- Red mangroves have been spotted as far west as Pensacola and ecologists want to know why the warmer weather species have been able to grow successfully in an area that typically has bouts of freezing weather in the winter. Could a warmer climate be the cause?
- Have you ever been annoyed by condo owners blocking off what used to be a larger stretch of beach for the locals? But, who really owns the beach? Along the Panhandle, the public is clashing with private landowners who are restricting beach access.
- Rob Bradley, chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, wants to cut down on administrative costs for environmental spending to use more money to purchase land.
- Predators and parasites have been thriving in Apalachicola Bay and preying on oysters, which is partly why the fishery collapsed in 2012. This news brings little optimism for scientists who have been trying to bring the oysters back for years.
- An experimental fish hatchery is set to be built in Escambia County, and is funded by restoration monies from penalties paid by BP after the 2010 oil spill. However, there is debate about changing its location. Despite reassurance from Gov. Scott, Sen. Broxton is worried funding might fall through if the site is relocated.
- The Gulf of Mexico is testing grounds for military operations. Congressman Gaetz is asking for $30 million to support these operations and prevent oil exploration in the area.
- Cuban (Brown) anoles are invading northwest Florida rest areas. They were first spotted in the 1800s, but are still considered relatively “new” when it comes to invasive species. Have you seen one? Report it!
- Some farmer’s markets are regulated, meaning vendors must obtain permits to operate–an action aimed to protect public health. Until recently, farmer’s markets in Walton county were unregulated. Now, county farmer’s market vendors must now go through an outdoor permitting process to remain operational.
- It’s no surprise that after the shock of a major hurricane, Florida agriculture has taken a major it. Florida farmers are suffering, labor shortages and citrus greening are also among the culprits.
- Reservoir vs. river: A new report from the University of Florida shows people spend more time and dollars on the natural portions of the Ocklawaha River than the Rodman Reservoir. The two-year study adds fuel to the debate over whether to restore a free-flowing Ocklawaha.
- Activists have moved to settle an eight-month lawsuit with chicken producer Pilgrim’s Pride over wastewater discharges from a processing plant into the Suwannee River. Plaintiffs Environment Florida and the Sierra Club contend the company has violated the Clean Water Act multiple times; much of the $1.43 million in fines would go to Stetson University to promote and support sustainable farming initiatives.
- Researchers at the University of Florida are using virtual-reality to envision sea level rise scenarios in Miami. Through UF’s VR for the Social Good Initiative, prototypes are being tested to assess the technology’s capacity for social good.
- Uncertain future: many environmental advocates applaud Governor Rick Scott’s 2017 budget proposal, which allots the highest amount for environmental projects in Scott’s tenure. But northeast Florida environmental organizations are dismayed at the lack of attention on the St. Johns River, which is increasingly strained by dredging and its use as a water source for central Florida’s growing population.
- The Alachua Conservation Trust has officially opened a 900 acre preserve lining the Sante Fe River near Worthington Springs to the public. The newly minted Sante Fe River Preserve protects miles of riverfront and riparian forest, which is ideal habitat for rare and unique species like the Oval Pigtoe.
- Research from Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Laboratory suggests the ocean’s smallest organisms may better weather the effects of climate change than larger species. These resilient marine organisms—called meiofauna—comprise the base of the food chain.
- Residents in northeast Flagler County are fighting new development near Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. The projects, proposed by Jacksonville-based developer Duval Realty, would bring 190 homes to a low-lying, flood-prone stretch of State Road A1A.
- Glass half full: Levy County officials recently notified residents that their recycling facilities will no longer process glass, citing lack of market. “The market will come back,” says Waste Pro Division Manager Trip Lancaster. “We just don’t know when.”
- The fight over the iconic Silver Springs continues: conservationists’ challenge to a water withdrawal permit awarded to cattle ranch Sleepy Creek Lands LLC has been rejected. “This permit rubs salt in the wounds of a dying springshed,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman.
- When life gives you oranges: Florida lawmakers worry the White House’s latest disaster-relief package doesn’t sufficiently cover the estimated $2.5 billion in agricultural losses from Hurricane Irma. Particularly hard hit was the citrus industry. “The Florida delegation specifically requested this relief because there isn’t a citrus grove that wasn’t affected, with some experiencing 100 percent losses,” says Congressman Dennis Ross. “[It’s] worse than anything the industry has experienced in over 20 years.”
- “Zombie ants” explained: Researchers at University of Central Florida have discovered the fungal parasite that infects ants, hijacking their neural system and controlling their behavior, has its own working biological clock.
- A Florida panther was struck by a vehicle and killed in early November near Naples. This was the 20th fatal collision this year, out of 25 reported panther deaths.
- University of Miami Professor Daniel Benetti was awarded nearly $1 million from NOAA for aquaculture production. Benetti and his team will work to advance hatchery technologies for red snapper, Nassau grouper and hogfish.
- Two months after Hurricane Irma plowed across Florida, debris cleanup is nearly complete in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Cleanup is expected to be completed by Christmas.
- The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Trump administration for denying protection to the Florida Keys mole skink under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied protections for the skink in October despite threats from sea-level rise.
- FWC and DEP have accepted responsibility to remove storm debris and sunken boats from most Florida Keys canals. Debris cleanup is expected to begin soon.
- The South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a new 20-year contract for invasive cleanup, including a climbing fern that has been choking out critical tree islands. The contract focuses on the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in the Northern Everglades.
- FEMA has opened more Disaster Recovery Centers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The DRCs are open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- To further protect permit, one of the prized sports fish in the Florida Keys, fisheries managers may extend the three-month closed season to four-months which is crucial spawning time for the species.
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The Sunshine State Sampler: November 2017