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Results of 2014 harmful algal bloom state survey released

Toxic algae outbreaks, or Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a widespread problem across the U.S., but few states have programs dedicated to monitoring or reporting on these outbreaks. That’s the top finding in a 50-state survey conducted in spring 2014 by Resource Media and the National Wildlife Federation.

Survey created by: Resource Media & The National Wildlife Federation"

Assessing the Seriousness of HABs
• 71% of responding states reported that HABs are either a “somewhat serious” or a “very serious” problem
• No responding states reported that HABs are “not an issue”
• More than half (20) of responding states reported that “HABs occur every year in many lakes and/or other fresh water bodies in my state”
• 49% (19) of states reported actively monitoring some public access lakes/water bodies that have experienced HABs in the past
• One state (Nebraska) actively monitors all public access lakes/water bodies for HABs
• 56% (22) of responding states reported relying, at least in part, on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs to 31% (12) of responding states reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs
• 38% (15) of responding states reported not tracking any of the impacts of HABs
• Of states that do track HAB impacts, the most commonly reported impact to be tracked/studied was animal mortalities (54%)
• Two states (Oklahoma and Virginia) reported tracking or studying Emergency Room admissions
• Three states (Hawaii, Kansas and Oklahoma) reported tracking or studying tourism statistics in relation to HABs
• 77% (30) of responding states reported that they do not have a HAB hotline for the public to report HABs.
• This includes 11 of the 12 states that reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs

Public Information
• 73% (27) of responding states reported that they “provide information to those who request it”
• 4 states (Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico and Utah) reported that they “provide information to those who request it”, but do not disseminate information to the public in any other way
• The following methods of communication with the public received between 46% and 49% popositive responses:
• My state alerts the local media about HABs and/or health advisories with a press release or press advisory
• My state provides information about the location and/or severity on a publicly available website
• My state posts signs at HAB impacted beaches/lakes/communities to educate local residents and visitors
• My state provides general education to the public about what to do if they suspect a HAB
• Two states (Kansas and New York) reported using Facebook and/or Twitter to announce information about HABs, health advisories or beach closures
• More than half (20) of the responding states reported tracking historic data on HABs and all but two of those states reported providing public access to that data

• 12 states reported running a HAB program (i.e. with dedicated staff, a budget, a planning process).
• 3 of those states (New York, Virginia and Washington) reported that their HAB programs have dedicated funding
• 47% (18) of responding states reported “actively addressing known causes of HABs”
• 4 states (Alaska, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico) reported taking no action on HABs, past, present or future

More Information On The 2014 Harmful Algal Bloom State Survey...


USF & UF approved for grants to support climate resilience and “green infrastructure”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the 2014 USDA Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge grant recipients. The grants provide funding that will help enhance urban forest stewardship, support new employment opportunities, and help build resilience in the face of a changing climate. Close to 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas and depends on the essential ecological, economic, and social benefits provided by urban trees and forests. Climate and extreme weather events pose threats to urban trees and forests requiring increased investment in management, restoration and stewardship.

The grant proposals were recommended by the Secretary’s National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council and will address urban forest resiliency to extreme weather events and the long-term impacts of climate change; strategies for bolstering green jobs; and opportunities to use green infrastructure to manage and mitigate stormwater and improve water quality.

The University of South Florida was approved for their project, "From Gray to Green: Tools for Transitioning to Vegetation-Based Stormwater Management Program"

Description of Program Purpose: Many communities lack systematic strategies to transition from the existing conventional (gray) drainage systems to green infrastructure. This project will provide natural resource managers, planners, and engineers with decision-support tools to aid the strategic planning process for transitioning to green infrastructure systems that emphasize trees and urban forests.
Federal Grant Amount: $149,722

The University of Florida was approved for their project, "Mobile Tree Failure Prediction for Storm Preparation and Response Program".

Description of Program Purpose: This proposed modeling system will assist urban forest managers in predicting tree failure during storms by developing a data collection model and a mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping application to quantify tree risk in communities. The results and a best management practices manual will be made available to all researchers and professionals through the International Tree Failure Database, providing the standardized data needed to enhance our understanding of wind-related tree failure.
Federal Grant Amount: $281,648

US Forest Service grant announcement

Contact Information
U.S. Department of Agriculture , 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC. 20250
phone: (202) 720-2791.

Recycling rates In Florida continue to climb

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This year's new 2013 recycling data released by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows Florida's official recycling rate is now 49 percent, up one percent from last year. This represents a substantial increase in the amount of solid waste recycled -- from 9.7 million tons in 2012 to 11.8 million tons in 2013.

“As we get closer to the 2020 deadline for the 75-percent recycling goal, we need all Florida residents to step up recycling efforts,” said Division of Waste Management Director Jorge Caspary. “While we have made modest improvements again this year, it is still critical for the commercial sector to increase its recycling efforts before the goal can be achieved.”

