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US Fish & Wildlife Service conservation grants include $750K for wildlife on Florida beaches

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WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced nearly $35 million in grants to 20 states to enable collaborative efforts to conserve many of America’s imperiled species, ranging from the red cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast to a variety of bat species in the Midwest to a colorful flower in the Rocky Mountains. A list of the projects by state is available here.

Issued through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (authorized by Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act), the competitive grants allow states to work with private landowners, conservation groups and other government agencies to initiate conservation planning efforts and acquire and protect habitat that benefits threatened and endangered fish, wildlife and plants.

Included in the $35 million is $750,000 funding for a "Statewide Habitat Conservation Plan for Florida Beaches (35 Coastal Counties Statewide)"

The grant funding is provided through programs established to help advance creative partnerships for the recovery of imperiled species. This year, the fund will allocate approximately $7.4 million in grants through the Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants Program; nearly $18 million through the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition Grants Program, and $9.5 million through the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program.

This grant will assist stakeholders in assimilating acquired data into a detailed draft of the HCP. Activities in the coastal area and their threats to listed species will be analyzed. The goal of the HCP is to allow ongoing beach structure protection measures while limiting and mitigating the adverse effects to federally listed nesting loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, leatherback, green and hawksbill sea turtles, five beach mouse subspecies, and shorebirds, including wintering piping plovers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is leading this effort in conjunction with builders groups, municipalities and others.

Photo: Florida beach mouse. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

More about the FWS Endangered Species grant program »


Deadline approaching for "I Love Sarasota Bay" Photo Contest

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Photo: Caroline Griffith’s photo titled Iridescence won an honorable mention ribbon last year in her age division. (Photo by Bryan Moore)

SARASOTA – October 10 is the last day area photo enthusiasts can submit photos to the 2014 I Love Sarasota Photo Contest. Participants can drop off their entry or entries to Frank’s Gentlemen’s Salon located at Chili’s Plaza at 4141 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. The four drop off days runs from Tuesday, October 7 through Friday, October 10. The drop off window each day is between 10 am and 6 pm.

Contest participants can only submit photos taken after November 1, 2011. The winning submissions will be displayed on Saturday, November 1 at the Sarasota Bay Water Festival at Ken Thompson Park. Custom ribbons and other prizes will be awarded. The contest features four age divisions and the rules and guidelines are posted at SarasotaBayWaterFestival.com.

The photo contest celebrates the beauty and importance of Sarasota Bay and other waterways. Prior submissions have focused on seascapes and landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, people enjoying water recreational activities, boats and boating, aquatic life, birds, and other wildlife. The 2013 winners included Terry Frankford, Sally Twinem, Logan McLeod, Emma Griffin, Karl Ford, Larry George, Francis Twinem, Judith Horn, Caroline Griffin, Michael Oelschlager, Judy Sargent, and Julie Doyle. The 2012 winners included Makeala Frankford, Mary Lou Johnson, Kristina Carreras, Victoria Holcomb, Larry George, Caroline Griffith, Ronald Hecox, Terry Frankford, and Dick Plaff.

Other highlights of the Water Festival include live music from 11am until 4pm, local artists and photographers selling gift items, Dragon Boat Races, expert speakers, food trucks, activities for kids, vintage and new boats, a community art mural, and displays promoting recreational boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. A free boat taxi service provided by Freedom Boat Club will operate between Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron next to Ken Thompson Park.

New for 2014 is an after party featuring live music, craft beer and the original Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Design Contest. The party will be held at Circus City Architectural Salvage in downtown Sarasota. The doors open 8pm and the fashion show contest is set for 10pm. Ticket information and details about the music lineup are posted at WaterFestivalAfterParty.com. Proceeds benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance. The sponsors of the after party include the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, MGB Built and Circus City Architectural Salvage.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Founding Sponsor of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival. HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor for 2014. SBEP is one of the 28 National Estuary Programs in the U.S. celebrating its silver anniversary in 2014.

Other Water Festival sponsors in random order include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Cannons Marina, City of Sarasota, Mote Marine Laboratory, Save Our Seabirds, High Five Dragon Boat, WUSF Public Media, Sarasota Bay Watch, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, WSRQ Talk Radio, City of Bradenton, Around the Bend Nature Tours, The Inner Circle Spa, Sarasota Day, Suncoast Food Trucks, The Old Salty Dog, Frank’s Gentlemen’s Salon, Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, Stantec, Vintage Paws Sanctuary, SUP Sarasota, UF/IFAS Extension, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Friends of Sarasota County Parks, SUP Sarasota, N2 Publishing, Friends of Disc Golf, Sun King Disc Sports, Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, and Triple 3 Marketing.

