Environment

University of Florida researchers say they have developed genetically modified citrus trees that are resistant to greening. It is a significant step against the disease that has devastated Florida's $11 billion citrus industry and is among the worst to hit a US crop.

  Fifty-seven species of fish and wildlife are so rare or face such threats that they are considered "imperiled" by the state of Florida.

Environmentalists Say Governor's Budget Doesn't Go Far Enough

Nov 23, 2015
news@wjct.org

Gov. Rick Scott is proposing more money for land preservation next year, but environmentalists say the levels fall short of what voters wanted in passing a 2014 constitutional amendment.

As part of his proposed $79.3 billion budget introduced Monday, Scott is asking for $62.8 million for the land-acquisition program Florida Forever, $188 million for work to improve the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee and another $50 million to help maintain the state's natural springs.

Scott called his proposal a "historic investment" as all the numbers top the funding for the current year.

Cuba coral
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The United States and Cuba signed an agreement Wednesday to join forces and protect the vast array of fish and corals they share as countries separated by just 90 miles (140 kilometers), the first environmental accord since announcing plans to renew diplomatic relations.

"We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing, and conserving critical marine resources for future generations," said Kathryn Sullivan, chief of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

The next phase in a multi-year study to look at the effect oil has on fish will begin Wednesday at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with two scientists who are involved in the study, Dana Wetzel of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota and Ben Prueitt of the C-IMAGE research consortium.

The study could have lasting impacts on our knowledge of how oil and dispersants used during the BP spill affects life in the Gulf of Mexico.

State Faces Second Challenge On 'Amendment 1' Spending

Nov 15, 2015
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Service

A Gainesville-based environmental group has launched a second legal challenge to how lawmakers carried out a constitutional amendment that requires spending on land acquisition and preservation.

The Florida Defenders of the Environment wants a Leon County circuit judge to block the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of State, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission from spending the dollars in the current fiscal year.

  The Florida Department of Transportation recently announced plans to install wildlife exclusionary fencing and improve wildlife underpasses along a particularly deadly stretch of I-75 in an effort to prevent more panther roadkill deaths.

Florida, Alabama Senators Wade Into River Battle

Nov 8, 2015

In a move that could help boost recovery of troubled Apalachicola Bay, U.S. senators from Florida and Alabama have asked a Senate panel to intervene in what they call "the Army Corps of Engineers' ongoing mismanagement" of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

A bill that would amend the state’s constitution to give tax breaks to people who install renewable energy devices on their properties passed its first committee Tuesday with no complaints and no debate. The bill is sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes

“Occasionally a proposal comes along that both the Baptists and the Bootleggers can agree on and this just happens to be one of those proposals,” Brandes says.

UPDATE: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the final count for the hunt was 298 bears.  

Florida ended its first black bear hunt in more than two decades this weekend. State wildlife officials said the goal was to control a bear population that has been rebounding after more than 40 years of conservation efforts.

AP photo

Hunters for the first time in more than 20 years will trudge through Florida woods on Saturday to legally kill black bears, a contentious wildlife management action that has activists taking to the streets in protest.

Florida wildlife officials have sold more than 3,200 permits to hunters from all over, including 1970s rocker Ted Nugent and Liesa Priddy, a rancher and Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission member who voted to approve the new hunts.

Fl. Justices Give Green Light to Solar Initiative

Oct 23, 2015

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved a proposed ballot initiative that seeks to expand the use of solar energy, moving the state one step closer to a fierce political battle next year.

State Makes Gains Against Fruit Flies in S. Florida

Oct 22, 2015
Fl. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Florida is on the way to eradicating the largest outbreak of Oriental fruit flies in the state's history, an agriculture official told a Senate panel Tuesday.

Since Aug. 26, a record 165 of the voracious insects have been found in part of Miami-Dade County that is mainly agricultural land, with an estimated 2,000 growers, nurseries and other businesses affected.

The United States and Cuba are teaming up to safeguard marine life in protected areas in the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico. The two governments – and scientists from each country – will share resources and best management practices to help protect habitats and fish populations.

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will establish a sister sanctuary relationship with Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park, and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Texas will be paired with Banco de San Antonio, off the western tip of Cuba.

State Water Policy Changes Begin To Flow

Oct 20, 2015

Lawmakers appear closer to patching up differences on new statewide water policies which failed to advance earlier this year.

AP Photo/John Raoux

Under one of the biggest land development plans ever proposed in Florida, a tract more than six times the size of Manhattan could be transformed from a home for cows and alligators into new housing developments for half a million people.

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.

Thursday marked the start of stone crab claw harvest season for recreational and commercial use in state and federal waters.

File

Florida is getting more than $3 billion from the BP over the 2010 "Deepwater Horizon" oil spill, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday announced how he wants to spend the city's 6.5 million share. 

Georgia Subpoenas Putnam in Water Dispute

Oct 14, 2015

In 2013, Florida sued Georgia in the Supreme Court claiming that water use was killing oysters in Apalachicola Bay. Putnam was subpoenaed, according to court documents posted last week. Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been battling in court since 1990 over water from the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.

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