Environment

The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

The University of South Florida has received a national honor for taking on more environmentally friendly practices.  

USF picked up a 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award at the doctoral level for a number of initiatives that are "shifting behavior on campus and within communities in favor of a clean and sustainable future."

Credit: Bay News 9

A brush fire is burning near New York Avenue and U. S. Highway 19 in Hudson.  

The Pasco County Fire Department tells Bay News 9 that the fire appears to have started in the woods behind Club Wildwood Mobile Home Park.  Around 150 residents were evacuated.  

UPDATE: U. S. 19 between Hudson Avenue and New York Avenue has reopened

Steve Newborn

It's one day before the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is set to end. The members have pushed themselves to the limit for three months, and it's time to relax with a dip on a remote stretch of the Suwanee River.

"Nice to have a little down time before we enter the Okefenokee," says expedition leader Carlton Ward Jr.

Expedition members Carlton Ward, left, Joe Guthrie and Mallory Lykes Dimmitt frolic in the Suwanee River
Steve Newborn

After driving down an unmarked sandy road in the middle of Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, I met the four members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition the day before they ended their trip on Earth Day. They were playing Frisbee in the dark waters of the Suwannee River. As the clouds darkened and a driving rainstorm washed over the group, I talked with the group about what they saw - and what they hope to accomplish.

 

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition just finished a 1,000-mile trip from the tip of the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Their mission is to create a continuous wildlife corridor stretching the length of the state.

Tampa Bay Area Could See Tighter Water Restrictions

Apr 25, 2012

 We've had drier than normal conditions and if rain doesn't start falling soon the Tampa Bay area might be under a tighter water restriction.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWM) has given approval to the director to issue an emergency order to increase the water restriction-- if weather conditions get worse.

If Director Blake Guillory orders the tighter restriction it would affect Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties.

Counties like Citrus, Hernando, Lake, and Sumter are already under these tighter 'Phase III' restrictions.

Justice Makes Arrest in BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Apr 24, 2012
Photo courtesy csb.gov

NEW ORLEANS —The Justice Department said on Tuesday it filed the first criminal charges in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, accusing a former BP engineer of destroying evidence.

Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, was arrested on two counts of obstruction of justice.

The Justice Department says the 50-year-old Mix is accused of deleting a string of 200 text messages with a BP supervisor in October 2010 that involved internal BP information about how efforts to cap the well were failing.

BP officials did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Steve Newborn

Wildlife photographer Carlton Ward Jr., filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus, bear biologist Joe Guthrie and conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt have wrapped up the traveling part of their Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. They crossed the finish line Sunday, nearly 100 days after setting off in the Everglades on a 1,000-mile journey to the Georgia state line. Their goal is to inspire the creation of a permanent unbroken wildlife corridor. WUSF's Steve Newborn kept track of the expedition - and joined in on occasion - and was there when they crossed the finish line.

It's been 1,000 miles in nearly 100 days. They started at the tip of the Everglades, and Sunday, members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition reached the finish line - Georgia. Their goal is to connect the state's WUSF's Steve Newborn has been following the group, and reports on their mission - and whether it has a chance of succeeding.

Expedition member Carlton Ward Junior remembers slogging for days through the heart of the Everglades on kayak...

BP on the Gulf Oil Spill 2nd Anniversary

Apr 20, 2012

BP spokesman Craig Savage was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times in the days before the two year anniversary of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico as saying "the beaches are open, the tourists are back and commercial fishing is rebounding."

Does that mean BP thinks the Gulf has recovered from one of the worst environmental disasters ever?

The Gulf Oil Spill -- Shrouded in Oil and Secrecy

Apr 19, 2012

The senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation, Dr. Doug Inkley, says what surprised him the most in the wake of the huge spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago was the secrecy.

We've seen the possible health hazards from the dispersant used to keep oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon well from fouling Gulf beaches.

Now, a University of South Florida engineering professor and a team of researchers think they might have a solution. They found that mucilage from the common and easily grown prickly pear cactus – already known to clean toxic compounds from drinking water – also works as a natural, non-toxic dispersant for oil spills.

On some Florida Panhandle beaches, swimmers can come off the beach with oil from the BP oil spill still on their skin -- two years after that environmental disaster. 

And, even after showering, the oil can still be on their skin. Only an ultraviolent light can show it.

A Hidden Jewel: USF’s Botanical Gardens

Apr 18, 2012

Tucked away on the edge of Tampa's USF campus is a little-known oasis: the USF Botanical Gardens. The gardens, founded in 1969, provide students and visitors with a unique look into Florida's natural beauty.

On April 14th, the gardens held its 23rd annual Spring Plant Festival. That’s when growers and botanical aficionados are invited to showcase their crops and flora for a two-day event.

The gardens’ program coordinator, Kim Hutton, says this festival is unique.

That stinging feeling that sometimes accompanies trips to the beach during outbreaks of red tide can be especially harmful to people with asthma. Now, researchers are trying to find out why some asthmatics are affected by red tide.

Anyone who ventures to the Gulf shore during red tide season knows the symptoms: irritated eyes and noses, a dry cough - even wheezing. For people with asthma, it's even worse.

It may look like the it's gone -- but oil from the BP spill may be mixing with dispersants and being absorbed into your body.

That's the disturbing revelation from a USF researcher in a story by Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times.

Photos show that under a blue light, oily spots remain on the skin after bathing on panhandle beaches -- even after a shower.

From the Times story:

Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Part of the 1,000-mile trail the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is blazing through Florida passes through what may seem an unlikely place: the main training base for the Florida National Guard. WUSF's Steve Newborn reports on how the armed forces are armed with another mission: helping protect the state's wildlife.

Air Quality in Tampa Improving from Wildfire Smoke

Apr 12, 2012

If you've been outside today, you probably have smelled the smoke coming from forest wildfires close to the Georgia border.

County officials say there's a moderate level of air pollution today- not enough to issue a warning. We should be getting some fresher air soon.

The smoke is coming from a wildfire burning 13,000 acres close to the border of Georgia. It's far away but we're getting some of the smoke here thanks to the northeast wind.

Julie Marquez from Bay News 9 tells us the conditions are already looking better for most of Tampa Bay.

New Home Construction up In Tampa Bay

Apr 11, 2012

New housing starts are way up in the Tampa Bay Area.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, new housing starts went up 26.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. The data comes from "Metrostudy," a national company that keeps numbers on the construction industry.

One thousand 40 new homes were started between January and March this year. Last year during that time only 840 new homes were started.

Steve Newborn

One-thousand miles-- that's how far the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is kayaking, cycling and walking.  This week, they're crossing the Ocala National Forest. I recently hiked just nine of those miles, and walked away several blisters and a new appreciation for what they're doing.

It's dawn at Hopkins Prairie, a primitive campground deep in the Ocala forest. I unzip my tent and head through the morning fog to see what Rick Smith is up to.

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