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Environmental Roundup April 16, 2021

The "super ghost" orchid is the largest known concentration of blooms in the Everglades. Unlike other orchids, since its discovery in 2007 this ghost orchid has been documented blooming every month out of the year. After hurricane Irma, pictured here, the orchid bloomed in November, though the normal blooming window is summer months of June through September. Naples, Florida.
Mac Stone
Audubon Florida
The "super ghost" orchid is the largest known concentration of blooms in the Everglades. Unlike other orchids, since its discovery in 2007 this ghost orchid has been documented blooming every month out of the year. After hurricane Irma, pictured here, the orchid bloomed in November, though the normal blooming window is summer months of June through September. Naples, Florida.

We are all connected by the environment we share. The Earth is our home. This is the space where we share the environmental stories that caught our attention this week, in Florida and beyond.

Earth Day is coming up (April 22), but for many people every day is Earth Day. Celebrate with us all year long by observing time daily sitting with nature. This week also sees National Orchid Day (April 16)—another natural beauty you can celebrate all year long, and especially this summer, by visiting Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's Ghost Orchid, which is likely to bloom later this year.

Science is catching up with revelations about the dangers of exposure to pesticides and other toxic chemicals that can leave a legacy of pain, cancer, and other severe health problems for multiple generations, even after harmful chemicals are banned from use. The LA Times looks at DDT, and its multi-generational impact. New first-hand research shows living near hazardous waste is bad for your health and reduces life span. This might mean not only do Floridians need to kick into high gear to deal with the aftermath of Piney Point, but examine the other chemicals and waste that we in the U.S. and around the world produce, store, and emit like the mercury showing up in the Everglades.

Speaking of the Everglades, the Washington Examiner ran an op-ed recently on Big Sugar’s influence on the important ecosystem.

Lest we beat ourselves up for releasing nutrient-rich waste water from the Piney Point phosphate mining site into Tampa Bay, Japan is dumping “more than one million tonnes of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea… a move China called ‘extremely irresponsible’, while South Korea summoned Tokyo’s ambassador in Seoul to protest,” Reuters reports, noting the U.S. supports Japan’s plan.

In what could be viewed as a cynical redistribution of funding meant for the state's most vulnerable to those who live on Florida’s coasts, the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds, money set aside for affordable housing initiatives so we don’t end up with tent cities, are still being raided, this time to address issues of sea level rise and wastewater treatment.

And here’s a consumer alert for all you new pandemic parents: “When parents first serve solid foods to their babies, they often turn to infant rice cereal. The iron-fortified mix is nutritious and relatively easy to feed babies unaccustomed to spoons or strong flavors. But the Food and Drug Administration allows 10 times as much arsenic in this favored first food as it does in other products, like bottled water and apple juice — despite the fact that, as a neurotoxin, arsenic can have an outsize impact on babies, whose brains are still developing.” Read moreat E & E News. Or, learn about making your own baby food, including from veggies you grow yourself. There are plenty of resources online and in books at your favorite local bookstore.

Environmental issues impacting all of us in the foreseeable future includes the fall out fromPiney Point, the Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact moving forward, and continued meetings over development in critically endangered panther habitat. Read about all this and more at wgcu.org and be sure to subscribe to our monthly environmental newsletter, Green Flash.

A Florida Panther Family
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region - Uploaded by AlbertHerring, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29815576
A Florida Panther Family

Do & Learn

  • Household Chemical Waste collection scheduled for April 22 in Lehigh Acres, hosted by Lee County Solid Waste in partnership with Lee County Parks and Rec, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Veterans Park Recreation Center, 55 Homestead Road South, on the east parking lot between the skate park and baseball fields. Lehigh Acres residents will be able to safely and responsibly dispose of household chemical waste (HCW) such as leftover paints, cleaners, herbicides, pesticides, automotive fluids and pool chemicals. Drop-off is an easy, drive-through process available to all residents at no charge.
  • April 22, 3-4 pm As part of VoLo Foundation’s Climate Week, WGCU’s Valerie Vande Panne and intrepid Florida Man (and environmental reporter and author) Craig Pittman talk about covering Florida and answer some of your burning questions about our spectacular state’s environment. Learn more and check out all of their events, here.
  • May 6 The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership is hosting a free event via zoom to “share knowledge and mobilize the collaboration needed to build more resilient communities in our region. Learn more and register for the all day eventhere.
  • If you know a young person who would be interested in hunting, the FWC has a mentored youth hunting program. VisitMyFWC.com/YHPF.
  • Another FWC effort, the Florida Youth Conservation Center Network offers camp programs with numerous activities focused on the theme of conservation-centered recreation. Learn more by visitingFYCCN.org.

Want to influence your local environment? There’s probably a public meeting for that.

The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Area will be holding several Focus Group meetings to seek input on updating the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Plan. These will be Hybrid Remote meetings and will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the CareerSource SWFL, 750 South 5th Street, Immokalee, Florida.

Housing/Mobility - Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 6:00 p.m.

Economic Development/Community Facilities - Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 6:00 p.m.

Ecotourism & Agrotourism/Drainage & Lake Trafford - Thursday, May 6, 2021, 6:00 p.m.

If you would like to participate remotely, contact Monica Acosta via email at Monica.Acosta@colliercountyfl.gov

Charlotte County has several committee vacancies to fill--and many have something to do with the environment. Learn more at https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/news/charlotte-county-committee-vacancies.stml

South Florida Water Management District Upcoming Meetings

The public is welcome to attend several upcoming public meetings, often virtually, including the Governing Board Special Meeting Regarding the Central Everglades Planning Project and Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Project Partnership Agreement on April 22, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. See Meeting Information and Materials. And check out the SFWMD Meeting Calendar for dates, times, and agendas.

U.S. Department of Agriculture to Host Public Listening Session on April 22, 2021

USDA is requesting public input from interested parties to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021. The stakeholder listening session will be held virtually on Thursday, April 22, 2021, 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Anyone can RSVP to participate online by clicking here.

U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board Spring Meetings will be held online:

  • Tuesday, April 20, Noon - 5:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 22, Noon - 5:00 pm
  • Wednesday, April 28, Noon - 5:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 29, Noon - 5:00 pm
  • Friday, April 30, Noon - 5:00 pm

Learn more including how to attend, here.

Got an environment story or tip to share? Email Valerie Vande Panne at Vvandepanne @ wgcu.org.