Environment

Dr. Edward “Gilly” Evans does not hide his avocado bias.

“I mean, if you’re really an avocado eater then a ‘green-skin’ avocado is the way to go,” says the University of Florida agricultural economist.

Lisa Hywood remembers the first time she ever set eyes on a pangolin. It was in 1994, and she had just founded the Tikki Hywood Trust, a wildlife conservation sanctuary in Zimbabwe. One morning, someone dropped off a strange-looking, injured creature that had been confiscated from an illegal trader.

"This animal arrived in a sack and smelling something horrendous," she recalls. "And I looked at this animal and I thought it's like no other mammal that I've ever encountered."

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service, as well as rain-weary residents, continue to keep a cautious eye on numerous rivers around West Central Florida.

With more thunderstorms possible the rest of the week, officials are closely monitoring the Alafia River and the Little Manatee River in Hillsborough County and Cypress Creek and the Withlacoochee River in Pasco County.

National Weather Service Tampa Bay

A tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic Ocean, and forecasters expect it to gradually strengthen.

The storm is the Atlantic’s fourth tropical depression of the season. On Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami says it’s located about 1,665 miles (2,675 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands. It has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and is moving west at 13 mph (20 kph).

The storm currently poses no threat to land; there are no watches or warnings in effects.

Florida wildlife authorities want federal involvement in managing the state's growing panther population.

Florida Fish and Wildlife describes the Florida panther as a conservation success story as its population has rebounded to about 180 from fewer than 30 when it first was listed in 1967.

Daylina Miller/WUSF

The National Weather Service said river flood warnings continue for the Peace River at Zolfo Springs, Bartow and Arcadia, and the Horse Creek near Arcadia. 

Flood warnings are also in effect for the Myakka River at Myakka River State Park. 

The heavy rain of the past few weeks has also created a situation where the Little Manatee River at Wimauma could flood, as well as the Alafia at Lithia. 

Ten watersheds around the rim of the Gulf of Mexico — from Florida to Texas — are being looked at as sites for $140 million in proposed conservation projects under a plan to restore the Gulf from BP's catastrophic 2010 oil spill.

On Thursday the Gulf Coast Restoration Council, a body set up by Congress to handle money derived from fines from the spill, released a list of the projects it wants to fund.

Apalachicola Bay is taking a long time to recover from a 2012 collapse that also severely damaged the local economy.

Roughly 100 seafood workers have left the Franklin County area to find work. And financial stress is tempting the remaining workers to harvest oysters smaller than the legal size --- a practice that seafood industry leaders call a roadblock to restoring the bay's signature oysters.

"It's taking longer because we haven't taken the right steps yet," said Franklin County Commissioner Smokey Parrish, whose day job is managing Ward's Shrimp House in Apalachicola.

This year's El Niño is shaping up to be a whopper — potentially surpassing the one in 1997, which was the strongest on record, the National Weather Service says.

That could be good news for drought-stricken California, but not-so-good for places such as the Philippines and Indonesia, which typically experience below-normal rainfall or drought conditions during El Niños.

Seventeen states, including Florida, are asking a federal judge to review a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency move to force more cuts in carbon emissions from power plants.

The petition, filed Tuesday in a federal appeals court in Washington, charges the EPA with illegally invalidating the states' air quality protection plans.

EPA sets national air standards and identifies pollutants that pose public health dangers. States must implement plans to comply with these standards.

Copyright 2015 WMFE-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wmfe.org.

The busier months of the Atlantic Hurricane Season are here, but Florida Public Radio Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says confidence continues to grow that this year may not be very active. 

Few things are certain in our skies. But Thursday, lead forecaster Gerry Bell from NOAA says he is very confident in this year’s seasonal hurricane outlook.

"The likelihood for a below normal season has jumped from 70% in May to 90% with today's updated outlook", said Bell.

Daylina Miller / WUSF News

As of 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, here is the latest information regarding Pasco County Government’s response:

FLOOD WARNING

  The Anclote River remains at major flood levels.

  The National Weather Service shows a peak of the Anclote River Tuesday night at 25.25 feet and is expected to continue to fall to minor flood stage by Friday evening at 8 p.m. The historical record of 27.7 feet occurred in 1945.

Parts of Pasco County Evacuated

Aug 3, 2015
Bay News 9

The Pasco Sheriff's Office has been assisting people being evacuated from the Suncoast Gateway Mobile Home Park in Port Richey. Elfers residents were evacuated Monday morning. Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco also asked residents in affected flooded areas to stay off the roads by 3 p.m.

Annette Doying, director of Pasco Emergency Management, said in a press conference earlier in the day, the rainfall created a struggle to manage conditions.

Road Closures in Pinellas County

Aug 3, 2015
PHOTO/John Ruel, Bay News 9+app

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has put out this update as of 5:07 p.m.:

- US Alt 19 in Palm Harbor has REOPENED. Please use caution and watch for standing water.

- Tampa Road west of US Alt 19 is still CLOSED due to flooding.

- Northbound Belcher Road at County Road 39 is CLOSED due to flooding.

-Southbound Belcher Road at County Road 39 is OPEN.

- Portions of Tarpon Woods Blvd still have high water however the roadway will remain open to local traffic only.

Road Closures Due to Flooding in Hillsborough County

Aug 3, 2015
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, due to the heavy rains Monday morning, the following roads have been closed as of 2 PM:

An environmental advocacy group has a message for locals about the Burmese python. These non-native, invasive snakes are changing the ecosystem within the everglades. And the Conservancy of Southwest Florida says if you encounter one, do not kill it.  They’re asking you to report it through an app on your smartphone.

Environmentalists To File Suit Over Bear Hunt

Jul 31, 2015

Environmentalists plan to file suit today against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission seeking to stop the state's first bear hunt in two decades. They say the hunt scheduled for October is unconstitutional.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Speak Up Wekiva plan to file suit in Leon County.

Wikipedia Commons

The diplomatic thaw with Cuba has led to a new collaboration with scientists in that country to study the ghost orchid, one of the world's rarest flowers, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Ernesto Mujica of Cuba's Ministry of Science ECOVIDA Research Center has joined researchers from Illinois College and the University of Florida in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to study ghost orchids, the delicate blooms that star in the book "The Orchid Thief" and the movie "Adaptation."

Flood Watch Continues for Tampa Bay Area

Jul 27, 2015

A Flood Watch is in effect again today for parts of west-central Florida, where flooding is ongoing in some parts of Pasco County. The heavy rain is likely to continue through midweek.

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