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10/30/2014

Service proposes trade protections for four native freshwater turtles

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A booming international trade in turtles has put pressure on populations across the country and has led to concern about the long-term survival of several species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule to address the growing threat of illegal take and trade in native turtles. If finalized, this action will bring four native freshwater turtle species – the common snapping turtle, the Florida softshell turtle, the smooth softshell turtle and the spiny softshell turtle – under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and require exporters to obtain a permit before shipping turtles overseas.

Freshwater turtles and tortoises are collected, traded and utilized in overwhelming numbers. Bringing these turtle species under CITES protection will allow the Service to better monitor international trade, determine the legality of exports and, in consultation with State wildlife agencies and other experts, decide whether additional conservation efforts are needed. It will also enlist the assistance of 179 other countries that are part of CITES in monitoring trade in these species.

“Wildlife trafficking is not just a danger to foreign species. Native wildlife, including paddlefish, live reptiles and sharks, as well as plants such as ginseng, are poached and illegally traded,” said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of International Affairs. “We work closely with State wildlife agencies to protect native species and ensure that trade is legal and sustainable, particularly for species at greatest risk of overexploitation.”

Continue reading on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website here »

10/27/2014

Two WPA-era bridges get new life in Polk County

Two “New Deal” era bridges built in 1940s rural Florida were replaced by new, up-to-date structures. The 74-year-old South Lake Reedy Blvd. and Old Bartow Lake Wales Road Bridges in Polk County, Florida were “functionally obsolete” by today’s standards. Polk County’s Transportation Division delivered both new bridges ahead of schedule and under budget.

10/10/2014

New Study Finds Steep Increase in East Coast High-Tide Floods

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Flooding events may triple in 15 years, increase ten-fold in 30 years for most towns analyzed, science group finds

WASHINGTON – Flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is now common in some places and is projected to grow to the point that sections of coastal cities may flood so often they would become unusable in the near future, according to a report the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) just released, "Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”

“Several decades ago, flooding at high tide was simply not a problem,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, report co-author and climate scientist at UCS. “Today, when the tide is extra high, people find themselves splashing through downtown Miami, Norfolk and Annapolis on sunny days and dealing with flooded roads in Atlantic City, Savannah and the coast of New Hampshire. In parts of New York City and elsewhere, homeowners are dealing with flooded basements, salt-poisoned yards and falling property values, not only because of catastrophic storms, but because tides, aided by sea level rise, now cause flooding where they live.”

The UCS study is based on an analysis of 52 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauges in communities stretching from Portland, Maine to Freeport, Texas, using moderate sea level rise projections. The analysis reveals that in the next 15 years, most of the towns analyzed could see a tripling in the number of high-tide floods each year and in 30 years a ten-fold increase compared to historic levels.

Researchers say the increases in flooding are so pervasive that Atlantic Coast communities not covered by the analysis may need to brace for similar changes.

The study found the problem will rapidly worsen as sea level rises...

News release continues on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website »

10/9/2014

Get the latest news from Florida LAKEWATCH!

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The latest version of the Florida LAKEWATCH newsletter is now available. The LAKEWATCH newsletter is dedicated to sharing water management information and information about the University of Florida/IFAS Florida LAKEWATCH program at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

In this issue:
  • Total Color and Total Alkalinity Analysis
  • Innovations in Citizen Monitoring of Aquatic Plants: Passive Mapping with Sonar and Automated Processing
  • LAKEWATCH Welcomes New UF Faculty in Restoration Aquaculture
  • FWC, Partners See Ultimate Coral Reef-building Success
  • Nonnative Fish Provide Exotic Fishing Alternatives; Most Have No Bag Limits!
  • Volume 66 of the Florida LAKEWATCH Newsletter »

    Contact Information
    Florida LAKEWATCH, fl-lakewatch@ufl.edu, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL. 32611
    phone: (352) 392-4817.
    http://lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu/
    10/8/2014

    Register now for free "Living at the Lakes" classes

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    Want to learn more about our local lakes?

