down substantially and warmer water temperatures may be the reason.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Sea turtle deaths continue to increase as red tide lingers off Florida's southwestern coast. While the numbers remain steady in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, Sarasota is experiencing a spike in cases. 

Walt Disney is the latest company to announce a plan to eliminate plastic straws. The company plans to get rid of them by mid-2019.

Researchers are reporting a spiking number of sea turtle deaths in Florida waters plagued by a red tide algae bloom.

Courtesy of the City of St. Petersburg

A new home has been proposed for the Echelman sculpture in the St. Petersburg Pier District. Last Friday, city officials and opposition to the original Spa Beach location met to discuss potential new sites.

Toxic algae again is blooming in Florida waterways.

The algae began in Lake Okeechobee and is spreading after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated flows to the adjoining Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

When wildlife experts need help balancing an ecosystem, they sometimes call on snakes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently released 20 eastern indigo snakes into the wild.

When a huge floating gyre of plastic waste was discovered in the Pacific in the late 1980s, people were shocked. When whales died and washed ashore with stomachs full of plastic, people were horrified. When photographs of beaches under knee-deep carpets of plastic trash were published, people were disgusted.

Though some of it came from ships, most, presumably, was from land. But how much was coming from where?

By the end of the week, all of the families displaced by last month’s fire in Eastpoint, Florida will be in housing.

Florida is leading the way in new energy alternatives, but also lagging behind on some major efficiency standards.   

Supreme Court To Weigh FPL Environmental Costs

Jul 24, 2018

A battle is playing out at the state Supreme Court about whether customers of Florida Power & Light should pay for an environmental clean-up project in Miami-Dade County.

State Grants To Help With Algae Blooms

Jul 24, 2018

A $3 million grant program for local governments to clean toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries has been started by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Gov. Rick Scott’s office Monday announced the grant program, which follows his July 9 executive order declaring a state of emergency for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties because of algae outbreaks.

South Florida could see two feet or more of sea-level rise over the next 40 years. It’s alarming. 

 

And there’s growing concern that the risk of rising seas could sink South Florida’s economy before the water even gets here.

More than 100 people answered the call from local students to march through downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday asking for action on climate change. 

'This Is Zero Hour' is a national climate change awareness and action campaign, but a group of recent graduates from American Heritage in Plantation organized a local campaign march that began in Esplanade Park. 

There's a cycle that starts when the snow melts and the earth thaws high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. It's a seasonal cycle based on timing and temperature, two variables that climate change is pushing increasingly out of sync.

To the outsider, it can be hard to see: Plants still grow, flowers bud, bears awake, and marmots breed. Broad-tailed hummingbirds still trill around a landscape that evokes the opening scene of The Sound of Music, with flowery meadows and granite peaks.

Quincy Walters/WUSF

Tampa City Council members decided today to allow Ybor City’s wild chickens to continue roaming the neighborhood.

This comes after last month's meeting where some residents complained about the chickens while others spoke in favor of them. 

Judge Refuses To Leave Conservation Funding Case

Jul 19, 2018

A Leon County circuit judge this week refused a request by legislative leaders for his disqualification from a case about whether the state has properly carried out a 2014 constitutional amendment backed by environmental groups. 

WQCS

Leaking septic tanks may be causing prolonged algae blooms like the one currently killing fish and wildlife near Lake Okeechobee.

Last week, Gov. Rick Scott ordered a state of emergency for seven counties around Lake Okeechobee as a result of toxic algae blooms. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from the lake because the algae has spread to both Florida coasts, hurting home values, tourism and local businesses. 

Dinorah Prevost / WUSF Public Media

As sea levels continue to rise in Florida, repeated flooding and storm surge are major concerns for Tampa Bay.

David Hastings, a climate scientist at Eckerd College, said the region could experience some of the most severe effects of climate change. He told the civic group Cafe Con Tampa on Friday that in the next 30 years, sixty-five thousand homes in Florida will flood twice a month affecting 100,000 Florida residents.

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