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Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer

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 three 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), all published by the University Press of Florida. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Phone: (727) 893-8530

Email: craig@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CraigTimes

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  1. Everglades alligators wasting away while Congress controls their fate

    Environment

    They are the symbol of the Everglades, the animal that for decades most tourists have anticipated seeing during a visit to the national park.

    But the alligators that inhabit the Everglades are showing signs of serious trouble. Their population has dropped, and the ones that are still around tend to look starved.

    Did invading pythons eat their lunch? Did they get into some bad sushi? No, the answer is more complicated, according to veteran biologist Frank Mazzotti — and it bodes ill for the Everglades as a whole....

    An adult alligator acts as a ferry, swimming through the Everglades with a hatchling on its back.
  2. USF gets $20 million to study 1979 Ixtoc oil spill as guide to Deepwater Horizon contamination

    Water

    A consortium of science organizations led by the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science is getting a $20.2 million grant to continue leading studies of the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster — in part by studying the impact of another Gulf of Mexico oil spill that happened in 1979.

    "By looking into the past, it should enable us to look into the future," oceanographer Jacqueline E. Dixon, dean of USF's marine science program, said....

    A churning circle of fire marks the location of the runaway Ixtoc-I oil well, which has been gushing out of control since a blowout on June 3, about 50 miles offshore from Ciudad del Carmen on the southern Mexico coast on July 14, 1979. An oil slick spreads northward at least 90 miles from the blowout. [Associated Press]
  3. 19th Florida panther killed by car, tying all-time record

    Wildlife

    On a Collier County road on Thursday, biologists found a female Florida panther that had been run over by a car or truck. The death of that 3- or 4-year-old panther marks the 19th roadkill death of one of Florida's official state animals this year.

    That ties the all-time record set in 2012 — with more than a month left to go in the year. Experts expect to see the record broken before New Year's Eve rolls around....

    This panther, blinded by a shotgun, is cared for at Lowry Park Zoo. Eye doctor Tammy Miller examines the wounds following its Oct. 11 rescue in Collier County.
  4. Years of tracking giant snails costs Florida taxpayers millions

    Wildlife

    MIAMI

    At a little-known government laboratory in South Florida, they keep the snails under lock and key. Sure, any escape would be sloooooow. But giant African land snails are such a threat to humans that the rules say they have to be kept locked away, just in case.

    The aptly-named snails can grow to be more than 6 inches long. Wherever they go they leave a trail of smelly excrement. They eat 500 kinds of plants. They produce up to 500 eggs two or three times a year, and because they're hermaphrodites they don't need a mate. If they aren't getting enough lime from the soil for their shells, they will gobble the stucco off the side of a house. ...

    Dr. Mary Yong Cong, a scientist with the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, shows the African land snails she found in a yard in Davie. The invasive creatures previously had been seen only in Miami-Dade County. [Miami Herald]
  5. State Department of Economic Opportunity issues rare objection to U.S. Sugar development plan

    Environment

    A state agency that has approved almost every development project submitted to it has balked at U.S. Sugar's plans to develop land currently slated for Everglades restoration.

    On 67 square miles of sugar land southwest of Lake Okeechobee in Hendry County, U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers of Florida, another sugar company with adjoining property, have joined forces on a project called "Sugar Hill."...

  6. Pro-environment Amendment 1 a big hit with voters

    Blog

    The biggest winner on the ballot Tuesday wasn't one of the candidates. It was Amendment 1, the proposal to set aside some $10 billion in tax money over the next 20 years, to be used for purchasing environmentally sensitive land and protecting wildlife and water resources.

    The measure passed with the support of 75 percent of voters, and in effect creates the largest state-based conservation initiative in U.S. history. Backers say the money could be spent to protect the state's ailing springs, to restore the Everglades or to preserve land that's important for a variety of species....

  7. Pro-environment Amendment 1 a big hit with voters, but no one knows what Legislature will do

    Environment

    The biggest winner on the ballot Tuesday wasn't one of the candidates. It was Amendment 1, the proposal to set aside some $10 billion in tax money over the next 20 years, to be used for purchasing environmentally sensitive land and protecting wildlife and water resources.

    The measure passed with the support of 75 percent of voters, and in effect creates the largest state-based conservation initiative in U.S. history. Backers say the money could be spent to protect the state's ailing springs, to restore the Everglades or to preserve land that's important for a variety of species....

