Friday, July 31, 2009

DEP requests approval of Levy Co. nuke plan

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is asking the governor and Cabinet to approve Progress Energy's site application to build a nuclear power plant on 3,105 acres in Levy County.

The Cabinet aides are scheduled to consider the request at their Aug. 5 meeting. If it wins a favorable Cabinet vote on Aug. 11, the facility would be the first nuclear plant approved in Florida since 1976 when Gov. Rubin Askew approved approved Florida Power & Light's St. Lucie 2 unit.

According to consultants hired by Progress Energy, 764 acres of wetlands would be affected by the plant's construction. The consultants proposed buying credits that pay for wetlands improvement projects in the region.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which opposed the plant during its review by DEP and the Public Service Commission, remains concerned about the project, said Leon Jacobs, an attorney in Tallahassee representing the environmental group. The group contends that nuclear energy is an expensive and uncertain investment and that the site is too sensitive for the plant.

"I would urge all the decision makers to look very carefully and very thoughtfully at the wisdom of moving forward," Jacobs said.

Progress Energy contends that the nuclear plant will provide for continued electric system reliability and stable prices. A state hearing officer recommended approval of the site on May 15.

The DEP site application documents can be viewed by clicking here. The administrative hearing record is available at the Division of Administrative Hearings web site.

Study points to carbon-capture benefits of Florida public lands

Florida's state parks, forests and other public lands some day could pay millions of dollars to the state annually for the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are captured and stored in plants and soils, according to a recent study.

But that some day isn't now or in the immediate future, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said this week.

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet heard a presentation on a study produced for DEP's Division of State Lands as required last year by the Legislature in SB 542. The study was produced by Eco2Asset Solutions, the University of South Florida and the Land & Timber Services Group.

The study found that 4.7 million acres of public lands that are under Cabinet ownership absorb 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide or equivalent greenhouse gas emissions each year.

In a future marketplace in which companies pay to buy carbon-emission credits, the state would have 2.1 million tons for sale. That's after the 1.3 million tons of emissions produced by activities from those lands is subtracted from the amount of carbon absorbed absorbed.

Florida's credits toward capturing greenhouse gases could be worth $14 million a year, Sole said. But the cost of certifying those carbon captures, he said, could cost $8 million to $13 million.

"There is a lot more maturation needed of this carbon market as far as I'm concerned to be able to say this is something that is going to be able to put bread on the table," Sole told

Eventually a carbon market could produce revenue to purchase or restore state lands, Sole said. Until then, he said the study helps Florida begin to analyze how its public lands could pay off economically in the future and what the state can do to increase that value.

For example, replanting trees creates more credits for capturing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the study.

The study pointed to several accounting problems that may work against Florida and its efforts to conserve habitat on state land.

Florida's efforts to maintain healthy forests by clearing underbrush -- a process called prescribed burning -- is counted against the state as if the forests were ablaze in wildfires.

Although some research suggests that less carbon dioxide is released in prescribed burning than wildfires, there is no accurate method of measuring the difference, according to the study authors. Florida loses 1.3 million tons in potential carbon capture credit annually because of both prescribed fire and wild fire on public lands.

Also, replacing natural forest practices with more intensive forest agricultural practices, such as growing trees in dense stands, could increase greenhouse gas benefits but reduce ecological values for plants and wildlife.

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Florida's efforts towards protecting its natural resources could be "shut out" in a carbon emissions cap-and-trade marketplace.

"I will tell you to my dying day I'm going to fight to keep presecribed burning as part of Florida' s protection of forest and natural resources and schools and businesses and homes," he said. "If we don't have it and jump to the other side here we are really going to jeopardize the state of Florida."

Also more than half of state lands were not counted towards carbon capture because they are wetlands. There isn't an accurate method to account for their carbon capture and storage of wetlands, grass lands and sea grass meadows, the study authors said.

The study recommendations include creating a strategic plan for participating in carbon markets, pilot projects to capture carbon, additional research on carbon capture and improved data collection of biomass and timber on state lands.

(Top image from NASA. Photo and text copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not redistribute without permission).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Supporter, opponent of growth amendment sling mud in debate

A founder of a proposed state constitutional amendment on growth said during a debate today that supporters face "greedy" opponents, while a spokesman for an opposition group said the founder has shown people they can have any opinion "as long as it's her's."

The proposed Amendment 4 would require changes in city and county growth plans, also called comprehensive plans, to be approved by local voters.

The amendment will be on the ballot for voters statewide in 2010. The Division of Elections last month agreed to put the proposal on the ballot after a favorable Florida Supreme Court ruling for amendment supporters.

At the Capital Tiger Bay Club, amendment supporter Lesley Blackner, an attorney from West Palm Beach and founder of Florida Hometown Democracy, said the proposal would transfer important growth decisions from the political elite controlled by developers to affected citizens.

