environment

Smelly seaweed assaults, blankets Caribbean beaches

Aug 10, 2015
Israel Leal/AP Photo

If you were planning on going on vacation to the Caribbean, maybe you should check first. Are those beaches still stinky and covered in rotting seaweed?

The algae is part of a family called Sargassum and it is carpeting beaches in tourist hot spots like the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The algae can form a pile up to 6- to 10-feet-high on some beaches, making Caribbean countries worried (sniff!) as tourism grows toward the end of the year.

Smelly seaweed photo callout

Mote Marine Laboratory

Coral reefs have suffered major declines over recent decades. But one bright spot in marine science is the newfound ability to grow corals from fragments in coral nurseries.

Mote Marine Lab has been a leader in that field, working from its Tropical Research Laboratory on Summerland Key. It grows staghorn corals at its offshore nursery, near Looe Key, and reef-building corals at the lab facility.

Proposed Congress Bill May Block Fishing Ban

Aug 3, 2015
Eleonora Edreva / WLRN

On Monday, the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Small Business held a congressional hearing in Homestead.

The subject of the hearing was a proposed bill that would allow state fishery managers to block fishing bans in state waters within national parks. 

The bill’s relevance to South Florida is that it would shut down an attempt to create a marine reserve zone blocking commercial and recreational fishing in a portion of Biscayne National Park. 

Emma_L_M/flickr

UPDATE, Aug. 3, 4:30 p.m.: The South Florida Management District board reversed its decision against tax cuts.

The board held a special meeting on Friday, July 31, where they approved to cut a property tax rate for the fifth year in a row.

Two weeks ago, the board voted 6-2 to maintain the tax rate that would’ve prevented having to rely on the agency’s reserves.

The final vote on the proposed budget will take place in September.

As the Florida Department of Citrus turns 80 years old, the industry it represents is fighting for its survival. The insect-borne disease of citrus greening is devastating groves statewide.

David Steele, the Director of Public Relations for the Department of Citrus, spoke with WUSF's Robin Sussingham about the challenges that citrus greening poses to the state's iconic crop. Steele says that every aspect of the citrus industry is under attack because of greening, resulting in the lowest production levels in his lifetime. But there's always reason to hope, he says:

klereayiti.com

Western Union is one of the leading money transfer providers the Haitian diaspora use to send money to family members and friends in Haiti. Thanks to a new initiative, it will now also be a source of renewable energy. 

At a press conference in Little Haiti Monday, Western Union and SogeExpress, a Western Union agent and Haiti-based money transfer agency, unveiled two solar power kits that will be available for purchase for people in Haiti.

Bob DeGross, National Park Service / Bugwood.org

 

On Wednesday and Thursday, biologists from around South Florida gathered at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie for the annual Everglades Invasive Species Summit.

Carlos Barria

South Florida is seeing little rain during its rainy season this year.

Eastern Miami-Dade and Broward counties are drying up and are now considered to be in extreme drought conditions, according to water managers.

So far this year, Miami-Dade was 7 inches below average rainfall and Broward was down more than 8 inches.

Green City

A new development project, Green City, just released its plans to build a 860 acre eco-friendly village in west Miami-Dade County.

The ambitious project is slated to be built over the next two decades and calls for the inclusion of, among other things, 1.36 million square feet of retail, 11,401 new homes (a portion of which will be set aside for affordable housing), a sports village, and a hydroponics facility.

Everglades Bike Path: Yea Or Nay?

Jul 14, 2015
JaxStrong / Flickr via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The window for public comment on the latest Everglades tourism project is closing soon. The controversial River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) would be a 75-mile bike path running along U.S. 41 from Naples to Miami.

NOAA: Saharan Dust Clouds Suppressing Hurricanes

Jul 7, 2015
NRL-Monterey

South Florida's air has been dustier than usual this week. 

The dust has come from across the Atlantic, originating from dust storms in the Sahara desert and being pushed towards the Americas by winds and tropical waves.

While the current influx of dust-filled air may be a hazard for people with respiratory conditions, scientists say it also brings with it a more positive effect.

Jimi Sadle / National Park Service

Federal wildlife managers in the Florida Keys are planning controlled burns on Big Pine Key this summer to help the Bartram's hairstreak butterfly.

The inch-long butterfly was added to the federal Endangered Species List last August. It lives only in pine rocklands and only a few fragments of that habitat remain in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Environmentalists Call For End To Sugar Cane Burning

Jun 29, 2015
Richard Riley via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Every harvest season, sugar farmers in Florida light controlled fires to burn off the leaves on the sugar cane plant. Only the stalks remain, waiting to be cut down, transported to mills and refined into sugar.

The Sierra Club says the practice is outdated and harmful to public health. The group’s Florida branch recently hosted a Big Sugar Summit in West Palm Beach to call for an end to cane burning.

Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit this week -- with the state legislature as their target. The coalition claims lawmakers shortchanged environmental spending in this year's budget, going against the will of the voters.

The coalition is made up of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida. These groups claim lawmakers put millions of dollars that should go to buying land for conservation efforts, and used it for expenses not allowed by Amendment 1.

Florida Power & Light Company

The Public Service Commission last year approved Florida Power and Light's plan to go fracking for natural gas in Oklahoma.

Even then, it was clear the utility planned to charge Florida rate payers for the project in another state, and advocates at the Public Counsel's Office filed suit to stop it. The suit is pending, but now the PSC has voted again.

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