    Backers say the money could be spent to protect the state's ailing springs, to restore the Everglades, pictured, or to preserve land that's important for a variety of species. [Getty Images]
  8. Charlie Crist promises renewed focus on climate change, environment

    Environment

    During a heated moment in the second gubernatorial debate, Gov. Rick Scott said of his opponent, "Charlie Crist never did anything for the environment."

    "That's the most absurd statement anybody could make," Crist said in an interview afterward.

    During Crist's term as governor, he took a number of actions on environmental issues:

    • He blocked a coal-fired power plant from being built near the Everglades....

    California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shakes hands with then-Gov. Charlie Crist during the Climate Change Summit hosted by Crist at Miami’s Intercontinental Hotel in 2008.
  9. Gov. Rick Scott and the environment, a case of dramatic change

    Blog

    In January, Gov. Rick Scott stood in front of a room full of Department of Environmental Protection employees and praised their hard work.

    One accomplishment Scott singled out: making it easier than ever to obtain a permit for filling in wetlands, pumping water out of the aquifer or pouring pollutants into the water and air.

    "Recently Florida has successfully reduced its environmental permitting time down to just two days, and that's great!" Scott said. "We take care of our environment, but when we know we're going to give a permit, give it to them quickly."...

  10. Under Scott, Department of Environmental Protection undergoes drastic change

    Environment

    In January, Gov. Rick Scott stood in front of a room full of Department of Environmental Protection employees and praised their hard work.

    One accomplishment Scott singled out: making it easier than ever to obtain a permit for filling in wetlands, pumping water out of the aquifer or pouring pollutants into the water and air.

    "Recently Florida has successfully reduced its environmental permitting time down to just two days, and that's great!" Scott said. "We take care of our environment, but when we know we're going to give a permit, give it to them quickly."...

    COO Randall Greene oversaw layoffs of DEP employees.
  11. Scott's DEP tried to change award-winning park system

    Water

    One of the Department of Environmental Protection's most important jobs is operating the state park system.

    Florida's 171 parks have won three national awards — the only state system so honored. The parks attract 25 million visitors a year and contribute $1.2 billion to the state's economy — yet the Scott administration repeatedly tried to change them.

    First, after Scott met with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, two of his allies in the Legislature (one of them Sen. John Thrasher) sponsored bills to allow Nicklaus to build golf courses with adjoining hotels in five state parks....

  12. Solutions offered at climate change forum inspired by Gov. Scott

    Global Warming

    ST. PETERSBURG — About 250 people turned out Monday afternoon for a conference on climate change inspired by Gov. Rick Scott to talk about solutions ranging from alternate energy sources to coping with sea level rise.

    The Florida Climate Science and Solutions Summit, held at Eckerd College, brought together scientists, government officials and entrepreneurs to discuss what has worked and what has not as the atmosphere and oceans heat up....

    Melissa Fultz, 31, of St. Petersburg captures an image of the ideas wall at the Climate Science and Solutions Summit at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg on Monday.
  13. Gov. Rick Scott visits Bethel Community Baptist

    Blog

    Two weeks after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist visited Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Republican Gov. Rick Scott followed suit Sunday morning. Unlike Crist, Scott stayed for the entire church service and shook hands and posed for photos afterward.

    When Crist visited the church, he spent most of his time knocking Scott for his cuts to the education budget and for not expanding the Medicaid program, as well as ending a program Crist had started as governor to automatically restore the rights of ex-felons who have served their time....

    Gov. Rick Scott worships at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg on Sunday.
  14. Charlie Crist endorses Greenlight Pinellas in visit to St. Pete church

    Blog

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin spent about 20 minutes campaigning at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Sunday morning.

    Tomalin urged the congregation to vote for the Greenlight Pinellas transit issue because of the jobs it would create -- and then Crist endorsed the ballot item as well.

    "Greenlight is good -- good for transportation," Crist told the congregation....

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin spent about 20 minutes campaigning at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Sunday morning.
  15. What about the manatees? Group targets two U.S. agencies for dock permits

    Wildlife

    An environmental group that frequently sues the government over endangered species issues has taken aim at the federal permitting of thousands of boat docks in Florida and how that affects manatees.

    The Florida office of the Center for Biological Diversity contends that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aren't keeping track of how many permits they approve for waterfront access throughout the state....

    The Center for Biological Diversity says two federal agencies are not considering the cumulative impact on manatees from the high number of Florida docks they are approving.