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9/3/2015

Multi-agency meeting helps identify countywide projects

In early August, a meeting was held to discuss potential opportunities in eastern Lee County to address water storage, water quality and wildlife concerns in a potential regional project.

The meeting was organized by state Rep. Matt Caldwell in order to examine environmental and community concerns affecting the county, to identify potential regional solutions and to prepare a presentation for the October delegation meeting.

Local and state elected officials were in attendance, as well as representatives from local and state agencies.

It provided a forum for multiple agencies to collaborate and identify potential projects that could jointly satisfy the requirements each respective agency is already responsible for meeting.

Several residents were in attendance.

As Caldwell noted, each of the agencies have responsibilities, whether outlined in their enabling legislation or mandated by regulatory agencies, to address varying areas such as water quality, water storage, pollution reduction, wildlife restoration, flood protection, passive recreation and more.

"The meeting simply provides an opportunity for multiple public agencies to coordinate their efforts, to make the greatest positive impact on the community in the most fiscally responsible manner, and create a regional benefit to improve our environment," he said.

As many know, the Tidal Caloosahatchee River has been declared an impaired water body of the state.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has requirements of agencies to reduce pollution levels in its MS4 - a publicly-owned stormwater conveyance or system of conveyances, like ditches or underground pipes, that is designed or used for collecting or conveying stormwater and that discharges to surface waters.

The FDEP requires that all Phase I MS4 permit holders achieve a 23 percent reduction in total nitrogen for the Tidal Caloosahatchee River west Franklin Locks.

This translates into each of the permit holders having to create new projects to meet the mandates.

Other concerns come from a 2007 study, which found Lehigh Acres would have a 15,000 acre-foot deficit of stormwater storage at full buildout - something the Lehigh Acres MSID has been working to combat.

There are also concerns for improved wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.

"The meeting helped provide an open forum to discuss historical environmental and community problems and begin brainstorming relevant regional improvements to address these concerns," Caldwell said.

Click here to view original article »

9/2/2015

Snook Harvest Season begins September 1st

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The recreational harvest season for snook opened statewide September 1, and researchers are asking anglers who harvest Florida's premier sport fish to save filleted carcasses and take them to a participating bait and tackle store in their area. These carcasses provide information on the size, age, maturity and sex of the catch, and this "citizen science" program allows anglers to participate in the collection of data for one of Florida's most popular sport fish. More information on this effort, including a list of carcass drop off locations, can be found by visiting: http://bit.ly/1jEaXmk

All regulations still apply, and it's important to donate only legal snook during snook season. To view our snook regulations for both Gulf and Atlantic state and federal waters, please visit: http://bit.ly/1NGDKVj

Photo credit: Tory Kallman https://www.flickr.com/photos/toryjk/

9/1/2015

Pine Island Scallop Count Gives Mixed Results

Local volunteers snorkeled Pine Island Sound recently to count scallops. It was the sixth annual Great Bay Scallop Search in Lee County. Scallop numbers were so low in the 1980s, it caused a local fishery to close. Now, Florida Sea Grant is checking to see if those numbers are bouncing back.

It was morning at Pineland Marina. About 120 volunteers were gathered around Joy Hazell. She organizes the Great Bay Scallop Search every year for Florida Sea Grant. It’s a University of Florida-based research program tasked with conserving coastal resources. "You have a close-up map of your grid, so that's where you're assigned," Hazell said to her volunteers. She organizes the Great Bay Scallop Search every year for Florida Sea Grant. It’s a University of Florida based research program tasked with conserving coastal resources.

This event gives a glimpse of how the Bay scallop population is doing in Pine Island Sound.

Hazell demonstrated the proper way to snorkel while searching for scallops in the brackish water. She said to first throw in a 50-meter rope line that has weights on either end. Hazell calls this line the “transect.” "You're gonna gave two divers who will snorkel the length of the transect and count scallops," she said. She held a meter-long white stick in front of her. Snorkelers use the stick to push down sea grass and see the scallops better underwater.

After the training, everyone separated into their boats. I got on a 22-foot-long boat with five other people.

Continued on WLRN »

9/1/2015

EPA: Clean water rule in effect despite court ruling

The Environmental Protection Agency says it is going forward with a new federal rule to protect small streams, tributaries and wetlands, despite a court ruling that blocked the measure in 13 central and Western states.

