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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.

USF Patel College of Global Sustainability

The University of South Florida is one of only 22 colleges to receive the highest score possible in The Princeton Review's "2014 Green Rating Honor Roll."

The Princeton Review, which is known primarily for its college prep programs and its ratings of colleges' educational performance, rated 832 schools based on data concerning their sustainability-related practices, policies and academic offerings.

Schools received scores between 60 and 99, with USF among 22 colleges getting that top mark and making the "Honor Roll."

VIDEO: Florida Keys Prepare for Sea Level Rise

Jul 2, 2013
Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

Hurricane storm surge can inundate the narrow, low-lying Florida Keys, but that is far from the only water worry for officials.

A tidal gauge operating since before the Civil War has documented a sea level rise of 9 inches in the last century, and officials expect that to double over the next 50 years. So when building a new Stock Island fire station, county authorities went ahead added a foot and a half over federal flood planning directives that the ground floor be built up 9 feet.

Seasonal tidal flooding that was once a rare inconvenience is now so predictable that some businesses at the end of Key West's famed Duval Street stock sandbags just inside their front doors, ready anytime.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Electrical outages during recent hurricanes have many homeowners investing in portable generators which have become more affordable and available to consumers.

And while generating your own electricity can provide comfort and convenience in an emergency, it doesn’t come without potential dangers.

So, here are some general tips on the maintenance and operation of a portable generator as you prepare for the 2013 Hurricane season.

General Care of a Small Generator

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Most drivers wouldn't do what Jason Leon did when he saw a large snake poking its head out of the brush beside the road: He pulled over, grabbed the snake and started pulling.

What he ended up with -- after a tussle and help from his friends -- was a record-setting giant Burmese python, as pictured on HuffPost Miami. 

Dalia Colon / WUSF

Saturday, April 20, marks the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. The accident killed 11 workers and released nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But efforts to restore the gulf are far from over.

A new report by the federal Oil Spill Commission gives Congress a D-plus for its handling of the ongoing cleanup.

A glass-bottomed boat glides along water in Silver Springs, Fla.

Larry Richardson / fws.gov

When the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service quietly turned over its authority to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last year, Florida became the only state with the power to green-light activities that harm its most vulnerable species without federal review.

For the third time in less than a month, a possible sinkhole has developed in Seffner. Hillsborough County Fire Rescue found soft soil around the home, and a sampling crew will test the area Wednesday.

FWC

You may have seen them on the beach, getting lovey-dovey in broad daylight. Perhaps you did your best to look away.

But we’re not talking about college kids having a spring break fling.

We’re talking about horseshoe crabs.

Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here's a troubling statistic: Of the 63,837 species worldwide that have undergone population assessments, 19,817 — or one out of three — are threatened with extinction.

That's according to Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. But the lab isn't taking these numbers lying down. 

This week, Mote announced that it will host a new coalition of aquariums, zoos and governmental and non-governmental organizations to address the needs of sea turtles, sea birds and other vulnerable marine life.

Florida's oyster industry, and the 2,500 jobs associated with it, are in danger if officials can't find a way to get more fresh water into Apalachicola Bay, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday. Scott wants the federal government to settle a water dispute among Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Others blame drought, high temperatures, overfishing and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

No arrests were made, although operations at TECO's Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach were interrupted for a few hours Thursday due to a Republican National Convention-related protest. Five protesters chained themselves together in the middle of a road at the plant, while a sixth chained himself to a truck.

Watch: Environmental Protest at Big Bend

Aug 30, 2012
Alex Cook

Protesters in town for the RNC took a bus ride down to Apollo Beach on Thursday to support an environmental protest at TECO Energy's Big Bend power station.  

Environmental activist group Earth First! had chained themselves together in the road leading up to the plant, and police worked to free them from their constraints.  No arrests were made, and the protesters left peacefully.

Earth First! spokesperson Leah Rothschild said they chose the Big Bend station for their action because it's Florida's dirtiest power plant and TECO helped fund the RNC.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF News

A new effort to promote clean energy for transportation in the Tampa Bay area was launched at USF Tuesday morning, but it's not the first time such an initiative has been attempted. In the late 1990s, the Suncoast Clean Cities Coalition brought together dozens of member groups interested in alternative energy. However, the coalition died out in part because resources weren't available.

Fast forward to today, when electric cars are more prevalent and gas is nearly four dollars a gallon, and the need for a centralized organizing group has been rekindled. That need is being met with the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition.

"The timing is perfect because now I think the general public that doesn't have time to pay attention to this stuff on a daily basis can see that these technologies are not for hobbyists or transportation geeks like me," said the USF's Patel School of Global Sustainability's Stephen Reich. "They're really mainstream alternatives to filling their tanks with petroleum or diesel every day."

Taegan McMahon

New research from USF is finding that a commonly-used fungicide may be toxic to aquatic life.

The chemical is chlorothalonil, the most commonly used synthetic fungicide in the United States. It’s used on peanuts, tomatoes, potatoes, and turf grass.

It’s in the same family as DDT, the chemical that was banned after conservationist Rachel Carson’s 1962 book “Silent Spring.”

USF biologist Taegan McMahon, a doctoral candidate in the USF Department of Integrative Biology, has published two papers with associate professor Jason Rohr about the dangers of chlorothalonil.

The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)

The University of South Florida has received a national honor for taking on more environmentally friendly practices.  

USF picked up a 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award at the doctoral level for a number of initiatives that are "shifting behavior on campus and within communities in favor of a clean and sustainable future."

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