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Environmental Roundup August 6, 2021

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Courtesy FWC Flickr
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Panther in a tree

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:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discussed the state’s panther management plan at a meeting in Bonita Springs, Wednesday. This review comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to release results of a five-year study of the Florida panther that could result in a change to the cats' protection status. The Naples Daily News reports, the panther recovery plan calls for the existence of three separate populations of at least 240 panthers in order for the species to be de-listed from its endangered status. The panther population in Southwest Florida is estimated at between 200 and 230 animals, total. Ongoing threats to panthers including vehicle strikes, inbreeding, disease and habitat loss.

While more than 600 tons of dead fish have washed up along Tampa Bay shores because of the current red tide outbreak, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking to be more proactive, and has suggested drones could be used to monitor red tide, and money should be set aside to offset local costs of removing fish killed by toxic algae blooms. Key to combating red tide are efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrients from human sources, such as runoff from septic tanks, storm water systems and agricultural and residential fertilizer, that feed the microscopic algae.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is suing the owner of the defunct fertilizer plant Piney Point in Manatee County, after a leak from the site prompted the emergency release of more than 200 million gallons of contaminated wastewater directly into Tampa Bay earlier this year.

The AP reports, DEP interim Secretary Shawn Hamilton said the legal challenge against HRK Holdings is an important step in ensuring the final chapter of the phosphate processing site.
State officials are requesting a court-appointed receiver to help oversee the permanent closure of Piney Point. The lawsuit also seeks financial penalties to help recoup money spent mitigating the site.

At over 6,300 square miles, the Gulf of Mexico’s “dead zone” is larger than average this year.

And July in Tampa was the second hottest on record--second to July 2020.

Learn more about the proposed plan for Lake Okeechobee, (conservationists say the plan doesn’t send enough water to the Everglades) and attend the public meetings the USACOE has planned next week (details below).

BEYOND:

The Washington Post reports tens of millions of people around the world are moving into flood zones, despite global water level rise.

The Associated Press reports climate change is no longer a “poor country” problem, as climate change problems are hitting wealthier countries hard this year.

As temperatures during the Siberian heat wave soar this summer, a new climate concern presents itself: as the permafrost melts, methane is emitted. The Guardian reports.

And, here’s a headline not many saw coming: Bubonic plague in chipmunks forces closure of top Lake Tahoe sites, the Guardian reports.

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

Reflection 2, Emily Brockelsby.jpg
Courtesy Naples Botanical Garden
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Courtesy Naples Botanical Garden

Do & Learn

  • 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.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting a Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) stakeholder meeting and the announcement of their preferred alternative Monday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Login here: https://usace1.webex.com/meet/earl.t.gysan The Corps suggests logging into the webinar first and having it call you. You can also join by phone: Call-in toll-free number (ATT Audio Conference):1-844-800-2712 Access Code: 1997788788

The Corps also invites partners, stakeholders, and the public to an August 19 educational webinar and listening session for the Integrated Delivery Schedule for Everglades Restoration https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/2719621/usace-invites-partners-stakeholders-and-the-public-to-august-19-educational-web/

The National Park Service (NPS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are seeking public feedback on a draft Air Tour Management Plan (ATMP) for Everglades National Park. The two agencies will host a virtual public meeting on the issue August 19th, 6:30-8 pm ET. The meeting will be livestreamed at https://youtu.be/YED_w6Bkztg. The public can also observe the virtual meetings via the livestream from the FAA’s social media platforms on the day of the event. Public feedback can be provided through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website from July 29 through Aug. 28. The NPS and FAA will consider comments to help inform the final ATMP for Everglades National Park. The project website is available at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/EvergladesATMP

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 (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.