The EPA says the rule, which took effect Friday in more than three dozen states, will safeguard drinking water for millions of Americans.

Opponents pledged to continue to fight the rule, emboldened by a federal court decision Thursday that blocked it from Alaska to Arkansas.

"We see this (rule) as very hurtful to farmers and ranchers and we're going to do everything to stop it politically," said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation, one of several farm and business groups that have filed suit against the regulation.

Lawsuits to block the regulation are pending across the country, and the Republican-controlled Congress has moved to thwart it. The House has ignored a White House veto threat and passed a bill to block it, and a Senate committee has passed a measure that would force the EPA to withdraw and rewrite it.

Continued on Phys.org »

9/1/2015

Sea Level Solutions Center launches

With rising seas threatening coastal communities all across the world, FIU has launched the Sea Level Solutions Center to help people understand, adapt and persevere. FIU ecologist Tiffany Troxler will serve as director.

The center combines expertise in the natural, physical and social sciences, along with architecture, engineering, computer sciences, law, communications, business, health and tourism management to develop long-term strategies in the face of rising seas. FIU’s Miami location will be key in advancing the center’s mission. South Florida is particularly vulnerable because of the large number of assets exposed to the effects of sea level rise.

“Rising seas are a topic of grave concern around the world, and most societies will feel the effects,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “While successful adaptation to sea level rise is local in nature, it will take international, national, regional, as well as local cooperation to develop and implement the necessary policies and strategies to address this global threat.”

The FIU Sea Level Solutions Center will focus on envisioning and designing safe, resilient, prosperous and sustainable 22nd century coastal communities by focusing on the science behind the rising seas, preservation of governance systems, infrastructure challenges and solutions, business impacts, supply chain challenges, ecosystem dependencies, and personal assets. It will work with local governments, business and community leaders to accelerate adaption planning.

Continued in FIU News »

8/27/2015

Is too much fresh water used to irrigate Florida lawns?

"...researchers from the University of Florida examined the perceptions of homeowners in Orange County, Florida who have automated irrigation systems and looked deeply into their water conservation knowledge and practices."

Wasting fresh water is a real concern. A recent study conducted with homeowners in central Florida found that, on average, 64 percent of the drinking water used by homes went to irrigation. In the summer months, this percentage increased to 88 percent. As the population increases, conservation of fresh water becomes increasingly important.

The Special Issue Section of the current Technology and Innovation – Journal of the National Academy of Inventors focuses on challenges to fresh water from environmental changes and from the human population.

Florida homeowners—ready and willing to comply with government agency-imposed lawn watering restrictions—want to conserve water, although many are confused about how to conserve water. At the same time, many homeowners are also required to have perfect, green lawns or risk being penalized by their Home Owner's Associations (HOAs).

What is a homeowner to do?

In a study entitled "It's Going to Take More Innovation than Technology to Increase Water Conservation Practices," researchers from the University of Florida examined the perceptions of homeowners in Orange County, Florida who have automated irrigation systems and looked deeply into their water conservation knowledge and practices.

"The purpose of [our] study was to examine the perceptions of homeowners…who have automated irrigation systems [about] the use of norms that could be employed to reduce water used for lawn care," said study co-author Liz Felter of the University of Florida.

The researchers also looked at the role of "social marketing" efforts to encourage people to conserve water, the barriers to water conservation, and how peer pressure might be involved in successfully implementing water conservation measures. They wanted to know what barriers might exist to increasing water conservation even when community- based social marketing (CBSM) was employed to encourage conservation.

Continued... »

8/27/2015

Carlos Beruff resigns from SWFWMD board

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MANATEE COUNTY - Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff resigned Wednesday from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, a day after supporting the approval of a controversial permit allowing his friend and fellow developer Pat Neal to build on an environmentally sensitive shoreline.

On Tuesday, Beruff made the motion to approve a wetlands mitigation permit so Neal can build a family compound on mangrove-fringed land facing Anna Maria Sound.

With Beruff leading the way, the water district board approved Neal's request for an “environmental resource permit” for 3.46 acres of a 40.36-acre site on Perico Island where he wants to build a four-home subdivision for his family. After the approval, Beruff said he was not acting on his friendship with Neal but on a favorable recommendation about Neal's application by the staff of the water management district (commonly called Swiftmud).