"Why would voters reject good plan changes?" Blackner said. "If the developer can't persuade the voters, he will have to live in accordance to the plans.

"Following growth management is not bad business, and it is not anti-business," she said. "Those who fight us are not worried about the state's future and its economic well being. They are worried about their own personal profits. They are simply greedy."

But Ryan Houck, executive director of Floridians for Smarter Growth, said supporters don't really want voters to determine the outcome. His group has received financial backing from development and industry groups.

Houck points to St. Petersburg Beach, which adopted a requirement for voter approval and then saw supporters of the state constitutional amendment challenge the results of an election two years later.

"They lost at the ballot box and within 24 hours, they had filed a lawsuit to overturn the results of a fair and free election," he said. "There have now been more than a dozen lawsuits in St. Pete Beach all aimed at delaying or denying or somehow frustrating the manifest will of the people of St. Pete Beach.

"So you will forgive me if while Mrs. Blackner and her supporters tell you, 'You can have any opinion on growth you want,' remember what they have already told the people of St. Pete Beach: You can have any opinion you want as long as it's her's."

Blackner later responded that the city of St. Petersburg Beach and developers were among those who also filed lawsuits after the election.

She also said that the Legislature showed during the last session this spring that it's in the control of development interests. The Legislature approved SB 360 and SB 2080, both opposed by environmentalists because they relaxed restrictions on growth, and a House committee approved a bill abolishing the state's lead planning agency, Florida Department of Community Affairs.

"So when you look honestly and clearly we see a system that is incapable of reforming itself," she said. "The political elites just don't have it in them to make the changes necessary."

DCA Secretary Tom Pelham sat at the head table but did not speak. He told reporters after the debate that the Legislature has provided an argument for amendment supporters.

He said he was disappointed that none of his proposals for reforming the growth management process -- which he called a "Citizens Bill of Rights" -- were adopted by the Legislature.

"I have a concern that creates a perception among the people that resorting to a referendum might be the only recourse for them," Pelham said.

(Story and photos copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not redistribute without permission.)

At biofuel summit, Bronson says oil drilling is needed

By Keith Laing

ORLANDO -- Drilling for old-fashioned oil in near shore Florida waters should be part of the nation's energy diet, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson said today at a conference about increasing the use of newer fuel types.

After speaking at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' fourth annual "Farm to Fuel" summit in Orlando, Bronson told the News Service of Florida that the state and the nation need to be energy self-sufficient and there would not be enough biofuels to sustain the state fully. Bronson said biofuel, which most experts agree is the most available clean energy type in Florida, could probably only could cover about 30 percent of the need.

With that in mind, Bronson, a champion of biofuel, said that he was also in favor of underwater offshore drilling, which he said was safer than above-ground oil rigs.

“We need to be 100 percent energy sufficient in this country and the only way to do that is to do both,” Bronson said in an interview after his speech. “There is technology that says we can do it safely.”

The pitch at the “Farm to Fuel” summit this week is mostly that biofuel will wean the country’s dependence on foreign oil. But Bronson said drilling off the Gulf Coast, which surfaced during the most recent Florida legislative session and is also being debated in Congress, would help Florida do that. And including drilling in an “all of the above” energy policy would also help the state control gas prices, he added.

“Facts are facts,” Bronson said. “The high cost of fuel is what’s got agriculture and all types of industries in trouble now. Every single phase of agriculture is fuel-based, whether it’s planting the seed, picking the product or taking it to the marketplace. All of those costs have gone up tremendously. They’re almost three or four times as expensive as they were 10 years ago.”

Though a biofuel summit may seem like an odd backdrop for discussing looking for oil off the Florida coastline, Bronson said that his support for drilling was in completely in line with the reason his department starting hosting the conference four years ago: to secure the state’s energy future.

“At every single one of these, business deals have been cut,” he said. “It’s happening. Florida is going to be a leader in the nation (in renewable energy from farms) when it’s all said and done. It’s either do it now or pay a heck of a lot for it later.”

But a Democratic candidate to replace Bronson next year when he’s term-limited said Bronson's position was a betrayal of those who are seeking more use of biofuels as an environmentally friendlier alternative to oil. Eric Draper, who is also deputy director of Audubon Florida, said safe drilling was an oxymoron.

“There’s no such thing as safe underwater oil drilling,” Draper told the News Service of Florida in a separate interview at the “Farm to Fuel” summit. “The so-called ‘safe-technologies’ have not been tested in Florida waters and they certainly have not been tested in Florida hurricanes.”

Draper’s indignation at Bronson’s decision to come out in favor of drilling appeared to be partly fueled by his decision to use the “Farm to Fuel” summit to make it public.

