Environment

A state task force appointed to advise lawmakers on Florida’s toxic algae problems is considering a toxic algae water quality standard.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Apalachicola Bay oysters, sweet and salty mollusks best served raw on the half-shell with a little lemon juice, will be off the menu for up to five years in the latest effort to revive the oyster population in the Franklin County bay.

CHERISSE LAMB

Jacksonville’s Resiliency Committee is being urged to consider turning empty lots and unused properties into green space to protect the city from flooding.

Federal scientists are predicting that this summer’s “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be larger than average.

Shark fins spread out across a table
Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Palm Coast Republican Sen. Travis Hutson is co-sponsoring a bill to ban the import and export of shark fins.  The proposal made it through a Senate committee unanimously on Tuesday, over the objections of several commercial fishermen who spoke at the meeting.

Rhesus Macaque climbing on a branch in the forest
John Raoux / Associated Press

Rhesus macaque monkeys have been in Florida since the late 1930s, when they were imported from Southeast Asia.

Recent sightings in Jacksonville’s Julington Creek neighborhood and throughout St. Johns County have  put the monkeys in the national spotlight.

Diamondback terrapin turtle resting on the sand
George Heinrich

A University of North Florida professor is leading an effort to petition state wildlife regulators to protect diamondback terrapin turtles along Florida’s coastlines.

Rocks along the coast of St. Augustine Beach
John Raoux / Associated Press

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine) that would establish a statewide Office of Resiliency along with a statewide Sea Level Rise Task Force unanimously passed a House Subcommittee Tuesday afternoon.

Ruben de Rijcke / Wikimedia Commons

Despite the advances made in lowering vehicle emissions since 1990, the amount of pollution generated by vehicles in Jacksonville has gone up 53% over roughly the past three decades.

Environmentalists, State Wrangle Over Conservation Spending

Jul 17, 2019
NORTH FLORIDA LAND TRUST

Florida lawmakers defied a voter-approved constitutional amendment by improperly diverting money intended for land buying and maintenance to cover agency expenses and salaries, attorneys for environmentalists told a three-judge panel at the 1st District Court of Appeal Tuesday.

Yellow Bluff Wildfire
Sky Lebron / Sky Lebron

The dry weather coupled with a heat wave is leading to an increased risk of wildfires.

Man holds "don't frack with our water" sign.
Alex Milan Tracy / Sipa USA via Flickr

A proposal backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban “fracking” in Florida appears dead for this legislative session.

Fla. Senate Poised To Back Move Of Law Enforcement Officers From FWC To DEP

Apr 17, 2019
The Florida Senate

A shift of 19 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers to the Department of Environmental Protection, a change sought by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was teed up Wednesday by the Senate for a final vote.

FWC Says Virus Might Be Killing Turtles In St. Johns Watershed

Mar 28, 2019
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission / Via Flickr

The mysterious die-off of freshwater turtles throughout the massive St. Johns River watershed continues despite an ongoing year-long investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and its partners to determine the cause and prevent damage to the ecosystem with the loss of the species.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report estimates $351 billion worth of Florida homes will be at risk from tidal flooding by the end of the century, including a significant portion in First Coast coastal communities.

Ebyabe / Wikimedia Commons

Eleven national parks in Florida, including several on the First Coast, are threatened by White House proposals to open to oil drilling currently protected parts of the nation’s outer continental shelf and to revise the 2016 Well Control Rule, according to a report released Wednesday by environmental conservation groups.

St. Johns River Water Management District

Florida lawmakers have agreed on funding for the state’s conservation-land-buying program, Florida Forever. The plan is to spend more than 100-million-dollars on it next year.

But a stalled measure would’ve guaranteed recurring funding for years to come.

Senator Rob Bradley.
Florida Channel

A measure allocating $100 million annually for buying conservation lands is heading for the floor of the Florida Senate.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island).

