Saturday, April 21, 2018


Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman

Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. He graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the Times. He is a four-time winner of the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida and a series of stories on Florida's vanishing wetlands that he wrote with Matthew Waite won the top investigative reporting award in both 2006 and 2007 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of four books: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" (2012); "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," (2010); and, co-written with Waite, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," (2009). His new book, < a href=""> "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country,"hits stores in July 2016. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Florida contains more wetlands than 48 of the 49 other states, and the Corps of Engineers issues more permits to destroy wetlands in Florida than in any other state. Wetlands like this one at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are supposed to be protected by law because they soak up flood waters, filter pollution and safeguard the aquifer.

Corps of Engineers not in a hurry to hand over wetlands permitting to Florida

Despite the dire warnings of environmental advocates, the Legislature last month passed a bill to allow...
Published: 04/20/18
The underwater scenes in 'The Creature From the Black Lagoon'' -- also known as the prequel to 'The Shape of Water' -- was filmed at Wakulla Springs, one of many movies made in Florida.

The State Youíre In: Sunshine State fakery makes for great Florida flicks

Florida may be the only state where everything largely depends on the willing suspension of disbelief. Iím not just talking about theme park fantasy factories along Interstate 4. Iím talking about all the developers who tout retention pond lots...
Published: 04/10/18

Scott vetoes bill encouraging dumping of treated sewage into aquifer

Updated one month ago
In 2013, residents upset with visitors' behavior on the beach outside their homes put up ropes to keep them away. [JIM DAMASKE | Times (2013)]

New law Scott signed makes public access to beaches harder to establish

A bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law last month has sent shock waves through Florida’s waterfront communities and prompted questions from confused beach residents and businesses. Experts say the law’s effect on beach access is not...
Updated one month ago
Marlene Svensson is the manager of Dinosaur World in Plant City, a popular roadside attraction off I-4 in Plant City. It was an old alligator farm bought by her parents, who added 200 dinosaur sculptures. In 2007, someone stole one of their dinosaurs. [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]

The State Youíre In: the Case of the Disappearing Dinosaur

Florida is a land of mystery. We have many unexplained phenomena here, such as jumping mullet. Why do they do it? Is it for...
Updated one month ago
The Fred Rogers Company 
Mister Rogers: It's You I Like is a PBS special celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and the life of Fred Rogers.
 [Photo used with permission from Gabrielle Torello
Grand Communications]

The State Youíre In: Mr. Rogers found calling of Ďserviceí in Winter Park

Everybodyís raving about the avuncular Mr. Rogers these days. The beloved host of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood got his
Updated one month ago
During his annual state of Russia speech, President Vladimir Putin unveiled what he called a devastating new intercontinental ballistic missile. To illustrate how it works, he showed the audience a video that ended with warheads raining down on the United States-- specifically, what appears to be the Tampa Bay area.[Image from Russian video]

Oh, Florida! Putin's aiming missiles at us. Big deal.

Vladimir Putin recently took time out from manipulating other people’s elections to show off his country’s new missile system. He illustrated its power with a crude animated film. In Putin’s movie, the missiles rained down on a...
Updated one month ago
An alligator opens its mouth as nuisance alligator trapper Mickey Fagan removes it from a water hazard at River Ridge Golf Course in New Port Richey in 2006. Florida deals with alligator complaints with its Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, or SNAP for short. [Times (2006)]

The State Youíre In: Roaming gators just looking for love

In the spring a young gatorsí fancy lightly turns to thoughts of ó well, not love exactly, but mating. The male gators climb out of their gator holes to hunt for a lady gator. Thatís why youíre seeing so many stories right now about alligators showing...
Updated one month ago
A manatee cow and two calves swim off King's Bay close to where volunteers and staff members with various agencies worked with the United States Geological Survey during their annual manatee captures and health assessments program at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in January. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]

To find manatees, scientists can use DNA from their poop

Manatees are experts at playing hide and seek. They spend most of their lives underwater, surfacing every five minutes or so to take a breath and then sinking back below the surface.That has always made it hard for biologists to spot them,...
Updated one month ago
Florida has its share of nude retreats. At the Lake Como Family Nudist Resort in Lutz, there's even a nature trail. [Times files (2014)]

The State You’re In: These Florida nudists just want their mail

The other day some folks at a Florida nudist resort in Pasco County made headlines because, they said, their letter carrier refused to bring their mail inside the front gate. They blamed discrimination.
Updated one month ago