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8/29/2014

UN Summit On Climate Change In New York City

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This coming September leaders from around the world will be coming to New York City (NYC) for the United Nations (UN) summit on the climate crisis. Representatives from dozens of countries will discuss goals, plans, and initiatives to dramatically reduce global warming pollutants.

"With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history. We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities."-Eco-Voice

A march on climate change is set for Sunday September 21st in NYC

Image sourced from: GlobalChange

To register for the march on climate change click here

8/29/2014

Lifeguard hours to change for Sarasota County guarded beaches

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County's beach lifeguard operational hours will change on Tuesday, Sept. 2, due to the end of summer and the close of the Labor Day weekend.

Beginning Tuesday, beach lifeguards will be on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on Sarasota County's guarded beaches: Lido Beach, Siesta Beach, Nokomis Beach, North Jetty Beach, Venice Beach and Manasota Beach.

For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

Photo: Junior lifeguard training at Siesta Beach

Swimming safety tips from Sarasota County Lifeguard Operations »

8/28/2014

CHNEP offers Public Outreach Grants; Application Deadline Sept. 3rd

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To further the partnership to protect and restore the greater Charlotte Harbor estuarine system and watershed, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program CHNEP) offers Public Outreach Grants to citizens, organizations, businesses, government agencies, schools, colleges and universities. The maximum grant request is $5,000 but most applications are funded in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. Public Outreach Grant-funded projects may begin no earlier than November 2014.

The CHNEP has supported many types of initiatives with Public Outreach Grants but all have furthered the Program's plan to protect the natural environment from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. The descriptions of each project supported, the number of applications received each year and the applications funded each year are posted at www.CHNEP.org. The CHNEP also offers micro-grants (up to $250) year round.

Deadlines
Both application deadlines must be met for an application to be considered:
• Draft applications must be received by 5 P.M. on September 3, 2014.
• Final applications must be received by noon on September 15, 2014.

Grant application, including guidelines »

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/
8/28/2014

State of Florida considering water-quality credit trading program

Can A Version Of Cap-And-Trade Reduce Water Pollution? Florida Hopes So

By Jessica Palombo

Florida plans to go statewide with a water-quality program that lets polluters partially off the hook if they buy credits for extra cleanup others have already done. The credit-selling program has critics in Jacksonville, the city where it started.

A few years back, the polluted St. Johns River became the test case for the voluntary water-quality credit program. The theory, state regulators say, was to foster regional cooperation by adding an economic incentive for water cleanup.

Director of the State Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Tom Frick, says credits are one tool to push polluters toward meeting their cleanup obligations.

“That allows water quality restoration to occur quicker. It also allows water quality restoration to occur more cheaply,” he says.

The city of Jacksonville was the credit buyer and private utility company JEA was the seller. Both were already required to clean the river a certain amount, but JEA had gone above and beyond its duty. Jacksonville, which can’t clean as cost-effectively, bought credits from JEA, paying for that extra work, rather than fulfill its entire obligation. Frick says the river still got the total required amount of cleaning—and it happened faster.

But Lisa Rinaman, head of the nonprofit St. Johns Riverkeeper, says the river isn’t benefiting long-term from the program.

Continued on news.WFSU.org »

8/28/2014

Register by Sept. 2nd for Conservation Lands Workshop

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The Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program's (CHNEP) 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 Sept. 2nd), 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/
8/27/2014

Plastic a serious threat to our oceans, seas, and waterways

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Plastics were invented in the 1800s but their mass production began in the 1950s and has since taken off around the globe. While it is possible to recycle most types of plastic, it is estimated that only about 25% of plastics are recycled worldwide. A great deal of the plastic ends up in our oceans, seas, and waterways. Research has shown severe impacts on our environment and our economy from this type of pollution. Marine life such as sea turtles, whales, seabirds and other marine life are eating the plastic and dying. Scientists are looking at long term impacts of pollutants consumed by fish and their potential effects on human health. It has become such an environmental concern that a little over a decade ago a science of marine debris began the study of garbage in our waters. A recent study showed the global magnitude of this problem.

The Malaspina expedition of 2010 was a nine-month research project to study the effects of global warming on the oceans and the biodiversity of the deep ocean ecosystem. Andres Cozar and his team were to study the small fauna living on the ocean surface. He was reassigned when plastic fragments kept turning up in water samples to assess the level of plastic pollution. Using that data and the data gathered by four other ships he and his team of researchers completed the first ever global map of ocean trash.

