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environment

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed multiple environmental bills into law. 

WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke to Jane West with the advocacy organization 1000 Friends of Florida about highlights from the legislative session:

FWC

State wildlife officials say a Trichodesmium algal bloom has been lingering off the coast of Southwest Florida the past few weeks.

Sun setting over a wetland area.
iStock

Protections for some wetlands and streams have been rolled back by the Environmental Protection Agency, under the Trump Administration. The affected areas are ephemeral streams, which only flow part of the year, and isolated wetlands, which are not directly connected to larger bodies of water.

USGS

Federal scientists are predicting that this summer’s “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be larger than average.

Close-up of metallic blue bee.
Courtesy Chase Kimmel

For the first time in four years, “ultra-rare” metallic blue bees have been spotted in Central Florida.

A right whale emerging from the water.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Social distancing restrictions from coronavirus have actually led to a rare community effort: the tracking of an endangered species after a north Atlantic right whale mother and calf journeyed into the Gulf of Mexico.

solar panels
Amy Green / WMFE

Sarasota is known for its sunny skies and beautiful beaches, but two years ago, a terrible outbreak of red tide left Bruce Andersen a virtual prisoner of his waterfront condo.

Big, colorful parrot fish sculpture just outside of The Floida Aquarium.
Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

A 10-foot tall cheery-looking sculpture named Priscilla the Parrot Fish is the new greeter at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. A closer look shows Priscilla is made of discarded toy rakes and shovels, damaged buoys and woven aluminum cans. They're all pollutants gathered from our oceans.

A right whale emerging from the water.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

North Atlantic right whales – already the most endangered large whale species in the world – are becoming even more at risk as rising sea temperatures make it harder to find food or safe waters.

State health officials are funding a study to explore the relationship between human health and algae bloom toxins. 

The holidays provide extra time for fishing along the Gulf coast, but some popular species are not for keeps due to red tide.

Toxic red tide algae is starting to bloom along Florida’s west coast again. State wildlife officials say elevated levels have been detected recently from Pinellas to Collier counties, and people in Sarasota County have also been experiencing respiratory irritations.

Now, new research is looking into longterm health effects of the toxins, including neurological issues.

A toxic red tide bloom persists along Florida's Gulf Coast from low concentrations in Pinellas County to high concentrations in Collier County.

A new study suggests hope could be an important tool in combating climate change in Tampa Bay.

A report recently released by the United Nations's International Panel on Climate Change finds that oceans around the world are in trouble.

More than 100 scientists from 36 countries worked on the report that shows carbon emissions from human activities are putting a dire strain on ocean health.

 

The findings have big implications for South Florida, where much of life revolves around the water.

Protesters in St. Petersburg took part in climate strikes happening across the world Friday, ahead of a United Nations Climate Change Summit next week.

A state task force to help determine strategies for researching and mitigating harmful algae blooms met Thursday in St. Petersburg. It’s the first time the group has met since Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the initiative in November.

Pixabay/ heuschrecke99 / Creative Commons

New data recently released shows that people of color are more exposed to air pollutants from Tampa Bay's busy roadways.

WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke with Amy Stuart, a professor in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, who is one of the researchers behind this study.

An endangered Florida panther scratching at a tree in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A Republican Congressman from Florida sent a letter to the Trump Administration Monday criticizing its plans to weaken protections for endangered species.

One of 36 ground depressions in the Lakeside Woodlands Community in Pasco County sits among a number of homes.
Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections, USF Libraries

There are now 36 ground depressions in the Lakeside Woodlands Community in Pasco County -- that's up from 20 holes on Tuesday. 

NOAA Fisheries

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the National Marine Fisheries Service, saying the agency did not give 12 species of U.S. coral critical habitat protection that is required by the Endangered Species Act

A Florida panther.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Some of Florida's big cats are walking strangely and state wildlife officials need your help to figure out why. 

The endangered Kirtland's warbler, among other federally protected animal and plant species, could be delisted due to recovery.
Joel Trick / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Update: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding a meeting this week on delisting endangered species. Officials only plan to talk about Key deer, although other species are up for consideration. The story has been edited to reflect the updated information. 

Federal wildlife officials will discuss the status of the endangered Key deer Thursday. This comes as the Trump administration rolls back protections under the Endangered Species Act.

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Congress recently approved $6.25 million to study how red tide algae blooms affect people's health. Multiple facilities in Sarasota will work together on the research.

Between 2013 and 2017, Hillsborough County had the most polluted air in Florida with 16 days where it exceeded smog concentrations. No other county came close to that.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Division of Resource Management

Florida environmental officials released a proposal last week, outlining what to do with settlement funds from the Volkswagen emission scandal. Activists are not satisfied with the state's plan.

By Erin O’Brien

Last March, the World Economic Forum and Treepedia ranked Tampa as the leading city in the world in the amount of green space and trees. A new law signed this week by Gov. Ron DeSantis might threaten the status.

William Kemerer, Pat Gerard, and Josie Rocco accept checks on behalf of Brooksville, University Area in Tampa, and Pinellas County.
Adam Bakst / WUSF Public Media

Three Tampa Bay area communities will be able to make improvements thanks to their share of almost a million dollars in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Lealman community in Pinellas County, the University Area in Tampa, and the city of Brooksville will each receive $300,000 to clean up contaminated properties and develop community projects.

Florida lawmakers finished the 2019 legislative session Saturday by passing a budget for the upcoming year.

Environmentalists Wary Of Bleak Florida Forever Budget

Apr 29, 2019

As negotiations for the state’s yearly budget get closer and closer to a resolution, one line item has environmentalists shaking their heads.

The initial offer for funding Florida’s premier land acquisition program, Florida Forever, is less than half what some expected going into budget negotiations.

In the fall of last year, USF researchers sent a glider to what’s called “the epicenter” of red tide—the Gulf of Mexico’s continental shelf. The device helped to measure water movements to determine how red tide blooms were distributed throughout Florida.
USF College of Marine Science

A new study shows that ocean circulation was a major cause of the toxic red tide bloom, which plagued Florida's West Coast for over a year. It expanded up to the Florida Panhandle and circled down around to the East Coast.

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