Beruff had already sent a letter to the governor giving Wednesday as his last day as a board member

Continued in the Bradenton Herald »

8/27/2015

Peninsular Florida in “cone of uncertainty” for Tropical Storm Ericka

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(WWLP) – Florida and now the Carolinas are potentially in the path of Tropical Storm Erika, which is gaining strength in the Caribbean. Ericka’s track has the storm potentially making landfall on Puerto Rico late Thursday night or early Friday morning, and then continuing northwestward. Tropical Storm watches have now been issued for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, as well as the Bahamas.

There is a chance Erika could substantially weaken, or even break up altogether due to strong wind shear. If Erika holds together, however, she is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane over the warmer waters near the Bahamas.

From there, most of Florida is now within the storm’s “cone of uncertainty,” meaning Erika could make landfall pretty much anywhere on the Florida or Georgia coast on Monday into Tuesday, or turn out to sea and never make landfall at all. Also potentially under threat are North and South Carolina, though long-range forecasts on Erika do not have her having an impact on New England.

Even if Erika doesn’t make landfall, she could still bring very heavy rain to the Southeast coast.

Source: Channel 22 WWLP News »

8/27/2015

Prepare now for tropical storms and hurricanes

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PALATKA – With tropical storm Erika brewing in the Caribbean, now is the time to prepare your home for potential high winds and heavy rain. Following these few simple tips can help protect your property:

  • Remove debris from storm drains and ditches

  • Report clogged ditches to local governments

  • Clean out gutters and extend downspouts at least four feet from structures

  • Build up the ground around the home to promote drainage away from the foundation

The St. Johns River Water Management District's website provides additional tips and easy access to valuable information to assist the public before, during and after severe storm events. The District's web pages (floridaswater.com/storm) include links to flood statements and warnings, river stage and flooding data, and local government emergency contacts. Links to the National Weather Service, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the U.S. Geological Survey's interactive map of current conditions in the state are also available via the website.

Local governments are the primary entities responsible for emergency responses during storms, such as implementing state-of-emergency declarations, evacuations and rescue efforts during flood-related disasters. In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, the District assists local governments by issuing emergency orders that allow for the pumping of water to alleviate flooding when public health and safety are at risk.

8/27/2015

New sea level-rise handbook highlights science and models for non-scientists

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Coastal managers and planners now have access to a new U.S. Geological Survey handbook that, for the first time, comprehensively describes the various models used to study and predict sea-level rise and its potential impacts on coasts.

Designed for the benefit of land managers, coastal planners, and policy makers in the United States and around the world, the handbook explains many of the contributing factors that account for sea-level change. It also highlights the different data, techniques, and models used by scientists and engineers to document historical trends of sea level and to forecast future rates and the impact to coastal systems and communities.

The scope and content of the handbook was developed from feedback received at dozens of training sessions held with coastal managers and planners of federal, state, and private agencies across the northern Gulf of Mexico. The sessions aimed to determine what tools and resources were currently in use and to explain the broad spectrum of data and models used in sea-level rise assessments from multiple disciplines, including geology, hydrology and ecology. Criteria were established to distinguish various characteristics of each model, including the source, scale and quality of information input and geographic databases, as well as the ease or difficulty of storing, displaying, or interpreting the model output.

USGS News Release continues »

8/25/2015

Webinar on August 27 to provide more details on the Clean Water Rule

A webinar will be held on Thursday, August 27 at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST to provide more details about the final Clean Water Rule. This webinar will provide a review of the final rule, answer some commonly asked questions, and discuss what to expect as the rule is implemented.

In a historic step for the protection of clean water, EPA and the Army signed the Clean Water Rule on May 27, 2015, to protect the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources from pollution and degradation. The final rule is effective August 28, 2015.

Register for the webinar

For more information visit: www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule and http://www.army.mil/asacw.

8/25/2015

Public meetings scheduled to discuss DEP water quality prioritization and assessment efforts

DEP's Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (DEAR) is holding public meetings in several locations throughout the state to discuss DEAR's planned water quality prioritization and assessment efforts. These meetings will take place during two sessions according to the schedule below.

