If there is an iconic bird for the Florida Keys, the Key West quail-dove is it. The bird was named, and painted, by John James Audubon during his 1832 visit to the island chain.
"I have taken upon myself to name this species the Key West pigeon, and offer it as a tribute to the generous inhabitants of that island, who favoured me with their friendship," Audubon wrote in his journal.
The good news from last summer's rains is that South Florida's water supply is running above average. But that doesn't ease the concerns of those responsible for finding, protecting, cleaning and distributing freshwater to the more than six million people from Pam Beach County through Key West.
They tell us there is no "average" year for water supply. It's either too wet or too dry. And while it's technically the dry season, there's plenty of water.
Part one of FPL's pipeline project would stretch from Alabama to a hub just south of Orlando. Part two would continue on to Martin County. State regulators could approve the project before the end of the year.
Hundreds of miles of proposed pipeline may begin pumping natural gas between Southwest Alabama and Martin County, Florida within four years if Florida Power and Light (FPL) gets the okay from state regulators.
May was an eventful -- and most would likely say hopeful -- month for the beleaguered Everglades. Gov. Rick Scott signed into law new legislation that will provide hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade to fund Everglades restoration and cleanup.
The clock is ticking for the highly-endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow, but a new project recently green-lit by a federal agency may offer some hope for avoiding extinction. Scientists believe there are roughly 200 of the tiny birds remaining in the wild. Two years ago, scientists found the lowest count of the birds in history: last year's numbers dipped even lower.
The roseate spoonbill -- often mistaken by confused tourists for the non-native flamingo -- is one of Florida's great iconic species. Dubbed "one of the most breathtaking of the world's weirdest birds" by naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, the gangly creatures are an increasingly rare sight in South Florida.
According to a feature in the May-June issue of Audubon Magazine, spoonbills have been vacating South Florida in droves, heading north to more hospitable (read: often less developed) lands.
Proposed changes at Everglades National Park have put anglers at odds with environmental groups. The park's draft general management plan, which includes several variations (or "alternatives"), is currently up for public comment. This Sunday is the deadline to weigh in on proposed measures, which include prohibiting traditional boating in about one-third of Florida Bay.
Several ecologically-significant tracts of public land in Palm Beach County will go under the microscope this month as a state agency continues its multi-region assessment of state-owned lands throughout South Florida.
Fire ants are notorious Florida invasives, leaving a trail of painful welts and blisters in their wake. Those pesky exotic intruders also happen to be a serious threat to some of the state's most vulnerable endemic species. This includes the Florida grasshopper sparrow, which recently made the March/April cover of Audubon Magazine as "the most endangered bird in the continental United States."
The Florida Legislative Session 2013 is in full swing, and environmental groups are worried about a number of bills before lawmakers. Organizations like Audubon of Florida are focused on proposed measures that would impact environmental funding, wildlife protection, water quality and land use and conservation.
One of Florida's endemic species, the Florida grasshopper sparrow, is on the path to extinction. The bird lives only in the dry prairies south of Orlando and it's believed that less than 200 of the highly-specialized sparrows remain in the wild, though funding doesn't exist to adequately track the population. Part of the problem has been drumming up the public support -- and money -- necessary to study what has happened to the subspecies.
If Gov. Rick Scott's proposed $74.2 billion budget passes the Legislature intact, it would include $75 million for conservation land projects spearheaded by the Florida Forever Coalition. The 2013-2014 budget also includes $60 million for Everglades restoration and $6.5 million for restoring springs.