Contact Information
Bryan Moore, Festival Site Manager, Triple 3 Marketing, bryan@triple3marketing.com

DEP solicits project submissions for water quality restoration grants

Grants encourage municipalities to improve stormwater systems for cleaner Florida waters

Three times a year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection awards funding for projects designed to improve urban stormwater systems and reduce polluted runoff to impaired waters. The department is now accepting applications for the November cycle. The deadline for applications is close of business (5 p.m. EST) Nov. 3, 2014.

“DEP wants to reward municipalities that are proactive about restoring their local waterbodies,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “This grant program is meant to encourage local governments to take responsibility for their impact on the environment and assist them in making substantial contributions to water restoration.”

The department administers the grant program with annual appropriations from the Florida legislature. To qualify for grant funding, the local government project must be at least 60 percent designed and fully permitted with construction to be completed within three years. The project must also include monitoring to determine the actual pollutant load reductions the project will accomplish. Applicants are also encouraged to include public education elements in their requests. That helps with informing the public on best management practices to keep pollutants out of the stormwater system, which is critical to success. Applications are accepted at any time and applicants may submit multiple projects.

The department ranks projects for funding based on the impaired status of the associated waterbody, the estimated pollutant load reductions the project is designed to achieve, the cost-effectiveness of the project and the percentage of local matching funds. Another important consideration is whether the applicant has a stormwater utility fee or other dedicated revenue source to continue effective stormwater management once the proposed project is complete.

One of the first states in the nation to implement a statewide stormwater program, Florida has long been a national leader in tackling the challenge of stormwater management. Florida is also one of the first states in the nation to directly address agricultural and urban stormwater management through its water quality restoration program.

For more information on the grant program and the application process, visit the link below.

Information on the wide range of DEP’s restoration programs is available here under “Water Quality Assessment and Restoration.”

TMDL Water Quality Restoration Grants – Application and Information »

Contact Information
Connie Becker, Environmental Specialist, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, connie.becker@dep.state.fl.us
phone: (850) 245-8505.

Panther track in Polk County viewed as good sign

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By Keith Morelli

TAMPA — For the first time in decades, a Florida panther has made its way to the Green Swamp.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission this week confirmed as authentic a photograph taken of panther tracks in the eastern fringe of the expanse, north of Polk City.

The tawny cats were near extinction in the 1970s, with as few as a dozen living in the wild. So threatened was the species that it was one of the first to be placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1973.

Now, biologists say, the population has grown to as many as 160 adults and yearlings in Florida, not including panther kittens.

They have made a strong comeback over the past 40 years, increasing their numbers little by little against the incursion of humans into their habitat. They are apex predators and only have to fear humans, who mostly kill them with their cars on rural highways. Fifteen panthers have been struck and killed by vehicles this year, mostly in Southwest Florida, matching the number killed by cars in all of 2013, state records show.

The only breeding populations in the state are to the south, along the western edge of the Florida Everglades and in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Some panthers, mostly males, have migrated north along the central spine of the state, and confirmed reports have had them as far north as Polk County.

Continued on TBO.com »


Conservation Partners Sign MOA for Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker

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On August 19, a memorandum of agreement was signed by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, The Trust for Public Land, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The agreement will further develop the Alliance's restoration project map site into a more robust project information system called the Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker. The DWH Project Tracker will be a comprehensive web portal for accessing maps and key data about projects funded by all Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlements in the Gulf of Mexico.

Current and user-friendly, it will be the most complete picture of the location, type, and size of projects funded by all the settlements. Each project snapshot will include a brief description, a project contact, and a link to access detailed project information. Currently in development, an early version of the DWH Project Tracker is accessible from the Gulf Restoration page on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's website.

View the development version of the DWT Project Tracker


UN Summit On Climate Change In New York City

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This coming September leaders from around the world will be coming to New York City (NYC) for the United Nations (UN) summit on the climate crisis. Representatives from dozens of countries will discuss goals, plans, and initiatives to dramatically reduce global warming pollutants.

"With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history. We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities."-Eco-Voice

A march on climate change is set for Sunday September 21st in NYC

Image sourced from: GlobalChange

To register for the march on climate change click here


CHNEP offers Public Outreach Grants; Application Deadline Sept. 3rd

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To further the partnership to protect and restore the greater Charlotte Harbor estuarine system and watershed, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program CHNEP) offers Public Outreach Grants to citizens, organizations, businesses, government agencies, schools, colleges and universities. The maximum grant request is $5,000 but most applications are funded in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. Public Outreach Grant-funded projects may begin no earlier than November 2014.