Photo: Start1.org

Continued at Start1.org... »

8/27/2014

Recreational Bay Scallop Season Opening Soon

Open through Sept. 24th- 25th. All Currently imposed size and bag limits apply. Each person can keep up to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops or 1 pint of meat. A single vessel has a limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half gallon of meat. To harvest scallops you may use your hands, a landing or a dip net. No commercial harvesting of bay scallops! Be safe when diving for scallops. Use a divers down flag on or around your vessel. Stay within 300 feet of your vessel. Have fun and enjoy the your scalloping.

8/27/2014

Learn how to save energy and money, get DIY Energy Saving Kit at free workshop

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County is serious about saving money, conserving energy and protecting our environment. Residents can benefit from the county's sustainability expertise by attending a free 30-minute Energy Upgrade workshop that will provide information, tips and materials to help them identify opportunities to save money, energy and water in their home. The workshop discusses cost saving strategies for residents ranging from no-cost solutions to those that may require some investment and possible incentives that might be available.

Get a free Do It Yourself Energy Saving Kit, a $30 value, at one of Sarasota County's upcoming Energy Upgrade workshops.

In addition to the expert advice, workshop participants, whether they own or rent, also will receive a free Do It Yourself Energy Saving Kit with products valued over $30 to start saving energy now (limit one per household). Reducing a home's energy use can lower utility bills and provide a more comfortable living environment.

"Most homes waste a surprising amount of energy, and we want to help homeowners put those energy dollars back in their pockets," said Lee Hayes Byron, Sarasota County sustainability manager. "This workshop will provide an opportunity to learn where to start saving energy and what works best for them."

Dates and locations for upcoming free Energy Upgrade workshop:

  • 6-7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Fogartyville Community Media & Arts Center, Sarasota
  • 2-3 p.m. Sept. 19 at Elsie Quirk Public Library Meeting Room, Englewood
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 at Fruitville Public Library Conference Room, Sarasota

The Energy Upgrade workshop is free; however, residents must register to attend to ensure enough DIY Energy Saving Kits are available to distribute after the workshop. Register at EventBrite.com.

For more information on the free Energy Upgrade workshops, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 941-861-5000 and ask about Energy Upgrade workshops, or email sustainablesarasota@scgov.net.

Learn more about sustainability efforts by Sarasota County »

8/27/2014

FIU and SFWMD Partner to Study Nitrogen in Caloosahatchee River

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"The study will examine the interplay between nitrogen and a range of naturally-occurring bacteria in the water." Cassondra Thomas district senior sentist said "Some forms of organic nitrogen include DNA, ammonic acids". So, they’re are a lot more complex, they’re bigger molecules and it takes a lot more to break them down.”

This study is just one part of the Districts plan to develop new Stormwater Treatment Area's (STA's). STA's are typically wetlands that are engineered to remove nutrients from water as it flows through the area.

Article published by Topher Forhecz.
Photo credited to Nikoretro/Flickr

For more information click here

8/27/2014

Webcast on Green Infrastructure and Smart Growth

Learn about communities that are successfully leveraging green infrastructure as part of broader planning and community development initiatives. Practitioners will discuss land-use strategies for clean water, including green streets, local code review, and stormwater banking. This webinar is part of the EPA Green Infrastructure Program's 2014 Webcast Series, and qualifies for 1.5 certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

Presenters
Caran Curry, Grants Manager, City of Little Rock, Arkansas
Melissa Kramer, Senior Policy Analyst, EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities
Heather Nix, Director, Clean Air & Water Program, Upstate Forever

Register at:GoToMeeting

For more information visit the EPA''s website here

8/26/2014

Manasota Beach 3rd Annual Youth Fall Fishing Tournament set for Sept. 20

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County Parks and Recreation will host its 3rd Annual Youth Fall Fishing Tournament, Saturday, Sept. 20, at 8:30 a.m. at Manasota Beach in Englewood. The event is for children ages 14 and younger.

Registration takes place from 8-8:30 a.m., with the tournament running from 8:30-10 a.m. Cost is $1 per child and parental supervision is required.

Competitors need to bring their own fishing rod and reel, but bait will be provided. Raffle prizes, refreshments and awards will follow tournament.

Participants may pre-register by calling 941-861-5000 and asking for the Englewood Sports Complex. For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.

