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Environment

Gov. Rick Scott has about 10 days to sign legislation appropriating money to counties hit by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A settlement deal gives the state about $2 billion over several years.

The Florida legislature directed funding toward water projects instead of land conservation this year. But environmental groups complain that the state has still not fully implemented the land conservation constitutional amendment passed in 2014.

Florida's Rural Lands Program Could Run Short Of Cash

May 20, 2017
Florida Wildlife Corridor

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet could spend about $8.5 million next week to conserve thousands of acres of land owned for decades by two ranching families.

Such deals have become a widely used strategy in recent years to protect land from development.

But the program that would pay for the deals in Okeechobee and Highlands counties --- known as the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program --- could be out of money by 2018, even with funds carried over from the current year's budget.

Flickr

People will be joining hands on beaches from Key West to Pensacola Saturday for what has become an annual rite: Hands Across the Sands.

It was started after the BP oil spill, and has become a protest against oil drilling off Florida's coasts.

Legislation making its way on Capitol Hill could help Florida communities hit by toxic algae blooms.

This Saturday is not only Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, it’s also the kick off for Florida’s Lionfish Challenge—an incentive program to encourage people to remove the nonnative species. State wildlife officials are doing a bit of a revamp this year.

Spring is in the air, hungry Florida black bears are looking for love, and state game officials are urging caution.

Research Shows Link Between Environment, Dolphin Health

May 15, 2017

New research reveals the critical role the environment plays in dolphin health.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just left an Arctic Council meeting in Anchorage without saying whether the U.S. will pull out of the Paris accords. Meanwhile, climate change activists say Florida should pay attention to the council's latest report.

As Florida’s Bald Eagle population continues to increase, state wildlife officials are considering changes to the state’s management plan for the iconic raptors. 

This past state legislative session, Florida’s beaches got the most funding for renourishment than they have in more than a decade: $50 million. 

Chris Sampson, WUSF

More than 140 wildfires are burning in the state of Florida today.

It's a "red flag warning" day in inland portions of West Central Florida today, which means high winds, no rain in sight and low humidity. Florida remains under a state of emergency because of a rash of wildfires, with a declaration from the governor last month.  

Things are a bit quieter at the state capital, now that the year's legislative session is over. Many bills were left on the table, as always happens, but one that made it is being cheered by numerous environmental groups. 

Scott Signs Lake Okeechobee Bill

May 10, 2017

A plan to build reservoirs south of Florida's Lake Okeechobee to treat polluted water before it flows downstream became law Tuesday as Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed that and 10 other bills.


The Knight Foundation

The Florida Legislature has voted to eliminate funding for Florida Forever, the state's primary land-conservation program.

The only part of Florida Forever that is receiving any money this coming year is $10 million dollars for ranchers to not develop their land.  Since 2001, the state has spent nearly $3 billion to buy more than 700,000 acres of land.

Florida Forest Service

It's been hot and dry and it's peak wildfire season in Florida. That's a point drawn home to the families who live near River Ridge Middle School and High School. They are close enough to the big fire in Starkey Wilderness Preserve that the campuses were cloaked in smoke yesterday.

That is why Pasco School Superintendent Kurt Browning decided to push back the schedule for those two schools, which are opening at 10:45 in the morning and ending the school day late in the afternoon for the rest of this week.

 UPDATED: Friday, June 30, 2017 at 10:36 AM 

CORRECTION: WGCU originally wrote, "Acquaviva did not return WGCU’s calls for comment," but it should read "call."

Lee County is once again looking for the chemical arsenic on Pine Island. That’s after documents surfaced from a few years ago showing arsenic levels hundreds and sometimes thousands of times higher than the federal government allows on private and public lands.

Experts say this could’ve potentially harmed island residents and wildlife within the surrounding estuaries. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but state and federal health officials say if high levels are consumed, it can make people sick and cause cancer.

Public records show state environmental officials knew about the high arsenic levels but decided to stop testing for it in 2015.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

A handful of residents living near the Tampa Sports Authority's Babe Zaharias golf course are protesting the application of the fumigant "Curfew," which is set for Tuesday, May 9. They say the insecticide, which is being used to control nematodes, can be harmful to people and animals. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, monitors weather and climate change for the federal government. It predicts about one foot of sea level rise by 2100 under the best case scenario, and more than eight feet of sea level rise in the so-called “extreme” scenario.

The Florida House is pushing to change how money in one of the state’s primary environmental trust funds is spent.  But most lawmakers were in the dark about how much money the fund will get as the measure went to a vote.

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