The CHNEP has supported many types of initiatives with Public Outreach Grants but all have furthered the Program's plan to protect the natural environment from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. The descriptions of each project supported, the number of applications received each year and the applications funded each year are posted at www.CHNEP.org. The CHNEP also offers micro-grants (up to $250) year round.

Both application deadlines must be met for an application to be considered:
• Draft applications must be received by 5 P.M. on September 3, 2014.
• Final applications must be received by noon on September 15, 2014.

Grant application, including guidelines »

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, mhilgendorf@swfrpc.org, 1926 Victoria Drive, Fort Myers, FL. 33901-3414
phone: (239) 995-1777 ext 240.

State of Florida considering water-quality credit trading program

Can A Version Of Cap-And-Trade Reduce Water Pollution? Florida Hopes So

By Jessica Palombo

Florida plans to go statewide with a water-quality program that lets polluters partially off the hook if they buy credits for extra cleanup others have already done. The credit-selling program has critics in Jacksonville, the city where it started.

A few years back, the polluted St. Johns River became the test case for the voluntary water-quality credit program. The theory, state regulators say, was to foster regional cooperation by adding an economic incentive for water cleanup.

Director of the State Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Tom Frick, says credits are one tool to push polluters toward meeting their cleanup obligations.

“That allows water quality restoration to occur quicker. It also allows water quality restoration to occur more cheaply,” he says.

The city of Jacksonville was the credit buyer and private utility company JEA was the seller. Both were already required to clean the river a certain amount, but JEA had gone above and beyond its duty. Jacksonville, which can’t clean as cost-effectively, bought credits from JEA, paying for that extra work, rather than fulfill its entire obligation. Frick says the river still got the total required amount of cleaning—and it happened faster.

But Lisa Rinaman, head of the nonprofit St. Johns Riverkeeper, says the river isn’t benefiting long-term from the program.

Continued on news.WFSU.org »


Register by Sept. 2nd for Conservation Lands Workshop

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The Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program's (CHNEP) third annual workshop is available for everyone interested in conservation lands. Speakers and the topics are diverse, ranging from the power of GIS using the CHNEP Special Places Map as an example, prescribed fire outreach toolkit, “Ding” Darling’s phone app, understanding the relationship between our environment, economy and quality of life, carrying capacity, Southwest Florida Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, Florida’s bonnetted bat, environmental psychology, restoration in the Charlotte Harbor watershed, and Mosaic’s compensatory mitigation and conservation lands.

Jim Wohlpart, Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Environmental Literature at Florida Gulf Coast University, will give the keynote presentation Remembering Sacred Reasons: Finding Our Way in the 21st Century. Dr. Wohlpart’s research focuses on how we are “placed” on Earth, and how we might be “replaced” in more nourishing ways—physically, emotionally, spiritually.

This program is free thanks to the speakers, to CHNEP’s financial partners and to the workshop sponsors that, as of June 12, include Mosaic, Jelks Family Foundation, Estero Bay Buddies and the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Inc.

To learn more and register (by Sept. 2nd), visit eventbrite.com.

Workshop flyer with detailed agenda

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, mhilgendorf@swfrpc.org, 1926 Victoria Drive, Fort Myers, FL. 33901-3414
phone: (239) 995-1777 ext 240.

Plastic a serious threat to our oceans, seas, and waterways

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Plastics were invented in the 1800s but their mass production began in the 1950s and has since taken off around the globe. While it is possible to recycle most types of plastic, it is estimated that only about 25% of plastics are recycled worldwide. A great deal of the plastic ends up in our oceans, seas, and waterways. Research has shown severe impacts on our environment and our economy from this type of pollution. Marine life such as sea turtles, whales, seabirds and other marine life are eating the plastic and dying. Scientists are looking at long term impacts of pollutants consumed by fish and their potential effects on human health. It has become such an environmental concern that a little over a decade ago a science of marine debris began the study of garbage in our waters. A recent study showed the global magnitude of this problem.

The Malaspina expedition of 2010 was a nine-month research project to study the effects of global warming on the oceans and the biodiversity of the deep ocean ecosystem. Andres Cozar and his team were to study the small fauna living on the ocean surface. He was reassigned when plastic fragments kept turning up in water samples to assess the level of plastic pollution. Using that data and the data gathered by four other ships he and his team of researchers completed the first ever global map of ocean trash.

