Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
Service proposes trade protections for four native freshwater turtles
A booming international trade in turtles has put pressure on populations across the country and has led to concern about the long-term survival of several species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a proposed rule to address the growing threat of illegal take and trade in native turtles. If finalized, this action will bring four native freshwater turtle species – the common snapping turtle, the Florida softshell turtle, the smooth softshell turtle and the spiny softshell turtle – under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and require exporters to obtain a permit before shipping turtles overseas.
Freshwater turtles and tortoises are collected, traded and utilized in overwhelming numbers. Bringing these turtle species under CITES protection will allow the Service to better monitor international trade, determine the legality of exports and, in consultation with State wildlife agencies and other experts, decide whether additional conservation efforts are needed. It will also enlist the assistance of 179 other countries that are part of CITES in monitoring trade in these species.
“Wildlife trafficking is not just a danger to foreign species. Native wildlife, including paddlefish, live reptiles and sharks, as well as plants such as ginseng, are poached and illegally traded,” said Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director of International Affairs. “We work closely with State wildlife agencies to protect native species and ensure that trade is legal and sustainable, particularly for species at greatest risk of overexploitation.”
Continue reading on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website here »
Red tide detected offshore of Sanibel Island
Status Update: A bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, has been detected offshore of the Sanibel Island area (Lee County). Recent satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Laboratory at the University of South Florida show that patches extend approximately 40 miles alongshore and up to 20 miles offshore. Karenia brevis was also detected this week in background concentrations in one sample collected inshore of Sarasota County, three samples collected inshore of Charlotte County, and in background to very low concentrations in two samples collected offshore of Lee County. In addition, one sample collected alongshore of Escambia County in northwest Florida contained background concentrations of K. brevis.
Other samples collected throughout Florida this week did not contain red tide.
Forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides (CPR), a partnership between the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, project offshore movement of surface waters and alongshore movement of bottom waters in the bloom region over the next 3 days.
Red tide status updates from MyFWC.com »
Reclaimed irrigation water coming to Lakewood Ranch from Bradenton and Sarasota
LAKEWOOD RANCH – Lakewood Ranch soon will receive reclaimed water for irrigation from four different sources, through funding agreements established in the past several years with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Braden River Utilities, a subsidiary of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc.
Recycled water from the Braden River Watershed, which will primarily be used to irrigate Lakewood Ranch homes and golf courses, is of a higher quality than groundwater from wells and will help conservation efforts, resulting in less strain on the regional water-supply system.
"Reclaimed water with advanced water treatment is very clean, with little minerals and no salt. The remaining nitrogen and phosphorus in the reclaimed water are both absorbed and utilized by the grass and plant material being irrigated," said Bob Simons, vice president of Braden River Utilities.
Continued on Bradenton.com »
Red Bug Slough to celebrate restoration
SARASOTA COUNTY – County staff will host a grand opening Saturday, Nov. 8, to celebrate the completion of a wetlands restoration project in three areas within the 72-acre Red Bug Slough Preserve.
The festivities, scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon at the preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, will include guest speakers, refreshments, environmental education booths and more. Guest speakers include Commissioner Nora Patterson, Dr. Jay Leverone from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Bryan Flynn from Atkins Consulting, Virginia Haley from Visit Sarasota and John Ryan from Sarasota County. Free food and drinks will be provided by Atkins consulting.
Attendees can meet and talk with county and Atkins staff as well as local experts to learn how the new restoration improves wildlife habitat in the preserve and water quality in the slough before it flows into Phillippi Creek and Sarasota Bay.
The project will also enhance existing native habitats and provide improved shoreline habitat for wading birds, fish, turtles and other aquatic animals. In addition, the preserve is home to grey squirrels, marsh rabbits, river otters, an occasional alligator, an assortment of songbirds and wildflowers, including Carolina aster, partridge pea and frostweed.
Red Bug Slough encompasses several miles of hiking trails, a small playground, picnic shelters and a fishing dock. it was purchased in 2000-01 through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program with funding assistance provided by the Florida Communities Trust.