8/26/2014

See the Sea Monsters at Traveling Exhibit

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The Sea Monsters traveling exhibit from Mote Marine Laboratory, a marine science institution based in Sarasota, is on display at J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The exhibit features:

  • Monster Makeover panel where visitors can see themselves with different monster attributes.
  • Fold-down Sea Puzzle with large tiles that visitors move to make up a picture of extreme animals.
  • Jaws panel featuring a mako shark jaw and tooth-diet matching activity.
  • Central gallery with shark skin that can be touched, model of a colossal squid beak, small diorama of bioluminescent animals, and scale sized eyeball models for giant squid, blue whale and cow.
  • An inflated giant squid sits on top of the exhibit.

  • Visitors will be able to interact with the free, temporary exhibit, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Aug. 18. J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is at 1 Wildlife Drive in Sanibel. Phone (239) 472-1100 for more information, or visit dingdarlingsociety.org.

8/25/2014

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 by: Becca Burton)

Full article on the FL Sea Grant website

8/25/2014

Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Survey

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"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."

Take the survey »

Contact Information
1000 Friends of Florida, friends@1000fof.org, P.O. Box 5948, Tallahassee, FL. 32314
http://www.1000fof.org/
8/25/2014

Volunteer Planting for National Estuaries Day

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Saturday, September 27th, in Cortez

Help celebrate National Estuaries Day at the Florida Maritime Museum. National Estuaries Day promotes public awareness, the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is recruiting Bay Guardian volunteers for a planting on September 27th. Partners for this event include the Florida Maritime Museum and Around the Bend Nature Tours.

The planting will take place at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez. This project is being funded by the SBEP Bay Partners Grant Program. We will be planting Florida native plants in the shallow water around their pond and creating a butterfly garden. In order to participate you MUST wear appropriate footwear—closed-toed shoes are required.

The Maritime Museum is located in the historic fishing village of Cortez. The museum sits on almost 4 acres of land showcasing the maritime history, culture and heritage of Florida. By installing Bay friendly landscaping this volunteer event will help promote the health of the Bay.

This event is suitable for ages 6 and up.

Please wear hat, sunscreen, closed-toed shoes are required (old tennis shoes work great), clothes that can get dirty and work gloves. Bring a trowel if you have one. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce our plastic pollution.

Bay Guardians shirts will be available for all volunteers! If you already have one please wear your shirt to the event.

WHAT: Bay Guardians Volunteer Planting
WHERE: Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez, FL 34215
WHEN: Saturday, September 27th, 2014, 9:00am-12:00pm


Lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the planting is done!

Questions? Contact Camille Boffa at (941) 955-8085.

RSVP Required: Click here to register »

8/25/2014

Sign up now for 2014 Water School

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Are you interested in learning about the challenges facing our local water resources? Then this is the class for you! This two-day event will feature a variety of dynamic and knowledgeable speakers as well as a local tour showcasing water resource management from the homeowner, community, agriculture, and municipal perspectives.

Day One includes an array of dynamic and knowledgeable speakers who will provide education on a variety of water-related topics such as:
• Water Supply: Past & Present
• Water Quality Issues: Perspectives
• Public Perception of Water Issues
• Effects of Future Development
• Policy Maker Perspective
• Public Policy & Civic Engagement

Day Two includes a guided tour of local Manatee County water resources and a first hand look at some of the issues talked about on Day One.

There is a $25.00 fee for this event, which includes two lunches and all refreshments. Use the link below to register or contact Samantha Kennedy at (941) 722-4524 to sign up or get more information.

What: 2014 Water School
When: September 9-10, 2014
Where: Manatee County Extension Service, 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221

Detailed agenda and online registration »

8/18/2014

Mote and FWC release snook into Sarasota Bay

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On Aug. 15, 2014, scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released hatchery-reared juvenile snook into the wild as part of an ongoing program designed to find the most effective methods to replenish and enhance wild snook populations.

The species is one of Florida’s most popular sport fish and plays an important role in drawing recreational anglers to the state. According to the American Sportfishing Association, Florida is the top-ranked state in economic output from recreational fishing, which draws $8.6 billion to the economy annually. Saltwater fishing alone generates 80 percent — $6.8 billion — of that income.

Snook, along with red drum, are the main test species for restocking efforts statewide. This project — which involves tagging and then releasing more than 2,200 snook into Sarasota Bay during over three days — is designed to determine whether snook that have been conditioned for release at Mote have better growth and survival rates in the wild.