Part I: 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Priority Waters for Site-Specific TMDL Development

Part II: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM Revised Assessment Lists for the Group 2 (Cycle 3)

These public meetings are to present and request input on the methodology used to prioritize future Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) development for specific waterbodies and water segments throughout the state. Any comments and/or questions on the TMDL and BMAP prioritizations should be directed to Erin Rasnake, Water Quality Evaluation and TMDL Program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Road, M.S. 3555, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400 or by e-mail: Erin.Rasnake@dep.state.fl.us.

DEAR will also present the revised assessment lists for the Group 2 (Cycle 3) basins, developed pursuant to Chapter 62-303, Florida Administrative Code. The revised assessment lists will be available on the Department's Watershed Assessment website (www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/assessment/index.htm) by August 24, 2015, and will be provided upon request to interested parties by mail or via email distribution. Any comments and/or questions on the Revised Assessment Lists should be directed to Kevin O'Donnell, Watershed Assessment Section, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Rd, MS 3560, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400 or by email: Kevin.ODonnell@dep.state.fl.us.

A copy of the agenda may be obtained by contacting: Ms. Linda Quinn-Godwin, Water Quality Evaluation and TMDL Program, MS 3555, Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400 or by calling: (850)245-8449.

Meeting Dates and Times:

DATE AND TIME: August 26, 2015, 10:00 a.m. for St. Lucie - Loxahatchee Basins
PLACE: Martin County Building Department, Building Department Conference Room, 900 Southeast Ruhnke Street, Stuart, Florida

DATE AND TIME: August 27, 2015, 10:00 a.m. for Charlotte Harbor Basin
PLACE: South Florida Water Management District Lower West Coast Service Center, Main Conference Room, 2301 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, Florida

DATE AND TIME: September 2, 2015, 10:00 a.m. for Tampa Bay Tributaries Basin
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection Southwest District Office, Main Conference Room, 13051 N. Telecom Parkway, Temple Terrace, Florida

DATE AND TIME: September 3, 2015, 10:00 a.m. for Middle and Lower St. Johns Basins
PLACE: Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art at the Museum of Arts & Sciences, Education Room, 352 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach, Florida

DATE AND TIME: September 10, 2015, 10:00 a.m. for Apalachicola-Chipola Basin
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, BMC Conference Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida

8/25/2015

SFWMD study shows importance of CDOM to Caloosahatchee River water quality

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A study by scientists at the South Florida Water Management District concludes that colored dissolved organic matter is at least as important as chlorophyll a in its effect on light attenuation in the Caloosahatchee River. Excerpts from the study, which was published in the September 2015 issue of the journal Estuaries and Coasts, follow:

"Colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) is one of the most important water quality constituents impacting light attenuation in estuaries; its concentration and distribution influence light quality and quantity available to phytoplankton and submerged aquatic vegetation. By combining field surveys (March 2009-January 2011) and laboratory studies, we examined the estuarine mixing behavior of CDOM and potential loss processes affecting mixing behavior in the Caloosahatchee River Estuary (CRE), Florida."

"The contribution of chlorophyll a (Chl a) to light attenuation was less than both CDOM and turbidity, accounting for about 12 % on average (2–24 %), regardless of location. These results suggest that any nutrient management scenario aimed at improving water clarity through reduction in Chl a concentration should consider the contributions of color and turbidity as well."

Link to study »

8/24/2015

Volunteers needed for National Public Lands Day

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FORT MYERS – Lee County Parks & Recreation is looking for volunteers to participate in workday activities for National Public Lands Day (NPLD) to be held Saturday, Sept. 26.

Three Lee County Conservation 20/20 Lands and County Preserves will be among the more than 2,000 public sites nationwide participating in this effort:

  • Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve East -10130 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers;
  • Matanzas Pass Preserve - 199 Bay Road, Fort Myers Beach;
  • Wild Turkey Strand Preserve – 11901 Rod & Gun Club Road, Fort Myers.

For detailed information on volunteering visit www.leegov.com/conservation2020/volunteer-opportunities.

