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8/20/2014

Restoring Florida Bay: Sponges the foundation for thriving ecosystem

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"Prior to the 1990s the Florida Keys sponge community was a lively underwater city for fish and invertebrates. Curious divers could hear the snap, crackle and pop of snapping shrimp. The noisy bottom was a sign of health for the organisms that provide nursery habitat to juvenile marine species.

Researchers at the University of Florida and Old Dominion University, along with more than 40 volunteers from around the world have joined together for an ecosystem intervention. John Stevely, a sponge researcher and Florida Sea Grant agent emeritus, said transplanting sponge cuttings is a way to speed up nature so the ecosystem doesn’t reach a point of no return.

Marine sponges are not only a valuable commercial asset to the state, they are also critical to Florida marine life. Researchers suspect that the biotic sounds caused by the inhabitants that occupy the sponges may help guide the larva of fish and invertebrates to safe habitat, similar to coral reef communities..."

Article wrote by: Becca Burton

Full article on the FL Sea Grant website

8/20/2014

Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Survey

"1000 Friends of Florida is identifying communities using planning strategies to lessen their contributions to climate change and/or build community resilience to address the effects of climate change, including sea level rise. If your community is taking steps to address sea level rise and/or climate change we hope you will take a few minutes to complete 1000 Friends' 10-question survey. Your responses are anonymous, unless you chose otherwise. Please note, this survey is not intended to be statistically significant but rather to gather information on current planning efforts in Florida. 1000 Friends is also compiling information on sea level rise and climate change plans and studies around the state."

-Article quoted from Eco-Voice Digest

Contact 1000 Friends of Florida to more information on this survey.
1000 Friends of Florida | friends@1000fof.org | P.O. Box 5948
Tallahassee, FL 32314

1000 Friends of Florida

8/18/2014

11th Annual Lakeland Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lakes Festival on Lake Hollingsworth

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Lakes Education/Action Drive (LE/AD), in partnership with Lakeland Clean & Beautiful, the City of Lakeland and Lakeland Vision present Lakeland’s 11th Annual Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lakes Festival on Saturday, September 13, from 8:00 a.m. until noon at the Lake Hollingsworth boat ramp (race starts at 10 a.m.). This event is designed to help raise public awareness about our lakes and the precious resources we have in our area. Environmental exhibitors will provide fun activities for children and supply information on area lakes and water resources. Entertainment will be the Cardboard Boat Challenge!

The challenge will be to design, construct and race a boat made of cardboard around a marked course in Lake Hollingsworth. We know what you’re thinking, but a cardboard boat really can float if you construct it wisely! Teams must have a minimum of four and maximum of 10 people, but only two will set sail in the boat. Race teams will be in four divisions: community/corporate, elementary/middle school-age youth, high school-age youth and family. First, second and third-place awards will be given in each race division. The Cardboard Boat Challenge and Lake Festival is a great opportunity for youth groups, scouts, civic clubs, families and businesses to have fun together while enjoying our beautiful lake. For the fourth year now we will have the “Pre-Built” category. Teams construct their boats out of corrugated cardboard in advance and race around the designated course. Judging will be for “People’s Choice” and speed. Pre-Built will be limited to 8 teams.

Registration is $35 per team if received by August 31, 2014. After August 31, registration is $40 per team. Registration fee includes all tools and materials needed to construct boats (in on-site building only) and two commemorative t-shirts. Additional shirts will be available to purchase on the day of the event. To register or for more information, contact the City of Lakeland Lakes & Stormwater Division at (863) 834-8429 or LE/AD at (863) 221-5323. Register now because the race is limited to 35 teams! If space is available, registration will be available on race day on a first come/first served basis. Registration forms are available at the LE/AD website.

Event supporters include the Lakes Education/Action Drive, Lakeland Clean & Beautiful, the City of Lakeland, Lakeland Vision, AMEC, MaxPak, Lakeland Family YMCA, Crowder Brothers – Ace Hardware, Publix Super Markets, Inc., Rita’s Italian Ice, Ledger Media Group, and Southwest Florida Water Management District. Even if you don’t participate in the boat challenge, come watch the boat race and cheer on your favorite team!

8/18/2014

DEP approves three first-magnitude spring systems to SWIM priority list

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officially approved adding three first-magnitude spring systems — Weeki Wachee River, Chassahowitzka River and Homosassa River — to the Surface Water Improvement Management (SWIM) Program priority list.

