Tim Fanning reports for the Herald-Tribune - “As red tide fouls beaches, kills sea life and chokes coastal Southwest Florida communities, the toxic blooms also are leaving a bad taste with many early voters who are vowing to hold politicians accountable. In interviews with voters across the region on the first day of early voting for the August 28 primary, there was a sense of bipartisan frustration. In interviews with voters across the region on the first day of early voting for the Aug. 28 primary, there was a sense of bipartisan frustration. ‘That makes it especially hard to know who to vote for,’ said Colin Gibbons, 37, a registered Democrat from Sarasota. ‘There’s a lot of politicians trying to say the right thing. There’s a lot of cans being kicked down the road.’ Gibbons, like many who spoke to the Herald-Tribune, said red tide or other environmental issues are not what brought them to the polls on Saturday. But the issue could be decisive in November, Gibbons and others said. ‘I wish someone would stand up and say this is how we’re going to fix it,’ said Rob Stevenson, 60, a registered Republican from Englewood. ‘This is a No. 1 issue for me, my friends and my family. We’re energized with no one to really turn to.’ Read Red tide leaves foul taste for some early Sarasota voters.
Carolyn Gramling writes for Science News - “ The boardwalk at Pa-hay-okee Overlook is a brief, winding path into a dreamworld in Everglades National Park. Beyond the wooden slats, an expanse of gently waving sawgrass stretches to the horizon, where it meets an iron-gray sky. Hardwood tree islands — patches of higher, drier ground called hammocks — rise up from the prairie like surfacing swimmers. The rhythmic singing of cricket frogs is occasionally punctuated by the sharp call of an anhinga or a great egret. And through this ecosystem, a vast sheet of water flows slowly southward toward the ocean. The Everglades, nicknamed the river of grass, has endured its share of threats. Decades of human tinkering to make South Florida an oasis for residents and a profitable place for farmers and businesses has redirected water away from the wetlands. Runoff from agricultural fields bordering the national park causes perennial toxic algal blooms in Florida’s coastal estuaries. But now, the Everglades — home to alligators and crocodiles, deer, bobcats and the Florida panther, plus a dizzying array of more than 300 bird species — is facing a far more relentless foe: rising seas. South Florida is ground zero when it comes to sea level rise in the United States. By 2100, waters near Key West are projected to be as much as two meters above current mean sea level. Daily high tides are expected to flood many of Miami’s streets. The steady encroachment of saltwater is already changing the landscape, killing off saw grass and exposing the land to erosion. Against this looming threat, Everglades ecologists and hydrogeologists are racing to find ways to mitigate the damage before the land is reclaimed by the ocean, irrevocably lost…” Read A freshwater, saltwater tug-of-war is eating away at the Everglades.
Cynthia Barnett writes for the Los Angeles Times - “At the populous edges of the nation, red, color of danger, billows through forest and sea. The uncontrolled wildfires in California and red tide in Florida have darkened summer in the states named for gold and sunshine. Burned-up homes and belly-up marine life stretch for miles in some of America’s most-famous respites, emptying the white-canvas tents of Yosemite and the white-sand beaches of southwest Florida. Wildfires and toxic algae burn the lungs, leave a stomach-churning stench and share much more in common: Both occur naturally, but their effects worsen the more we encroach upon the wild. Both proliferate in high temperatures. And both are among the political sleepers of this election season… The Caring Middle is the supermajority- too often, the silent majority- of Americans who care deeply about the environment. The more they know, the more they care. Seventy-four percent of Americans feel strongly about environmental protection, according to the Pew Research Center. Seventy-three percent now believe the scientific evidence for climate change, according to the spring 2018 National Survey on Energy and the Environment. No doubt, the polls also reflect a wide political divide on environmental regulation; Pew reports that six in 10 Republicans say it costs too many jobs and hurts the economy. But in GOP-dominated southwest Florida, where toxic algae have clogged inland waterways and shuttered water-based businesses this summer, voters of all stripes are clamoring for solutions, including stricter pollution controls…” Read Can the Caring Middle save the environment?
