Pointing to increased numbers of manatees and improved habitat, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it wants to change the status of the sea cows from endangered to threatened.

One of the most contentious environmental issues facing state lawmakers in the upcoming session is what to do with Amendment 1. That mandated a large pot of tax money be used to buy and protect environmentally-sensitive land. But just how that money should be used is muddying the political waters.

New Water Policy Expected To Flow In Session

Dec 30, 2015
Earl Leatherberry/flickr

A statewide water-policy proposal is poised for the House and Senate floors early in the upcoming legislative session.

It would set water-flow levels for the state's natural springs and guidelines for the Central Florida Water Initiative, a regional water-supply planning effort.

The plan is a top priority of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and is expected to quickly pass both chambers.

But Putnam hasn't forgotten that last session, the House and Senate passed water-policy bills yet couldn't come to terms.

Wikimedia Commons

Arborists climbed to the top of a 2,000-year-old bald cypress tree in Seminole County Monday.

They gathered clippings from the soaring cypress known as Lady Liberty as part of an effort to clone some of the world’s oldest trees and rebuild depleted forests.

The idea is to rebuild forest using the genetics of the world’s sturdiest trees.

Jake Millarch of the Archangle Ancient Tree Archive was one of three arborists who climbed Lady Liberty to gather clippings.

Florida's Orange Crop In 'Free Fall'

Dec 9, 2015
Mark Elias / Bloomberg via Miami Herald

The outlook for production of Florida oranges, the state's signature crop, continues to drop.

For the second consecutive month, the Florida orange-harvest forecast for the 2015-2016 growing season was adjusted down Wednesday by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"It's essentially in free fall," Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday while outlining some of his priorities for the 2016 legislative session.

President Obama is telling global leaders that the U.S. is taking the lead on combating climate change. But Congress would have to approve any money for the effort and Republicans are dead set against it. South Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart says the president knows he's deceiving world leaders.

“This is a president who seems to be, every day, more and more out of touch with the reality of the world. And so, you know, would it surprise me if the president went and promised things he couldn’t deliver? It wouldn’t surprise me,” Diaz-Balart says.

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve sits in the middle of St. Petersburg as an oasis of sorts.

Many nights, night air fills the park with sounds of chirping crickets and rustling leaves, as trees sway in the wayward wind. But one night last month, five local experimental musicians positioned at various points along the hiking trail joined in, creating soundscapes inspired by the landscape.

The composer John Luther Adams calls himself "deeply, deeply Alaskan." That's where the 62-year-old lived almost his entire adult life, and he still has his cabin in the woods where he's written so much of his music. But now he and his wife split their time between an apartment in New York City and a house in Mexico right next to the Pacific Ocean.

As COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, kicked off in Paris, roughly 20 people gathered outside of the French Consulate in Brickell on Monday to show support for a legally binding international agreement on climate change. Environmental groups 350 South Florida and the Miami Climate Alliance organized the rally.

Noel Lopez Fernandez


Remember what the Matt Hooper character says about sharks in the 1975 Steven Spielberg film “Jaws”?

“What we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine,” says Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfus. “It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all.”

Sharks are the bad boys of the deep, to be sure.  So why would sharks swimming in Cuban waters need protection?

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

On Wednesday, South Florida will go through another King Tide. Not sure what to expect, except maybe closed roads and cars on flooded streets. 

Miami Beach is trying to get ahead of the problem, which is a consequence of rising seas. The city is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on pump stations, higher roads and seawalls.

National Park Service centennial birthday cake.
Alyssa Méndez Batista

The National Park Service turns 100 years old next year.


To celebrate, Miami-Dade County partnered with award-winning photographer Clyde Butcher to showcase some of South Florida’s national parks in photographs throughout Miami International Airport.


In the South terminal, a gallery of black-and-white photographs highlights different landscapes from the Everglades, Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.


  Fifty-seven species of fish and wildlife are so rare or face such threats that they are considered "imperiled" by the state of Florida.

Now the state has 49 action plans aimed at protecting those species. Some, like several species of wading birds, share the same habitat so they're covered under the same plan.

The United States and Cuba signed an agreement Wednesday to join forces and protect the vast array of fish and corals they share as countries separated by just 90 miles (140 kilometers), the first environmental accord since announcing plans to renew diplomatic relations.

"We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing, and conserving critical marine resources for future generations," said Kathryn Sullivan, chief of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Florida Gets Bad Grade On Climate Change Risk Preparedness

Nov 18, 2015

A new study released on Wednesday says the Sunshine state needs to do its homework to prepare for weather threats linked to climate change.

It gave Florida an overall C- grade in climate change preparedness.

The study by ICF International and Climate Central is the first assessment of its kind that evaluates how local governments in the U.S. face their climate change threats.