Jim Turner reports for News 4 Jax – “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced… the start of a nearly three-month application period for local governments and others seeking “BearWise” funding for the fiscal year that began July 1. The agency has $515,000 to match with local government funding to help people and businesses buy bear-resistant trash cans and hardware to secure regular trash cans and to have modified dumpsters. The amount is down from $825,000 last year… A majority of the “BearWise” money will go to communities that have enacted ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep garbage secure from bears looking for food.” Read Florida bear-proofing dollars drop
The Naples Daily News Editorial Board writes – “As 2017 began, there were plenty of reasons to focus on the protection of natural resources in Southwest Florida. There were vivid images of algae tainting waterways… A study by the University of Florida, the state agriculture department and nonprofit 1000 Friends of Florida had raised awareness in November that development-related demand for water could double by 2070. The report called for water conservation measures and increased land preservation… A record number of Florida panthers died when hit by vehicles in 2016, and last year more manatees were killed in collisions with watercraft than in the prior record year of 2009… A report card that analyzed the health of 10 estuaries in Southwest Florida assigned poor marks in most areas for both water quality and natural habitat… The report card reaffirmed the value of acquiring conservation land.” Read Protecting natural resources must remain a priority
Col. Jason Kirk writes for News Press – “This time last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District was managing a challenging scenario fueled by heavy rains during the dry season and early part of wet season, forcing us to release billions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee to protect the Herbert Hoover Dike. One year later, I’d like to highlight the progress we have made and how we intend to address challenges that remain.” Read Army Corps: Lake Okeechobee water releases, one year later
Jim Waymer reports for Florida Today – “When it comes to collisions, government biologists want the onus on the boater, not the [manatee.]… [R]easearch by Ed Gerstein, of Florida Atlantic University, bucks their long-held belief that go-slow zones prevent boats from hitting manatees. The zones, Gerstein asserts, cause more harm than good because manatees can’t hear the low-frequency hums of slow-going boats. But government biologists remain skeptical of his claims and say slow zones are here to stay. Gerstein’s prototype sound device makes manatees skedaddle 95 percent of the time, his recent research shows, and well before the boat gets close – versus just 5 percent of the time without the device… Similar acoustic devices on the bows of large ships are used to reduce the risk of ship and watercraft collisions with whales and other marine animals… Underwood (USFWS) welcomes technological solutions to manatee boat strikes but sees too many unknowns:… Would multiple sound beams cross and confuse manatees in heavy boat traffic? What exactly are the manatees reacting to, and will they habituate to the sound? (Gerstein says his research shows they won’t.)… FWC officials wrote. ‘Introducing more anthropogenic noise into the underwater environment may cause disturbance and harassment to manatees, turtles and other protected species, the implications of which need to be evaluated.’… Bucking Gerstein’s hypothesis, a 2004 study by six South Florida scientists found that manatees have no problem hearing slow moving boats.” Read Researcher pitches sound device to warn manatees of boat strikes
Paul Brinkmann reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Local environmental groups have sued the City of Orlando and the developers of the new Princeton Oaks industrial park, in an effort to halt the destruction of forested wetlands in the area. The project has been planned for years. At this point, about 60 acres have been cleared and major earthwork has already been completed. But the groups of local residents want a judge to stop further work, which could include a second phase with about 60 more acres. According to the lawsuit, the city’s approval of the project represents a ‘failure to enforce water quality standards’ established by Orange County for the Wekiva Study Area. Canals in the area connect miles away to the Little Wekiva River… ‘We’re not Orange County; we followed the law as it applied to us,’ [city attorney Mayanne Downs said.]” Read Lawsuit: New industrial park damages Little Wekiva River headwaters
Kimberly Miller reports for my Palm Beach Post – “A large algae bloom is growing on Lake Okeechobee… [I]t is not an immediate threat to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee estuaries because no lake water is being discharged at this time… [T]he bloom was probably the result of heavy June rains that led to runoff flowing into the lake from the north.” Read Remember that yucky algae bloom last year? It’s back, and in Lake O
Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report for The Washington Post – “President Trump will nominate a prominent coal lobbyist and former Senate aide, Andrew Wheeler, to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy administrator… Wheeler… is a lobbyist for coal giant Murray Energy and served as a top aide for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) when Inhofe chaired the Senate Environment Committee… Trump will nominate Bill Wehrum as associate administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Matt Leopold to serve as EPA general counsel and David Ross as assistant administrator for Office of Water.” Read Trump to tap longtime coal lobbyist for EPA’s No. 2 spot
Jennie Jarvie and Brian Bennett report for the Los Angeles Times – “Environmentalists along the U.S.-Mexico border are gearing up for a fight as federal officials zero in on the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas to build the first stretch of the border wall promised by Trump… Straddling a bend in the Rio Grande, [the refuge] is home to the endangered ocelot, as well as jaguarondi, coyote, bobcats, armadillos and 400 bird species, making it one of the top birding destinations in the world… Environmental advocates say [the wall] could have a devastating effect on the animals who live in or roam the refuge and to the residents of one of Texas’ poorest regions who depend on the tourism [the refuge] draws.” Read This ‘crown jewel’ of wildlife refuges is one of the world’s top bird destinations. Trump’s wall would end public access
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
August 1, 12:00 pm – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at the North Florida Springs Environmental Center in High Springs for Springs Academy Tuesdays; a lunchtime lecture series on Florida’s springs. August’s lecture is on Springs Stresses with Dr. Robert Knight. All lectures are free and open to the public. A recommended donation of $5 is appreciated. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.
August 10, 7:00 pm – Attend Chasing Coral – Movie Night in Tallahassee. Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. Divers, photographers and scientists set out on an ocean adventure to discover why the reefs are disappearing and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. For more information, click here.
August 15, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Coral Gables Adult Center (2 Andalusia Ave.) in Coral Gables. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (North) Solar Co-op. For more information and to register, click here.
August 16, 7:00 – Attend a free, public solar information meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church (7701 SW 76th Ave.) in Miami. The meeting is hosted by the Central Miami (South) Solar Co-op. For more information, click here.
August 20-23 – Join the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute for its annual Florida Springs Field School; four days of outdoor activities and springs education in the Ocala National Forest! Field trip locations include Silver Springs State Park, Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, and Silver Glen Springs. For more information, click here or call (386) 454 - 2427.
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