In January, The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) Governing Board began the process of officially adding those systems to the existing SWIM Program priority list which includes two first magnitude spring systems: Rainbow River and Crystal River/Kings Bay. With the DEP’s approval, all five of the District’s first magnitude springs are now on the SWIM Program priority list.

District staff will now craft a SWIM management plan for each of the first magnitude springs systems with the newly formed Springs Coast Steering Committee to identify management actions, estimated costs, and responsibilities. Staff will then implement the strategies with our District partners.

Improving northern coastal spring systems is one of the District’s priorities. Adding these springs on the District’s SWIM list allows the District to better prioritize projects, programs, and funding to improve the water resources. These spring groups are important for their ecological value and their economic impact.

A first-magnitude spring or spring group discharges 64.6 million gallons of water per day or more. Together, all five of the District’s first-magnitude springs discharge more than one billion gallons of water per day.

Source: SWFWMD news release

Learn more about springs in west-central Florida...

8/18/2014

Registration open for “Water Words that Work” training

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Florida's west coast National Estuary Programs invite you to a training led by Water Words That Work (www.WaterWordsThatWork.com) on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, at Sarasota County Extension. Everyone with an interest in environmental education in southwest Florida should attend in order to:

• Network
• Collaborate
• Brainstorm
• Learn


Environmental writing can be a frustrating challenge but the Water Words That Work message method makes it easier to succeed. It's designed to turn passive "environmental awareness" into pro-environmental behavior. Eric Eckl's methods will help you create and deliver messages to reach your target audience and inspire them to action. This training walks you through Water Words That Work's six-step Environmental Message Method to relearn the language that everyday citizens use. You will become more confident and successful as you set out to enlighten the uninformed and persuade the undecided to take a stand or take action on behalf of our rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans.

Please register by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2 via EventBrite (link below). You may register after this date but please understand the food order will have already been placed. Registration will be limited to 80 people. There is a registration fee of $20 and an additional $20 fee if you would like refreshments and lunch provided. (We don't recommend you leave for lunch and a refrigerator won't be available if you bring your own.) This program is made possible because of the generosity of our sponsors but we ask those who are able to also make a donation. Any donation of $100 or more will be acknowledged as a sponsor.

Workshop location:
Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension
6700 Clark Road
Twin Lakes Park
Sarasota, FL 34241

This program is made possible by support from the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program, Mosaic, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension and the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Inc.

Full agenda and registration form at eventbrite.com...

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, mhilgendorf@swfrpc.org, 1926 Victoria Drive, Fort Myers, FL. 33901-3414
phone: (239) 995-1777 ext 240.
http://www.chnep.org/
8/8/2014

Public workshops scheduled for estuary NNC and water quality credit trading

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled public workshops for two separate rulemaking efforts:

(1) estuary-specific numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for estuaries, and
(2) revisions to Chapter 62-306, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), Water Quality Credit Trading.


Public workshops are scheduled as follows:


NNC Estuaries

DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bob Martinez Center, Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee**
AREA TO BE DISCUSSED: Panhandle and Big Bend estuaries from Upper Escambia Bay to Cedar Key, Fenholloway and Econfina River estuaries

DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: The Captain’s House at Goode Park, 1300 Bianca Drive NE, Palm Bay, FL
AREA TO BE DISCUSSED: Southwest estuaries from Anclote Bayou to Moorings Bay, and the southeast Florida estuaries up to and including Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon.

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, August 28, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: Northeast Florida Regional Council, Soforenko Board Room, 6850 Belfort Oaks Place, Jacksonville, FL
AREA TO BE DISCUSSED: Estuaries in northeast Florida from the Upper Halifax River to the St. Marys River, as well as additional coverage of the Fenholloway and Econfina River estuaries

The overall scope of this rule development will address estuary-specific numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) for total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll a in the following estuaries: portions of the Big Bend from Alligator Harbor to the Suwannee Sound, Cedar Key, St. Marys River estuary, Southern Indian River Lagoon, Mosquito Lagoon, several portions of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW) connecting estuarine systems, a variety of small gaps between estuaries with adopted NNC, and parameters for estuaries not currently covered by their adopted nutrient Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), including Upper Escambia Bay, Lower St. Johns River, Indian River Lagoon, St. Lucie Estuary, and Caloosahatchee Estuary. Nutrient criteria for these estuaries were included in an August 1, 2013 report to the Governor and Legislature. Pursuant to Chapter 2013-71, Laws of Florida, the Legislature directed the Department to establish these estuary NNC by rule or final order by December 1, 2014.