This event is a key example of Mote’s efforts to develop and support public-private partnerships for the conservation and sustainable use of our marine resources. The snook release is possible now thanks to a private donation to Mote and from funding provided by FWC. For more than 25 years, Mote and FWC scientists have partnered on studies designed to increase the effectiveness of stock enhancement in Florida; their work on the topic is followed globally.

Continued on Mote Marine Laboratory’s website...

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/
8/14/2014

Learn to be a fishing guide or charter captain Sept. 9th

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Attention charter captains, fishing guides and wannabes!
Florida Sea Grant is giving a one-day workshop that will help grow your fishing business!

Sept. 9, 2014, 8:45 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Workshop topics will include:
• Developing a winning business plan
• Increasing market visibility
• Essentials of social media marketing
• New fisheries conservation research findings and gear
• Becoming a partner in fisheries research
• Law enforcement updates

LOCATION
The workshop will be held at the
Charlotte County Environmental Campus,
25550 Harborview Rd, Port Charlotte, FL 33980.

WORKSHOP FEE
The cost is $25 and includes materials, lunch and refreshments.

Register with your Sea Grant Agent:
Betty Staugler, Charlotte County, staugler@ufl.edu, 941-764-4346
Joy Hazell, Lee County, jhazell@leegov.com, 239-533-7518
Bryan Fluech, Collier County, fluech@ufl.edu, 239-438-5594

8/14/2014

Volunteers still needed for 7th Annual Great Bay Scallop Search

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Boaters are needed!
Non-boaters will be placed on boats as space permits.

Why: To annually monitor our bay scallop populations and to support the scientific study of scallops.
Where: Meet at the Mar Vista Restaurant, 760 Broadway Street, Longboat Key, FL
When: Saturday, August 23. Captains' meeting at 8:30 am. Scallop search begins at 9:00 am sharp and ends around 12:30 pm with a complimentary lunch courtesy of the Mar Vista Restaurant.
What To Bring: Able bodied swimmers with sunscreen, hat, dive gloves, mask, snorkel, fins, and water. Weight belt, optional but recommended. We will attempt to get those without boats onto vessels, space permitting.
Registration:    Required. This event fills to capacity every year

»» This is a NO HARVEST event ««

Sign Up Today »

8/13/2014

Be safe... Be aware of rip currents this summer!

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Gulf Coast beaches are great places to relax and to swim in the Gulf of Mexico. But before taking a dip, beachgoers should be aware of rip currents.

According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents are the leading surf hazard for beachgoers and can occur at any beach with breaking waves.

The association says swimmers should avoid areas that show signs of rip currents, which include a channel of churning, choppy water, an area with a notable water color difference, a break in the wave pattern and a line of foam, seaweed or debris moving steadily out to sea.

“Swimming at a lifeguard-monitored beach is the best way to stay safe,” said Katherine Cleary, aquatics supervisor with Pinellas County. “When conditions indicate rip currents may occur, we put up warning flags or in some cases close beaches to swimming altogether.”

While some beaches have lifeguards, not all do. If a swimmer is at a beach with no lifeguard on duty and gets caught in a rip current, the Association has a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
  • Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline or float and calmly tread water until out of the current.
  • Once out of the current, swim towards shore.
  • If unable to reach shore, draw attention and yell for help.

More about rip currents »

8/12/2014

Sustainable Communities Workshop is scheduled for Oct. 29

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Sarasota County will hold its ninth annual Sustainable Communities Workshop Oct. 29, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida Event and Conference Center, 4740 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.

Registration is open to the public, and advanced registration is encouraged.

This year's theme for the popular, interactive workshop is "Growing Healthy, Resilient and Prosperous Communities." The Sustainable Communities workshop aims to cultivate innovative thinking and learning about better products, programs, and processes for improved health, local food, resiliency and prosperity.

"Our 2014 workshop will provide information-rich sessions on a variety of approaches to grow a sustainable community," said Lee Hayes Byron, of Sarasota County Sustainability. "Expert speakers will provide up-to-date information on community strategies and resources, including concrete actions we all can take."

Workshop sessions will include:

  • Improved health
  • Access to local, healthy food
  • Business opportunities for community prosperity
  • Sustainable community solutions that address resiliency

Keynote Speaker Michael Shuman, nationally acclaimed economist and author, will discuss new opportunities for growing the local economy through strategies to localize spending on food and other goods and services.

The cost of the workshop is $30 for professionals and the general public. Participants with student identification will receive a special rate of $20. The cost includes a continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments that reflect the principles of sustainable agriculture being discussed. Workshop sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities are available now.

