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Environmental Roundup May 7, 2021

Courtesy FWC Flickr
On May 27, 2016 this white-tailed deer mother and fawn were photographed at one of our game camera sites in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. We received a quarterly update from researchers involved in the South Florida Deer Research Project, and from April to June the team collared three deer (1 male and 2 females) at the refuge using rocket-nets and darting.

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.

It's Mother's Day weekend, and if you're looking for something special to do with mom, Southwest Florida's beautiful parks, refuges, gardens, and sanctuaries are waiting for you.

And yes, the nature you'll see has rights. At least, a growing movement across the country and around the world is saying so—Including here in Florida. Steve Newborn reports:

Voters in Orange County recently approved a referendum that gives legal rights to things like rivers and springs. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, a concept called "rights of nature" says that all life forms have the right to exist.

On Monday, environmentalists sued to stop a developer from filling in 115 acres of wetlands. The plaintiffs include two lakes, two creeks and a marsh.

Read more.

State officials are doubling their funding for Florida wildlife officials to help manatees recover from what appears to be a mass die-off due to starvation. Florida Today reports the $8 million in funding this year comes from Florida House of Representatives supplemental funding list, and FWC is unsure at this time how to spend the money. At least 695 manatees have died so far this year, 53 in Lee County alone.

And red tide continues to plague Southwest Florida—it has been found in this week’s water samples from Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. According to the latest sampling map, red tide is especially high at Vanderbilt Beach. Suspected red tide-related fish kills and respiratory irritation were reported in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Keep up to date on red tide on our website.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is hosting its annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival May 15 – 16 in Destin. This is your opportunity to learn all about the invasive species, and how we can eat the delicious invasives. Learn more on FWC’s website.

It seems banks are ignoring the impact of climate change on our industrial food systems. Inside Climate News reports, “The effects on agriculture of more frequent and intense natural disasters could overwhelm lenders, destabilize the food supply and disrupt the global economy.”

Also in the ostrich department, the AP reports “a Tennessee gravel and sand mining operator has been ignoring a cease and desist letter for months, and opponents say its continued construction on the banks of North America’s most biodiverse river may already be harming wildlife.”

And the New York Times reports on the growing risk of power failures during heat waves: “the combination of blackouts and extreme heat ‘may be the deadliest climate-related event we can imagine.’”

And the state of Vermont is planning to send cash to immigrant farmworkers who did not receive stimulus money, in recognition of the farmworkers’ importance to the state’s dairy industry. Civil Eats reports.

Read all of WGCU's environmental coverage on our website, WGCU.org.

FWC photo by Margaret Thompson. Courtesy FWC Flickr.

Do & Learn

  • Find a place to fish: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) has a new Florida Fishing Pier Finder, an interactive map that allows anglers to find publicly-accessed fishing piers, jetties and fishing-specific bridges in freshwater and saltwater locations throughout the state.
  • Harvard University has produced a short educational video about pthalates.
  • The Alliance for the Arts GreenMarket is continuing its decade old tradition of free, urban farming workshops on select Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. by hosting a cooking demonstration on Saturday, May 15. Visit https://www.artinlee.org/event/farmtokitchen for more information
  • Also on May 15 at 10am CHNEP is hosting a native plants and landscaping workshop at the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center. Register here.
  • Saturday, May 15 is also the opening of the new Welcome and Discovery Center at Lovers Key State Park in the Outdoor Classroom from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.
  • 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 in grades 8, 9, or 10 interested in marine science, the Summer Institute for Marine Science (SIMS) has a half-day summer camp in marine biology. Young people will explore estuarine and coastal ecology of Southwest Florida through excursions within the Rookery Bay Research Reserve. Click here for more information.
  • 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.

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.

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

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