Water Quality Credit Trading

DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 2:00 p.m.
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bob Martinez Center, Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee**

DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: The Captain’s House at Goode Park, 1300 Bianca Drive NE, Palm Bay, Florida

Rule development will update the Water Quality Credit Trading Rule in Chapter 62-306, F.A.C. Pursuant to Section 403.067, Florida Statutes, Chapter 62-306 was adopted in 2010 to establish the requirements for a pilot water quality credit trading (WQCT) program among pollutant sources in the Lower St. Johns River Basin. Chapter 2013-146, Laws of Florida, revised Section 403.067 to, among other things, eliminate the requirement that WQCT be limited to the Lower St. Johns River Basin and authorize the Department to implement WQCT on an ongoing basis in adopted basin management action plans or other applicable pollution control programs. This rulemaking is intended to amend Chapter 62-306, F.A.C., consistent with the statutory changes, as well as update the rules to reflect knowledge gained during implementation of the pilot program.

** The Tallahassee meeting for both NNC Estuaries and Water Quality Credit Trading can also be accessed via GoToWebinar at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/585558034. Parties can register to attend that webinar via their personal computers and will be able to listen using their speakers connected to their computer. Webinar access will not be available for the other workshop locations.

8/5/2014

Register now for 2014 CHNEP Conservation Lands Workshop

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CHNEP’s third annual workshop is available for everyone interested in conservation lands. Speakers and the topics are diverse, ranging from the power of GIS using the CHNEP Special Places Map as an example, prescribed fire outreach toolkit, “Ding” Darling’s phone app, understanding the relationship between our environment, economy and quality of life, carrying capacity, Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, Florida’s bonnetted bat, environmental psychology, restoration in the Charlotte Harbor watershed, and Mosaic’s compensatory mitigation and conservation lands.

Jim Wohlpart, Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Environmental Literature at Florida Gulf Coast University, will give the keynote presentation Remembering Sacred Reasons: Finding Our Way in the 21st Century. Dr. Wohlpart’s research focuses on how we are “placed” on Earth, and how we might be “replaced” in more nourishing ways—physically, emotionally, spiritually.

This program is free thanks to the speakers, to CHNEP’s financial partners and to the workshop sponsors that, as of June 12, include Mosaic, Jelks Family Foundation, Estero Bay Buddies and the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Inc.

To learn more and register (by August 29th), visit eventbrite.com.

Workshop flyer with detailed agenda

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, mhilgendorf@swfrpc.org, 1926 Victoria Drive, Fort Myers, FL. 33901-3414
phone: (239) 995-1777 ext 240.
http://www.chnep.org/
8/1/2014

Webinar will address spread of aquatic invasive species by recreational boaters

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On August 18th, from 2-4 p.m. EDT, the Environmental Law Institute and the National Invasive Species Council will co-host a webinar addressing the problem of recreational boats spreading aquatic invaders—both plants and animals.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a persistent scourge of our lakes, rivers, and streams. These species—such as the zebra mussel and Eurasian watermilfoil—cause substantial harm to the environment and economy by changing food webs, undermining commercial and recreational fisheries, clogging pipes, and through other means. Unfortunately, we cannot eradicate species once they are introduced—but environmental, government, and industry stakeholders are working together to stop them from spreading into new areas.

This webinar will introduce new legal tools and collaborative approaches to prevent the spread of AIS via recreational boats, which are a major pathway for the spread of invasive mussels and other AIS. Speakers will discuss state, industry, and environmental perspectives on the “building consensus” approach used to develop and implement legal tools to address this pathway in the western US. In addition, speakers will address other industry efforts at the national level to minimize risks associated with aquatic hitchhikers and recreational boating.

PANELISTS:

  • Elizabeth Brown, Invasive Species Coordinator, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Brian Goodwin, Technical Director, American Boat and Yacht Council
  • Gabriel Jabbour, Owner, Tonka Bay Marina, MN
  • Stephanie Showalter Otts, Director, National Sea Grant Law Center
  • Bob Wiltshire, Executive Director, Invasive Species Action Network
  • Read Porter (Moderator), Director, Invasive Species Program, Environmental Law Institute

The event is free and open to the public. Contact Narayan Subramanian with questions.

