Read The deadly toll of the red tide - “They come in staggering, looking depressed. Sometimes they have ulcers on their eyes or in their stomachs. Dr. Heather Barron’s patients range in size from sanderlings, tiny birds that can weigh as little as three and a half ounces, to loggerhead turtles that weigh hundreds of pounds. And the unusually long red tide hitting Sanibel Island in Florida has kept them coming in. The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife has seen a 25 percent increase in patients compared with this time last year, said Dr. Barron, the medical and research director. The clinic’s staff has been stretched thin, working 80-hour weeks to treat the large number of animals left sick by the red tide...Red tide is a naturally occurring algal bloom that was seen in southwestern Florida as early as the 1700s. It typically appears in late summer or early fall and subsides before the following summer. At high concentrations, the bloom can color the water with a brown or red hue. But this year’s red tide has been unusually long and strong, said Allen Foley, a wildlife biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It’s the longest one since 2006, when a red tide lasted 17 months. Scientists generally agree that algae blooms are becoming worse, intensified by agricultural runoff and warm weather. Two sea turtle species feeling the brunt are the loggerhead turtles, which are threatened, and Kemp’s ridley turtles, the most endangered sea turtles in the world. Some green turtles have also been killed by red tide. The number of sea turtles found killed, injured or sick since November hit a new high for a single red tide, at 354, Mr. Foley said… Larry Brand, a professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said red tides were about 15 times worse than they were nearly 50 years ago. This year’s red tide, he said, is exacerbated by human-based nutrients, the amount of which continues to grow as the coastal area becomes more developed. Discharge from Lake Okeechobee, where the water has high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizers, has also led to an unusually large blue-green algal bloom. ‘The large increase in runoff this year led to the red tide getting pretty bad,’ he said. The beaches of Sanibel Island have been cleared not only of people, she said, but also of wildlife. There were days previously when she saw as many as 30 ospreys. Now, it has been weeks since she spotted one. ‘This time it’s just not going away,’ she said…” Melissa Gomez reports for the New York Times.
Read Venice vice mayor to seek citywide ban of fertilizer - “Vice Mayor Bob Daniels is asking the City Council to consider a ban on the use of fertilizer within the city limits, similar to one put in place by Sewall’s Point, in Martin County, on the east coast of Florida. ‘I’m proposing a year-round ban, until we’re able to monitor what we’re putting into the three miles of the Gulf offshore — that being the outfalls and the septic systems,’ Daniels said Tuesday morning at the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier. Daniels wants the ban to include glyphosate herbicides, commonly known as Roundup. His proposed ban would be placed on the council’s Sept. 11 agenda for discussion and could be in place ‘until we can guarantee we’re not putting out any nutrients.’ Sarasota County already regulates the use of fertilizer during the rainy season. Daniels’ idea would go further. He sees it as cutting off nourishment for Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide. ‘My hypothesis, for the city, is we can control the food supply for three miles from the city,’ Daniels said. ‘We’re going to cut it off. I don’t like seeing people walking around with respirators and gas masks and big dolphins being killed and birds and stuff like that,’ he added...While not directly related, Daniels’ motion is an extension of the efforts pushed locally by Rob Merlino, a Venice Gardens resident who organized a small protest for clean water Aug. 28 outside Venice City Hall. He followed that up Aug. 30 by sending city officials video and photos he took that morning of stormwater outfall flow into the Gulf, claiming that ‘white gunk’ was visible in the flow...Merlino hopes a grassroots movement could lead to regulations similar to those put in place by Virginia and Maryland to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. ‘The thing is, it’s symbolic; it’s the first step in a long march,’ Merlino said of Venice’s proposed ban. ‘Will it have an effect? There’s enough people out there that are going to obey the law, because they’re law-abiding citizens." Earle Kimel reports for the Herald Tribune.
