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Environmental Roundup June 25, 2021

Coral Reef
Courtesy FWC Flickr / Andy Wraithmell
Coral Reef

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.


Stony coral is a disease that can kill coral in a matter of weeks and has decimated Florida’s reef tract and parts of the Caribbean. It can fatally infect about 30 species of coral. Scientists are hoping lab-grown coral, cemented to reefs, will survive, thrive, and help lure back fish and wildlife.

Thanks to a new law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis this week, local governments won't be able to limit what fuels utilities use. Environmentalists have opposed the move. Florida Conservation Voters' Jonathan Webber said it could stop cities from fulfilling their clean energy commitments. "If they want to build a new section of their town or, say, a new neighborhood that is entirely powered by solar and that's the only type of energy that they would be allowed to have there, unfortunately, that is now forbidden," Webber said. Read more.

Steve Newborn with WUSF reports a coalition of five environmental groups filed suit in federal courtThursday against the governor, state and operators of the closed Piney Point phosphate plant. A spill at the plant in late March poured about 200 million gallons of nutrient-rich wastewater into Tampa Bay, spawning algae blooms and possibly aggravating red tide.

A dog in West Palm was killed by blue-green algae--a reminder to keep your pets and people away from toxic algae-laden water. You can also check our website for blue-green algae andred tide alerts and updates.


While we worry about oil exploration in the Everglades harming our ecosystem, oil exploration in Africa is threatening 130,000 elephants, which are already in a die-off. The cause? Toxic algae in their water.

Scientific American hasreportedon something low income urban Americans have known for decades: Their neighborhoods have less trees than wealthier neighborhoods, and the lack of tree canopy means their neighborhoods are also hotter.

A new report from NPR shows how home improvement is a great way to combat public health and climate crises.

A well-intended effort to save the Tasmanian devil from extinction has turned into a catastrophic elimination of little blue penguins, the Guardian reports. The Tasmanian devils were placed on a small Australian island to protect them from extinction. They have indeed thrived there and now threaten remaining shorebirds.

The Denver Post reports, despite federal protections, wild horses are going to slaughter.

Learn about all this and more, includingregular updates on blue-green algae and red tide, on our website,WGCU.org.

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.
Courtesy Audubon Florida / Mac Stone
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.

Do & Learn

  • Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has a ghost orchid that should be blooming very soon. Learn more on their website.
  • Learnabout the Right to Clean Water and the current efforts to amend the Florida State Constitution to make these rights the law of the land on Saturday, July 3, from 2-4 p.m.
  • Want to learn to fish but don’t know where to start? FWC has a ton of resources on their website.
  • The Florida Python Challenge starts July 9. If you’ve ever wanted to protect the Everglades and the animals that live there from invasive pythons, this is your chance. The challenges runs through July 18 and includes cash prizes. Learn more and register.
  • The FWC is encouraging people to hunt wild hogs this summer. Learn more at MyFWC.com/hunting/wild-hog.
  • Captains for Clean Water has a short educational video about blue-green algae.
  • Naples Botanical Garden invites essential workers and their families to visit the Garden on a complimentary basis through September 30, 2021.
  • A new exhibit at the Collier Museum, Swamp Angels: A History of Mosquitoes and Mosquito Control, might be a must-see. Running now through August 28 in the Collier County government complex.

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

Check out Collier County’s full public calendarhere.

Multiple area non-profits are organizing to influence the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers future plans for Lake Okeechobee. These include the Everglades Trust, Captains for Clean Water, and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, has announced a Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) Technical Workshops on Wednesday, June 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the public are welcome. The data sets for the Iteration 2 Alternative Array of the six balanced schedules are available at this link: ftp://ftppub.sfwmd.gov/outgoing/LOSOM/Iteration_2/ Frequently Asked Questions on how to access the data are available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/.

LOSOM Iteration 2 Evaluation Technical Workshop, Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. https://usace1.webex.com/meet/lisa.e.aley
+1-844-800-2712 US Toll Free
+1-669-234-1177 US Toll
Access code: 199 737 9512
Password: 1234

There will be designated opportunities for public comment. For those who cannot attend the online PDT meeting or technical workshops, but wish to provide a comment, please send those comments by email to LakeOComments@usace.army.mil. Additional information is available at: www.saj.usace.army.mil/LOSOM/

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

South Florida Water Management has the following upcoming meetings:

Loxahatchee River - National Wild & Scenic River Management Plan Workshop: June 28 at 12:30 p.m.

Loxahatchee River Management Coordinating Council: June 28 at 2 p.m.

Governing Board Workshop: June 29 at 10 a.m.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) Internal Investigations Section is undergoing assessment to retain accreditation by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA). The assessment, which is required every three years, will review the OIG’s compliance with approximately 40 standards. The general public is invited to offer comments to the assessment team. For more information regarding CFA or for persons wishing to offer written comments about the DEP Office of Inspector General’s ability to meet the standards of accreditation, please write: CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, FL 32302, or email info@FLAccreditation.org.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District announces an Ecological Restoration Science Workshop for the Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration (BBSEER) Project Study on Thursday, July 8, 2021, 8 a.m. - noon. The public is welcome to attend. https://usace1.webex.com/meet/april.n.patterson
Call In: 844-800-2712
Access Code: 199 320 6340#
For additional information regarding the project, please visit the project webpage www.saj.usace.army.mil/BBSEER View the Biscayne Bay and Southeastern Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Project (BBSEER) Fact Sheet at https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/4899

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

Jenny Staletovich has been a journalist working in Florida for nearly 20 years.
Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
Robbie Gaffney is a recent graduate from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.