For more information, contact Jeff Weber at 941-650-8860 or Kathy Meaux at 941-650-1640.
More information about Red Blug Slough »
Near-record sea turtle nesting concludes on Longboat Key through Venice beaches
By Hayley Rutger
Sea turtles have finished nesting on beaches from Longboat Key through Venice, which hosted a near-record number of nests, according to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.
The final local nest of 2014 was laid by a loggerhead sea turtle on Sept 6. on Lido Key. Nests continue hatching and rescued hatchlings continue receiving care in Mote’s Hatchling Hospital.
It is important that the public keep beaches dark and clear of obstacles for hatchlings trying to reach the water, according to Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and volunteers who monitor 35 miles of local nesting beaches each day of nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31.
All told, the 2014 nesting season on Longboat Key through Venice produced: 2,448 nests from loggerhead sea turtles, nine from green sea turtles and two from Kemp’s ridleys. That adds up to a grand total of 2,459 nests.
This year’s grand total is strong, finishing only 10 nests short of the 33-year record total that Mote documented in 2012. This year, two parts of Mote’s area — Lido and Casey keys — surpassed their individual records.
More information, including detailed nest counts, on Mote Marine Lab’s website »
Florida-Friendly Native Landscape program Oct. 28th
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC), in conjunction with the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, is please to offer the program, “Protecting the Coastal Waterfront with Florida Friendly Natives” by Thomas Becker, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Cedar Point Environmental Park, 2300 Placida Road, Englewood, FL on Tuesday October 28, 2014. The program will be immediately followed by a short tour of the Cedar Point Butterfly Garden.
This talk addresses the “how to’s” in creating a Florida-Friendly, low maintenance landscape and plant buffers in order to protect critical habitat. Native plants installed and properly cared for can provide long-term benefits to coastal yards and neighborhoods. Urban landscapes and yards do impact, both positively and negatively, coastal habitats and water quality. The program is FREE but registration is advised. Call 941-475-0769 to reserve your spot!
Cedar Point Environmental Park is a Charlotte County facility located at 2300 Placida Road in Englewood. These lectures are provided through support from the Mosaic Company Foundation, the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Charlotte County and CHEC. Further information can be obtained by calling (941) 475-0769.
New Study Finds Steep Increase in East Coast High-Tide Floods
Flooding events may triple in 15 years, increase ten-fold in 30 years for most towns analyzed, science group finds
WASHINGTON – Flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is now common in some places and is projected to grow to the point that sections of coastal cities may flood so often they would become unusable in the near future, according to a report the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) just released, "Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”
“Several decades ago, flooding at high tide was simply not a problem,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, report co-author and climate scientist at UCS. “Today, when the tide is extra high, people find themselves splashing through downtown Miami, Norfolk and Annapolis on sunny days and dealing with flooded roads in Atlantic City, Savannah and the coast of New Hampshire. In parts of New York City and elsewhere, homeowners are dealing with flooded basements, salt-poisoned yards and falling property values, not only because of catastrophic storms, but because tides, aided by sea level rise, now cause flooding where they live.”
The UCS study is based on an analysis of 52 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauges in communities stretching from Portland, Maine to Freeport, Texas, using moderate sea level rise projections. The analysis reveals that in the next 15 years, most of the towns analyzed could see a tripling in the number of high-tide floods each year and in 30 years a ten-fold increase compared to historic levels.
Researchers say the increases in flooding are so pervasive that Atlantic Coast communities not covered by the analysis may need to brace for similar changes.
The study found the problem will rapidly worsen as sea level rises...
News release continues on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website »
Report: Worldwide mangrove destruction costs up to $42 billion in economic damages annually
90 per cent of the world’s mangroves are found in developing countries
ATHENS – Mangroves are being destroyed at a rate 3–5 times greater than the average rates of forest loss, costing billions in economic damages and denying millions of people the ecosystem services they need to survive, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Importance of Mangroves to People: A Call to Action launched on Sept. 29th at the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, describes how emissions resulting from mangrove losses make up nearly one-fifth of global emissions from deforestation, resulting in economic damages of some $6–$42 billion annually. Mangroves are also threatened by climate change, which could result in the loss of a further 10 - 15 per cent of mangroves by 2100.