“I think Charlie Bronson is betraying the people who came here this week and paid $350 (to register for the convention) to promote biofuel,” Draper said. “Biofuels compete for market share with cheap oil. As long as we keep dependent on cheap oil, we’re not going to develop the biofuel market.”

Bronson’s support for more oil drilling in addition to greater investment in biofuel technology found a more receptive audience in Gov. Charlie Crist, who is nationally regarded as one of most sensitive Republican leaders to climate and energy issues.

“My feeling has always been that if it is far enough, clean enough and safe enough, we have to be open-minded about it,” Crist told reporters after his own speech to the “Farm to Fuel” summit. “We’re so dependent on foreign oil that it is compromising our security. If we can do it safely where Florida can benefit, I think it’s something we need to look at.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crist declines to say how close is too close for oil drilling

Gov. Charlie Crist this morning declined to say how close is too close for oil drilling off the Florida coastline.

A bill introduced in Congress would allow drilling within 45 miles of the coastline, effectively eliminating a ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that was crafted by Florida's congressional delegation.

Crist, who reversed himself last year when he said he was willing to allow drilling off Florida's coast, today reiterated his position that drilling should only be allowed if it was safe enough and far enough away to protect Florida's beaches and tourism industry.

Asked by a reporter if he could provide a specific number of miles that is too close, he declined. Asked if 45 miles is too close, Crist responded, "It might be."

"I think it's important to review what technology and safety standards might continue to come forward before we pass judgment on what a certain mileage may or may not be," he said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on Monday said senators from Louisiana and Alaska who introduced the bill were trying to help their states' economies. He again said drilling would harm military training operations off Florida's Gulf coast.

"Even in the toughest of times there are some things states shouldn't sell out, like Florida's economy and environment," Nelson said. "And our nation should not sell out our national security through military preparedness."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cabinet to consider first "rural lands" purchase

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cabinet on Tuesday will consider approving the purchase of a 690-acre conservation easement in Flagler County, the first purchase under a state program aimed at preserving agricultural lands.

The land is owned by Gene and Marilyn J. Evans and includes a half-mile of shoreline along Lake Disston, which has good water quality and little development surrounding it, according to the St. Johns River Water Management District. The purchase has support from The Nature Conservancy, which points out that the Legislature this year for the first time in two decades provided no money for future conservation land buys.

The Evanses will be paid $2.7 million, or $4,061 per acre, to continue owning the property with prohibitions against development or mining. Timber harvesting can continue in upland portions of the property and cattle grazing within 200 feet of the lake is prohibited.

An aide to Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said the Evans family has a good balance of agricultural operations, which include timber-harvesting, cattle and raising sturgeon in fish tanks for caviar. The purchase would be the first under the Florida Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

"The first couple of acquisitions under this program, we want them to be really excellent stewards and well represent what we think the new program can do from an image perspective," said Jim Boxold, Bronson's chief Cabinet aide. "We really want to make sure we get the first couple right. That is going to set the tone for everything the program does."

If approved, the purchase price will be split between the state Division of Forestry, which administers the Rural and Family Lands Program, and the St. Johns River Water Management District. The 690-acre conservation easement is on a portion of the 1,709 acres owned by the Evans family.

Gene Evans said the deal is good for both his family and the state.

"We're on an outstanding water, Lake Disston," he said. "It's just a beautiful piece of property. We've owned it for a long time, tried to take care of it and also use it."

The Florida Rural and Family Lands Protection Program in 2008 began receiving $10.5 million of the $300 million that had been appropriated annually for conservation lands purchases. The program was created by the Legislature in 2001 but did not receive Florida Forever conservation money until last year.

But this year, with the state facing a $6 billion decline in revenue, the Legislature provided no money for Florida Forever, leaving agencies to use only what had been unspent from last year.

"We are spending down the balance of the money and it's not being replaced," said Jeff Danter, The Nature Conservancy's state director. "There are opportunities to acquire great conservation lands. Without the investment of the state of Florida those opportunites are going to pass us by."

To view The Nature Conservancy's letter to Gov. Crist regarding the purchase, click here.

(Maps and photos are from materials provided to the Cabinet by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the St. Johns River Water Management district.)

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not redistribute without permission).

"Waterfronts Florida" aims to help coastal communities

Two Florida coastal communities are hoping that a state preservation and grants program will help them protect and revive their waterfronts.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs earlier this month designated Fort Myers and Panama City's Millville area as "Waterfronts Florida" communities. The designation allows DCA to provide planning assistance and federal grant money to the communities during the next two years.

In Fort Myers, the city owns land along the Caloosahatchee River where a building had to be torn down because of storm damage, said Leigh Scrabis, deputy director of the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency.

The city hopes to redevelop 540 acres along the waterfront with a mixture of retail stores, hotels, restaurants and marina improvements, according to city officials.