Volunteers will be placed in groups for activities such as collecting invasive plants, maintaining trails, removing trash and helping with planting. NPLD’s goal is to improve public lands for outdoor recreation, with volunteers assisting in hands-on work. It began in 1994 with only three sites and has grown to include every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Pre-registration is encouraged by calling Lee County Parks & Recreation's Vicki Little at 239-533-7424 or emailing vlittle@leegov.com. The first 50 volunteers will receive a T-shirt and all volunteers will be given passes to cool off at any of the Lee County Parks & Recreation community pools.

Additional information can be found at www.publiclandsday.org. Directions and more information on Conservation 20/20 are available at www.conservation2020.org. For more information on Lee County Parks & Recreation visit www.leeparks.org.

Follow Lee County, FL Conservation 20/20 on Facebook.

8/21/2015

Hydrilla help needed from Florida LAKEWATCHers

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From the UF/IFAS Hydrilla IPM* Team & Florida LAKEWATCH

Florida LAKEWATCHERs, your help is needed!

Did you attend a Florida LAKEWATCH regional meeting last year (2014) and receive educational materials on hydrilla management? The UF/IFAS Hydrilla IPM Team in partnership with Florida LAKEWATCH would like your input on the materials so we can improve them and produce new materials that would be useful to you!

If you did not receive the educational materials but would still like to provide input you can review the material online while doing the survey.

Please use this link to complete the survey: https://ufl.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8q3CWXe3ScSzNbv

Please complete the survey if possible using the web link, if this is not possible you can call 352-273-3954 so that a person can record your survey answers. Please leave a message with your number and someone will call you back.

The survey will remain open for 6 weeks, closing on August 12th 2015.

* IPM=Integrated Pest Management

What is Florida LAKEWATCH? »

Contact Information
Dr. Emma N. I. Weeks, Asst. Research Scientist, Entomology & Nematology University of Florida, eniweeks@ufl.edu, Bldg. 970, Natural Area Dr., Gainesville, FL. 32611-0620
phone: (352) 273-3954.
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/
8/20/2015

Bonita Springs to consider bioreactor to treat runoff

Bonita Springs wants better water quality and the key might just be wood chips.

At its meeting Wednesday, city council will decide whether to green light a pilot project for a so-called wood chip denitrifying bio reactor on a city-owned block along Felts Avenue and Abernathy Street in downtown Bonita.

The project would include an above-ground, low-impact parking lot and the underground bioreactor, said Public Works Director Matt Feeney.

City staff and South Florida Engineering and Consulting, LLC, the West Palm Beach-based firm tasked with designing the project, negotiated a not-to-exceed price tag of $73,765 that now awaits council approval.

The impetus for the project, Feeney said, is “higher than average nitrogen levels” in stormwater runoff.

“We need to figure out how to filter nitrogen before it gets into the river system,” he said.

The nitrogen, some of which stems from fertilizers, is one of the factors that leads to waterways, such as the Imperial River, being low in dissolved oxygen, Feeney said.

The high levels of nitrogen can cause increased growth of algae, which can lead to accelerated eutrophication – the over-enrichment of water by nutrients – which in turn can lead to oxygen-depleted waters, so-called dead zones.

“Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous are naturally present in the water and necessary for the healthy growth of plant and animal life,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller in an email. “However, an excess of nutrients can lead to water quality problems like rapid growth of algal mats, habitat smothering and oxygen depletion in the water.”

Continued on The Banner here »

8/20/2015

Apply now for CHNEP Public Outreach grants and Micro-Grants

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) is a partnership to protect the natural environment of Florida from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. The CHNEP offers two types of grants to help others in their efforts to protect the environment and solve issues of concern as identified in CHNEP's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The CHNEP is proud to have supported more than 800 projects with grants.

Citizens, organizations, businesses, government agencies, schools, colleges and universities may apply for grants to support projects that occur within the CHNEP study area that includes Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Polk Hardee and DeSoto counties. While all efforts supported by CHNEP with a grant help implement the CCMP, they are varied in their purpose and scope. Additional information about the grant-making process is available at www.CHNEP.org/grants.html and at the link below.

The CHNEP offers Public Outreach Grants once a year, with applications due September 2. The maximum grant request is $5,000 but most applications are funded in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. Review the guidance document to learn more and to obtain the two one-page forms that must be part of each application.

