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SFWMD: Snakes on a Plain!

And now for something completely different...

SFWMD has the cure for "bad news" fatigue. It’s the python channel! All pythons, all the time.

Research linking cyanobacteria to liver failure ignited a recent wave of alarm as more evidence surfaced connecting toxic algae to health risks in coastal communities. But the South Florida Water Management District came through as usual with a welcome diversion on its electronic sidestage -- more pythons!

Although Florida faces another round of deep budget cuts, and federal funding for natural resource management programs may zero-out entirely this year, SFWMD somehow found the money to invest in a social media initiative dedicated largely to pythons.

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Toxic Algae Linked to Deaths from Liver Diseases

People are dying. Researchers around the world are studying the link between toxins in cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and serious, long-term health risks, and evidence is piling up connecting algae blooms to fatal diseases.

TC Palm today covered a decade-long Ohio State University study linking blue-green algae blooms to death rates from liver diseases. The study singled out Florida’s Treasure Coast, ground zero for toxic algae-laden discharges from lake Okeechobee, as a statistical cluster where anomalously high numbers of people die from non-alcohol-related liver failure.

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How SFWMD and the Army Corps Got One Right

No one has been a louder critic of SFWMD than Bullsugar. But the district and the Army Corps of Engineers have a legitimate success with the Kissimmee River project.

By focusing on returning the river to its historic condition, letting nature work the way it used to, and avoiding high-risk, over-engineered approaches, they’re on track to deliver positive results on a project that we all agree is important. We should apply the lessons of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project to all remaining CERP projects.

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Bud Jordan: Investing in Martin County's Future

Bud Jordan built a legacy of personal investment in Martin County. After watching US Sugar infiltrate and turn a local institution against itself, he walked away from a group he founded. But instead of a bitter lesson, Jordan’s work is a blueprint for how to build and protect a healthy community.

Bud Jordan moved to a waterside paradise in 1971 and fell in love. He and his wife Marji ate stone crabs and pompano caught from their dock and swam in the St. Lucie all year long. But it didn’t take long to notice the river’s decline. Slowly at first, but then in awful pulses that came more and more frequently with freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee, the grass beds and fish began to disappear. More of the snook Jordan caught had lesions and parasites. The deep river bends silted in with flocculent ooze--polluted, decomposing muck from the lake.

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Two Steps Forward, NO Steps Back

Almost everyone in Martin County has been involved in helping Sen. Joe Negron pass SB10 to send water south and save our river and the Everglades. The Stuart News pointed out that David won a great battle against Goliath, but it's not over yet. Implementing SB10 in the next year will take as much effort as getting it passed.

Martin County residents made a big difference. They were passionate and educated. The Stuart News was no exception. It was unafraid and accurate in its reporting 

With their help we were able to answer Sugar's repeated attacks that claimed the toxic algae was our own fault because we had septic tanks. We could point out that Martin County had the strictest limits on new septic systems and the best wetland protection in the state.

All that makes it hard to understand how our commissioners could possibly consider lessening restrictions on septic systems and giving up on enforcing policies that keep urban development from sprawling beyond the urban service district.

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What Are We Celebrating?

By Chris Maroney

As you've probably heard, Senate President's Joe Negron's EAA Reservoir bill passed the Florida legislature this week. 

You've also probably heard the bill was watered down, and it was -- but make no mistake: this is a real victory. So what are we celebrating?

Progress, and most of all, unity. When Bullsugar formed nearly three years ago, Floridians were in the dark about the key to stopping toxic discharges and restoring the Everglades. Today, they are much better informed. In the last year, organizations, businesses, and individuals across Florida united to demand that the state expedite the most critical project in CERP, the EAA Reservoir. This demand was presented in a short, simple statement of support for long-established science and basic economics called the Now or Neverglades Declaration.

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Congratulations to Eric Burnett, Winner of the Bullsugar.org Custom Nautilus Reel!

Eric Burnett is the quintessential Florida sportfisherman. Fishes for lots of species, salt and fresh. Appreciates world-class fisheries. And top-quality tackle. Fly fishes with professional guides. Worries about their future and about the next generation's chances to fish these waters. Doesn't live here.

"I treasure the moments when I'm able to spend fly fishing," he says. "Fishing in areas like the Everglades or the Keys allows me to challenge my abilities and experience an entirely different world. By protecting areas like these, I get more opportunities to enjoy them in the future, and my son gets a chance to enjoy them after I'm gone."

 

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Shared Adversity? Caloosahatchee Salinity Reaches Lethal Levels While Sugar Thrives

For the last month, the Caloosahatchee estuary hasn't gotten the freshwater it needs to survive. This week salinity levels at Ft. Myers climbed high enough to kill tape grass, the lifeline for virtually everything in this environment.

The cause is NOT South Florida's ongoing drought, though. Desperately needed flows from Lake Okeechobee have been reduced to a trickle or cut off entirely by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers. Water managers plan to keep on restricting the Caloosahatchee's freshwater allotment for the foreseeable future, so conditions won't improve anytime soon.

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The Richest Waterway in North America. And We're Killing It.

Florida is home to the most biodiverse marine environment in North America. It's not the Everglades. Or Florida Bay. Or the Gulf Coast. More species live in the St. Lucie and Indian River Lagoon than in any other waterway on the continent. Dr. Grant Gilmore of Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, Inc. has spent decades exploring and documenting an incredible array of life here.

Meanwhile Florida's sugar industry and water managers have spent decades regularly blasting toxic pollution into it. Somehow, despite massive reductions in seagrass beds and plummeting fish and shellfish populations, this amazing estuary isn't dead.

Dr. Gilmore shared some insight about the St. Lucie estuary and the unique environment Treasure Coast residents have been fighting to protect, and why there’s no other place like it in North America:

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The St. Lucie: North America's Most Biodiverse Estuary

Dr. Grant Gilmore of the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council identified hundred of species within a few miles of the St. Lucie estuary, making it North America's most biodiverse.
Illustration: The St. Lucie is North America's Most Diverse Estuary
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