Found in 123 countries and covering 152,000 square kilometers, over 100 million people around the world live within 10 kilometers of large mangrove forests, benefiting from a variety of goods and services such as fisheries and forest products, clean water and protection against erosion and extreme weather events.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Mangroves provide ecosystem services worth around US$33 - 57,000 per hectare per year. Add to that their superior ability to store carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and it becomes clear that their continued destruction makes neither ecological nor economic sense."
"Yet, the escalating destruction and degradation of mangroves - driven by land conversion for aquaculture and agriculture, coastal development, and pollution - is occurring at an alarming rate, with over a quarter of the earth's original mangrove cover now lost. This has potentially devastating effects on biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of some of the most marginalized coastal communities in developing countries where more than 90 per cent of the world's mangroves are found."
"By quantifying in economic terms the value of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves as well as the critical role they play in global climate regulation, the report aims to encourage policymakers to use the tools and guidelines outlined to better ensure the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves," he added.
The report argues that in spite of the mounting evidence in support of the multitude of benefits derived from mangroves, they remain one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. The report describes financial mechanisms and incentives to stimulate mangrove conservation, such as REDD+, private sector investments, and the creation of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing national capacity.
News release continues on UNEP’s website »
Get the latest news from Florida LAKEWATCH!
The latest version of the Florida LAKEWATCH newsletter is now available. The LAKEWATCH newsletter is dedicated to sharing water management information and information about the University of Florida/IFAS Florida LAKEWATCH program at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.|
In this issue:
Total Color and Total Alkalinity Analysis
Innovations in Citizen Monitoring of Aquatic Plants: Passive Mapping with Sonar and Automated Processing
LAKEWATCH Welcomes New UF Faculty in Restoration Aquaculture
FWC, Partners See Ultimate Coral Reef-building Success
Nonnative Fish Provide Exotic Fishing Alternatives; Most Have No Bag Limits!
Volume 66 of the Florida LAKEWATCH Newsletter »
EPA extends comment period on contentious waterways rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is extending the comment period on a controversial water regulation in order to allow the public to weigh in on a soon-to-be-released scientific report, the agency said today.
The comment period on the proposed rule to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act will now close Nov. 14, the agency said in a statement, three weeks later than the previous deadline of Oct. 20. This is the second extension the agency has granted on the proposed rule.
Opponents of the proposed regulation, which would increase the number of streams and creeks that currently receive automatic protection under the 1972 law, have argued that the agency is rushing the process by proposing it before a peer review of the key scientific report was completed.
Last week, EPA's Science Advisory Board sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy saying that the regulatory proposal is supported by science and in fact should be more expansive (Greenwire, Sept. 30). But the board is still completing its review of the scientific report that the agency said the proposed rule is based on. It is expected to be completed by the middle of this month.
The main industry coalition opposing the rule has argued that too many new items have been added to the process during the comment period and has called for the proposal to be withdrawn. Meanwhile, a number of stakeholders have asked the agency to extend the time frame to allow them to digest and comment on the scientific report.
"EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have always maintained that having the latest peer-reviewed science is an essential part of determining jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act," EPA said in a statement today. "The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will soon complete its peer review of the report on the connectivity of streams and wetlands. To provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the SAB review and in response to requests for additional time to comment on the proposal Waters of the U.S. rule, the agencies are extending the public comment period to Friday, November 14, 2014."
The new deadline comes after the midterm elections, when both sides will have a better handle on whether Congress may intervene on the proposal. The House has already voted to block it. Democratic Senate leaders have so far staved off a vote on the issue, although more than half of the chamber is on record in opposition.
