“Three months after Hurricane Irma, canals in the Florida Keys are still full of debris”

“Three months after Hurricane Irma, canals in the Florida Keys are still full of debris”

Photo: Katie Atkins, Miami Herald

“A photo of manatees in a Florida Keys canal surrounded by Hurricane Irma debris posted to Facebook has sparked outrage online.

The photo was posted Dec. 7 in the Facebook group ‘Irma Big Pine Key’ and it was later clarified the canal is in Marathon’s Key by the Sea condo complex, mile marker 50.5 oceanside. As of this week, the canal is still full of debris.

‘The manatees come up through windows of the RVs in the canal. It’s just sickening,’ said office manager Angela Sanders.

She lives in the park and ‘knows it by heart,’ she said, adding she believes there are 16 trailers in the canal.

‘There are sheds in there, trailers and everything that was in these homes,’ Sanders said. ‘Their furniture, their silverware, their dishes, their shampoo, bleach, oil, propane tanks — anything you’ve got in your house right now, 16 of that is in the canal…’

‘Last weekend, we went in and started clearing the canal ourselves but there was only so much we could do,’ Sanders said.

As for the manatees, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation representative could not say how many have been affected by the debris or whether there have been any deaths directly caused by it…

It could be January, four months post hurricane, before cleanup of canals begins. Each municipality has to work out a memorandum of understanding with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the FWC, said county public information officer Cammy Clark.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Planner George Garrett said canal cleanup in Marathon will probably start Jan. 1… ”

— Katie Atkins, Miami Herald

Read entire article here

Legal: “Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer’ government in Tallahassee”

Legal: “Jax City Council defends tree canopy against ‘sledgehammer’ government in Tallahassee”

Photo: Steve Bisson
“The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation this week that opposes a state bill (HB 521/SB 574) that would cut the heart out of the city’s tree canopy protections.

The state bill, filed by Republican Greg Steube in the Senate and Democrat Katie Edwards in the House, would prohibit cities such as Jacksonville from stopping landowners from removing trees located on their own private property.

The Jacksonville City Council bill (2017-822) contends that the legislation is ‘harmful to the environment and contrary to the overwhelming wishes of Jacksonville citizens,’ and the bills are an ‘ ‘assault on home rule.’

The city passed a referendum in 2000 to protect the city’s tree canopy, with an overwhelming majority (76 percent) voting for the measure.

‘The bill does what Tallahassee does best; preempt local government,” per John Crescimbeni, who introduced the Council bill, a salvo against Tallahassee’s ‘sledgehammer government.’

“I don’t know what happens to them when they get into the hall of government over there,” Crescimbeni said, “but they forget where they came from.”

The bill was moved as an emergency with multiple sponsors. The entire Council agreed to sponsor the bill, which passed unanimously.’ Here is a copy of the resolution.

–A.G. Gancarski, The Florida Times-Union

Read entire article here

Invasive Species: “Space Invaders”

Invasive Species: “Space Invaders”

Photo: David Moynahan in Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bulletin

“Recently, I was at a local bar shooting aliens. They just kept coming, rows and rows of them, dropping bombs while I tried to pick them off with one puny laser after another. I had a good run for a while, until the speed at which they descended upon me increased to the point where I no longer stood a chance. My defenses were destroyed. My fingers were tired. Those aliens bombed me into obliteration…

I realized that this 1980s throwback serves as a perfect analogy for the real war we wage on invasive species here in Florida every day. Invasive species are not native and are causing, or are thought to have the potential to cause, harm to native ecosystems. Like the rows of aliens in Space Invaders, invasive plants and animals seem to just keep coming no matter how many we eliminate. And, like the token-slurping arcade game, the fight against invasive species will cost a great deal of time and resources if we ever hope to win.

Invasive species closely follow habitat loss as a leading cause of extinction. They cost huge amounts of money to control. In some cases, they are downright dangerous. To put it simply, they’re bad news. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) aggressively targets invasive species as part of its overall management of wildlife habitat in Florida. This is especially true in South Florida, a region appropriate to describe as the front line in the war on invasive species here in the Eastern United States.

J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA) occupies 60,478 acres in Palm Beach County, Florida. Invasive species seem to creep in from all directions there, resulting in an uphill battle in the larger war. Carrie Black, the lead area biologist for J.W. Corbett WMA who oversees its management, took some time with me to explain why and how this battle gets fought.

‘The problem with invasives is that they’re exploiting resources that native species require for their survival because no natural enemies exist to keep the number of invasives in check,’ Carrie told me over the phone. ‘If there’s some disturbance in the environment, [invasive] plants are well-adapted to come in and take over. Open spaces are very important for our native plants and animals, and Florida is a fire-adapted ecosystem. Typically, the pine flatwoods, which is one of the most common communities in Florida, would burn every two to three years. That creates a very open environment. When these exotics come in, they create dense [stands], they don’t behave the same way that native plants do to fire, and they really take up valuable habitat, places that other animals would use either for housing or, in some cases, for food.’

A question that came to mind early in the conversation was how it was possible to make even a dent on 60,000-plus acres of invaded land. The answer is two-fold: have your own invasive species biologist and hire contractors to cover as much ground as possible. At J.W. Corbett WMA, the two work in tandem to ensure that the issue is, quite literally, nipped in the bud…

Would you like to play a role in invasive plant management? Check our list of events to find an invasive species workday near you. Each of you can help FWC better understand the distribution of invasive species by downloading the FWC Reporter App, participating in Florida Nature Trackers and/or by downloading the IveGot1 app. To see the benefits of invasive species management, visit a WMA near you. See you out there!”

— Peter Kleinhenz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bulletin issue #16 2017

Read entire article