    Living at the Lakes is a three-class, free program, offered to all Polk County residents to share information on common lake questions. Join us for three, two-hour classes to hear from our local experts and get your questions answered. Space is limited and registration is required. Sign up link is below.

    Session Dates: October 16, 23, and 30, 2014 from 6-8 PM

    Tentative Agenda:

    October 16:
    • Know the Flow! An Introduction to Water in Central Florida – MJ Carnevale, City of Winter Haven
    • Why is my Lake Green? An Introduction to Water Quality Issues – Curtis Porterfield, City of Lakeland

    October 23:
    • How can I Help Improve Local Water Quality? (Florida-Friendly Landscaping) – Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
    • How Raingardens Help with Water Quality – Mike Britt, City of Winter Haven

    October 30:
    • The Importance of Lakefront Vegetation – Shannon Carnevale, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
    • Wildlife Found In and Around Our Lakes • Reinier Munguia, Lake Region Audubon Society
    • Invasive Exotic Plants (tentative) – Charles Thompson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

    Sign up using EventBrite.com »

    10/7/2014

    EPA extends comment period on contentious waterways rule

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is extending the comment period on a controversial water regulation in order to allow the public to weigh in on a soon-to-be-released scientific report, the agency said today.

    The comment period on the proposed rule to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act will now close Nov. 14, the agency said in a statement, three weeks later than the previous deadline of Oct. 20. This is the second extension the agency has granted on the proposed rule.

    Opponents of the proposed regulation, which would increase the number of streams and creeks that currently receive automatic protection under the 1972 law, have argued that the agency is rushing the process by proposing it before a peer review of the key scientific report was completed. Last week, EPA's Science Advisory Board sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy saying that the regulatory proposal is supported by science and in fact should be more expansive (Greenwire, Sept. 30). But the board is still completing its review of the scientific report that the agency said the proposed rule is based on. It is expected to be completed by the middle of this month.

    The main industry coalition opposing the rule has argued that too many new items have been added to the process during the comment period and has called for the proposal to be withdrawn. Meanwhile, a number of stakeholders have asked the agency to extend the time frame to allow them to digest and comment on the scientific report.

    "EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have always maintained that having the latest peer-reviewed science is an essential part of determining jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act," EPA said in a statement today. "The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will soon complete its peer review of the report on the connectivity of streams and wetlands. To provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the SAB review and in response to requests for additional time to comment on the proposal Waters of the U.S. rule, the agencies are extending the public comment period to Friday, November 14, 2014."

    The new deadline comes after the midterm elections, when both sides will have a better handle on whether Congress may intervene on the proposal. The House has already voted to block it. Democratic Senate leaders have so far staved off a vote on the issue, although more than half of the chamber is on record in opposition.

    10/3/2014

    Sunshine State Survey: Water is environmental issue of greatest concern to voters

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    USF's school of Public Affairs and Nielsen's latest results on their annual Sunshine State Survey were released on Sept. 30th, asking how Floridians feel about crime and environmental issues.

    USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said Floridians believe Florida's biggest environmental issue is water.

    "What is the biggest environmental problem facing Florida, hands down it's water, water-related problems," she said. "Specifically, 32 percent - almost the third - mention either the quality or the shortage of water."

    The Sunshine State Survey shows Floridians are now more critical of the state's job protecting the environment since the 2012 survey. Only one-third of those polled believe the state is doing a good job.

    When asked to identify “What is the biggest environmental problem facing Florida today?” 39% of the respondents refer to a problem involving water; 19% cite a pollution problem; 8% mention a political problem; another 7% point to potential disasters stemming from humans or nature; food production-related problems are the top concern of 2%, while 6% cite a wide range of other problems. Almost one-fifth (18%) gave no response to the question, reflecting less general knowledge of environmental challenges than of those in some other policy areas.

    Read the Sunshine State Survey Data Release Summary No. 4 »

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