Lets keep up the great work Florida and achieve the 75% recycling goal by 2020!

Top 10 Counties for Total Recycling Rates:
  1. Hillsborough, 73%
  2. Lee, 70%
  3. Hendry, 68%
  4. Pasco, 67%
  5. Pinellas, 63%
  6. Collier, 60%
  7. Sarasota, 58%
  8. Martin, Palm Beach, 56% (tie)
  9. Monroe, 55%

Top 10 Counties for Traditional Recycling Rates:
  1. Sarasota, 58%
  2. Alachua, Martin, Collier, 54% (three-way tie)
  3. Brevard, 52%
  4. Manatee, 48%
  5. Orange, 47%
  6. Lee, 46%
  7. Duval, Leon, 45%(tie)

Read The Full News Release Here


Average “dead zone” predicted for Gulf of Mexico

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Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-supported modeling is forecasting this year's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to cover an area ranging from about 4,633 to 5,708 square miles (12,000 to 14,785 square kilometers) or about the size of the state of Connecticut.

The Gulf of Mexico prediction is based on models developed by NOAA -sponsored modeling teams and individual researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University ,Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and relies on nutrient loading estimates from the USGS. The models also account for the influence of variable weather and oceanographic conditions, and predict that these can affect the dead zone area by as much as 38 percent.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico affects nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries and threatens the region's economy. A second NOAA-funded forecast, for the Chesapeake Bay, predicts a slightly larger than average dead zone in the nation's largest estuary.

More Information on the USGS Website...


Project at Selby Gardens recognizes importance of bay health

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The tidal lagoon at Selby Gardens is an oasis of nature in downtown Sarasota. The installation of the lagoon began in 1997 with the removal of a grass lawn that extended from the mansion down to Sarasota Bay. After the excavation of the lagoon, native plant species were added creating several habitats ranging from brackish marsh to upland hammock.

This restoration project addressed the need to re-establish coastal habitats along the Sarasota bayfront as well as to provide a stormwater retention function. The lagoon intercepts and filters polluted stormwater runoff, allowing it to percolate through vegetation and sediment before flowing into the bay.

Nitrogen in lawn fertilizer is one source of water pollution. You too can help protect our water bodies from pollutants by using only slow-release fertilizer, following package directions, and never fertilizing before a heavy rain.

According to Rob Wright, coordinator for Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) program, there are three simple rules that homeowners can put into practice in their own backyards to keep Sarasota County’s coastal waters pollution-free:

Continued on MySuncoast.com...


ALERT: Red tide causing large fish kill in northeast Gulf of Mexico

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on Tuesday confirmed a large-scale offshore fish kill in the northeast Gulf of Mexico. Citizens have reported observations of thousands of dead and dying bottom-dwelling reef fish, including grouper, hogfish, white grunt, triggerfish and snapper, as well as sea turtles and crabs, to the FWC's Fish Kill Hotline. Water quality is poor in the region with several reports of black water.

On July 23, FWC Law Enforcement took scientists to collect fish, water samples and water quality data from six locations offshore of Hernando County. Sample analysis confirmed a bloom of the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis. Blooms of Karenia brevis in the Gulf of Mexico are naturally occurring and have been documented since the 1700s.

Satellite images from the Optical Oceanography Lab at the University of South Florida revealed an extensive surface bloom approximately 80 miles long and up to 50 miles wide in waters 40 to 90 miles offshore between Dixie and Pasco counties. Short-term forecasts of bloom movement by the Center for Prediction of Red Tides do not predict considerable movement of the bloom patch in upcoming days. To report fish kills to the FWC, contact the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511. For updated red tide status reports, to track blooms or to learn more about red tide, visit MyFWC.com/RedTide.


EPA encourages homeowners to care for their septic systems

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WASHINGTON - Proper septic system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health and preserving valuable water resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging homeowners to take action to ensure their septic systems are functioning properly. Nearly one quarter of all American households-more than 26 million homes-depend on septic systems to treat their wastewater.

Failure to maintain and service a home's septic system can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can result in costly repairs, polluted local waterways and risks to public health and the environment.

"By taking a few small, simple steps to care for their home's septic system, homeowners can help protect the health of their community and their local waterways, while preventing potentially costly repairs to their septic system that can occur if the system is not properly maintained," said EPA acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner.