The CHNEP offers Micro-Grants throughout the year for projects that can begin after October 1 and concluded by August 31. Most grant requests are up to $250 but a few requests for more support have been approved. Applications are considered when they are received. Awards are made until funds for the year have all been obligated. The project must be completed so that a final report and invoice are received by CHNEP no later than August 31, 2016. Applicants are reimbursed funds once a final report and an invoice for work accomplished are accepted.

The CHNEP also offers grant-writing and administration assistance for projects that help protect and restore our estuaries and watersheds. Contact Liz Donley (LDonley@chnep.org) to discuss possible assistance.

Thank you for your efforts to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida.

Photo by Melissa Nell, Manatee County Natural Resources Department

Grant information and Mini-Grant Application »

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, maran@chnep.org, 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
phone: (941) 575-3374.
http://www.chnep.org/
8/18/2015

DEP accepting comments on water reclamation/reuse study; meeting and webinar Aug. 20th

Senate Bill 536, which passed in the 2014 legislative session, requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), in coordination with stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive study and submit a report on the expansion of use of reclaimed water, storm water, and excess surface water in the state. The report is due to the Legislature on Dec. 1, 2015.

Below is information about the draft study report and upcoming meetings/webinar where DEP will present the draft study report and receive public comment.

The draft study report is available for review on the DEP SB536 Study web page, http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/reuse/study.htm.

FDEP will accept written comments on the draft report until Sept. 18, 2015. Comments may be emailed to sb536study@dep.state.fl.us or mailed to:

Janet Llewellyn
Office of Water Policy
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Blvd.
Mail Station #46
Tallahassee, FL 32399

FDEP will hold a statewide meeting/webinar to present the draft study report and receive public comment. The meeting will be held on Aug. 20, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room A of the Douglas Building at 3900 Commonwealth Blvd. in Tallahassee. The meeting will be available as a webinar for those who do not wish to travel to Tallahassee. Click here to register online. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

A second opportunity to provide in-person input will be available on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. at the St. Johns River Water Management District office at 601 South Lake Destiny Road, Suite 200, Maitland, FL. FDEP will present the same information at this meeting that was presented at the Aug. 20 meeting.

DEP Water Reuse Study »

8/18/2015

Public invited to give input on Pine Lake Preserve Management Plan

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FORT MYERS – Pine Lake Preserve in Bonita Springs now has a second edition management plan draft that the public can view and provide comments. This management plan will be the topic of discussion at a 5 p.m. meeting Thursday, Aug. 27, at Terry Park.

Lee County Conservation 20/20 staff created the plan, which describes the preserve, planned management activities, and current and future public amenities. The preserve is home to state and federally listed plant and animal species including Big Cypress fox squirrels, American alligators and gopher tortoises. After public review, the plan will be presented to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for approval.

The stewardship plan is available for review until Aug. 27 at the Bonita Springs Public Library, located at 26876 Pine Ave., Bonita Springs, FL and online.

The meeting’s address is Terry Park, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers. Written comments are encouraged and can be given at the meeting, through the mail, or via email (see contact below).

For more information, visit www.conservation2020.org or www.leeparks.org. Or call 239-533-7275.

Pine Lake Preserve information page »

Contact Information
Lee Waller, Land Stewardship Coordinator, Lee County Conservation 20/20, jwaller@leegov.com
phone: (239) 707-0862.
https://www.leegov.com/conservation2020
8/18/2015

Register now for CHNEP Retreat on Friday, Sept. 11th

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The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) invites everyone with an interest in driving actions that protect the natural environment of southwest Florida to participate in a retreat to help plan the future of the program. Attendees are asked to please register online and complete a one-question survey: www.EventBrite.com.

The retreat will be an opportunity to discuss how to implement CHNEP's Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, changes that should be made to the current plan, and to identify qualities required of the next CHNEP director. (Current director Lisa Beever will be retiring in October, 2016.) The Charlotte Harbor Events and Conference Center has been reserved for September 11, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. NOAA Certified Professional Facilitator Ann Weaver has agreed to assist.

By characterizing the direction that the Management Conference wants to take the CHNEP, a better consideration of CHNEP director candidates can take place, as well as overall staff workload commitments. The workshop result should be a characterization of CHNEP's existing roles (what makes us great?), all potential future roles (where could we go?), primary future roles (where will we go?), and what are the most practical ways to get there related to current and potential staff capacity.