Jenny Staletovich reports for the Miami Herald - “Why do we still dump sewage onto our beaches? What’s the upside for an economy so dependent on tourism?’ The short answer to this question — posed by a reader using the Your Voice tool as part of our Florida Influencer Series, which taps the collective wisdom of 50 influential Floridians on topics important to the state in the run-up to the November election — is we don’t dump sewage on the beach. But we do dump treated waste in the ocean — at least in South Florida and for the time being. In Miami-Dade County, we dump treated sewage about 3.6 miles offshore. The practice stems from the 1970s when the state allowed fast-growing coastal communities to flush treated wastewater offshore. Public health officials have long insisted that’s far enough away to dilute impacts to beaches. But in the 1980s and 1990s, when it became increasingly clear that dumping had environmental consequences on reefs and marine life, newer communities began installing separate pipes to use the wastewater for irrigation, mostly on golf courses and farms. Then in 2008, Florida passed a law banning the outfall pipes by 2025 and requiring counties to begin reusing most of their wastewater. But only if it was economically feasible. Across the state, most counties have now complied. The Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County reuse between 30 and 50 percent. But Broward and Miami-Dade have lagged behind, reusing just 4 to 7 percent. Broward County solved its problem by cutting a deal with Palm Beach County to ship the water north…” Read You asked: Why do we still dump sewage onto our beaches?
Meredith Barnard, Marisa Carrozzo and Brad Cornell write for the News-Press - “Lee County residents understand the value of Conservation 20/20, the county’s conservation land program. This was evident in the 2016 election when nearly 84 percent of residents voted in support of continuing the program. By preserving environmentally sensitive lands, this program works to protect our drinking water supplies and water quality, reduce flood risk, protect native wildlife and their habitat, and provide access for people to enjoy nature-based recreation. Since the program’s inception in 1996, Lee County has protected nearly 30,000 acres of land, including the most recent purchase of Edison Farms in December 2017. Clearly, this program has been wildly successful and is meeting habitat conservation and water resource goals for Lee County. This begs the question, why is Lee County proposing changes to this program? The proposed changes seek to alter the property ranking criteria, create a new nomination and application process, and also propose a mechanism to replenish the acquisition fund- all of which will be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners at the Aug. 21 meeting…” Read Conservation 20/20 isn’t broke; quit trying to fix it.
Tim Croft reports for the Panama City News Herald - “Two years after the red tide devastated the scallops in St. Joseph’s Bay, FWC is reporting healthier numbers than the area has seen in years. The extra TLC given to the St. Joseph Bay scallop population the past two years would appear to be reaping dividends. The survey of the adult population of scallops, posted Tuesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, shows that the current population is nearly four-times that of last year and nearly twice the mean of the past six years, an apparent testament to the restoration project started in 2016. ‘Biologists conducted 100 transects in St. Joseph Bay to measure bay scallop density and distribution throughout the bay,’ said FWC biologist Jennifer Granneman. ‘Scallop densities in St. Joseph Bay have steadily increased since 2016, which may be due, in part, to the ongoing restoration efforts in the bay lead by FWRI biologists. Scallop restoration efforts in the bay will continue in order to help move the population to a ‘stable’ population status’...” Read Port St. Joe scallop populations show signs of rebounding.
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water: The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee: Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. High Springs New Century Woman’s Club, 23674 U.S. Highway 27, High Springs, FL 32643.
October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water: The Ichetucknee Alliance resumes its popular Water Voices speaker series this fall with a program designed to inspire people to take action to solve the problems that plague the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs. This free event will feature a talk by Dr. Robert L. Knight, Executive Director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute (FSI), and the premiere of three new videos, Ichetucknee: Yesterday – Today – Tomorrow, edited by award-winning documentary filmmaker Eric Flagg. Knight will also describe FSI’s newest project, a Blue Water Audit, as well as his idea for an Aquifer Protection Fee. See this press release for more information. Columbia County Public Library – Main, 308 NW Columbia Ave., Lake City, FL 32055
November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit - Join the Florida Springs Council in Ocala to learn from state leaders and experts on how we can make meaningful springs restoration a reality. The Florida Springs Restoration Summit brings together scientists, academics, advocates, reporters, policy makers, and other citizens to discuss the status of springs health and steps needed for meaningful springs restoration and long-term protection. The cost to attend the Springs Summit is kept low to encourage participation by members of the public and nonprofit organizations. To learn more about the 2018 Springs Restoration Summit and register, see the Summit website.
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