Read Brian Mast won’t endorse Rick Scott for U.S. Senate unless he supports clean-water efforts - “Republicans running for Congress have almost universally supported Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his U.S. Senate bid to unseat Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson. The Treasure Coast's congressman is not one of them. U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, said his support is conditional: He backs candidates who support the clean-water efforts he's pushing to stop or greatly reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. ‘I’m not going to support anybody who doesn’t support our water,’ Mast said. Mast added he supports any candidate who ‘comes out and supports our water,’ including Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, who is not running for re-election this cycle. Mast urged Rubio and Nelson to file a Senate companion to a bill he said he'd file Tuesday evening to make public health and safety, including preventing toxic algae blooms, the primary concern in managing Lake Okeechobee levels. ‘Show us that you're going to make us the priority,’ Mast said. Rubio and Nelson have not responded to TCPalm's questions about Mast's bill and comments about endorsements. A spokeswoman for Scott's campaign said they were reviewing the legislation…” Ali Schmitz reports for the Treasure Coast Newspapers
Read The environmental rule changes that will impact us the most- “Even the most diligent climate change policy trackers are having a hard time keeping abreast of recent changes at the federal level. Apparently, the replacement of Scott Pruitt with former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yielded new results when it comes to the big environmental picture. From chemical safety, coal plants, and auto emissions standards, to water and wetlands protection, to the Endangered Species Act, the Trump administration is sabotaging decades of environmental rules incredibly quickly, and that has many of us taken aback...Thankfully, The New York Times has done us a fine service in the form of a compiled and regularly updated list, "76 Environmental Rules on the Way Out with Trump." So far, 46 environmental rules have been overturned with another 30 proposed rollbacks waiting in the wings. The EPA itself is responsible for one-third of these changes. 76?! What a daunting number. At least we don’t have to do the tracking groundwork; Harvard and Columbia law schools are doing it for us. The Times has conveniently categorized some of the changes. These rollbacks cover seven general categories: air pollutants and emissions; drilling and extraction; infrastructure and planning; animals; toxic substances and safety; water pollution; and ‘other.’ This big environmental picture is something to take very seriously. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, these rollbacks could lead ‘to at least 80,000 extra deaths per decade and cause respiratory problems for more than one million people…” Michelle R. Matisons writes for MultiBriefs.
Read As climate warms, algae blooms in drinking water supplies - “The vague warning jolted citizens in and around Salem, Oregon to attention on May 29. ‘‘Civil Emergency in this area until 11:28PM,’ read the text message alert. ‘Prepare for action.’ It was a ham-handed message — one that left some wondering if an attack was imminent. In fact, the danger officials wanted to warn them about wasn't coming from the sky. It was coming from their taps. For the first time in Oregon's history, toxins from a nearby algae bloom had made their way into a city's tap water. The danger was limited — toxins were at low enough levels to only pose dangers to vulnerable populations, like children, pets, or nursing mothers. But the fallout was immediate. Within hours of the alert, Salemites had cleared grocery stores and gas stations of their bottled water supplies. Videos surfaced of some shopkeepers gouging shoppers: $48 for a case of water bottles, in one instance. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown sent in the National Guard to distribute water. Today, Oregon for the first time has rules largely unheard of in the United States. It's requiring public water suppliers to test for toxins from algae. Only Ohio has similar rules, enacted after a drinking water scare in the city of Toledo in 2014, but there's reason to believe more states will soon be following suit. As the climate warms, hazardous algae blooms are becoming more prevalent around the world. If ingested, cyanotoxins from these blooms can cause organ damage — even death. ‘Since the mid-2000s it's gotten worse, and the worst blooms on record have happened more or less in the last 10 years,’ says Dr. Steven Wilhelm, a University of Tennessee professor who has studied algae for two decades. Wilhelm is interested in the circumstances that lead harmful blooms to overtake a body of water — and why that seems to be happening more and more. A big piece of the puzzle is the pollutants that blue-green algae feeds on, but Wilhelm and others are convinced: Climate change is playing a part. ‘We definitely think there's a role for these warm seasons we have been seeing over the last few years,’ he says. ‘These so-called bad algae tend to do better at warmer temperatures.’ Algae has long posed a potential health threat to swimmers and boaters, who risk ingesting toxins while splashing around in a lake or river where a bloom is present. But more and more these days, health officials are grappling with the threat of algae to drinking water. ‘It's a concern in many states — especially states that pull water from surface waters that are contaminated with these,’ says Dr. Tim Davis, who studies harmful algae blooms at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. ‘The ability to provide clean drinking water is something people take for granted until they don't have it.’.. Dirk Vanderhart reports for NPR All Things Considered.