Homeowners can do their part by following these SepticSmart tips:

  • Homeowners should have their system inspected every three years by a licensed contractor and have their tank pumped when necessary, generally every three to five years.
  • Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain, which can clog a system's pipes and drainfield.
  • Ask guests to put only things in the drain or toilet that belong there. Coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Be water efficient and spread out water use. Consider fixing plumbing leaks and installing faucet aerators and water-efficient products that bear the EPA WaterSense label, and spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day. Too much water at once can overload a system if it hasn't been pumped recently.
  • Remind guests not to park or drive on a system's drainfield, where the vehicle's weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA's SepticSmart program encourages proper septic system care and maintenance all year long, helping to educate homeowners about the need for periodic septic system maintenance and proper daily system use. In addition to helping educate homeowners, SepticSmart also serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to help educate their clients and residents.

More information on how to find WaterSense-labeled products in your area: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/products/index.html

More information on how to find WaterSense-labeled products in your area


Health officials urge awareness of potential bacteria in coastal waters

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Sarasota County reports two cases - one resulting in a death

SARASOTA COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County urges area residents and visitors with certain health conditions to avoid eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to seawater and estuarine water, which may harbor bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus.

A total of 41 cases of Vibrio vulnificus were reported statewide during 2013, and there have been at least 11 cases and several deaths (as of 7/25/14), due to the infection of an open wound or from consuming raw shellfish.

In Sarasota County, there were no cases reported in 2013. However, there were two cases reported during July, resulting in one recent death not included in the statewide report. Both individuals were middle-aged and had medical compromising conditions. Health officials are saddened by the death and say that unfortunately those living with chronic health conditions are at increased risk for adverse outcomes. Both individuals are believed to have gotten infected with the bacteria entering through an open wound.

Occurring naturally in the warm coastal waters, particularly during the summer months, Vibrio vulnificus has the potential to cause serious illness. Persons who have wounds, cuts or scratches and wade in estuarine areas or seawater where the bacteria might be present can become ill. Symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus in wound infections typically include swelling, pain and redness at the wound site.

Other symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection include; nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, and the formation of blistering skin lesions. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should contact a physician immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Individuals with liver disease, including Hepatitis C and cirrhosis, are most at risk for developing serious illness from Vibrio vulnificus. Others who should avoid consuming raw shellfish are those with hemochromatosis (iron overload), diabetes, cancer, stomach disorders or any illness or treatment that weakens the immune system. Thoroughly cooking oysters, either by frying, stewing, or roasting eliminates harmful bacteria and viruses in the meat. Consuming raw oysters that have undergone a post-harvest treatment process to eliminate the bacteria can also reduce the risk of illness.

Resources for more information:
Our Gulf Environment (please see water quality tab and then click on the bacteria tab)
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' website

Source: Sarasota Dept. of Health news release


UF researchers: “Little janitor” merits attention in Florida springs' health debate

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GAINESVILLE – A small, slow moving resident who enjoys a vegetative diet and keeps things tidy may be the overlooked player in public debates over Florida’s ailing freshwater springs, University of Florida researchers say.

North Florida has the world’s highest concentration of large freshwater springs. For decades, crystal-clear water bubbling from the ground has driven tourism in the form of scuba divers, canoeists, boaters and swimmers, but today, many of those springs don’t bubble like they used to; green scum often obliterates the view.

Although the blame for algae-choked springs is often pinned on excess nitrate, the scientists say the absence of algae-eating native freshwater snails known as Elimia — which UF researcher Dina Liebowitz calls the “little janitor of the springs” — may be a key factor.

Nitrate, which has gotten the lion’s share of attention in springs-health discussions, enters the aquifer and emerges at the springs from municipal sewage treatment and disposal, agricultural and residential fertilizer use, livestock farms and residential septic systems.

Matthew Cohen, a UF associate professor and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member who specializes in ecohydrology, says while controlling nitrate is a worthy goal, doing that alone “will not be enough to restore springs ecology.”

Continued on news.ufl.edu...


FGCU ArtLab Opens “Death of a River” on Aug. 14

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FORT MYERS – The ArtLab at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) presents the first exhibition of its 2014-15 season, “Death of a River,” on Thursday, Aug. 14. The exhibition of individual and large-scale collaborative prints showcases artists responding to the ecological impact of water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River.

The works were created using a method called steamroller printing by FGCU’s printmaking class led by Associate Professor Andy Owen. The images created reflect a diverse set of concerns including the flooding’s effect on wildlife, human behavior and cellular structures.

Due to the large scale of the prints, the FGCU Library is exhibiting additional prints on the first floor library exhibition space. Visitors are encouraged to attend both parts of the exhibition to appreciate the full scope of the project. Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet some of the artists at the closing reception being held in the ArtLab on Sept. 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The ArtLab will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ArtLab is located on the west end of FGCU’s Library.

For images and further information on this exhibition and others, visit the Art Gallery’s Website: artgallery.fgcu.edu or call Anica Sturdivant at (239) 590-7199 or asturdiv@fgcu.edu.

