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Environment

The Florida Cabinet has approved a conservation easement in the Lake Okeechobee watershed.

Florida’s beaches are in constant need of restoration, to truck in sand that the sea washes away. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, miles of critically eroded beaches are in even more danger. Now a powerful lawmaker is once again trying to get funding to replenish the shorelines.

Three Florida parks in the Keys opened to the public Friday for the first time since Hurricane Irma, as the state looks at overall storm damage to its parks topping $55 million.

Excess water from Hurricane Irma is still making its way through Florida, exacerbating the significant water management challenges the state's faced this rainy season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting this year’s Florida citrus crop will be the smallest since the 1940s. The state is slated to produce 54 million boxes, down from nearly 300 million in the 2000s.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Relief is coming to Pasco County’s agricultural community with a Disaster Assistance Session, Thursday, Oct. 12.

A Senate panel has approved a plan to appropriate new dollars for the St. Johns River and Florida’s springs.  But the proposal could wind up vying for funding with a beach restoration measure.

The water level in Lake Okeechobee has reached a level not seen in more than a decade — 17.16 feet — prompting concerns about the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott accompanied U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Jason Kirk on a levee inspection around the lake in Clewiston on Monday.

The  Corps of Engineers will be conducting daily inspections of the southern half of the Herbert Hoover dike as long as the water level remains above 17 feet.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Now there's a way to leverage the power of group buying to get solar power installed in homes and businesses. Two new cooperatives are being formed to spread the cost of getting solar power installed in homes in Hillsborough and north Pinellas counties.

The League of Women Voters and a consortium called Florida Solar United Neighborhoods started the solar power co-operatives. The co-op aids residents and businesses by using competitive bidding. 

Hurricane Irma hung over an annual gathering of state and industry officials discussing water policy.

Some of Florida’s military supporters are lining up behind the state’s land acquisition program. Unlikely allies are joining forces to defend Florida Forever.

With losses total in some areas of the state, Florida’s iconic citrus industry will need Congressional help to recover from Hurricane Irma, according to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Florida has reopened 114 of the state parks that were closed for Hurricane Irma.

National Weather Service Image

Hernando County is opening a shelter in Brooksville for people escaping the high water of the Withlacoochee River.  Residents along the river, near Trilby in eastern Hernando County, have been asked to voluntarily evacuate.

National Park Service

Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc not only on people and buildings, but on nature. Birds were pushed by the winds from the Caribbean into Florida, and the Category 3 storm washed away beaches and bird habitat in the Everglades and Florida Keys. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida, about Irma's impact.

Here's some of the impacts outlined by Audubon Florida:

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Even though Hurricane Irma is well behind us, many neighborhoods remain several feet underwater - including one along the Alafia River near Lithia.

As major Hurricane Irma makes its way to Florida, farmers across the state have to prepare their lands.

A planned reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee could take shape more quickly thanks to an Army Corps of Engineers decision.  

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

An outside review has determined that the drowning death of Snooty the Manatee could have been prevented.

South Florida Museum CEO Brynne Anne Besio announced the findings Thursday in Bradenton after a review by animal welfare attorney James Gesualdi.

State wildlife officials say human-bear interactions are on the rise, and they’re trying to educate Floridians on ways to defuse those situations. 

By P. Barkley - Biological and Chemical Research Institute, Bugwood.org, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22937790

Florida's citrus growers haven't had it easy lately, after being buffeted by canker and citrus greening. Now, they have another nemesis to worry about - citrus black spot.

Federal officials have already slapped a quarantine on exports of fruit grown in parts of Collier and Hendry counties, as well as an area along the Polk-Highlands County line.

Scott Sends More State Resources To Help Texas

Aug 28, 2017
FWC photo by Avery Bristol

Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday he is directing more resources to Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

Scott is deploying additional Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and resources to Houston in response to additional requests from Texas for continued emergency assistance following Hurricane Harvey.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

A scrap recycling center won't be built next to popular Sarasota bird sanctuary after all.

After a public hearing that took nearly eight hours, Sarasota commissioners voted three to two late Wednesday to reject an industrial recycling plant next to Celery Fields.

President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget have some people on edge, especially in Florida. People associated with the Environmental Defense Fund or EDF aired grievances Tuesday morning. The proposed budget goes into effect Oct. 1, but  people from the EDF say now is the time to act.

Wikipedia.com

They're beautiful - and they're deadly. And they're here. Lionfish are infesting waters around Florida, and there might be one tasty way to stem the tide of this invasive species.

Lionfish were  named for the beautiful mane of deadly stingers that surround their body. They were introduced in South Florida in the mid-1980's, and have since spread throughout the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast to New England. They're voracious eaters, outcompeting everything in their path.

There’s a darker side to a rebounding Florida Panther population with state game officials reporting a spike in attacks on livestock and domestic animals in rural Southwest Florida.

A state lawmaker is once again trying to expand protections for Florida’s black bears. The bill sponsor says the plan should benefit conservationists and hunters. 

State Program Records 500th Python Kill

Aug 18, 2017

With the state trying to reduce invasive species in areas such as the Everglades, a hunter Thursday killed the 500th Burmese python in less than five months under a South Florida Water Management District program.

A leadership shuffle in the Florida Senate is lifting the hopes of anti-fracking activists.

The private board in charge of handing out funds from the BP oil spill is developing its application process. But sparsely populated Gulf Coast counties are worried they could lose out on some of the settlement money.

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