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.

It’s rare to see an unfiltered night sky in many parts of Florida. Artificial lights in highly populated areas, like Fort Myers or Miami, cover up views of constellations and the Milky Way. But, Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee is now an “International Dark Sky Park.” That means the preserve removed unnecessary lights. And the ones they kept were changed to be “night sky friendly” by using different bulbs or making the lights point down to the ground, rather than up to the sky.

Courtesy of Netflix

The new documentary "Chasing Coral" is set to debut on Netflix Friday, July 14.

For those in the Keys who don't have the streaming service — or want to see it on the big screen — the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary along with several marine conservation groups is presenting four free screenings along the island chain Friday evening.

The screenings times and locations are:

Gustavo Rodriguez

In certain circles, people from the Netherlands inevitably get asked about sea level rise.

It's because for hundreds of years the country has had to keep out seawater and prevent flooding from its numerous rivers.

Kyle Holsten / WLRN News

A federal judge has dismissed a request to stop aerial spraying of the pesticide Naled in Miami-Dade County, describing the plaintiffs' complaint as "poor" and recommending they get a lawyer before pursuing further legal action.

A massive iceberg the size of Delaware has broken free from Antarctica and is floating in the sea.

Earlier Wednesday, scientists announced that the 6,000-square-kilometer (about 2,300 square miles) iceberg had come loose, after satellites detected it had calved off the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The infrastructure that prevents Lake Okeechobee from spilling over is old. And that's why Congress allocated $49.6 million to help repair it this fiscal year. 

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who's the founder and Co-Chairman of the Everglades Caucus, toured the Herbert Hoover Dike on Lake Okeechobee Monday. He got an update on the dike's rehabilitation projects from the Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville district. 

There's a new effort to determine why green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon are covered with tumors. Nearly half of the green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon suffer from the tumors.

Kate Mansfield of the University of Central Florida says the number and range of cases are expanding. But what’s causing them is a mystery. Mansfield says all of the turtles with the tumors have a certain virus, but not every turtle with that virus has tumors. So other contributors are suspected.

Tourists flood the area of Madrid's "Museum Mile" — a stretch of the huge, eight-lane Paseo del Prado thoroughfare that's home to Spain's most renowned art museums. It's smoggy and crowded with all the traffic.

At the CaixaForum, an arts foundation, people pause. It's what's on the outside of this museum, rather than what's inside, that's halted them: a giant vertical garden with more than 15,000 plants from 300 native species — begonias, yucca plants, ferns — coating an entire outer wall stretching the length of a city block.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / FLICKR

It can be hard to avoid lawn mowers, bulldozers and curious dogs if you spend a lot of time in a hole in the ground. 

That's the habitat of the Florida burrowing owl, which as of January is officially classified as a threatened species. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) held a meeting in Lauderhill on Thursday to get public input on how to create new development guidelines to protect the owls in light of their new status.

Logan Riely / Miami Herald

Last year, the pesticide Naled was one of several tools officials used to control mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. Dr. Michael Hall was one of many Miami Beach residents who protested, saying Naled exposure leads to symptoms like headaches and nausea. He and other protesters also expressed fears the pesticide could have longer-term health effects.

Miami Beach Doctor Files Lawsuit To Stop Mosquito Spraying

Jul 5, 2017
Kate Stein / WLRN

A Miami Beach doctor who last year helped spearhead angry opposition to using the pesticide naled has filed an emergency request in federal court to stop Miami-Dade County from conducting aerial spraying in its seasonal battle against native marsh mosquitoes.

On Monday, the county completed its second flight this season, dosing a large swath of the coast, from the Rickenbacker Causeway south to Florida City, and inland around Kendall and Homestead.

Windsor Johnson / NPR

Climate change is going to cause disproportionate economic harm to parts of the United States that are already pretty hot, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The study by scientists and economists from the Climate Impact Lab suggests rising temperatures could increase a national income gap.

FWC

Update July 6: The captured buck was euthanized Thursday morning, after an evaluation by a veterinarian, according to Keys refuge manager Dan Clark. The deer apparently had fractured a right rear leg in the ankle area.

"To ease his pain and suffering, we had to go ahead and put the deer down this morning," Clark said.

Two men are facing multiple felony charges after they were pulled over in the Lower Keys Sunday — and found to have three endangered Key deer "hog-tied" in their car, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Logan Riely / Miami Herald

Weeks after a study linked a pesticide used for mosquito control to slight motor delays in babies, officials in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties say they plan to use that pesticide in aerial spraying scheduled in the coming week.

Florida Atlantic University

A new study by South Florida researchers finds a simple tactic can save a lot of wasted water.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, around half of household water use in the U.S. is used to water lawns. And much of the time the lawns don’t even need it.

Most South Florida lawns need about one inch of water per week. During the rainy season, the region often gets more rain than that. So the lawns don’t need extra water.  

But most homeowners are not checking a rain gauge every morning.

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