09/22/14 - Monday’s Topical Currents considers the unparalleled beauty and biodiversity of the greater Everglades area. The lands surrounding the ‘Glades is the most populous urban area in the southeastern U-S . . . the seventh largest in the nation. We speak with the Executive Director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, which monitors factors which affect the delicate the ecosystem.
In 1917, it was the hub of the community. It was the post office, a farming ground, a place to repair boats and trade goods. Smallwood's wife, Mamie, even taught grade school out of the store. Now the future of the store depends on one road and its legal battle to keep it open.
This past weekend was the start of the two-and-a-half-month alligator-hunting season in Florida. It was also the first time the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge opened its gates to recreational gator hunting. It's the first wildlife refuge in the country to do so.
Of the 1,203 people who applied, only 11 were granted permits, each for two gators. Half of the permit holders started their hunt Friday at the much-anticipated opening.
Experts say Florida is ground zero for sea level rise, and the Southeast Florida region will be the most impacted.
Tara Bardi, senior scientist with the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, says even with increased media coverage on sea-level rise, most people aren’t sure how it will impact them personally.
Florida is the big winner under the new Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which President Obama signed last week. The bill carries $12.3 billion in infrastructure spending for the entire nation and $3 billion of that is coming to the Sunshine State.
There's $2 billion in the bill to expand Florida ports for the new Panamax vessels and another billion to restart four long-stalled Everglades restoration projects. That's 25 percent of the entire appropriation.
The U.S. Geological Survey and Miami-Dade County have mapped out the extent of saltwater seepage into our groundwater. The last comprehensive look was in 1995, and the good news is it hasn’t moved much since then.
South Florida is constantly battling against salt: keeping salty ocean water from getting into our groundwater.
The front in our battle, or the saltwater front keeps moving, mostly inland. As of 2011, it’s moved about 460 square miles inland in Miami-Dade. That is about 9 times the size of the city of Miami.
A dense smoke advisory was in effect in South Florida until 10am on Monday. A state highway patrol officer said the fire began Sunday afternoon when lighting struck a conservation area in the Everglades.
During smoky fires, officials encourage people to stay home. However, as a response to fire, birds tend to leave home.
Julie Hill-Gabriel, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida, said when birds see smoke, they take it as a signal to leave the area.
This can be potentially problematic this time of year. Hill-Gabriel explained now is an ideal time for birds to stay home and catch fish. If they leave because of fires, they miss out on the opportunity.
State Senate President Don Gaetz likes to introduce House Speaker Will Weatherford as the “taller, smarter, better-looking version of the Weatherford-Gaetz” duo. Their alliance has led to the quick passage of legislation like last year's ethics reform package and this year's sex offender bills. But on several education bills, the two diverge.
The South Florida Water Management District decided Thursday morning to OK an Everglades restoration project it designed.
Since 2011, the District has been working to develop a $1.9 billion plan to put some circulation back into the heart of the Everglades.
"It is going to require removing lot of things that have been put in," says Randy Smith, a representative for the Water District. "[It will require] creating new water-flow projects and water storage projects. The landscape is going to more closely resemble what it was originally."
Talking about sugar in South Florida is like talking about politics and religion in polite company. Few people are without strong opinions about the sugarcane farms stretching across the eastern Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. The industry is a mix of government price policies, environmental regulations, trade practices and the demand for food.
Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country.
It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.)
The National Park Service has come up with five different ways they can acquire Everglades land currently owned by the Florida Power and Light Company.
NPS held a forum this week to get public opinion on possible acquisition plans. Currently, FPL owns an 8.5-square-mile area of land within Everglades National Park.
The agency laid out its five alternatives in a draft environmental impact statement. The most notable were Alternative 2, in which NPS would acquire the land in fee, and Alternative 3, exchanging the FPL-owned land for other land.
As water levels rise in the Everglades, are prolific pythons and their iguana cousins going to come slithering out, seeking higher ground and pushing out our local crocs? The very idea makes most of us want to relocate.
It turns out wildlife biologists and other scientists have been studying for the past few years what might happen to more than 20 Everglades species. One conclusion: Soon, we all may be scrambling for a higher perch.