Visit the FGCU Art Galleries website...


To better combat lionfish invasion, FWC has new rules

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Imported lionfish not welcome in Florida

Florida is known as a tourist-friendly state, but starting Aug. 1, one visitor will no longer be welcome: the invasive lionfish.

Introduced into Florida waters in the late 1980s, lionfish populations have boomed in recent years, negatively impacting native wildlife and habitat.

Several management changes go into effect Aug. 1 that will help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) combat the growing problem by making it easier for lionfish hunters to remove the spiny predators and limiting further introduction of the species into the waters.

Changes include:

  • Prohibiting the importation of live lionfish;
  • Allowing lionfish to be removed via spearfishing when diving with a rebreather, a device that recycles air and allows divers to remain in the water for longer periods of time (currently, you cannot spear any fish when using a rebreather); and
  • Allowing participants of approved tournaments and other organized events to spear lionfish or other invasive species in areas where spearfishing is not currently allowed (such as certain state parks or refuges). This will be done through a permitting system.

See or catch a lionfish? Report a sighting by downloading the new Report Florida Lionfish app on a smart device or by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” (under “Saltwater”) and then “Lionfish.”

Learn more about lionfish


Cape Coral Utilities seeks customers to volunteer for water sampling project

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The City of Cape Coral’s Utilities Department is asking for help from customers who live in homes with copper pipe, or homes that have copper, brass or bronze fittings/fixtures. The City is required to collect water samples from 125 homes that meet these parameters and are connected to the City’s drinking water system.
Lee County Health Department requires the City to collect samples from these homes and test for the presence of lead and copper. The City is looking for customers to volunteer for the water sampling project, and there is no charge for the testing.

Samples will be collected only one time. Sample bottles will be dropped off and picked up by the City’s Utilities workers. If you are interested in assisting, please email Bob Woods, Chief Operator at the City’s Southwest Reverse Osmosis Plant. In addition to your name, address and phone number, please include the following information in the email:

  1. Year home was built
  2. Whether the home has copper pipe or copper, brass or bronze fittings/fixtures
  3. Whether the home is a single-family home or multi-family home (apartment, duplex, condo, town house)

For more information, please contact Bob Woods at (239) 574-0759.


Volunteers needed for 5th Annual Pine Island Sound Scallop Search

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Volunteer BOAT CAPTAINS and SNORKELERS Needed for the Fifth Annual Pine Island Sound Scallop Search on Aug. 23

LEE COUNTY – Volunteers are needed for Florida Sea Grant – UF/IFAS Lee County Extension and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation event called the 2014 Pine Island Sound Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program in which volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Pine Island Sound. The event is sponsored by Lee County Parks and Recreation, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve and Pineland Marina.

Purpose: To monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.

How it works: Up to 40 boats are needed with as many as 150 participants to search selected sites in Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay for the elusive “bay scallop.”

History: Large populations of bay scallops (or Argopecten irradians) disappeared from Southwest Florida waters decades ago due in large part to degraded water quality, related declines in seagrass acreage, over-harvesting and other causes. Water quality and seagrasses have improved in many areas to levels that may once again support these important bivalves. This event is modeled after the successful Great Bay Scallop Search conducted in Tampa Bay since 1993. Pine Island Sound’s inaugural event was in 2010.

Need to know: Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited, reserve your spot now. Scallop searchers will meet at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23 at Pineland Marina, 13921 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, FL, 33922, to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. We will provide lunch to participants once you return to shore and report your information.

Sign up online today or by emailing Joy or by calling the FL Sea Grant – Lee County Extension office at (239) 533-7518.


Flyer with more information


Research team contributes to the management of South Florida coastal environments

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A Florida-based marine research team has developed a unique formal process and modeling framework to help manage South Florida's economically important coastal marine environments. The MARES project (Marine and Estuarine Goal Setting), led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) based at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, successfully integrated both ecosystem science and societal benefits into a marine ecosystem support tool to help improve decision-making by natural resource managers.

The results of their findings have been incorporated into the revised Guidance Document for the National Marine Sanctuaries' Condition Reports and are being used by the Our Florida Reefs community working groups, the National Parks Service, NOAA's Integrated Ecosystem Assessment efforts, and in undergraduate courses at Florida universities and colleges.

Photo Credit: Pamela Fletcher, Florida Sea Grant

Read The Full News Release Here


Poll: 7 out of 10 Florida voters concerned about climate change, back EPA action plan

By Marc Caputo

Nearly eight in 10 likely Florida voters want limits on carbon pollution from power plants and as many as 71 percent say they’re concerned about climate change, according to a new poll conducted for an environmental group during the hotly contested governor’s race.

