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Environmental Roundup July 23, 2021

1Ellen Trevor- Carry Out Lunch.jpg
Courtesy “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society
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In the 2020 “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society's Amateur Nature Photography Contest, first place went to Ellen Trevor of Sanibel, FL., for her great egret portrait titled “Carry Out Lunch.” The 2021 contest is now open.

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.

FLORIDA:

Is it COVID or red tide? Learn to tell the difference with your symptoms. And, wear a mask to prevent both.

As the toxic red tide bloom in the Tampa Bay area has killed approximately 1,000 tons of sea life and calls for a state of emergency declaration grow, red tide conditions are also being felt just south of that region in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The Herald Tribune reports, Mote Marine Laboratory monitoring efforts report dead fish on beaches in Anna Maria Island, Coquina Beach, Longboat Key and Siesta Key.

WMNF reports a well-known Florida fisherman and TV host has accused Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton of downplaying the problem of red tide, for profit.

Collier County Commission chairwoman Penny Taylor oversaw a task force meeting Tuesday, about a multi-billion-dollar U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study aimed at protecting Collier's shoreline against the effects of future storms, sea level rise, and erosion. The Naples Daily News reports, the project, called the Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, involves the construction of seawalls, jetties, dunes and gates. It also involves other floodproofing efforts like elevating buildings. Funding for the effort is designed to be split between the Army Corps and the county with the Corps providing about $1.4 billion and the county providing about $750 million. Whether Collier County will approve the allocation is contingent on the Collier County Commission approving the spending in the future. The purpose of the newly-formed task force is to evaluate concerns about the Army Corps proposed plan and present them to a yet-to-be created technical task force. Some residents have expressed concerns about the plan because it leaves out some areas of the county.

The Corps has announced its new plan for Lake Okeechobee. Learn about the concerns local conservationists have on a recent episode of WGCU-FM's Gulf Coast Life. We also look at the problem of black snow on another episode of Gulf Coast Life. Black snow refers to the smoke and ash that covers communities near sugar-growing operations when Florida sugar growers burn their fields prior to harvest in order to make the harvesting process easier. The black snow primarily impacts communities in Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay, where about a third of the population lives in poverty. The smoke rarely reaches coastal cities like West Palm Beach and its suburbs.

BEYOND:

The New York Times reports Democratic lawmakers are proposing a new import tax on China and other countries that fail to reduce carbon emissions: “Under the Democratic proposal, a tariff starting in 2024 would apply to roughly 12 percent of imports coming into the United States. It would cover petroleum, natural gas and coal as well as products that have a large carbon footprint like aluminum, steel, iron and cement. The list of covered goods could expand as the United States improves methods of calculating the carbon intensity of different products.” Supporters of the proposal hope to raise $16 billion with the plan. The White House did not comment to the Times for this story.

While Congress works to try to regulate the amount of toxic PFAs (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in our drinking water, the Michigan Advance reports local water utilities are worried about getting hit with lawsuits and high cleanup costs, and are stepping up their lobbying of members of Congress.

Wildfires blazing the West coast are impacting air quality and sunsets across the country.

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

7603196660_d487cb752d_o.jpg
Photo Courtesy FWC Flickr
A commercial basket full of spiny lobster.

Do & Learn

  • The 29th annual “Ding” Darling Day Amateur Nature Photography Contest is happening now through Sept. 15, 2021. Cash award prizes are $300 for first place, $225 for second, and $175 for third. Learn more.
  • Florida's two-day lobster mini season in the Florida Keys runs July 28-29. Learn all about the season on FWC’s website.
  • On Wednesday, August 4, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's South District Office is hosting a webinar on estuaries and watersheds of Southwest Florida. Register here.
  • Supersized Squid! The National Shell Museum hosts a talk about the creatures in their virtual lecture series at 5pm on July 27, 2021.
  • Want to convert your St. Augustine grass lawn to a native, low maintenance Florida landscape? Want to be on TV? Flip My Florida Yard might have you covered.
  • Learn all about Falconry with Lee County Libraries virtually on July 27. Resources for the virtual session can be picked up at library branches. Learn more.
  • Naples Botanical Garden invites essential workers and their families to visit the Garden on a complimentary basis through September 30, 2021. Be sure to check out their exhibition, Artists in Bloom.
  • 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 at 3331 Tamiami Trail E., Naples, in the county government complex.
  • Watch Troubled Waters, a short documentary from the Calusa Waterkeeper.

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

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 Loxahatchee River Preservation Initiative Meeting July 26, 2021 at noon. Meeting Information and Materials

SFWMD Workshop for the C-8 and C-9 Basins Flood Protection Level of Service Adaptation and Mitigation Planning Projects Study August 3, 2021 at 9 a.m. Meeting Information and Materials

SFWMD Quarterly Meeting of the Everglades Technical Oversight Committee, August 10, 2021 at 10 a.m. Meeting Information and Materials

SFWMD Governing Board Workshop August 11, 2021 at 1 p.m. sfwmd.gov/meetings

SFWMD Governing Board Meeting August 12, 2021 at 9 a.m. sfwmd.gov/meetings

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