Photo: Start1.org

Continued at Start1.org... »


Recreational Bay Scallop Season Opening Soon

Open through Sept. 24th- 25th. All Currently imposed size and bag limits apply. Each person can keep up to 2 gallons of whole bay scallops or 1 pint of meat. A single vessel has a limit of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops or a half gallon of meat. To harvest scallops you may use your hands, a landing or a dip net. No commercial harvesting of bay scallops! Be safe when diving for scallops. Use a divers down flag on or around your vessel. Stay within 300 feet of your vessel. Have fun and enjoy the your scalloping.


FIU and SFWMD Partner to Study Nitrogen in Caloosahatchee River

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"The study will examine the interplay between nitrogen and a range of naturally-occurring bacteria in the water." Cassondra Thomas district senior sentist said "Some forms of organic nitrogen include DNA, ammonic acids". So, they’re are a lot more complex, they’re bigger molecules and it takes a lot more to break them down.”

This study is just one part of the Districts plan to develop new Stormwater Treatment Area's (STA's). STA's are typically wetlands that are engineered to remove nutrients from water as it flows through the area.

Article published by Topher Forhecz.
Photo credited to Nikoretro/Flickr

For more information click here


Webcast on Green Infrastructure and Smart Growth

Learn about communities that are successfully leveraging green infrastructure as part of broader planning and community development initiatives. Practitioners will discuss land-use strategies for clean water, including green streets, local code review, and stormwater banking. This webinar is part of the EPA Green Infrastructure Program's 2014 Webcast Series, and qualifies for 1.5 certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

Caran Curry, Grants Manager, City of Little Rock, Arkansas
Melissa Kramer, Senior Policy Analyst, EPA's Office of Sustainable Communities
Heather Nix, Director, Clean Air & Water Program, Upstate Forever

Register at:GoToMeeting

For more information visit the EPA''s website here


See the Sea Monsters at Traveling Exhibit

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The Sea Monsters traveling exhibit from Mote Marine Laboratory, a marine science institution based in Sarasota, is on display at J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The exhibit features:

  • Monster Makeover panel where visitors can see themselves with different monster attributes.
  • Fold-down Sea Puzzle with large tiles that visitors move to make up a picture of extreme animals.
  • Jaws panel featuring a mako shark jaw and tooth-diet matching activity.
  • Central gallery with shark skin that can be touched, model of a colossal squid beak, small diorama of bioluminescent animals, and scale sized eyeball models for giant squid, blue whale and cow.
  • An inflated giant squid sits on top of the exhibit.

  • Visitors will be able to interact with the free, temporary exhibit, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily through Aug. 18. J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is at 1 Wildlife Drive in Sanibel. Phone (239) 472-1100 for more information, or visit dingdarlingsociety.org.


Restoring Florida Bay: Sponges the foundation for thriving ecosystem

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"Prior to the 1990s the Florida Keys sponge community was a lively underwater city for fish and invertebrates. Curious divers could hear the snap, crackle and pop of snapping shrimp. The noisy bottom was a sign of health for the organisms that provide nursery habitat to juvenile marine species.

Researchers at the University of Florida and Old Dominion University, along with more than 40 volunteers from around the world have joined together for an ecosystem intervention. John Stevely, a sponge researcher and Florida Sea Grant agent emeritus, said transplanting sponge cuttings is a way to speed up nature so the ecosystem doesn’t reach a point of no return.

Marine sponges are not only a valuable commercial asset to the state, they are also critical to Florida marine life. Researchers suspect that the biotic sounds caused by the inhabitants that occupy the sponges may help guide the larva of fish and invertebrates to safe habitat, similar to coral reef communities..."

(Article by: Becca Burton)

Full article on the FL Sea Grant website


Sea Level Rise and Climate Change Survey

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"1000 Friends of Florida is identifying communities using planning strategies to lessen their contributions to climate change and/or build community resilience to address the effects of climate change, including sea level rise. If your community is taking steps to address sea level rise and/or climate change we hope you will take a few minutes to complete 1000 Friends' 10-question survey. Your responses are anonymous, unless you chose otherwise. Please note, this survey is not intended to be statistically significant but rather to gather information on current planning efforts in Florida. 1000 Friends is also compiling information on sea level rise and climate change plans and studies around the state."

Take the survey »

Contact Information
1000 Friends of Florida, friends@1000fof.org, P.O. Box 5948, Tallahassee, FL. 32314
An Edition of wateratlas.org
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