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Environmental Roundup April 30, 2021

Courtesy FWC Flickr
April 13, 2021 -- A. The entrance to a cypress tree den estimated to be about 40-50 feet above the ground. A female Florida black bear climbed this hollow tree and entered through the open top to den. She later gave birth inside the cavity that was near the ground level. B. Two FWRI bear research biologists stand at the base of the tree den listening to the sounds of a female Florida black bear and at least one cub.

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.

Today is Arbor Day! Let’s take a moment to recognize our favorite trees, and all they do for us humans, from providing us with food and shade and a nice place to relax, to providing shelter for a variety of wildlife. We don’t need a special day though to plant trees--we can always plant one this year, or plant many in the next decade. The city of Miami is doing just that, as it plans to mitigate the heat impacts of climate change by swapping out its iconic palms for shade trees.

On Thursday, Governor DeSantis signed the Right to Farm bill, (SB 88), which passed with overwhelming support in the state legislature. Critics, such as the Sierra Club Florida, call it the “right to harm” bill while supporters say it is needed to protect agricultural operations. The new law prohibits so-called nuisance lawsuits filed by people who do not own property within one-half mile of the alleged violations. Critics argue that the bill would limit lawsuits over the potential health impacts from farming practices like burning sugar cane. Check out our in-depth coverage on this issue next week on WGCU-FM's Gulf Coast Life.

The Governor will have the opportunity to sign a bill lawmakers overwhelming supported, that gives $100 million to the state's conservation land-buying program Florida Forever.

Making nationwide news, genetically modified mosquitoes will be released in the Florida Keys, in an effort to combat illnesses like Dengue fever and the Zika virus. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and the biotech company Oxitec announced the impending release on Thursday. In alignment with what some might call a buzzkill, the company is also segueing into the marijuana industry.

It seems some in the reptile loving community are leaving, and others are prepping their pets in the wake of the new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission prohibitions on invasive species. Floridians can no longer purchase the prohibited species, and pet owners now need to get them registered and microchipped.

In pesticide news, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the EPA’s refusal to ban chlorpyrifos has “exposed a generation of American children” to the known neuro-toxin. The Intercept reports: The federal agency has for years been considering mounting evidence that links the pesticide to brain damage in children — including loss of IQ, learning difficulties, ADHD, and autism — but, as the court acknowledged, has repeatedly delayed taking action… More than 5 million pounds of chlorpyrifos were applied to crops in 2017, according to the most recent data.

And it seems California has done what Florida hasn’t: The Guardian reports Nestlé, accused of taking millions more gallons [of water] than it is entitled to, receives draft cease-and-desist order from state officials

And finally, yes, the Earth’s axis is changing, thanks to climate change.

By NASA/EPIC, edit by Tdadamemd - http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/#2016-05-29, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49177679

Do & Learn

  • 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 event here.
  • Climate.gov has several lessons on all things climate, often meant for grades 9-12. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful and helpful for adults though, and can certainly turn into an entire family educational session. Explore the lessons for yourself and learn more about our climate at https://www.climate.gov/teaching.
  • If you know a young person who would be interested in hunting, the FWC has a mentored youth hunting program. Visit MyFWC.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 visiting FYCCN.org.
  • Get certified as a Florida Friendly Fishing Guide. Scholarships are available.
  • Did you miss the League of Women Voters special session on environment and growth management in Southwest Florida? Watch it here.

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

The city of Sanibel is inviting the public to attend a virtual informational meeting on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 5:30 pm to discuss prescribed burn plans on Sanibel and address any questions or concerns. Access to this meeting is through this Zoom link:https://sccf-org.zoom.us/j/89160685854?pwd=dnovTWZ3Ly83Y2xPL25BZnRlViswQT09

Collier County Commissioner William L. McDaniel, Jr., District 5 (the eastern part of the county), is hosting a public “A Night with Your Commissioner” event Wednesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.at the UF/IFAS Collier Extension office, 14700 Immokalee Road, Naples, Florida. To participate remotely, register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8uxGtSC4Q5WxllpFS02CTw

The Collier County Coastal Advisory Committee meets Thursday, May 13, at 1 p.m. in the Board of County Commissioners Chambers, third floor, Collier County Government Center, 3299 Tamiami Trail E., Naples, Florida. Learn more here: colliergov.net/Index.aspx?page=1263.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet virtually May 12 and 13 beginning at 9 a.m. each day. Advanced comments should be submitted no later than 5 pm on Friday, May 7. Learn more at FWC’s website.

Immokalee Redevelopment Plan Focus Groups :

The Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency 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 p.m. at CareerSource SWFL, 750 South 5th Street, Immokalee.

Ecotourism & Agrotourism/Drainage & Lake Trafford - Thursday, May 6, 2021, 6 p.m. If you would like to participate remotely, contact Monica Acosta via email at Monica.Acosta@colliercountyfl.gov

For more information, call (239) 867-0025.

Check out Collier County’s full public calendar here.

Charlotte County still 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 Meeting

Everglades Technical Oversight, May 4 at 10 a.m. Register here.

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