May is Clean Air Month — a designation especially important to Floridians, since we live in a state that is among the cleanest in the nation according to the 2012 State of the Air report conducted by the American Lung Association. The report was compiled from data taken to determine ground-level ozone and particulate matter concentration levels for a three-year testing period – 2008 through 2010. The national ambient air quality standard for ozone is 0.075 parts per million over an eight-hour period…more
What to do in Florida: Visit all 160 State Parks!
When visiting faraway places ask yourself – what will I be unhappy about if I don’t get to see/experience it while I’m here? The same question works for being in Florida, even if you live here. What would I miss here in Florida if I didn’t experience it? For me it would be Florida State Parks, all 160 of them around the state. The oldest state park is Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park dedicated in 1899 and the newest is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park acquired in 2008….more
It’s Time to Hit the Beaches
Although summer may not officially have started, summertime weather is definitely here. Floridians will be flocking to area beaches to swim, surf, fish and soak up the warmth. But they’re not the only ones.
According to Visit Florida, more than 75 million visitors come to Florida annually. And with more than 800 miles of sandy beaches – more than any other state in the contiguous U.S. – it’s pretty safe to agree that many out-of-state guests come here just for that reason…more
Environmental Education – It’s a Win-Win
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is working with students at Flagler College in three separate departments. It’s a win for the students because these future scientists, educators and journalists receive college credit or practicum opportunities that will guide them in becoming the future stewards of the environment. It’s also a win for the environment because all of these areas of learning are helping to ensure that Florida’s natural resources remain sustainable and healthy…more
Expanding Florida’s Vertical Network
Since the early 1970s, DEP’s Division of State Lands’ Bureau of Survey and Mapping has worked under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Ocean Survey and the National Geodetic Survey to establish vertical control benchmarks. These benchmarks are physical monuments used for comparing water or ground levels at different locations and preventing distorted data that could result in erroneous water management decisions…more
Engaging Students at Rookery Bay in DEP’s LIFE Program
DEP’s Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) Big Cypress Project recently wrapped up its third year of field trips at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Since the project’s inception, more than 1,200 seventh-grade students from Collier County Public Schools have participated in the program that involves multiple field experiences, service learning projects and a focus on middle schools with the greatest needs…more
Easy Actions for Beach Lovers
Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches attract millions of beach lovers each year. Some folks love to be a part of the crowds at the most popular beaches, while others prefer a more secluded seaside for yoga stretches or romantic strolls, or one where the mullet run and the red drum roll…more
Citizens and Scientists Come Face-to-Face
Scientific language can sometimes be hard to understand, but Floridians shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to our experts to learn about our environment. Recently, the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve kicked off a new series dubbed Sci Café where area residents are encouraged to sit down with a scientist to talk about topics that are especially important to those living on the gulf coast. The venue will likely be a local restaurant or business, the topics will change each month and questions and comments will be welcome…more
Hillsborough River State Park
More than 3,300 acres of beautiful uplands, multiple biking and hiking trails; a full-facility, primitive and youth campgrounds; ample canoeing and kayaking opportunities and a newly renovated half-acre swimming pool. That, and much, much, more is what await visitors who wish to spend some quality time outdoors in central Florida…more
More Than a River … Wekiva River-Middle St. Johns Aquatic Preserve
Did you know that when you step into the cool waters at Wekiwa Springs State Park, or when you paddle your canoe across the water’s surface along the Wekiva River, you’re moving through an aquatic preserve?
Nearly half a century ago, when it became apparent that the beautiful and natural ecosystems that attracted so many people to Florida could not support rapid growth without science-based resource protection, the Florida Legislature designated 41 aquatic preserves, encompassing nearly 2 million acres of submerged lands….more
Rolling in the Sunshine State
As it turns out, DEP keeps track of that sort of thing. An estimated 15,250,000 automobile, light truck and smaller tires, plus 850,000 medium truck and larger tires were removed from vehicles…more
A Thousand Miles of Florida Splendor Captured in 100 Days
Many folks have explored Florida’s vast wilderness and shared their experiences along the way. But a photographer, a bear biologist, a conservationist and a filmmaker have begun a journey of 1,000 miles to bring awareness to the need for a statewide network of connected natural areas throughout Florida.
Photographer Carlton Ward Jr., biologist Joe Guthrie, conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt and documentary filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus began theirFlorida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in Everglades National Park and will travel for 100 days to reach their final destination – the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia…more
Native plants are native for a reason. Not just because they can adapt to the various elements that they are exposed to, but because the role they play in the environment enables other plants and animals to survive and thrive.
Florida’s mangroves are one of these important native species. Without them, who knows how Florida would be defined. Mangroves are a key stabilization force for our shorelines. They serve as storm buffers, protect water quality by filtering the water, and provide roosting and nest sites for birds and nursery grounds for a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates…more
What happens when a dry cleaner, pesticide plant or industrial waste site abandons its location? Is the property deemed unusable and barricaded from the public forever? Thanks to the Florida brownfields program, which was created to encourage cleanup and redevelopment of these properties, that answer can be “no.”
Brownfields are sites that are abandoned or underutilized because of known or perceived contamination. Reusing brownfield sites makes a lot of economic sense because the properties typically already have access to important infrastructure like utilities and transportation…more
The Lure of Lighthouses Lives On
What do the Cape Florida Lighthouse, the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, Maine’s Marshall Point Lighthouse and Massachusetts’ Gay Head Lighthouse all have in common? They were each prominent features in a popular Hollywood movie: Cape Florida – “Heartbreakers,” Chicago Harbor – “Meet the Parents,” Marshall Point – “Forest Gump,” and, who could forget the Gay Head Lighthouse featured in “Jaws?”
There is a certain mystique about lighthouses and to celebrate their important role in history, August 7 is recognized as National Lighthouse Day. In Florida, 32 lighthouses remain along the state’s coastline and four of these historic lighthouses can be found in a Florida State Park…more
A Five-year Success Story Behind South Florida’s Landscaper Program
Florida’s green spaces, which include parks, greenways, medians, gardens, yards and other green areas, play many important roles in Florida’s communities. They help protect water quality and reduce erosion, runoff and leaching of contaminants, as well as provide wildlife habitat and recreational, aesthetic and psychological benefits…more