Register for the webinar

8/1/2014

USF & UF approved for grants to support climate resilience and “green infrastructure”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the 2014 USDA Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge grant recipients. The grants provide funding that will help enhance urban forest stewardship, support new employment opportunities, and help build resilience in the face of a changing climate. Close to 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas and depends on the essential ecological, economic, and social benefits provided by urban trees and forests. Climate and extreme weather events pose threats to urban trees and forests requiring increased investment in management, restoration and stewardship.

The grant proposals were recommended by the Secretary’s National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council and will address urban forest resiliency to extreme weather events and the long-term impacts of climate change; strategies for bolstering green jobs; and opportunities to use green infrastructure to manage and mitigate stormwater and improve water quality.

The University of South Florida was approved for their project, "From Gray to Green: Tools for Transitioning to Vegetation-Based Stormwater Management Program"

Description of Program Purpose: Many communities lack systematic strategies to transition from the existing conventional (gray) drainage systems to green infrastructure. This project will provide natural resource managers, planners, and engineers with decision-support tools to aid the strategic planning process for transitioning to green infrastructure systems that emphasize trees and urban forests.
Federal Grant Amount: $149,722

The University of Florida was approved for their project, "Mobile Tree Failure Prediction for Storm Preparation and Response Program".

Description of Program Purpose: This proposed modeling system will assist urban forest managers in predicting tree failure during storms by developing a data collection model and a mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping application to quantify tree risk in communities. The results and a best management practices manual will be made available to all researchers and professionals through the International Tree Failure Database, providing the standardized data needed to enhance our understanding of wind-related tree failure.
Federal Grant Amount: $281,648

USDA Forest Service grant announcement

Contact Information
U.S. Department of Agriculture , 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC. 20250
phone: (202) 720-2791.
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome
8/1/2014

Cleanup at Lake Wire this Friday, July 25th

The Month of July is Lakes Appreciation Month! The North American Lakes Management Society (NALMS) has designated July as Lakes Appreciation Month to recognize the importance of lakes for drinking water, energy production, food production, and for aesthetic and recreational value.

The City of Lakeland’s Lakes & Stormwater division is asking citizens to participate in a lake cleanup in July as part of Lakes Appreciation Month. The final cleanup will be held from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: July 25 at Lake Wire, 20 Lake Wire Drive, Lakeland. Please contact Stephanie Witherspoon for more information.

The City's Adopt-A-Lake program involves a group "adopting" a specific lake, and commiting to at least four cleanup events a year. After the first year, an Adopt-A-Lake recognition sign of the city will supply and install a sign of recognition in honor of the volunteer or group adopting the lake.

Adopt-A-Lake Brochure
Adopt-A-Lake Application Packet

City of Lakeland Adopt-A-Lake web page

Contact Information
Stephanie Witherspoon, City of Lakeland, Stephanie.witherspoon@lakelandgov.net
phone: (863) 834-8438.
7/31/2014

USGS study: Nesting Gulf sea turtles feed in waters filled with threats

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DAVIE — Nesting loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf of Mexico feed among areas that were oiled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and where human activities occur, several of which are known to pose threats to sea turtles, a new U.S Geological study showed.

The feeding areas for 10 turtles overlapped with an area that experienced surface oiling during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These sites, and others, also overlapped with areas trawled by commercial fishing operations and used for oil and gas extraction.

The study, which is the largest to date on Northern Gulf loggerheads, examined 59 nesting females, which scientists believe could be 15 percent of the breeding females in the Northern Gulf of Mexico—a small and declining subpopulation of loggerheads that is federally classified as threatened.

“With such a large sample of the nesting females, we’re finally getting the big picture of when, where and how females that nest in the northern Gulf of Mexico rely on off-shore waters to survive. This information is critical for halting and reversing their declines,” said USGS research ecologist Kristen Hart, the lead author of the study.

The study began in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as a means to better understand how sea turtles used habitat in the Northern Gulf of Mexico by analyzing the movements of turtles tagged between 2010 and 2013.