John Moran

A Live Oak poultry producer and environmental groups have reached a settlement over Suwannee River pollution, avoiding further litigation.

Pilgrim’s Pride processing plant has agreed to pay $1.4 million for violating its own Clean Water Act permit.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Governor Rick Scott Tuesday unveiled his last budget proposal as the state’s chief executive in Jacksonville.

Scott said it represents a historic investment across the board.


St. Johns River Taxi

Sen. Rob Bradley’s, R-Orange Park, proposal to increase funding for the St. Johns River, springs and the Keystone Heights Lake Region cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday, gaining unanimous approval from the Senate’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Bradley is the chairman.


On the most recent “Faith Matters” hosts Nancy Broner, Executive Director of the OneJax Institute at the University of North Florida and Kyle Reese, board member of OneJax and senior pastor of Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church how the interaction with natural resources can be discussed as a matter of faith. They said most people of faith have an appreciation for interacting with nature.         

They were joined by Florida Times-Union columnist Mark Woods, author of the book ”Lassoing the Sun; A year in America’s National Parks,” and Quinton White, Executive Director of the Marine Science Research Institute and Professor of Biology and Marine Science at Jacksonville University.

A group of local faith leaders also joined the conversation; Rev. Tom Walker Pastor and Head of Staff at Palms Presbyterian Church at Jacksonville Beach; Pastor Phillip Baber with the Unitarian Universalist Church and Adah Shair, Structural Engineer for HDR Inc. and former Interfaith Youth Core Coach at the University of North Florida. 


Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Jacksonville’s Native Sun Food Markets has eliminated the use of plastic grocery bags in all three area stores, opting instead to use paper bags made from recycled materials.

Little Talbot Island State Park
Sean Lahav

Updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday

On the wall behind Jim McCarthy’s desk hangs a large photograph of a skeletonized tree trunk resting on the iconic Boneyard Beach at Big Talbot Island State Park.

“That beach is important,” said McCarthy, president of North Florida Land Trust. Since 2012, the nonprofit organization has preserved most of the over 1,000 acres of privately owned land on the island. The project, which protects migratory birds’ layover spots and diamondback terrapins’ dwellings, is largely financed by a private fund.


VIDEO: Exploring NE Florida's Castaway Island Preserve

Apr 10, 2017
Sean Lahav / UNF's Environmental Center

WJCT presents a collaboration between the University of North Florida's Environmental Center and Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida on 19 short videos showcasing the city, state and national parks of the First Coast, produced by Sean Lahav, a project leader in the environmental leadership program.

Florida 2070

Northeast Florida is projected to have the state’s second-largest population growth over the next 50 years, according to a new study.

First Coast development is also expected to be among the most sprawling.

But the study’s authors say that prediction doesn't have to come true.

Listen to this story on Redux

North Florida Land Trust

The North Florida Land Trust is launching one of its most ambitious plans yet — it’s aiming to preserve more than 112,000 acres at once.

The trust is asking businesses and philanthropists for help raising the estimated $215 million required. But environmentalists said that’s because lawmakers are underfunding the state’s conservation program.


Florida Department of Environmental Protection

TALLAHASSEE — After decades of legal battles between Florida, Georgia and Alabama over a river system they share, an environmental group on Tuesday warned that the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Basin is "at the breaking point."

American Rivers — which releases a yearly list of the country's 10 most-endangered rivers — named the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint system its number one for 2016.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Editor's note: This article has been modified to clarify the parties involved in the lawsuit.

On the final leg of a conservation-awareness tour, the St. Johns Riverkeeper announced Friday it’s suing to halt plans to deepen the river.

The lawsuit is challenging state environmental regulators' approval of a Jacksonville plan to accommodate larger ships at JAXPORT.


The city of Jacksonville is no longer participating in the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative. The program, which awards cities around the world $1 million in cash and services to address extreme weather, crime and sea level rise, was applied for by former Mayor Alvin Brown.

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