“The takeaway from this poll is simple: People think carbon pollution is a problem, and they think our political leaders should take action and fight pollution,” said Susan Glickman, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which sponsored the 1,005-likely voter poll by SurveyUSA. y

Continued in the Miami Herald...


Report: Less nitrogen ending up in Polk lakes

More of Polk's lakes could be on their way to becoming clearer and less green.

By Tom Palmer

BARTOW – By October, a county committee studying solutions to stormwater pollution problems will be ready to take a look at proposals to fix the first dozen lakes.

In the meantime, the first-ever street-sweeping program in unincorporated Polk County has removed hundreds of pounds on nitrogen and phosphorous from roadsides before it ends up in local lakes, county officials report.

Those updates were delivered to the county's Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee last week as the five-member panel reviews proposals and studies submitted by county staff and consultants to comply with state and federal mandates to reduce lake pollution.

"I'm pleased where we're headed,'' said Chairman Dave Carter, a Winter Haven engineer.

Continued in The Ledger...


"Don’t Feed The Monster!" video uses humor to educate about proper fertilizer use

The City of Sanibel has released an educational video titled, “Don’t Feed The Monster!”

The City of Sanibel has posted an educational video titled, “Don’t Feed the Monster!” on the Cities website. The video was produced by the Fertilize Smart Education Consortium which includes the City of Sanibel, City of Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Lee County, City of Fort Myers, City of Cape Coral, The Islands of Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, and the South Florida Water Management District.

The video portrays a fertilizer algae monster resulting from improper amounts of fertilizer that is carried by run-off and redirected to our shores, bays, rivers, and lakes. The City of Sanibel is currently in the fertilizer black-out period. From July 1st through September 30th, the use of fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus is prohibited on Sanibel Island.

It is vital that we fertilize properly to keep our sanctuary island and pristine waters clean. The actions we take in our homes and yards affects our water quality and wildlife resources.


"Don’t Feed The Monster!" video uses humor to educate about proper fertilizer use

The City of Sanibel has posted an educational video titled, “Don’t Feed the Monster!” on the City's website. The video was produced by the Fertilize Smart Education Consortium which includes the City of Sanibel, City of Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Lee County, City of Fort Myers, City of Cape Coral, The Islands of Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, and the South Florida Water Management District.

The video portrays a fertilizer algae monster resulting from improper amounts of fertilizer that is carried by run-off and redirected to our shores, bays, rivers, and lakes.

According to the city's website, "It is vital that we fertilize properly to keep our sanctuary island and pristine waters clean. The actions we take in our homes and yards affects our water quality and wildlife resources."


First SFWMD-sponsored Caloosahatchee Community Forum August 8th

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The South Florida Water Management District is undertaking a public initiative to engage key stakeholders in developing and advancing a list of priority projects that will benefit the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.

The initial step in this process involved in-depth interviews with more than 40 stakeholders for a Caloosahatchee vision study led by the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), a not-for-profit group with extensive experience mediating water-related environmental issues in Florida and elsewhere. You are invited to view the Final Stakeholder Assessment Report that contains CBI's main interview findings and recommendations for moving forward.

Based on the report's recommendations, a multi-day science workshop was held in November 2013, and the District is starting a series of community forums in summer 2014.

Community Forums
The Caloosahatchee Community Forums will bring together multiple agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, local governments and other interested stakeholders to share and collaborate on science, projects and priorities. The first workshops will focus on developing stakeholder support for the implementation of the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan.

Staff from CBI will facilitate a process that will engage local governments, state agencies and key stakeholder groups to prioritize specific projects that will benefit the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. The intent is to identify a realistic and achievable set of short- to medium-term concrete steps that can contribute to improving water quality, quantity and timing of freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee River.

First Caloosahatchee Community Forum
Friday, Aug. 8 – 1 to 5 p.m.
Riverside Community Center
3061 E. Riverside Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33916
Poster [PDF]
Workshop Agenda – DRAFT [PDF]
Stakeholder Engagement Process Guidelines [PDF]
Project Evaluation Criteria – DRAFT [PDF]
Additional materials for the workshop will be posted here as they become available. Visit the link below for updates.

Caloosahatchee Community Forum information

Contact Information
Phil Flood, Intergovernmental & Outreach Representative, South Florida Water Management District, pflood@sfwmd.gov, 2301 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL. 33901
phone: (239) 338-2929.

Public invited to help with planting at Estero Community Park

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ESTERO – On Saturday, August 2, at 9 am, the Coccoloba Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, in conjunction with Lee County Parks and Recreation, Florida Forest Service and others will plant about 40 slash pines, over a dozen red maple and many other native plants at Lee County Parks and Recreation’s Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd, Estero, FL 33928. The slash pines were donated by the Florida Forest Service. The other native plants were donated by Rick and Cheryl Joyce of Deep South Native Nursery, and other Coccoloba Chapter members. In addition to the pines and maples, other native plants such as fiddlewood, beautyberry, Jamaica caper, necklace pod, and strangler fig will be added to the park land. This will improve the diversity of flora of the 55-acre park, which is the largest in Lee County.