All of the turtles tracked in the study remained in the Gulf of Mexico to feed, and a third remained in the northern part of the Gulf. This differs from reports in other parts of the world, where some loggerheads have been shown to migrate across ocean basins after nesting.

Continued on the USGS website...

7/30/2014

EPA encourages homeowners to care for their septic systems

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WASHINGTON - Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health and preserving valuable water resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging homeowners to take action to ensure their septic systems are functioning properly. Nearly one quarter of all American households-more than 26 million homes-depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.

Failure to maintain and service a home's septic system can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, polluted local waterways and risks to public health and the environment.

"By taking a few small, simple steps to care for their home's septic system, homeowners can help protect the health of their community and their local waterways, while preventing potentially costly repairs to their septic system that can occur if the system is not properly maintained," said EPA acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner.

Homeowners can do their part by following these SepticSmart tips:

  • Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.
  • Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain, which can clog a system's pipes and drainfield.
  • Ask guests to put only things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Be water efficient and spread out water use. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products that bear the EPA WaterSense label, and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn't been pumped recently.
  • Remind guests not to park or drive on a system's drainfield, where the vehicle's weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA's SepticSmart program encourages proper septic system care and maintenance all year long, helping to educate homeowners about the need for periodic septic system maintenance and proper daily system use. In addition to helping educate homeowners, SepticSmart also serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to help educate their clients and residents.

More information on how to find WaterSense-labeled products in your area: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/index.html

More information on how to find WaterSense-labeled products in your area

7/30/2014

FWC to host public meeting on hydrilla treatment

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Managing invasive plants in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is the topic of a July 31 public meeting to be hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The meeting is in Kissimmee from 6-8 p.m. in the County Commission Champers on the fourth floor of the Osceola County Administration Building, 1 Courthouse Square. A live webcast will be available through the County’s website.

The goal of this meeting is to provide updates, answer questions and receive public input on hydrilla treatments conducted during the past year on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The discussion will include current hydrilla management, snail kite nesting and submerged vegetation mapping. Public input from the wide variety of user groups on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, which includes lakes Kissimmee, Hatchineha, Cypress, Jackson and Tohopekaliga, is critical to create a well-balanced approach to managing hydrilla and other invasive aquatic plants.

For information and questions about the meeting, contact Ed Harris, FWC invasive plant management regional biologist, at 321-246-0573.

7/30/2014

UF researchers: “Little janitor” merits attention in Florida springs' health debate

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GAINESVILLE – A small, slow moving resident who enjoys a vegetative diet and keeps things tidy may be the overlooked player in public debates over Florida’s ailing freshwater springs, University of Florida researchers say.

North Florida has the world’s highest concentration of large freshwater springs. For decades, crystal-clear water bubbling from the ground has driven tourism in the form of scuba divers, canoeists, boaters and swimmers, but today, many of those springs don’t bubble like they used to; green scum often obliterates the view.

Although the blame for algae-choked springs is often pinned on excess nitrate, the scientists say the absence of algae-eating native freshwater snails known as Elimia — which UF researcher Dina Liebowitz calls the “little janitor of the springs” — may be a key factor.

Nitrate, which has gotten the lion’s share of attention in springs-health discussions, enters the aquifer and emerges at the springs from municipal sewage treatment and disposal, agricultural and residential fertilizer use, livestock farms and residential septic systems.

Matthew Cohen, a UF associate professor and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member who specializes in ecohydrology, says while controlling nitrate is a worthy goal, doing that alone “will not be enough to restore springs ecology.”

Continued on news.ufl.edu...

7/30/2014

Recycling rates In Florida continue to climb

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This year's new 2013 recycling data released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows Florida's official recycling rate is now 49 percent, up one percent from last year. This represents a substantial increase in the amount of solid waste recycled -- from 9.7 million tons in 2012 to 11.8 million tons in 2013.

“As we get closer to the 2020 deadline for the 75-percent recycling goal, we need all Florida residents to step up recycling efforts,” said Division of Waste Management Director Jorge Caspary. “While we have made modest improvements again this year, it is still critical for the commercial sector to increase its recycling efforts before the goal can be achieved.”

Lets keep up the great work Florida and achieve the 75% recycling goal by 2020!

