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Environment

Tropical Storm Don Forms; No Florida Threat

Jul 19, 2017

Tropical Storm Don formed east of the Windward Islands Monday afternoon, but it is no threat to Florida.

There's only a small window of opportunity for Don to strengthen, and that is mostly during the day Tuesday. Once the storm moves into the eastern Caribbean, strong upper-level winds and dry air are likely to cause Don to dissipate.

Even though a Florida sinkhole hasn't grown in several days, officials said that the debris-strewn site is still considered dangerous and that residents of five homes remained evacuated Tuesday due to the dangers.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

A cleanup of one of the most urban - and polluted - streams running through Sarasota began Saturday.  We visit one condominium, whose residents not only asked for help to restore Phillippi Creek - but are helping to pay for it, as well.
 


The Florida Supreme Court will not overturn the governor’s vetoes of money the state owes some residents for destroying their citrus trees. However, justices did appear to agree the homeowners are due their compensation.

 

On Tuesday morning, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote in favor of a bill cutting the EPA's budget by 7 percent. The Environmental Defense Fund and its partner advocacy organization, EDF Action, are denouncing the move.

 

Authorities are calling the Pasco County sinkhole that swallowed up two homes last week the biggest sinkhole in the state in recent history.  At last check, it was 225 feet wide and 50 feet deep.  

Because many residents in the area of the Lake Padgett sinkhole depend on well water, Pasco Emergency Management personnel are taking water samples to be tested for E. coli and other contaminants.  

Warming temperatures and ocean acidification are significant threats to coral reefs, but a new study by Mote Marine Laboratory researchers last month provides something of a silver lining.   Researchers found that ocean acidification could actually help slow the progression of a disease that kills corals.

Justices Reject Challenge To Scott's Citrus Veto

Jul 14, 2017

Despite clear frustrations of some justices, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday declined to invalidate Gov. Rick Scott's veto of $37.4 million that lawmakers approved to compensate homeowners whose healthy citrus trees were cut down by the state more than a decade ago.

Florida wildlife officials say lionfish harvesters are crucial to getting rid of the invasive species. But, lionfish removal divers are urged to safely remove the fish without causing any natural habitat damage.

It’s rare to see an unfiltered night sky in many parts of Florida. Artificial lights in highly populated areas, like Fort Myers or Miami, cover up views of constellations and the Milky Way. But, Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee is now an “International Dark Sky Park.” That means the preserve removed unnecessary lights. And the ones they kept were changed to be “night sky friendly” by using different bulbs or making the lights point down to the ground, rather than up to the sky.

Wikimedia Commons

There's an upswing in monkey business in and around a state park in Florida, where bands of non-native rhesus macaques live along a river that's popular with kayakers and tourists.

Officials have closed two walking areas at Silver Springs State Park because of unwanted monkey interactions with park guests. An observation deck and a boardwalk are off-limits because the primates have essentially taken over.

Advocates are urging Florida wildlife officials to back federal legislation banning the sale of shark fins.  But some think prohibition could be counterproductive.

There's a new effort to determine why green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon are covered with tumors. Nearly half of the green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon suffer from the tumors.

Kate Mansfield of the University of Central Florida says the number and range of cases are expanding. But what’s causing them is a mystery. Mansfield says all of the turtles with the tumors have a certain virus, but not every turtle with that virus has tumors. So other contributors are suspected.

Despite a very active wildfire season, Florida Forest Service Firefighters will now be helping other states battle their own blazes.

According to new research, Central Florida will be one of the top destinations for residents displaced by sea level rise in the coming century.

The University of Georgia study is believed to be the first to examine how sea level rise will reshape the nation's population inland.

Climate change is going to cause disproportionate economic harm to parts of the United States that are already pretty hot, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The study by scientists and economists from the Climate Impact Lab suggests rising temperatures could increase a national income gap.

Recent progress in forecasting the intensity of hurricanes — which has lagged behind storm track forecasting — could be undermined by proposed cuts in federal funding for tropical weather research, says the retiring chief of a team of U.S. hurricane specialists.

Most of Florida was in a drought just one month ago. But on Thursday, the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center published a report stating there are now no areas with abnormally dry conditions. 

Animal Refuges Threatened By Flooding In Everglades

Jun 30, 2017

Parts of Florida's Everglades are so waterlogged that deer, wading birds and other animals are running out of dry ground.

As residents and visitors flock to Florida beaches over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, wildlife officials and advocates are urging beachgoers to be mindful of nesting shorebird colonies and sea turtles.

Northeast Florida Republican Congressman John Rutherford is helping lead a bipartisan effort against seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic Ocean, which could lead to drilling for oil and gas.

Rutherford said the blasting could hurt coastal businesses relying on healthy oceans.


Scott Seeks To Scuttle Challenge To Citrus Money Veto

Jun 27, 2017

Attorneys for Gov. Rick Scott argued Monday the Florida Supreme Court should reject a lawsuit challenging the governor’s veto of $37.4 million that would compensate homeowners for healthy citrus trees cut down by the state.

Leaders of local governments re-affirmed their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases, unanimously approving a historic environmental resolution Monday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach.

The 259 mayors in attendance voted in favor of a resolution titled "100% Renewable Energy in American Cities," agreeing to set a goal of powering their communities exclusively by wind, solar, geothermal and wave energy by the year 2035. 

Former U.S. Sen. and Florida Gov. Bob Graham says the Legislature’s decision not to fund Florida Forever is a blatant violation of Amendment 1, the 2014 conservation amendment.

Reflecting the industry’s sagging fortunes, the Florida Citrus Commission is recommending a 22 percent spending cut. 

Children in rural Hendry County are training wild horses, making them suitable for adoption. They’re challenged to discipline 12 mustangs from Nevada in 100 days. But since Gov. Rick Scott just vetoed state funding for their club, the group predicts a future financial struggle. Let's go to the ranch in LaBelle where the kids are taming these wild animals. 

Commissioners in Miami-Dade County and the city of Key West have voted to endorse  the Paris Climate Accord, despite President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the international agreement to cut carbon emissions earlier this month.

Rainy Season Douses Fiery Florida

Jun 22, 2017

After months of drought conditions that helped fuel nearly 2,500 wildfires across the state, Florida has quickly moved deep into its rainy season.

Appeals Court Rejects Caloosahatchee Water Case

Jun 20, 2017

A federal appeals court Monday rejected a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River caused pollution problems in the Southwest Florida waterway.

An anthropologist pursuing his Ph.D. at Brown University spent the past few months researching the H-2A guest worker program in Florida’s citrus industry. He heads to Mexico this summer to spend time with those workers in their own communities.

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