Environment

In South Florida, where the Everglades meet the bays, environmental challenges abound. Sea level rise threatens homes and real estate. Invasive species imperil native plants and animals. Pesticides reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but at what cost? 

WLRN's award-winning environment reporting strives to capture the color and complexity of human interaction with one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Archive / Miami Herald

On the western fringes of Miami-Dade County, street after street of barrel-tiled houses squeezed within shouting distance of one another come to an abrupt stop at a marshy basin that was once part of the Shark River Slough.

The slough — the flowing heart of the Everglades' famed River of Grass — was supposed to be the boundary to what a county plan anointed Miami's "aggrandizing urban front."

C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

A proposal to extend state road 836 — the Dolphin Expressway — in Miami-Dade County could imperil future funding for Everglades restoration, critics say.

Members of the Hold the Line Coalition, a group of transportation and environment organizations, oppose extending the 836 expressway into wetland and agricultural areas outside Miami-Dade's urban development boundary. The proposed 14-mile expansion is intended to alleviate traffic in the Kendall area by providing commuters an alternative to Florida's Turnpike.

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to block an Obama-era proposal and effectively shield companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters. At a hearing Thursday, agency officials got an earful from dozens of people who live and work near refineries and chemical facilities across the country.

On the western edge of the Florida Everglades sits 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) of gator-infested swampland, and a private firm is making big money selling it off.

The Panther Island Mitigation Bank isn't another Florida land boondoggle, but rather is part of a federal system designed to restore wetlands across the United States. Panther Island's owners preserved one of the nation's last stands of virgin bald Cyprus, a place where wood storks, otters and other native flora and fauna have returned since they removed invasive plants.

There's more rain falling on some parts of the U.S. than there used to be, and many towns just aren't ready for the flooding that follows.

Ellicott City, Md., is one such community. Nestled in a valley west of Baltimore, the town was founded in 1772, and some Revolutionary War-era buildings still house businesses along the narrow main street in historic downtown. It also sits at the confluence of three streams.

Local and statewide community groups have teamed up to host South Florida’s first Democratic primary gubernatorial debate on Monday.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

The threat of sea-level rise stretches well beyond the coastline.

Honeybees understand that "nothing" can be "something" that has numerical meaning, showing that they have a primitive grasp of the concept of zero.

That's according to a newly published study in Science, which shows that bees possess a mathematical ability once thought to exist only in dolphins, primates, birds and humans who are beyond the preschool years.

Lava From Kilauea Boils Away Freshwater Lake In Hawaii

Jun 7, 2018

Green Lake was gone in hours.

Lava from Kilauea volcano spilled across highways and into Hawaii's Green Lake — a major source of freshwater on Hawaii's Big Island — and evaporated all the water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The flow created a huge plume of steam as it hit the lake Saturday on its way toward the ocean, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense agency.

NASA JOHNSON / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday it will begin releasing water Friday from Lake Okeechobee because of concerns over rising water levels.

While it's not unusual to discharge water during periods of heavy rain, it is unusual to start this early in the summer. 

"Historic rain across the region since the middle of May has caused the lake to rise more than a foot," said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander, in a press release. "We have to be prepared for additional water that could result from a tropical system."

Slurping up smoothies, sodas and slushies through disposable plastic straws could one day become a thing of the past.

The call to toss plastic straws out of our food system is growing louder and louder. On Thursday Bon Appétit, a large food service company, announced it is banning plastic straws in all 1,000 of its cafes in 33 states, including locations like AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The company says it plans to complete its transition to paper straws by September 2019.

It's the latest salvo in a growing war against straws.

Alberto May Have Affected Some Turtle Nests

May 31, 2018

As sea-turtle nesting season reaches its peak, the number of reptiles laying eggs on Florida beaches continues to trend upward.

But officials say Subtropical Storm Alberto washed away some nests and flooded others across the state this week, which makes it unlikely any of those eggs will survive.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Robbin Trindell said natural occurrences like Alberto make it even more important for residents and guests to help protect turtles.

Environmental officials are investigating a freshwater turtle die-off in Florida.

Pages