Almost a year after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection launched a review of its conservation lands looking for $50 million worth that it could sell as surplus, the agency is ending the program without having sold a single acre.
"The department will not continue with this large scale conservation land sale effort," DEP press secretary Patrick Gillespie said Monday.
The effort stirred up statewide controversy and apparently cost the department its top two land division officials — without raising a single penny of the $50 million that the Legislature had promised last year....
Nine months after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection launched a review of its conservation lands looking for $50 million worth that it could sell as surplus, the agency is ending the program without having sold a single acre.
"The department will not continue with this large-scale conservation land sale effort," DEP press secretary Patrick Gillespie said Monday.
The effort stirred up statewide controversy and apparently cost the department two top officials without raising a penny of the $50 million the Legislature had promised....
Nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, oil continues washing ashore in Florida. On Thursday, a crew from the state Department of Environmental Protection found a 1,250-pound tar mat in the surf off Pensacola Beach.
The mat measured about 9 feet long and 9 feet wide, the DEP crew noted in a report. They dug up as much of the gooey mess as they could and contractors hauled it away. On Friday they excavated another 100 pounds....
A remarkable alignment of Florida political interests has occurred this year — perhaps because it's an election year, perhaps because the urgency of the problem has drawn a lot of attention.
Gov. Rick Scott, several powerful state senators, a coalition of environmental groups and a consortium of business and industry groups all say the Legislature needs to do something this year about fixing Florida's water. ...
Dissolved oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill off Louisiana wafted underwater all the way down to Florida's Sanibel Island, sickening fish along the way, according to a new study from University of South Florida scientists.
An upwelling of cold water from deep in the Gulf of Mexico swept the oil up onto the continental shelf about 80 miles offshore, spreading it far from where it was spewing out of a damaged rig, the study found....
DEP loses top two land officials, still hasn't removed Green Swamp parcel from controversial surplus list02/19/14Environment
Two months ago, the owner of the largest remaining parcel on the state Department of Environmental Protection's controversial surplus land list asked that it be removed. So far, that hasn't happened.
Meanwhile, the top two officials in charge of the DEP's division of state lands have resigned. They quit within two weeks of each other.
However, the double departure has had no effect on the ongoing review of the surplus list, DEP press secretary Patrick Gillespie said Wednesday. The remaining staff of about 130 people "is still reviewing the list, and it will be updated when that review is complete," he said....
This is a story about sex, supply and demand, global trade, corruption, government regulation and one of the ugliest sea creatures in Florida.
Among the marine animals that live in the Florida Keys is the sea cucumber. It is animal, not vegetable — a long and lumpy invertebrate that looks like a cross between a diseased zucchini and an overinflated eclair.
For decades, divers who strapped on scuba gear to collect saltwater fish for aquariums have also scooped up the occasional sea cucumber. In 2012, they collected about 14,000 of them in the Keys, according to Melissa Recks of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nobody got rich off of them — they were going for about $1 each....
TAMPA — In the wake of the worst bear attack on a human in Florida history, state wildlife officials are asking the Legislature for a half-million dollars to help them respond more quickly to complaints about bears.
"This will give us more boots on the ground and more equipment to deal with bear issues," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission executive director Nick Wiley said Wednesday....
For the first time since 2011, state biologists have surveyed Florida's manatee population from the air. They counted 4,831, the third-highest number since counting began in 1991.
"We are encouraged by the relatively high count, especially given the high number of manatee deaths documented recently," said Gil McRae, director of the state's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, which oversees the aerial surveys....
Some of Florida's most powerful state senators have put their heads together to draft legislation designed to help Florida's ailing springs.
The draft bill would earmark about $378 million per year for sewage hookups and septic tank improvements in springs areas, and would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to create "protection and management zones" for 38 of the state's most prominent springs. Most homes in those zones would be required to hook up to a central sewer line....
RUSKIN — On a postcard-perfect blue-sky day, with a flock of white pelicans taking flight from a nearby forest, a collection of local and state officials gathered Monday to salute the official start of the biggest environmental restoration project ever undertaken around Tampa Bay.
The project, known as the Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration, covers more than 1,000 acres and has been in the works for more than a decade, according to Jennette Seachrist of the Southwest Florida Water Management District — Swiftmud for short....
ST. PETERSBURG — The future of Florida's state animal is being debated by five state and federal officials, one environmental activist and a major landowner, all behind closed doors.
The seven members of the Florida Panther Recovery Implementation Team began meeting last fall. They gathered Tuesday at the state's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg for a two-day session. An agenda online said the group was supposed to hear from scientific experts and discuss how to encourage the big cats to expand their South Florida population into Central Florida....
How many manatees can commercial fishermen in Florida injure or kill every year without affecting the future of a species that has been on the endangered list since 1967?
The answer, according to an analysis the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unveiled Thursday, is 14.
The only problem: The agency says the annual average number of deaths and injuries due to commercial fishing is 99. And that calculation doesn't include the record 829 manatees overall that died in 2013....
01/22/14 Global Warming
High tides have been getting higher and low tides lower at cities around the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new study produced in part by scientists at the University of South Florida.
Those extreme swings, caused at least in part by global climate change, have increased since the 1990s, the study found.
The trend for sea level rise spells very bad news for anyone living along the coast if a hurricane hits during one of those higher high tides....
To get the rock needed for making pavement and concrete, miners want to dynamite and dig up thousands of acres in Lee and Collier counties that's currently habitat for the Florida panther.
When Central Florida's phosphate miners are done digging up their fertilizer ingredients, they're required to restore the land. Not limerock miners. Instead their pit is converted into an artificial lake and the property around it subdivided and turned into waterfront lots....