Craig Pittman, Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

Craig Pittman

Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

I’m a native Floridian whose family arrived here in 1850. I graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where my muckraking for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label me “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then I’ve covered a variety of beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Stories I have written on environmental issues have won national awards, and "The Daily Show" once called me a "nerd" about Florida history. I’ve written four books. The most recent one,Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, is a New York Times bestseller and won a Florida Book Awards gold medal in 2017.

Five months after Michael, Florida's state parks still dealing with damage

Hurricane Michael’s storm surge sliced right through St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, leaving state officials trying to figure out how to manage the park now that part of it’s an island. Before and after photos. [Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.]
Three state parks remain closed because of the hurricane damage, and two may never be the same.

DeSantis demand for all water board members' resignations is the first one by a Florida governor

Southwest Florida Water Management District water use permit compliance manager Brent White, lifts a sample glass for a closer look at its clarity during the American Water Works Association Region 4, 2013 Best Tasting Drinking Water contest in Temple Terrace. [Times (2013)]
Water experts say new governor's ultimatum is the most sweeping demand for change ever at one of the state’s five water management districts.

DeSantis plan: Move wildlife cops to agency not known for enforcing rules

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Baryl Martin, right, and Vernon Yates, director of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, carry out rescued animals from All Creatures Great and Small Wildlife Inc., run from a home 4162 13th Ave. N in St. Petersburg.  Neighborhood complaints tipped authorities off to a home filled with more than 60 domestic and wild animals living in horrifying conditions, police said, prompting an animal neglect investigation.  [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON | Times]
The governor cites efficiency as reason. Details are scarce.

The new smoking ban frontier: removing butts from beaches

A cigarette butt in the sand on Friday in Treasure Island. State Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, has submitted legislation for the 2019 session that would ban smoking on Florida’s public beaches. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
A Sarasota County ban on smoking at the beach was overturned in court, so now state legislators are looking to ban it statewide The dispute is about litter, not second-hand smoke.

As Red Tide returns to Florida coast, government shutdown affects some efforts to track it.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
A slurry fo dead fish, the result of Red Tide, moves out of Clearwater Harbor on the north side of Sand Key Park on Thursday (9/20/18) as Pinellas County continues to monitor the bloom at a number of beaches right now, including Madeira Beach, St. Pete Beach, and Indian Shores. A Red Tide Advisory remains in effect at Sand Key Park, which has suspended parking fees. For weeks, the city of Clearwater has become the place of respite from the bloom for people on southern beaches experiencing red tide, as the bloom had not been detected. But the tide has changed in recent days after dead fish began washing onto the beach over the weekend, and spilling into the Intracoastal Waterway. The naturally occurring phenomenon and has been documented along Florida’s Gulf Coast since the 1840s, and its foul odor can cause respiratory irritation.
Scientists tracking the toxic algae are missing information provided by federal agencies.