KEYS WEEKLY: Seagrass die off due to hyper salinity

KEYS WEEKLY: July 1, 2016. Written by Gabriel Sanchez

It started last summer during the drought and was only exacerbated by the continued blockage of freshwater flowing southward through the Everglades. A large section of seagrass (between 30,000 and 50,0000 acres affected) has died off in the Florida Bay, and things could be getting worse. “The expansion of algae overgrowth needs to be stopped,” says Steve Davis, staff ecologist with the Everglades Foundation.

On a recent tour of Florida Bay, and its affected basins, the Weekly observed firsthand the effects of the recent algae bloom prior to a public meeting on June 21 on the issue. Members of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, the Florida House of Representatives, the Everglades Foundation, local officials, and Florida Bay Forever (a Monroe County based conservation group) were present to learn and discuss solutions.

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Facts


TC PALM: Nelson suggests eminent domain of sugar land

TC PALM: June 30, 2016. Written by Maureen Kenyon

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's boat tour of the St. Lucie River was canceled due to rain, however, he spoke with the media and other local officials about the blue-green algae that has invaded Treasure Coast waterways.

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State legislative candidates discuss land purchases and guns at forum

NAPLES DAILY NEWS: June 23, 2016. Written by Alexandra Glorioso

Republican state legislative candidates offered different takes Thursday on tax-funded land purchases and guns at a campaign forum.

Rep. Kathleen Passsidomo, a Naples Republican running for a state Senate seat, said she supports state funding to purchase lands south of the Everglades.

"The (state) constitution says we have to spend funds to acquire and maintain environmentally sensitive lands," she said.

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SW Fla. fishermen, shoreside residents echo water quality concerns

NBC2: June 21, 2016. Written by Andrea Hubbell

LEE COUNTY - The water quality is worse than ever, according to some Southwest Florida fishermen. Tour guides are saying in order to catch fish, they must drive up to 25 miles out from shore. It's not a new problem as it's been happening for decades. But the worse it gets, the more it will affect the economy now and in the future.

For Blake Matherly, it's a curse with a hidden blessing.

"This year it's far worse because of the extra rain we have been getting. But all that has done is let more people see that this problem has been going on for years," Matherly said.

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Guest commentary: Everglades protection must prevail against the sugar industry

NAPLES DAILY NEWS: June 16, 2016. Written by Kimberly Mitchell, Executive Director at the Everglades Trust. 

We all pay dearly for Florida's sugar industry. It needs to end.

A recent guest commentary in the Naples Daily News from the Florida Sugar Cane League claimed that Florida sugar production is the epitome of family farmers hard at work.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most recent agricultural census reveals that there are only about 150 sugar "farms" in Florida, two of which account for some 300,000 acres of production — some family enterprise!

To be clear, the Florida Sugar Cane League is speaking for the mammoth Florida sugar barons — U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals. The guest commentary criticizes those working hard to restore America's Everglades by calling them "so-called defenders of the environment."

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Green-algae blooms spotted in multiple locations around Martin County waterways

WPTV: June 20, 2016. Written by Meghan McRoberts

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Green algae blooms continue to show up in Treasure Coast waterways, causing concern for residents, business owners and water lovers.

Monday, algae was spotted in multiple areas in Martin County, including Leighton Park, Shepard Park, Downtown Stuart near the Riverwalk, the St. Lucie Locks and Lighthouse Point in Palm City.

On the first day of summer, some residents worry about what is yet to come for the season. Lake Okeechobee releases continue to pour into the St. Lucie River, which scientists blame for the algae blooms.

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Will Florida Bay survive the summer?

MIAMI HERALD: June 17, 2016. Written by Jenny Staletovich

Record winter rain on the heels of a severe summer drought that withered acres of seagrass may not be enough to stem the fever ailing Florida Bay.

The seagrass die-off, which spread from about 25 square miles to more than 62 square miles through the winter, blanketed the central bay in a plume of yellow sulfide. While scientists say the die-off appears to have stopped for now, they worry that rising water temperatures over the summer could trigger a more lethal blow: algae blooms. Record highs have already been topped three times in the bay in recent months, they say.

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Don't take away our refuge

SUN SENTINEL: June 14, 2016. Written by Susan Davis, board member of Audubon Society of the Everglades

National wildlife refuges are sacred spots for the American people to enjoy our nation's remarkable wildlife. The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in western Palm Beach County is a perfect example of how important refuges can be in metropolitan areas like South Florida. Loxahatchee is the only remnant of the Everglades left in Palm Beach County.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does an admirable job managing the refuge — also known as Water Conservation Area 1 –— through a 50-year lease agreement with the landowner, the South Florida Water Management District.

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POINT OF VIEW: Environmentalist is not a four-letter word

PALM BEACH POST: June 14, 2016. Written by Kimberly Mitchell, Executive Director at the Everglades Trust

I am writing in response to Malcolm “Bubba” Wade Jr.’s June 10 Point of View in The Palm Beach Post, “Environmental critics muddying waters with misinformation” regarding the environmental devastation happening in three areas of South Florida: St Lucie River (Stuart area), Caloosahatchee River (Fort Myers area) and Florida Bay (the Florida Keys). I think we have all become accustomed to Big Sugar’s standard refrain of “It’s not our fault!”

Our work at the Everglades Trust is not centered on who’s at fault. Rather, it is singularly focused on the solution. There is only one solution to solving this horrific nightmare and it is a large water storage area, an Everglades reservoir, south of Lake Okeechobee. Scientists and biologists know it. The people know it. And Big Sugar knows it.

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