Top 10 Counties for Total Recycling Rates:
  1. Hillsborough, 73%
  2. Lee, 70%
  3. Hendry, 68%
  4. Pasco, 67%
  5. Pinellas, 63%
  6. Collier, 60%
  7. Sarasota, 58%
  8. Martin, Palm Beach, 56% (tie)
  9. Monroe, 55%

Top 10 Counties for Traditional Recycling Rates:
  1. Sarasota, 58%
  2. Alachua, Martin, Collier, 54% (three-way tie)
  3. Brevard, 52%
  4. Manatee, 48%
  5. Orange, 47%
  6. Lee, 46%
  7. Duval, Leon, 45%(tie)

Read The Full News Release Here

7/30/2014

Average “dead zone” predicted for Gulf of Mexico

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Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-supported modeling is forecasting this year's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to cover an area ranging from about 4,633 to 5,708 square miles (12,000 to 14,785 square kilometers) or about the size of the state of Connecticut.

The Gulf of Mexico prediction is based on models developed by NOAA -sponsored modeling teams and individual researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University ,Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and relies on nutrient loading estimates from the USGS. The models also account for the influence of variable weather and oceanographic conditions, and predict that these can affect the dead zone area by as much as 38 percent.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico affects nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries and threatens the region's economy. A second NOAA-funded forecast, for the Chesapeake Bay, predicts a slightly larger than average dead zone in the nation's largest estuary.

More Information on the USGS Website...

7/30/2014

Results of 2014 harmful algal bloom state survey released

Toxic algae outbreaks, or Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a widespread problem across the U.S., but few states have programs dedicated to monitoring or reporting on these outbreaks. That’s the top finding in a 50-state survey conducted in spring 2014 by Resource Media and the National Wildlife Federation.

Survey created by: Resource Media & The National Wildlife Federation"

TOPLINE FINDINGS
Assessing the Seriousness of HABs
• 71% of responding states reported that HABs are either a “somewhat serious” or a “very serious” problem
• No responding states reported that HABs are “not an issue”
• More than half (20) of responding states reported that “HABs occur every year in many lakes and/or other fresh water bodies in my state”
• 49% (19) of states reported actively monitoring some public access lakes/water bodies that have experienced HABs in the past
• One state (Nebraska) actively monitors all public access lakes/water bodies for HABs
• 56% (22) of responding states reported relying, at least in part, on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs to 31% (12) of responding states reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs
• 38% (15) of responding states reported not tracking any of the impacts of HABs
• Of states that do track HAB impacts, the most commonly reported impact to be tracked/studied was animal mortalities (54%)
• Two states (Oklahoma and Virginia) reported tracking or studying Emergency Room admissions
• Three states (Hawaii, Kansas and Oklahoma) reported tracking or studying tourism statistics in relation to HABs
• 77% (30) of responding states reported that they do not have a HAB hotline for the public to report HABs.
• This includes 11 of the 12 states that reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs

Public Information
• 73% (27) of responding states reported that they “provide information to those who request it”
• 4 states (Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico and Utah) reported that they “provide information to those who request it”, but do not disseminate information to the public in any other way
• The following methods of communication with the public received between 46% and 49% popositive responses:
• My state alerts the local media about HABs and/or health advisories with a press release or press advisory
• My state provides information about the location and/or severity on a publicly available website
• My state posts signs at HAB impacted beaches/lakes/communities to educate local residents and visitors
• My state provides general education to the public about what to do if they suspect a HAB
• Two states (Kansas and New York) reported using Facebook and/or Twitter to announce information about HABs, health advisories or beach closures
• More than half (20) of the responding states reported tracking historic data on HABs and all but two of those states reported providing public access to that data

Action
• 12 states reported running a HAB program (i.e. with dedicated staff, a budget, a planning process).
• 3 of those states (New York, Virginia and Washington) reported that their HAB programs have dedicated funding
• 47% (18) of responding states reported “actively addressing known causes of HABs”
• 4 states (Alaska, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico) reported taking no action on HABs, past, present or future

More Information On The 2014 Harmful Algal Bloom State Survey...

7/29/2014

To better combat lionfish invasion, FWC has new rules

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Imported lionfish not welcome in Florida

Florida is known as a tourist-friendly state, but starting Aug. 1, one visitor will no longer be welcome: the invasive lionfish.

Introduced into Florida waters in the late 1980s, lionfish populations have boomed in recent years, negatively impacting native wildlife and habitat.

