everglades restoration

Kate Stein / WLRN

A project intended to help address blue-green algae outbreaks took a major step forward Wednesday as the U.S. Senate passed a bill that includes a proposal for an Everglades water storage reservoir.

Senators approved the bill, which includes many other water-related projects nationwide, by a margin of 99-1.

Sam Turken / WLRN

Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he plans to protect the environment if elected, including restoring the Everglades and ending algae blooms near Lake Okeechobee.

But he refused to explicitly state whether he believes in climate change. 

The former U.S. Rep. toured the Everglades in Broward County on an airboat to learn more about efforts to improve water flow through the National Park.

Martin County Health Department

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for seven counties experiencing blue-green algae blooms, including Palm Beach County.

The blooms are in large part due to water discharges from Lake Okeechobee. They can cause fish die-offs and respiratory irritation in humans. And it's not the first time the foul-smelling blooms have prompted an emergency declaration: in the summer of 2016, at the peak of the July tourist season, the blooms closed beaches and fishing businesses.

Smack in the middle of the Florida peninsula, Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest lakes in the U.S., has a nagging problem. Nearly every year now, large blooms of algae form in the lake.

On a recent visit, even Steve Davis, a senior ecologist with the Everglades Foundation, was surprised.

"Oh my gosh," he exclaimed, "look how thick this blue-green mat is right here."

USGS via Wikimedia Commons

A reservoir project that could help address water challenges in the Everglades is one step closer to being built.

Congressional committees on Thursday approved a bill that, if passed, would authorize construction of a $1.4 billion water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir would help reduce water discharges from Lake Okeechobee that contribute to algae blooms on Florida’s coasts; it would also increase water flow south to Florida Bay.

Mac Stone Photography

Wood storks, roseate spoonbills, ibises and egrets are among the many birds that fly, paddle and wade through the Everglades.

They draw visitors, particularly photographers, to the ecosystem. But the Everglades' birds are important for another reason: The health of wading bird communities says a lot about progress on Everglades restoration.

Kate Stein / WLRN

The greater Everglades is a mosaic of habitats: sawgrass marshes, seagrass beds, pine rockland forest and hardwood hammocks coexist in an ecosystem stretching from just south of Orlando to the Florida Keys.

Participants at an annual Everglades restoration conference say to expedite much-needed restoration projects, there needs to be ongoing collaboration among groups as diverse as the ecosystem itself.

Kate Stein / WLRN

For most of us, culverts -- the pipes that help water flow under roads and hills --  aren't particularly exciting news.

But the South Florida Water Management District is celebrating a Dec. 14 decision by its governing board to speed up building four new culverts that are part of a project to restore coastal areas along Biscayne Bay.

Allen Eyestone / Palm Beach Post

Water managers planning a massive Everglades reservoir to help end polluted releases from Lake Okeechobee that regularly foul both coasts unveiled early drafts of the project Tuesday.

Peter Haden / WLRN

With the White House pointing to ties between President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott, repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee might be done more quickly than anticipated.

Trump on Thursday directed Mick Mulvaney, the chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to accelerate the work.

“The administration, working closely with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, will now plan to expedite work at the project,” the White House said in a news release late Thursday.

Amy Green / WMFE

A key player on Everglades issues was elevated Monday to become executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, replacing Pete Antonacci who is leaving to become Gov. Rick Scott's top business recruiter.

The district's Governing Board unanimously agreed during a teleconference to promote Ernie Marks, district director of Everglades policy and coordination, to executive director.

Read more: River of Grass, Dying of Thirst

Army Corps Needs More Time On Negron Reservoir

Jul 27, 2017

Federal assistance may be on the way for the state's latest Everglades restoration effort.

Courtesy the National Parks Conservation Association

The state agency overseeing Everglades restoration is threatening to stop participating in congressionally mandated scientific reviews of its progress.

The South Florida Water Management District says it is considering withdrawing financially from the National Academies of Sciences and seeking scientific guidance elsewhere.

Spokesman Randy Smith says the scientists are overstepping their authority and threatening to slow Everglades restoration by weighing in on budgetary and engineering issues.

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