Photographer Clyde Butcher, local water resource experts to appear at Sarasota Bay Water Festival
SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) will host four panel discussions and one presentation at the 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival set for Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park. The panel discussions focus on the protection of bay wildlife, the bay’s economic value, water quality and restoration progress, and the problem of discarded plastic harming marine life, birds and other wildlife. Acclaimed Florida photographer Clyde Butcher will also share insights, answer questions and sign his latest book beginning 2pm.Noon – Protecting Sarasota Bay Wildlife – Panelists include James Powell with Sea to Shore Alliance, Jim Cutler with Mote Marine Laboratory, Mark Rachal with Audubon, and Tim Thurman with Longboat Key Turtle Watch.
1 p.m. – Economic Value of Sarasota Bay – Panelists include Paul Hindsley with Eckerd College, Christine Johnson with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Jennifer Shafer with the Science Environmental Council of Southwest Florida, and Sara Kane with SBEP. Professor Hindsley completed the recent two-year Economic Valuation Study of Sarasota Bay funded by SBEP.
2 p.m. – Meet Clyde Butcher, Florida’s Acclaimed Nature Photographer – Clyde will share insights, answer questions and sign his latest book.
3 p.m. – Water Quality & Restoration Report – Panelists include Damon Moore with Manatee County, John Ryan with Sarasota County, and Jay Leverone with SBEP.
3:30 p.m. – Plastic Pollution & Wildlife – Panelists include Sherri Swanson with HDR and David Pilston with Save Our Seabirds. The presentation will also be an opportunity to learn more about this year’s After Party beginning 8pm at Circus City Architectural Salvage in downtown Sarasota. The evening event features live music and the Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Design Contest. Ticket sales benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance, two local nonprofits focused on protecting wild birds and marine species.
SBEP is the Founding Sponsor of the Water Festival, HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor, and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor. The Water Festival celebrates the importance of Sarasota Bay to the region’s environment and economy. Here’s the schedule:
The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival is being supported by 39 sponsors from the public and private sector. More than 70 local organizations will have exhibits and displays. Other highlights include Dragon Boat Races, local artists and photographers selling gift items for the holiday season, new and vintage boats, a community art mural supported by students from Bayshore High School in Bradenton, and a display of the winning entries to the I Love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest.
Learn more at SarasotaBayWaterFestival.com »
The Applebutter Express to Headline Sarasota Bay Water Festival November 1
SARASOTA – The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival will feature more than five hours of free live music on Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park. The award-winning guitarist Ben Hammond is the performing emcee for the third consecutive year. The Applebutter Express is this year’s headliner band and the other performers include Serotonic and Ari and the Alibis. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the live music starts 10:30 a.m.
The Applebutter Express was born in Bradenton when Kyle Biss met his future wife Shannon while working at a local record store. Fiddler Joe Trivette and bass player Matt DeSear joined the duo in 2012. The prolific foursome has performed at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Suwannee Springfest, Hulaween and many other popular music events.
Serotonic formed in Tampa in 2010 and has quickly developed a regional following with their blend of conventional and innovative music. That includes plenty of funk and jazz. And finally, Ari & the Alibis infuse funk, jazz and samba with blues, soul and tango. The Sarasota band includes singer Ari McManus, guitarist Nicolaas Kraster, bass player Gregg Voorhes, drummer John Walker, and trombonist James DaBone.
Other festival highlights include local artists and photographers selling gift items, Dragon Boat Races, expert speakers, a presentation by acclaimed nature photographer Clyde Butcher, a display of the winning submissions to the I Love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest, food trucks, fun activities for kids, vintage and new boats, an interactive community art mural supported by students at Bayshore High School in Bradenton, and displays promoting kayaking and paddle boarding. A free water taxi service provided by Freedom Boat Club will operate between Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron next to Ken Thompson Park.
New for 2014 is an after party featuring live music, craft beer samples and the original Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Design Contest. The party will be held at Circus City Architectural Salvage in downtown Sarasota. The doors open 8pm and the fashion show contest is set for 10pm. Ticket information and details about entertainment are posted at WaterFestivalAfterParty.com. Proceeds benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Founding Sponsor of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival. HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor. SBEP is one of the 28 National Estuary Programs in the U.S. celebrating its silver anniversary.
