Environment

Some Florida lawmakers want manatees back on the endangered species list.


Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday

On the wall behind Jim McCarthy’s desk hangs a large photograph of a skeletonized tree trunk resting on the iconic Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park.

“That beach is important,” said McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. Since 2012, the nonprofit organization has preserved most of the over 1,000 acres of privately owned land on the island. The project, which protects migratory birds’ layover spots and diamondback terrapins’ dwellings, is largely financed by a private fund.


Senate Reservoir Measure Primed For The Floor

Apr 12, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron’s priority water project is heading for a floor vote.  After shifting and twisting through committees, the measure’s fate is uncertain.

Florida Forestry Service

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning because of the number of wildfires burning around Florida.

Officials say wildfires in Florida have already burned 2 1/2 times more land in the first three months of 2017 than during the same period last year. There are more than 100 active wildfires across more than 20,000 acres.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the state hasn't seen this active of a wildfire season since 2011.

The Florida Forest Service says more than 100 active wildfires are burning across the state right now.

Wikipedia Commons

You wouldn't think that a region that prides itself on outdoor activities and sunshine would have problems with air pollution. But Tampa Bay had some of the dirtiest air in the state in 2015.

The report came from the advocacy group Environment Florida. It says in 2015, Tampa Bay experienced 56 dirty air pollution days. The region - which is swept with sea breezes from the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay - was the worst area in the state in 2015 for both soot and smog.

By scaling back the cost and size of a proposed reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, Senate President Joe Negron appears to be making progress with critics. But a deal seems far from certain.

Bill Sets Limits On Nonnative Pet Sales

Apr 4, 2017

The Florida House okayed a bill to limit the sales of nonnative animals by pet dealers. The Bill hopes to discourage nonnative sales altogether.

Dry weather has caused the water level in Lake Okeechobee drop below the minimum range targeted for South Florida’s drinking water supply.

Severe Drought Developing in Florida

Apr 3, 2017

It’s the heart of wildfire season in Florida, and more than 90 percent of the state is in a drought. The National Drought Mitigation Center classified the situation as “severe” in nine counties Thursday.

Florida Forest Service reports show that wildfires have scorched almost 60,000 acres since January 1st. State Climatologist David Zierden attributes the active fire season to the shortage of rain, which he says is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

Questions Linger Over Negron’s Water Priority

Apr 3, 2017

Senate President Joe Negron's priority of creating a reservoir to protect rivers and estuaries east and west of Lake Okeechobee appears to have a murky future.

Jim Reid / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One of the symbols of Florida is no longer an endangered species. That's according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced Thursday they're downlisting the manatee from endangered to threatened. Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal endangered species list was issued in 1967.

More manatees than ever - 6,300 - were counted during the winter, when they congregate around springs and warm power plant outfalls. But last year, more than one hundred manatees were killed, mostly by boaters.

State lawmakers want to cut fees for the manufacturers of harmful pesticides. That could make it cheaper for chemical companies to sell their products in the state. But a critic of the measure is worried how the change could affect farmworkers’ health.

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Hurricane season doesn't officially start until June 1, but preparations are already underway. The National Weather Service outlined some new ways it's warning Floridians about possible danger at a briefing Tuesday in Tampa. 

After winning big at the ballot box in November, solar energy supporters are worried a House proposal could dim the victory.

A new study shows shark-related diving in Florida is a growing business, generating some $221 million annually for shops and other providers.

Across the country, advocates are hailing industrial hemp as a miracle crop. Some Floridians even think the plant could surpass oranges as an agricultural powerhouse. But lawmakers in the capitol are urging caution.

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A rally to drum up support for a bill that would ban fracking for oil and gas in Florida is expected to draw people from around the state Wednesday morning on the steps of the state capitol. Hundreds are expected to attend from throughout the state.

The rally will feature appearances by State Senators Jack Latvala of Pinellas County and Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale. They're backing a bill to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that has been introduced by Sen. Dana Young of Tampa.

A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.

New research shows pollution in the Gulf of Mexico is coming from a source close to home: our closets. A team of scientists say plastic microfibers in polyester, nylon and acrylics are washing out of household fabrics and into the ocean.

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