Read Huge lizard terrorizing Florida family is species sold online for live overnight delivery - “The seven-foot lizard terrorizing a South Florida family is a species that can be legally purchased online for less than $200. The Asian water monitor is popular among exotic pet enthusiasts — those who prefer ball pythons, tarantulas, scorpions and other less-than-cuddly creatures to the more standard dogs and cats. You can buy a baby one with a credit card from Snakes at Sunset of Miami for $169.99, with the live lizard shipped to your home by FedEx. Underground Reptiles of Deerfield Beach sells them for $69.99. Go!Lizards of Kansas sells them for $135. Adults command higher prices, New England Reptile Distributors charging from $750 to more than $1,000...The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has restricted personal ownership of Burmese pythons, green anacondas, Nile monitors and other species considered harmful if they escape captivity. But the agency has imposed no restrictions on ownership of Asian water monitors. For the past two weeks, a 7-foot, 150-pound Asian monitor has been turning up around the Davie home of Zachary and Maria Lieberman, who have two young children. They called trappers, but so far no one has been able to catch it. State wildlife officials say it’s probably a pet that escaped or was released.Although Lieberman says he has nothing against responsible exotic pet owners, he thinks there should be some legal safeguards in place to prevent just anyone from acquiring a potentially dangerous animal...In the past two years, the state wildlife commission has received 14 calls about water monitor lizards in different parts of Florida…” David Fleshler reports for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September 8, 5:00pm- Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice: The 350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast Chapter are rallying against dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and in support of clean energy, for new jobs in the clean energy economy, and for a just transition ensuring all have access to the power and hope of clean energy. At the Plaza de Luna, 900 S Palafox St, Pensacola, there will be live music, local speakers, and a path for climate action. Here in Pensacola we are pushing to see our community act on the recommendations from the City's climate task force and to transition to 100% renewable energy. For more information, see the Facebook event link here or email email@example.com .
September 12, 6:00pm- 350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast present 'The Burden'- The Burden is an epic film about the struggle of the US military to provide energy to its troops in battle--and the sometimes tragic consequences of that struggle. It's also about the amazing clean energy innovations the military is advancing, helping to save lives on the battlefield and moving our nation toward its inevitable future of clean energy. Following the film we will host a discussion about the military's role in advancing clean energy. The presentation is part of a monthly speaker series on climate change, and is co sponsored by 350 Pensacola and Sierra Club Emerald Coast chapter. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
September 17, 6:00 pm - Earth Ethics presents #Don'tSuck short film (Pensacola) - Join Earth Ethics at Pensacola's Downtown Library, 239 N Spring Street, Pensacola, FL 32502 for the viewing of a short video on straws and their impacts. Join the #Don’tSuck movement to get straws the heck out of here! Learn how you can help as an individual, get restaurants and stores motivated to kick the straw habit. Be prepared to be part of the social media blitz. Let us know if you plan to join us. Get your ticket by visiting the EventBrite link here , and for more information visit the Facebook page here.
September 19, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. – FREE Trouble in Paradise Webinar: This project was spearheaded by the late Nathaniel Pryor Reed to educate candidates for office and citizens on key environmental issues facing our state and strategies to address them. Attend this free webinar to learn more and gain insights on how to advocate for change. Trouble in Paradise was produced by 1000 Friends of Florida, Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Defenders of Wildlife, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Springs Council, Florida Springs Institute, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Florida Wildlife Federation and League of Women Voters of Florida. The webinar has been approved for professional certification credits for planners, Florida attorneys, and certified environmental health professionals. The full report and registration information are available at http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/webinar/.
September 24, 7:00-9:00 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (High Springs): 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.
September 25, 6:00 PM - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Destin) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of Okaloosa & Walton County, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here
October 2, 6:30-8:30 pm - Water Voices Program: Clear Choices for Clean Water (Lake City): 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
October 2, 12:00 pm - Free showing of the Sierra Club film 'Reinventing Power' (Pensacola) - Sierra Club Emerald Coast, League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area, and Earth Ethics, Inc. present Reinventing Power: America’s Renewal Energy Boom. The movie takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable. These individuals are working to rebuild what’s broken, rethink what’s possible, and revitalize communities. These stories are proof that America does not need to choose between keeping our lights on and protecting our communities. Critically, Reinventing Power underscores the notion that we don’t have to sacrifice jobs for a clean environment. Over the film’s 50 minutes, you’ll meet people in eight states whose lives were changed by the renewable energy industry while exploring various aspects of the clean energy industry from innovation to installation. Register with EventBrite here.
October 5, 9:00 a.m.-4:15 p.m. - Palm Beach County 2070 Workshop: What does the future hold for Palm Beach County? Can the county accommodate the more than 750,000 new residents anticipated by 2070 and still maintain its quality of life and natural lands? Join 1000 Friends of Florida in exploring how Palm Beach County should grow with experts on conservation, planning, urban development, economic development and citizen engagement. What can we do today to plan for a better tomorrow in Palm Beach County? This day-long workshop is being hosted by 1000 Friends of Florida at the Vista Center in West Palm Beach. The cost is $20 per attendee and professional certification credits have been approved for planners (AICP CM #221015) and are being sought for Florida attorneys and others. Find out more and register at www.1000friendsofflorida.org/pbco2070.
November 1-4 - The Florida Springs Restoration Summit (Ocala) - 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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