CHNEP invites everyone with an interest in guiding its future activities to participate in the retreat, and to invite others who may have an interest in participating.

Thank you for helping to protect the natural environment of southwest Florida!

8/17/2015

RESTORE Council announces draft selections

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Comments are due on draft selected projects and programs by September 28, 2015

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council announced their Draft Initial Funded Priorities List (draft FPL). The 45 projects represent components of those submitted by the state and federal Council members.

Public comment on the selections will be open through September 28, 2015. The public is encouraged to provide comments online (preferred method); by mail to Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. Attention: Draft FPL Comments, Hale Boggs Federal Building, 500 Poydras Street, Suite 1117, New Orleans, LA 70130; email to draftfplcomments@restorethegulf.gov; or in person during formal public comment periods at any of the public meetings (see list below).

Public meetings are scheduled to hear from regional constituents before the selections are made final. Those meetings will be:

  • Aug. 20, 2015 - 6 p.m. Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX 48412
  • Aug. 26, 2015 - 6 p.m. FWC Fish & Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
  • Aug. 27, 2015 - 6 p.m. Gulf Coast State College, Panama City, FL 32401
  • Sept. 1, 2015 - 6 p.m. Battle House Renaissance Mobile, Mobile, AL 36602
  • Sept. 10, 2015 - 5 p.m. Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, Biloxi, MS 39531
  • Sept. 15, 2015 - 5:30 p.m. Homer L. Hitt Alumni Center, New Orleans, LA 70148
  • Sept. 16, 2015 - 5:30 p.m. Morgan City Municipal Auditorium, Morgan City, LA 70380

This first round of selections will be funded from the settlement with Transocean Deepwater Inc. Once final, the projects will be included in the Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker. To view project locations now, view the Council-created story map.

8/17/2015

Flooding plagues construction on Peace River Trail


By Suzie Schottelkotte

FORT MEADE – For Nathan Kautz, there have been days recently when he’s felt more like they’re building a fishing pier than a hiking trail.

“The rain has been pretty bad,” Kautz, who’s overseeing construction of the Peace River Trail in Fort Meade for the state Department of Transportation, said Tuesday while surveying the trail’s progress.

“In some of these areas, we’re still waiting for the water to recede before we can go back in and finish the job," he said.

“Luckily, it hasn’t held us up too much, though,” he said. “When water forces us to leave one place, we just go to another area and work there.”

Crews have completed a 72-foot wooden foot bridge spanning the Peace River, but they can’t finish building the trail, made of compacted coquina shells, because the approaches on both sides of the bridge are flooded.

But the water is showing signs of receding.

Continued in The Ledger »

8/17/2015

Polk water summit 1st step in forming countywide municipal cooperative


By Tom Palmer

HAINES CITY – Forming a countywide municipal water cooperative could avoid the mistakes officials in other parts of Florida have made and provide adequate water for everyone, a crowd of elected officials was told Monday during Polk County’s first- ever water summit.

“We have the power to control our future,” said Paul Senft, a Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board member from Haines City.

The meeting at Lake Eva Banquet Hall, which attracted more than 150 people, was organized as a kickoff to the formation of the cooperative. Creation of that organization, which is scheduled to be completed by next year, will qualify Polk County for millions of dollars in aid from Swiftmud to develop alternative water supplies.

Alternative water supplies are needed because the traditional source — the Floridan Aquifer — is close to reaching its sustainable limit.

The first step will be to form a committee composed of representatives from every city and town to come up with the details on how the cooperative will function and to come up with an interlocal agreement that will be subject to approval by elected officials.

Continued in The Ledger »

8/7/2015

New insights on hurricane intensity, pollution transport


Researchers study currents that fuel hurricanes and transport pollutants to coastal beaches

As tropical storm Isaac was gaining momentum toward the Mississippi River in August 2012, researchers were dropping instruments from the sky above to study the ocean conditions beneath the storm. The newly published study showed how a downwelling of warm waters deepened the storm's fuel tank for a rapid intensification toward hurricane status. The results also revealed how hurricane-generated currents and ocean eddies can transport oil and other pollutants to coastal regions.

Continued... »

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