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Gov. Scott Calls For Boost In Environmental Spending

Oct 23, 2017
Photo Courtesy Florida Audubon

Spending on Florida's natural resources and environmental programs would grow by $220 million under a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott as he nears his final recommended state budget.

The $1.7 billion environmental package for lawmakers to consider in 2018 includes increased funding for the state's springs, beaches and parks, along with $355 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million to help the federal government speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and $50 million for Florida Forever, the state's most prominent land-preservation fund.

A Senate panel has approved a plan to appropriate new dollars for the St. Johns River and Florida’s springs.  But the proposal could wind up vying for funding with a beach restoration measure.

Sarasota County

Sarasota County planners will hear a request Thursday afternoon to rezone land for a scrap recycling center next to what has been called the best bird-watching spot in the county.

Florida Forest Service

State officials say Florida is having one of its worst wildfire seasons in years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the impact these fires have on the state's environment and economy, and whether there's an end in sight for this dry season.


Coffee-colored water gurgles near the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam. It flows down the Caloosahatchee River, roughly 30 miles from Fort Myers.

Daylina Miller/WUSF

How do you teach kids about ecology when the natural world is shrinking around them?

In fast growing Florida, one solution is to take environmental studies outside the walls of a classroom.

The Legislature will begin its annual session early this year with the hopes of avoiding the chaos and dysfunction that marked the 2015 session and three special sessions that followed.

The 2016 Florida Legislative session starts Jan. 12, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 a.m.), we are previewing some of the bills lawmakers are proposing.

The United Nations climate change conference takes place in Paris this month. World leaders hope to agree on actions to prevent global warming. At the same time, the “Climate Hope Presentation” is happening in Sarasota on Monday, Dec. 7. Presenters will discuss environmental issues, but there will be a greater emphasis on solutions. WGCU’s Jessica Meszaros spoke with one of the event’s organizers.

Judge Tosses Part Of 'Amendment 1' Challenge

Dec 4, 2015
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

A Leon County judge Thursday removed a major part of a lawsuit that contests how lawmakers decided to spend money that voters approved last year for land buying and preservation.

However, an attorney for four environmental groups challenging the state's spending called the ruling a victory.

Little Bird Key
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Four environmental groups recently sued the state over Amendment One, which overwhelmingly was passed by voters last year. They claim state officials are diverting money that should go into the state’s conservation land-buying fund. So other groups are trying to fill the gap. Recently, one of the most productive bird nesting islands in Tampa Bay was bought by the Audubon Society. WUSF takes us on a trip to Little Bird Key, and tells us why the group is trying to raise money to pay for it.

I hop aboard an outboard with Ann Paul, who manages Audubon Florida's Coastal Islands Sanctuaries. She points her boat to the newest wildlife refuge in Tampa Bay.

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

Aimee Blodgett / USF Communications and Marketing

When thousands of University of South Florida students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas this week, they will be helping to reduce environmental waste.

USF Student Government voted this year to use caps and gowns made from 100 percent recycled materials. Each set is made from about 23 plastic bottles.

With more than 6,300 students in the USF System graduating this week, that translates into the recycling of 150-thousand bottles.

At the Gulf State Park Pier in Orange Beach, Ala., Wetzel Wood casts his fishing line into the rough surf of the Gulf of Mexico. He pulls his bait, a cigar minnow, through the water just beyond where the waves break for the shore.

"On a good day you'd catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel," he says. Wood first learned to fish at the pier with his grandfather in 1969. "I've seen a lot of different things out here. It's been wonderful."

C-IMAGE Consortium

On April 20, 2010, a wellhead a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

In the subsequent leak, more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled out. On the Gulf’s surface, the oil covered up to 68-thousand square miles – an area roughly equal to the size of Florida.

Florida Forever could become Florida Never if Republicans have their way. As Jim Ash reports, that’s how critics are describing paltry spending proposals in the House and Senate for what was once the nation’s largest wilderness preservation programs.

AP Photo

Nesting declines for some species of wading birds shows the long-term damage suffered by Florida's Everglades, and targets set for higher numbers of nests may become unattainable if conditions in the unique wetlands do not improve soon, state officials said.

The Kissimmee: A River Re-Curved

Oct 19, 2014

It sounds almost superhuman to try straighten a river and then recarve the curves.

That's what federal and state officials did to the Kissimmee River in Central Florida. They straightened the river in the 1960s into a canal to drain swampland and make way for the state's explosive growth. It worked — and it created an ecological disaster. So officials decided to restore the river's slow-flowing, meandering path.

Foes of State Conservation Amendment Wary, But Prepared

Sep 11, 2014

Florida voters appear poised in November to pass a constitutional amendment that would require setting aside billions of dollars for land conservation and other environmental projects.

The proposed "Water and Land Conservation" amendment would earmark 33 percent of the state's documentary-stamp tax revenues --- fees paid when real estate is sold --- for 20 years. The money would go to buy conservation lands, protect areas vital to the water supply and restore natural systems that have been degraded, such as the Everglades.

The environment is one of the 10 most important issues among Floridians, with the vast majority saying they would support land conservation programs and candidates who say they support conservation efforts, according to a newly released UF survey. The second annual environmental issues survey by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Center for Public Issues Education, or PIE Center, showed across-the-board support for the environment and endangered species.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is releasing a new black bear curriculum and officials say it fits right into the state’s new education standards. The program aims at teaching kids about black bears while pairing that with math, science and reading lessons.

Earth Day Events Across Tampa Bay

Apr 21, 2014
Royce Bair / Flickr

In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday April 22, the following events are taking place across Tampa Bay:

A hundred million years from now, when we're all dead and gone, a team of geologists will be digging in a field somewhere ...

Three central Florida cities have been ranked among the best places in the country to staycation.

The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.

"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The committee supported, in a 6-5 party-line vote, a proposal (SB 918) by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores that is intended to prevent abortions after fetuses reach the point of "viability." Flores said the bill won't hinder a woman's ability to get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

William Bartram was a trailblazing explorer and naturalist. In the 18th century, he cut a path across Florida and seven other states.  His travels took him along the St. Johns River, Seminole villages and the Alachua Prairie, which we now call Paynes Prairie.  

Something is wrong in Florida's Indian River Lagoon.

Over the past year, record numbers of dolphins, manatees and pelicans have turned up dead in the 150-mile-long estuary that runs along Florida's Atlantic Coast. Bouts of algal blooms have flourished in the waters. All the signs point to an ecosystem that is seriously out of balance. The crisis has mobilized scientists, residents and elected officials in Florida.

An Ailing Lagoon

Exploring The Little Manatee River By Kayak

Sep 25, 2013
Katie O'Connor / Florida Matters

My wife, Katie, and I like our sightseeing a little bit adventurous.

We think one of the best ways to explore a new place is in a kayak.

It's one of the first things we did when we moved to Tampa two years ago.

We paddled down the Hillsborough River into the bay and made a pass by Derek Jeter's house.

We took a kayak out to visit the ruined Eberhard Faber pencil factory on a juniper-filled island near Cedar Key.

Study: Florida Third-Worst For Power Plant Pollution

Sep 11, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

Even though Florida is known for its sunshine, we have the third-worst carbon* pollution of any state, at least according to one report.

A citizen advocacy group, Environment Florida,  released a report today called "America's Dirtiest Power Plants."  Environment Florida used 2011 federal data to rank the dirtiest power plants nationwide. Florida ranks third in electric power sector emissions, particularly in carbon dioxide.

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