The county is partnering on this workshop with other community organizations, including the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Green Business Leadership Committee, Sarasota County's University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Transition Sarasota and the Ringling College of Art and Design.

To register to attend or obtain more information, including sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, visit scgov.net/SustainableCommunities or contact the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

Sarasota Sustainable Communities webpage

8/11/2014

Health officials urge awareness of potential bacteria in coastal waters

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Sarasota County reports two cases - one resulting in a death

SARASOTA COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County urges area residents and visitors with certain health conditions to avoid eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to seawater and estuarine water, which may harbor bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus.

A total of 41 cases of Vibrio vulnificus were reported statewide during 2013, and there have been at least 11 cases and several deaths (as of 7/25/14), due to the infection of an open wound or from consuming raw shellfish.

In Sarasota County, there were no cases reported in 2013. However, there were two cases reported during July, resulting in one recent death not included in the statewide report. Both individuals were middle-aged and had medical compromising conditions. Health officials are saddened by the death and say that unfortunately those living with chronic health conditions are at increased risk for adverse outcomes. Both individuals are believed to have gotten infected with the bacteria entering through an open wound.

Occurring naturally in the warm coastal waters, particularly during the summer months, Vibrio vulnificus has the potential to cause serious illness. Persons who have wounds, cuts or scratches and wade in estuarine areas or seawater where the bacteria might be present can become ill. Symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus in wound infections typically include swelling, pain and redness at the wound site.

Other symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection include; nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, and the formation of blistering skin lesions. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should contact a physician immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Individuals with liver disease, including Hepatitis C and cirrhosis, are most at risk for developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus. Others who should avoid consuming raw shellfish are those with hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system. Thoroughly cooking oysters, either by frying, stewing, or roasting eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses in the meat. Consuming raw oysters that have undergone a post-harvest treatment process to eliminate the bacteria can also reduce the risk of illness.

Resources for more information:
Our Gulf Environment (please see water quality tab and then click on the bacteria tab)
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' website

Source: Sarasota Dept. of Health news release

8/8/2014

Volunteer help needed for Punta Gorda oyster reef restoration project

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Pilot project seeks volunteer help to restore estuary habitat

The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves and the City of Punta Gorda to launch an oyster reef restoration project adjacent to the Trabue Harborwalk.

Volunteers are needed to help with all aspects of this project:
• Fill bags with oyster shells (You must be able to lift 30 lbs. to make oyster bags.)
• Deploy the materials in the water

There's something for everyone! Civic groups, schools, clubs, boating groups, recreational clubs, church groups—or anyone looking for a fun way to help restore the estuary are welcome to participate.

It is the first oyster restoration project in the northern portion of the estuary and three methods will be tested here: oyster mats, oyster bags and loose shell secured by a perimeter of oyster bags. These materials will provide a foundation for oyster larvae to settle and grow.

The three-dimensional structure of an established oyster reef can help protect the project site's mangrove shoreline from the future impacts of erosion and sea level rise and provide valuable habitat and food for other species such as fish, crab, shrimp, and birds. Oyster reefs have the potential to also benefit the juvenile stage of the endangered smalltooth sawfish, a species that relies on healthy red mangrove habitat for food and shelter in the Charlotte Harbor region. This project will add to the scientific understanding of how oyster reefs might also benefit sawfish.

Kate Aug, Florida DEP- Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves Community Outreach Coordinator is still in need of volunteers interested volunteering to make oyster bags as a part of the Trabue Harborwalk Oyster Habitat Creation Project.

She will be bagging at the Burnt Store location Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8:30 am to 10:30/11:00, through August 20th. If you are interested in lending a hand, please contact Kate directly. Individuals and groups are welcome. You can reach Kate by phone (941-575-5861) or by email (preferred method) Katherine.Aug@dep.state.fl.us

Contact Information
Katherine Aug, Community Outreach Coordinator, DEP Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves, katherine.aug@dep.state.fl.us
phone: 941-575-5861 ext. 117.
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/
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.

8/7/2014

Mote Marine Lab robots help researchers, forecasters monitor red tide bloom

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By Hayley Rutger

Underwater robots “Waldo” from Mote Marine Laboratory and “Bass” from University of South Florida (USF) have been hard at work monitoring the offshore bloom of Florida red tide and surrounding ocean conditions since they were deployed on Aug. 1. Their results are helping shape short-term bloom forecasts.