Several management changes go into effect Aug. 1 that will help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) combat the growing problem by making it easier for lionfish hunters to remove the spiny predators and limiting further introduction of the species into the waters.

Changes include:

  • Prohibiting the importation of live lionfish;
  • Allowing lionfish to be removed via spearfishing when diving with a rebreather, a device that recycles air and allows divers to remain in the water for longer periods of time (currently, you cannot spear any fish when using a rebreather); and
  • Allowing participants of approved tournaments and other organized events to spear lionfish or other invasive species in areas where spearfishing is not currently allowed (such as certain state parks or refuges). This will be done through a permitting system.

See or catch a lionfish? Report a sighting by downloading the new Report Florida Lionfish app on a smart device or by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” (under “Saltwater”) and then “Lionfish.”

Learn more about lionfish

7/25/2014

Report: Less nitrogen ending up in Polk lakes

More of Polk's lakes could be on their way to becoming clearer and less green.

By Tom Palmer

BARTOW – By October, a county committee studying solutions to stormwater pollution problems will be ready to take a look at proposals to fix the first dozen lakes.

In the meantime, the first-ever street-sweeping program in unincorporated Polk County has removed hundreds of pounds on nitrogen and phosphorous from roadsides before it ends up in local lakes, county officials report.

Those updates were delivered to the county's Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee last week as the five-member panel reviews proposals and studies submitted by county staff and consultants to comply with state and federal mandates to reduce lake pollution.

"I'm pleased where we're headed,'' said Chairman Dave Carter, a Winter Haven engineer.

Continued in The Ledger...

7/25/2014

Poll: 7 out of 10 Florida voters concerned about climate change, back EPA action plan

By Marc Caputo

Nearly eight in 10 likely Florida voters want limits on carbon pollution from power plants and as many as 71 percent say they’re concerned about climate change, according to a new poll conducted for an environmental group during the hotly contested governor’s race.

“The takeaway from this poll is simple: People think carbon pollution is a problem, and they think our political leaders should take action and fight pollution,” said Susan Glickman, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sponsored the 1,005-likely voter poll by SurveyUSA. y

Continued in the Miami Herald...

7/23/2014

"Don’t Feed The Monster!" video uses humor to educate about proper fertilizer use


The City of Sanibel has posted an educational video titled, “Don’t Feed the Monster!” on the City's website. The video was produced by the Fertilize Smart Education Consortium which includes the City of Sanibel, City of Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Lee County, City of Fort Myers, City of Cape Coral, The Islands of Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, and the South Florida Water Management District.

The video portrays a fertilizer algae monster resulting from improper amounts of fertilizer that is carried by run-off and redirected to our shores, bays, rivers, and lakes.

According to the city's website, "It is vital that we fertilize properly to keep our sanctuary island and pristine waters clean. The actions we take in our homes and yards affects our water quality and wildlife resources."

7/22/2014

Public workshop on "water reservations" in Kissimmee River Basin July 30th

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Maintaining the availability of water is a key component of environmental restoration and management affecting the Upper Chain of Lakes and the Kissimmee River and floodplain. Together, these remarkable Central Florida water bodies shelter 52 species of fish, 98 species of wetland-dependent and wading birds, 24 species of reptiles and amphibians and mammals including the marsh rabbit, river otter and round-tailed muskrat. Ultimately, all of these species are dependent on water and the success of other wildlife in their shared habitat.

To assure water for the protection of fish and wildlife within the Upper Chain of Lakes and restored Kissimmee River and floodplain, the South Florida Water Management District is developing rules to reserve water for those purposes. The District, State of Florida and the United States government have provided substantial support for restoration of these ecosystems. To date, Florida has invested $400 million in headwaters projects encompassing lakes, the river and its floodplain. This accounts for 25,000 acres of wetland habitat critical to the protection of fish and wildlife, including endangered or threatened species. When implemented, the reservation will guarantee that the water needed to keep these ecosystems thriving will not be allocated for consumptive use.

PUBLIC WORKSHOP

When: July 30, 2014, 10 a.m. to noon

Where:
Osceola County Commission Chamber
Fourth Floor (Room 4100), Administration Building
1 Courthouse Square
Kissimmee, FL 34741

Related Links:


Reservation Rule Development Activities 2008-2009:


Source: South Florida Water Management District

More information about the Kissimmee River Basin

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