The public is most welcome to join us in the planting, or just come out to learn more about native plants. The group will meet at 9 am on Saturday, August 2nd at the Recreation Center lobby at 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd, Estero, FL 33928. Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes, as well as a hat to protect themselves from the sun. Bring water, work gloves, and a shovel. Also, literature on planting natives to attract wildlife, while reducing irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide usage, will be available.

More information


Gulf Stream gold: Mining green energy from Atlantic currents

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The Gulf Stream meanders clockwise from the Gulf of Mexico, past the mid-Atlantic coast toward Europe. It is one of the most powerful currents in the world, and it is full of life. Landbound humanity is hoping to capitalize on the Gulf Stream’s fast-flowing waters, eyeing them as a potential source of endless power and a possible solution to Florida’s energy needs. A pilot project to test a variety of electricity-generating turbines right in the middle of the Gulf Stream has been given the go-ahead in the form of a five-year lease to Florida Atlantic University (FAU). The lease covers 1,000 acres right in the flow of the current.

The environmental upside is obvious. It is believed the Gulf Stream has the potential energy — from a clean and renewable source — to supply Florida with 35 percent of its electrical needs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The full article is at America.Aljazerra.com

Written by: Patricia Sagastume
Connect with her on twitter: @PatSagastume

Imagery provided by: FAU / SNMREC


Lee County Conservation 20/20 program likely to change

By Heather Wysocki

The vision for Conservation 20/20 is clearer after a meeting laying out what its future could look like.

On Thursday, the citizens' advisory committee that oversees the program voted on several items that will shape it.

And it's likely, based on conversations it has had over the past few months, that the Lee County Board of Commissioners will approve of the motions.

"Essentially it'll give 20/20 an operational framework. Now it's more informal. This would become something the board actually follows and directs staff to maintain," said senior assistant county attorney John Fredyma.

The Conservation 20/20 program was created in the mid-1990s as a way for the county to preserve and maintain natural lands.

Continued on News-Press.com...


A call for environmental project ideas

Pinellas County is currently accepting public input for project ideas to restore the local environment and economy using anticipated federal funds allocated to Pinellas County related to the 2010 BP oil spill.

Projects must be within the county or benefit the county and/or its adjacent bay, coastal and Gulf waters and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Submitted ideas may be developed into project proposals by county staff. The county also plans to accept project proposals for funding later this year.

The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities, and Revived Economy Act of 2012, better known as the RESTORE Act, requires that penalties collected as a result of the civil lawsuit over the BP oil spill be allocated to the five Gulf States. The exact amount of funding coming to Pinellas County is not yet known, but could be in the range of $1.5 to $2 million per year for 10 or more years.

Citizens can submit ideas, review county-held public meeting information and read a summary of the RESTORE Act provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection online. Project ideas can also be mailed to:

Attention: RESTORE Act Program Director
Pinellas County Natural Resources
22211 U.S. Highway 19 N., Bldg. 10
Clearwater, FL 33765


Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Releases Sea Level Rise Brochure

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Sarasota, FL – Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) recently launched the Sea Level Rise (SLR) brochure. The purpose of the publication is to provide the public, community leaders and elected officials tips for adaptation planning. The focus is on adaptation for the impacts of sea level rise so that critical human systems and natural systems can continue to function effectively.

The focus is on adaptation for the impacts of sea level rise so that critical human systems (such as communities, economies, and culture) and natural systems (including wetlands, coastal ecosystems and fisheries) can continue to function effectively and be resilient in the face of climate change. The tools and tips offered in this brochure are also broadly applicable to many other climate-related impacts, such as more temperature extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation periods, increased drought in some areas, and more extreme weather events.

View the brochure

Contact Information
Sara Kane, Public Outreach Coordinator, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, sara@sarasotabay.org, 111 S. Orange Avenue, Sarasota, FL. 34236
phone: (941) 955-8085.
Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy. Sarasota, FL 34236, Sarasota, FL. 34236
phone: (941)-388-4441.

Water Festival After Party to Feature Live Music and Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Contest

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When: November 10am to 4pm
The third Sarasota Bay Water Festival is set for Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park and City Island. The free public event celebrates the importance of Sarasota Bay to the region’s environment, economy and quality of life. New this year is an after party at Circus City Architectural Salvage featuring live music with Lisa Ridings & Vertigo, local DJ TL Hollefeld, the Aqua-Garde Fashion Show, and free beer and wine samples. Prizes will be awarded to the most original fashion designs using mostly plastic materials and other recyclables.