The bloom was recently reported to be 80 miles long and 50 miles wide, reaching from Dixie County to southern Pasco County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) statewide update on Aug. 1.

Robot results:
During the past few days, the robots have reported:

Waldo: At 40 miles from the Pasco/Hernando border, red tide was detected at the surface and to depths of about 25 meters (82 feet) in areas where it was indicated by satellites.

Bass: At the outer edge of the bloom, elevated chlorophyll associated with the red tide was present in waters as deep as 40 meters (131 feet).

Both: The bloom water is “stratified” (layered) with denser, cooler water below and lighter, warmer water on top. Waldo will complete his mission this week or early next, while Bass will finish in two to three weeks.

The robots’ data are feeding into short-term forecasts of the red tide bloom developed by the Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides, a partnership effort between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and USF.

More info and forecast findings, from Mote Marine Laboratory »

Contact Information
Mote Marine Laboratory, educate@mote.org, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL. 34236
phone: (800) 691-MOTE.
http://www.mote.org/
8/4/2014

80 mile-long red tide bloom still evident in northeast Gulf of Mexico

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Karenia brevis, the Florida red tide organism, was detected in background to medium concentrations in several water samples analyzed this week from offshore of Hernando and Pasco counties and in background concentrations in one sample collected offshore of Okaloosa County. Several additional samples collected this week offshore of Pinellas County ranged from background to low concentrations.

Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida show a patchy bloom approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide 40 to 90 miles offshore between Dixie and southern Pasco counties in northwest Florida. Although satellite images are not available for regions offshore of Pinellas County, sampling confirmed K. brevis populations at depth 33 miles west of Caladesi Island and 13 miles west of Madeira Beach, both offshore of Pinellas County. This bloom has caused an ongoing fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. FWC’s Fish Kill Hotline has received reports of thousands of dead and moribund benthic reef fish including various snapper and grouper species, hogfish, grunts, crabs, flounder, bull sharks, lionfish, baitfish, eel, sea snakes, tomtates, lizardfish, filefish, octopus, and triggerfish. Reports of water discoloration have been received and respiratory irritation has been reported offshore in the bloom patch. Additional samples collected throughout Florida this week did not contain red tide.

Detailed red tide status from MyFWC.com for the entire state of Florida

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

Learn to Get Rid of the Bully Air Potato!

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Air potato is an invasive vine that is everywhere in South Florida. If you leave your backyard unattended for a couple of months, there’s a good chance when you return you might see the weed popping up. Once established, it is tough to control and it just won’t stay out. Air potato can quickly engulf native and landscape vegetations, climbing high into the tallest of trees and palms.

For this reason, Lee County Extension is sponsoring an Air Potato Control and Management Workshop. Staff will show the best management strategy and how you might be able to obtain your own air potato-eating beetles.

The speakers are researchers from USDA, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and Lee County Conservation 20/20 program.

When: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 15.
Where: Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, 1926 Victoria Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33901
Cost: $8 per person


UF/IFAS Lee County Extension agents offer educational services through a three-way cooperative arrangement between the Board of County Commissioners, the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Local extension agents are off-campus faculty members of the University of Florida.

For registration and more information, visit the link below or contact Stephen Brown at gardenclasses@leegov.com or (239) 533-7513.

More information, including agenda and registration link

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
7/31/2014

SBEP announces press conference at the federal building August 26

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SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) will host a press conference at the Federal Building located at 111 South Orange Avenue 9am on Tuesday, August 26. The purpose of the press conference is to release the results of the Economic Valuation Study of Sarasota Bay and to present the recently updated Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP).

The Economic Valuation Study was led by Paul Hindsley, PhD, an Environmental Studies Professor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and the Coordinator of Eckerd’s Coastal Management Program. The two-year study was divided in two phases; phase one focused on the total capitalized value of single family properties on or near the bay and phase two included a survey of residents and visitors to learn how people access and use resources associated with Sarasota Bay.

Mark Alderson, the SBEP Director, will make a brief presentation about the CCMP. The CCMP is the official document that sets the priorities for SBEP and the other 27 National Estuary Programs located throughout the U.S. Copies of the CCMP will be available at the press conference.

SBEP will provide the media information handouts about the CCMP and Economic Valuation Study. A member of the SBEP Policy Board will also attend the press conference and will be available to make comments and answer questions.

Learn more about SBEP’s goals for the Sarasota Bay watershed...

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...

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