Other sponsors in random order include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Cannons Marina, City of Sarasota, Mote Marine Laboratory, Save Our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Watch, High Five Dragon Boat, WUSF Public Media, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, WSRQ Talk Radio, City of Bradenton, Around the Bend Nature Tours, The Inner Circle Spa, Sarasota Day, Suncoast Food Trucks, The Old Salty Dog, MindSpa, Frank’s Gentlemen’s Salon, Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, Stantec, Vintage Paws Sanctuary, SUP Sarasota, UF/IFAS Extension, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Friends of Sarasota County Parks, Circus City Architectural Salvage, N2 Publishing, Friends of Disc Golf, Sun King Disc Sports, Top 10 Sarasota, Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, ROI Media, and Triple 3 Marketing.
Visit the Festival website »
Sunshine State Survey: Water is environmental issue of greatest concern to voters
USF's school of Public Affairs and Nielsen's latest results on their annual
Sunshine State Survey were released on Sept. 30th, asking how Floridians feel about crime and environmental issues.
USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said Floridians believe Florida's biggest environmental issue is water.
"What is the biggest environmental problem facing Florida, hands down it's water, water-related problems," she said. "Specifically, 32 percent - almost the third - mention either the quality or the shortage of water."
The Sunshine State Survey shows Floridians are now more critical of the state's job protecting the environment since the 2012 survey. Only one-third of those polled believe the state is doing a good job.
When asked to identify “What is the biggest
environmental problem facing Florida today?” 39%
of the respondents refer to a problem involving
water; 19% cite a pollution problem; 8% mention a
political problem; another 7% point to potential
disasters stemming from humans or nature; food
production-related problems are the top concern
of 2%, while 6% cite a wide range of other
problems. Almost one-fifth (18%) gave no
response to the question, reflecting less general
knowledge of environmental challenges than of
those in some other policy areas.
Read the Sunshine State Survey Data Release Summary No. 4 »
Floating chapel leaves St. Petersburg, anchors in historic Cortez
ST. PETERSBURG — Three years after America's only floating chapel docked at the Pier, the distinctive blue-roofed attraction is off to a new port of call.
While it signals an adventure for new Sarasota owners, who hosted their first wedding this weekend, it's lousy timing for waterfront businesses that catered to chapel visitors.
"We thought it was a great boost for the area," said Peter Ceruzzi, manager of Fresco's Waterfront Bistro. "It's a shame."
You'll see the chapel for a final month in St. Petersburg starting in late March, when it will sit outside the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.
But its new home is historic downtown Cortez, on the mainland across from Anna Maria Island, not quite an hour's drive from the Pier.
It's a third stop for what's billed as the world's largest floating chapel. The creation has been the Tampa Bay area's from the start.
Continued in the Tampa Bay Times »
It’s time for the annual LeBarge Historical Cruise and Tour
The Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) is hosting its 25th Historical Cruise and Tour of Sarasota Bay on the LeBarge tour boat on Sunday, November 2, 2014 from 11am to 1pm. The cruise will feature narration by popular local historian John McCarthy. Guests can expect a complimentary continental breakfast and a cash bar at noon.
Norma Kwenski, Volunteer Extraordinaire, grabs the catbird seat on LeBarge, next to our commentator, always-captivating John McCarthy, one of Sarasota's leading historians.
This specialty cruise tour has been a favorite with residents and tourists alike who want to learn more about the bygone people and places that have impacted the development of Sarasota County. Guests cruise along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay and enjoy the sunshine and refreshments while John McCarthy paints a picture of the formative years in Sarasota’s growth.
Tickets are $40 per person. A VIP pass is available for $50 which provides early boarding and a complimentary beverage from the bar (limited to beer, wine and soda). Reservations are a MUST.
Historical Cruise Guests should be at the LeBarge slip, south of Marina Jack in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park by 10:15am, rain or shine. Proceeds benefit preservation projects and community outreach programs at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.
Details and how to register »