“The after party is an opportunity to thank the many sponsors, exhibitors and volunteers that support the Sarasota Bay Water Festival,” said Randy Moore with Triple 3 Marketing. “The Aqua-Garde Fashion Show raises awareness about the problem of discarded plastic items harming marine life and birds.”

Proceeds from the fund-raising event will benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance, two area nonprofits that protect wildlife including birds, sea turtles, manatees and whales. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Ticket pick up locations will be posted online September 1 at SarasotaBayWaterFestival.com

The After Party Volunteer Support Team includes Sherri Swanson with HDR, Inc., Bryan Moore and Randy Moore with Triple 3 Marketing, Greg Pemberton with Circus City Architectural Salvage, Jason Isle with The Granite Place, Sera Balderston with Inner Circle Spa, Cheryl Evans, Andy Swanson, and Jeff Dillon.

The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival runs from 10am to 4pm at Ken Thompson Park with live music, Dragon Boat Races, expert speakers including acclaimed nature photographer Clyde Butcher, water recreation exhibitors, an Art Zone with art and photography for sale, display of the winning submissions to the I Love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest, activities for kids, food trucks, beer and wine garden, and more. The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Founding Sponsor of the Water Festival, HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor, and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor. The three organizations represent government, private industry and the nonprofit sector respectively.

Learn more at SarasotaBayWaterFestival.com.

Check out the event on Facebook

Media Contact: Randy Moore


Learn how to protect drinking water from HABS at July 16th webinar

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"How to Protect Your Drinking Water From Harmful Algal Blooms"
July 16, 2014, 1 p.m.–3 p.m. EDT

On July 16, 2014, EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds will host a webcast focused on the impact of algal toxins to drinking water, entitled "How To Protect Your Drinking Water From Harmful Algal Blooms." Karen Sklenar from The Cadmus Group and Tom Conry from Waco Water Utilities Services will continue the series with a discussion of the impact HABs can have on drinking water sources, the extent to which treatment facilities can remove toxins, and ultimately how people can help to reduce the environmental, health, and economic problem in the future.

This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort that aims to focus public attention on HABs, which are associated with nutrient pollution, and can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and be a detriment to the economy.

Click here to register for the webinar...


Deadline July 15th to submit photos for 2015 CHNEP Calendar

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We live in a beautiful place and many of you have captured this beauty in your artwork, as evidenced by the calendars produced by the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) since 2005. The CHNEP is a partnership program working to protect the natural environment of Florida from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven.

We hope you will consider being a part of the 2015 calendar.

You can have your photographs and paintings published in the 2015 calendar. The CHNEP encourages you to submit up to three images that capture the beauty of the natural environment found within the CHNEP study area. The images could have been captured by the young or old, amateur or professional, today or 50 years ago, as a painting or photograph. The goal is that the 2015 calendar will depict the diversity and beauty of the natural environment found within this geographic area, which may include estuaries, rivers, streams, native plants, native wildlife, and people enjoying these resources.

To enter your images, complete the release form and submit your images by 5 p.m., July 15, 2014. There is no fee to enter. Additional guidance is provided at the link below, and at www.CHNEP.org/calendars.html. Costs of the calendar are offset by generous donations and sponsorships.

Photo submission instructions and release form


Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Announces Recipients of 2014 Bay Partners Grant Program

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SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has awarded grants to eight local organizations as part of the 2014 Bay Partners Grant Program. The fully-funded projects include Anna Maria Island Sail and Power Squadron, Bayshore High School, Friends of Florida Maritime Museum, Sarasota Bay Watch, and the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida. The partially-funded projects include Natures Academy, Save Our Seabirds and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

The purpose of the Bay Partners Grant Program is to promote environmental education, awareness, community involvement, and stewardship to improve the overall quality of Sarasota Bay and its tributaries. To support these goals, funding is available from SBEP for projects that focus on Bay Education, Bay Restoration or Bay-Friendly Landscaping.

The SBEP has awarded nearly $247,000 in Bay Partners Grants to support 126 organizations since 2003. A subcommittee with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) selects the recipients. The next deadline for submitting grant applications is March 2, 2015.

Learn more about the Bay Partners grant program...


County Ordinances Prohibit Using Fertilizers with Nitrogen and Phosphorus through September 30

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The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) and other partners of the Be Floridian fertilizer education campaign remind Sarasota and Manatee County residents they cannot apply fertilizer with nitrogen or phosphorus from June 1 through September 30.

Not using fertilizers in the summer reduces the amount of chemicals running into Sarasota Bay following heavy rainfalls. The overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus has an adverse impact on water quality and can also harm aquatic life. Visit the Be Floridian website


Lakes Park Water Quality Restoration Project Earns Award

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Lee County’s Lakes Park Water Quality Restoration Project received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Florida Stormwater Association at its Annual Conference on June 13.

