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Green Flash

  • That humans contribute to making red tides stronger and last longer has been anecdotal. Now, researchers in Southwest Florida have explained that it's really true. Environmental researchers led by the University of Florida’s Center for Coastal Solutions documented the link after studying a decade of red tide data from the Caloosahatchee River, Charlotte Harbor, and the surrounding watersheds including the coasts of Charlotte and Lee counties. The findings are published in the June issue of Science of the Total Environment.
  • Everywhere listeners can hear WGCU Public Media on the radio is within the Southwest Florida region where dry soil and warm temperatures have had wildland firefighters on “high alert” since last week. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, a measure of the lack of moisture in the soil, has been showing the region increasingly parched during the last two weeks, another harbinger of wildfire. The indicators were right. New wildfires of about 30 acres each, one near Immokalee and the other on the Lee-Hendry county line, were reported early this week, and a seven-acre fire in Highlands County is controlled, as well as a 41-acre blaze in the heavily wooded Rotunda West area of Charlotte County. A wildfire that scorched more than 20,500 acres east of Miami-Dade County over the weekend has been contained.
  • In April, the newest of the flying mammals are at peril, this time from perhaps unwitting humans. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is concerned that baby bats may be stranded by residents sealing up leaks and cracks in their home as the summer heat is set to arrive. April 15 marks the start of bat maternity season and is the last day to legally exclude bats from your home or building.
  • An international climate change conference in Orlando featured dozens of experts who spoke of carbon sinks, carbon traps, carbon sequestration and of being carbon neutral. However, it was the youngest, most soft-spoken, and newest scientist who received the only standing ovation. 26-year-old Precious Nyabami, a University of Florida graduate student, was honored for her discovery that farmers can easily trap large amounts of planet-warming carbon.
  • Florida’s diamondback terrapin turtles, which herpetologists believe are the only tortoise in the world who lives in brackish water, must be left in the blend of fresh and salt water that the slowpokes call home. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in December decided diamondback terrapin turtle numbers have dipped enough that the critters need protection to keep any more of them from being scooped up in the wild. Collecting or possessing a diamondback terrapin is now illegal, but there are exceptions: for turtle researchers, for educational displays of the turtles, and for similar conservation-based programs.
  • Environment
    The Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station in Bonita Springs received $10,000 grant earlier this month from an environmental foundation in Maine.
  • Environment
    Growing ever-closer to the public area in the 13,500-acre Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a forest of extremely thirsty, ecosystem-changing, shape-shifting, pollen-producing Carolina willows that have invaded the wet prairies. The Carolina willow is selfish, and a lousy neighbor. The plant, which can also grow as a bush either before or after it’s a tree, sends a shallow root system into the soaked soil, and takes a never-ending gulp. Long, serrated, spear-shaped leaves sprout out from branches and criss-cross one another, denying animals access to wet prairies that provide excellent foraging and a place to cool off. The plant produces a strong pollen, and is filled with pests.
  • Paying for beach sand in Florida is now a thing. The demand for high-quality, bright-white sand to restock eroding beaches has been so high for so long in Southwest Florida most of the easy stuff piled up naturally offshore has been tapped. Now beach towns around the state are buying sand from inland mines, trucking it to eroding shorelines, and dumping it. The goal of these multi-million efforts, like the one underway in Collier County right now, is to keep the beach in beach towns around Florida.
  • Listen to working artist and chronicler of offbeat Florida art, author Gary Monroe talk about his work writing about Florida artists the Highwaymen, and his most recent book, Alfred Hair: Heart of the Highwaymen.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that will expand legal protections for agricultural operations. Passed by both the Florida House and Senate, the bill (SB 88) expands the state’s 1979 “Right to Farm” law and will shield the agriculture industry from what they consider nuisance lawsuits.