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Craig Pittman - Environment, Growth and Development Reporter

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.

  1. Archaeologist Terry Barbour excavates a bead-making site on Raleigh Island in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Barbour's team then used a drone with radar to map the entire village of 37 ring-shaped piles of oyster shells where ancient dwellers made beads out of shells.
    Scientists stumbled on the site while assessing BP oil spill effects in 2010
  2. This sinkhole opened up in September 2016 underneath a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer plant in Mulberry, leaking 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the aquifer.
    The panel rejected environmental groups’ challenge of a permit that would allow mining on 50,000 acres.
  3. Workers clean up thousands of small fish that washed onto North Redington Beach last year as a result of the worst Red Tide bloom in a decade.  A new Red Tide bloom began in September off Collier County and appears to be creeping northward. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]
    The bloom started off Collier County in September. It’s slowly moving north
  4. Members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor expedition spend time at their camp site at the Lake Livingston Conservation Bank near Frostproof on Wednesday. The group is participating in an expedition through the center of the state, traveling by horseback and by foot. The travelers hope to show off Florida habitat that could be lost to development and the controversial new toll roads backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
    Prior expeditions highlighted connections between wilderness areas
  5. An hour before dusk, spectators at the wooden fence on Museum Road in Gainesville, are curious and waiting to see the bats.
About half a million bats live in the largest occupied bat houses on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. There are two barns and one house on the property. Nearly every night the bats all take flight about 15 minutes after sunset,  Oct. 17, 2019, heading out to eat an estimated 2 1/2 billion insects.
    The bats’ exodus from their bat houses makes for a treat, but getting them to live there has been tricky
  6. This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it enters the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Panhandle as a Category 5 storm. Florida State University professor Wenyuan Fan said the storm probably created "stormquakes" offshore in the gulf, too. [Photo courtesy of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration]]
    Analysis of a decade of records shows hurricanes causing seismic activity on continental shelf
  7. Emissions from cars and trucks are a major source of the greenhouse gases fueling climate change. An analysis by the New York Times found that air pollution from those sources has increased in the Tampa Bay area by 55 percent since 1990. [Times (2008)]
    Florida once had emissions inspections, but Jeb Bush ended them in 2000
  8. In 1995, Florida imported eight female Texas cougars and released them into the wild to breed with male panthers. Five successfully produced kittens that were free of the genetic defects that had been plaguing the purebred panthers. This 1995 photo depicts the release of one of the female Texas cougars. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
    Next they hope to use it to see how breeding panthers with Texas cougars affected the panthers’ DNA
  9. Richard Sajko of Valrico, FL talks about how he killed one of the two bears on the back of his pickup truck at the first Florida Black Bear hunt in 21 years at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary Florida. 
(Saturday, October 24, 2015.) [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
    The 2015 hunt, the first in 21 years, caused so much controversy that wildlife officials put off deciding about another one until now
  10. University of Florida researchers hold a 15-foot Burmese python captured in Everglades National Park in 2009. The python had just eaten a 6-foot alligator. Florida has more invasive species than any other state.
    Citing cost, the Trump Administration shuts down 20-year-old advisory committee.