The award-winning, multi-year restoration process is improving water quality by creating a 40-acre marsh that improves the water quality of surface runoff from a 2,000-acre watershed. Increasing wildlife habitat is an additional benefit. The project will improve nutrient removal and oxygen content.

Lakes Park is located in the headwaters of Hendry Creek, a tributary to Estero Bay, Florida’s first Aquatic Buffer Preserve and a designated Outstanding Florida Water. The restoration project addresses a drainage area from high-density residential and commercial land uses, many of which were built prior to implementation of current water quality standards.

The annual awards program recognizes stormwater programs or projects that have demonstrated innovative accomplishments and have shown an outstanding commitment to stormwater management practices that benefit the environment and local citizenry. Award recipients are selected through a competitive, peer-review process. The annual conference was held in Fort Myers.

Lee County Parks & Recreation’s Lakes Park is at 7330 Gladiolus Drive in south Fort Myers. For directions go to www.leeparks.org.

Photo above by Gail Campbell


Residents From Across The State Create Support Organizations For Aquatic Preserves

A new statewide Citizen Support Organization (CSO), the Aquatic Preserve Society, has been formed to promote the protection of Florida's 41 aquatic preserves. The Aquatic Preserve Society is the first statewide organization for Florida's aquatic preserves.

There are 41 aquatic preserves in Florida totaling about 2.7 million acres. The preserves protect bird rookeries, fish nurseries, freshwater springs, salt marshes, mangroves and sea grass meadows. Some preserves contain cultural heritage sites of civilization that lived there for a time. While the preserves protect the beauty and landscape, visitors are encouraged to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and paddling in designated areas.

The Aquatic Preserve Society has now gained the Florida Nonprofit Status and is currently working on filing internal documents with both the IRS and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The next big steps for the statewide organization will be to draft bylaws and a memorandum of agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Upon completion and signing of the memorandum of agreement, the Aquatic Preserve Society will become an official CSO for the Florida Coastal Office.

Anyone interested in becoming a member or looking for information should contact Brian Powers at Brian.powers@dep.state.fl.us.

Full Article Available Here


Planning Underway for Third Annual Sarasota Bay Water Festival at Ken Thompson Park November 1

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The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival is set for Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park. The fun outdoor event celebrates the importance of Sarasota Bay to the region's environment, economy and quality of life. SBEP is the Founding Sponsor, HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor and Sea to Shore Alliance is the 2014 Host Sponsor.

Other sponsors in random order include Freedom Boat Club, Sarasota County, Manatee County, WUSF Public Media, Southwest Florida Water Management District, City of Sarasota, Cannons Marina, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Town of Longboat Key, Mote Marine Laboratory, WSRQ Talk Radio, City of Bradenton, Sarasota Bay Watch, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Suncoast Food Trucks, Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, Nature's Academy, Stantec, Vintage Paws Sanctuary, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Around the Bend Nature Tours, SUP Sarasota, Save Our Seabirds, High Five Dragon Boat, Friends of Sarasota County Parks, UF/IFAS Extension, Sun King Disc Sports, and Friends of Disc Golf.

Organizers are seeking additional sponsors. Please contact Randy Moore at randy@triple3marketing.com

For More Information On The Sarasota Bay Water Festival...


Dolphin Death Is A Reminder To Protect Marine Life

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One of the oldest dolphins in Sarasota Bay died on June 7 after ingesting fishing gear. This loss serves as a reminder to protect marine life while enjoying our coastal waters and beaches all year around.

Squiggy was first identified in September 1980 and was documented 267 times since then by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) – a collaboration between Mote Marine Lab and Chicago Zoological Society. SDRP staff have continued monitoring Squiggy’s descendants, who have also suffered human interactions. Squiggy’s daughter died in 2012 from ingesting recreational fishing gear, and the daughter’s six-month-old calf died several weeks later from losing her mom. Squiggy’s first grand-calf died from entanglement in a crab trap’s float line.

Currently, the dolphins of Sarasota Bay are at the height of calving season. Five babies have been born this year and one was lost for unknown reasons. During this time of year, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant for dolphins.

Tips for boaters & beach-goers can be found here

For The Full Article Click Here


2014 Great Bay Scallop Search - Lemon Bay & Gasparilla Sound

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Join the University of Florida/Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension program, by participating in the 2014 Great Bay Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program where volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Gasparilla Sound and lower Lemon Bay. The purpose of this program is to monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population. Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited so reserve your spot today. This event is designed to be a fun family event.

Where & When:
Gasparilla Marina 15001 Gasparilla Rd. Placida, FL
Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 8:30 AM (EDT)

For More Information On This Event..

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