"Right now we have this wonderful asset but we don't have many people down there enjoying it," Scrabis said. "It remains empty most of the day, which is shame."

Twenty-one communities have been designated under the Waterfronts Florida Program since it was created in 1997, according to DCA.

During the first year of the program, the community prepares a long-range plan, or "vision," to guide redevelopment of its traditional working waterfronts area. During the second year, the community begins implementing the plan by focusing on land-use planning and priority projects.

Panacea, in Wakulla County, was named as a Waterfronts Florida community in 2001. That led to the establishment of the Big Bend Maritime Center, a second seafood-oriented festival, a fishing tournament and a push to rebuild a public fishing pier.

"It really has pulled that community together and allowed them to look at their assets more than being as a sleepy fishing village," said Paul Johnson, president of the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Panacea Working Waterfronts board.

Panama City recently bought a 2.3-acre site of a former lumber mill along St. Andrew's Bay. The city hopes to make the park a community centerpiece while also protecting the bay waters, said Cynthia Godbey, executive director of the Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency.

"At one time, Millville was a thriving community years ago," she said. "It has been through a serious hard time. There is quite a bit of life in our community -- we are on the way up."

(Top image courtesy of the city of Fort Myers. Bottom image courtesy of the Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not redistribute without permission.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ala., Fla. residents react to judge's ruling in water wars

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told reporters Wednesday that Judge Paul A. Magnuson's ruling in litigation involving the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system was a "huge step in the right direction."

The judge said Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had illegally taken water from Lake Lanier, a huge federal reservoir on the Chattahoochee River north of Atlanta, without authorization from Congress. He gave the states three years to get congressional authorization before water use from Lake Lanier is essentially cut off.

"We've been arguing that for a long time now, not just this administration but prior ones," Crist told reporters after an adoption roundtable discussion at the Governor's Mansion. He gave no indication of what Florida may do next in the dispute.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been battling in federal court since 1990 over water from the river system. Alabama and Georgia want water for cities and industries while Florida wants water to protect fish and wildlife along the river and the seafood industry around Apalachicola Bay.

"We know how important water is to us," Crist said. "We have been blessed in Florida to have an awful lot of water, particularly this season. But that ruling is going to help us that much more. And I'm very happy about it."

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said he is willing to risk the state's water future in court or before Congress rather than negotiate a deal that he says would be bad for Georgia, according to the Birmingham News. He said last week his state would appeal the judge's ruling.

U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat, said he hopes the ruling will allow the states "to come together in a constructive way to find an equitable solution that benefits all users along the . . . system,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The newspaper today featured the perspectives of Alabama and Florida elected officials and residents in an article entitled "Alabama and Florida See Water Wars Differently."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

State parks enjoy another record year

Honeymoon Island State Park

Florida's state parks set a record for attendance this past fiscal year in spite of -- or perhaps with the help of -- the economic downturn, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Last year 21.4 million people visited Florida's parks. That's an increase of 700,000 people, or 3 percent, from fiscal year 2007-08, which also was a record-setting year.

The increases show the demand for recreational and educational opportunities that are affordable and close to home, DEP officials said.

"Breaking attendance records is always good for state parks," said Jessica Kemper Sims, information director for the Florida Park Service. "It means people are still visiting state parks and still enjoying the value of the cultural and natural resources."

Honeymoon Island State Park remained the No. 1 park with almost 1.3 million visitors, an increase of nearly 20 percent in one year. Honeymoon Island is located on a barrier island in Pinellas County north of Dunedin.

Florida's top 10 state parks in attendance accounted for more than one third of all visitors. Entrance fees at six of the those parks increased from $5 to $8 on July 1.

Sims said only the future will tell if attendance will continue to rise.

"State parks are still affordable family recreation," she said. "People are looking for that right now, to stay closer to home and get outdoors more."

Gasparilla Island State Park in Lee County also saw a boost in visitation of more than 20 percent, moving it from seventh to fourth among the top 10.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in the Florida Keys and Lover's Key State Park in Lee County both saw decreases of more than 9 percent last year but they remained in the top 10. Managers at the two parks could not be reached for comment.

Top 10 state parks
Honeymoon Island 1,296,809
St. Andrews 910,568
Cape Florida 909,114
Gasparilla Island 846,987
Sebastian Inlet 796,018
John Pennekamp 795,274
Lover's Key 743,434
Anastasia 601,293
Bahia Honda 518,569
Stump Pass Beach 516,360

(Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do no redistribute without permission).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Franklin County undoing St. Joe Co. plans

View Larger Map

Franklin County today moved toward rescinding the last two of four controversial land-use changes approved in 2005 that allowed The St. Joe Co. to build up to 2,400 homes in eastern Franklin County.

Franklin County after 2005 twice defended the land use changes to legal challenges before the governor and Cabinet. The Cabinet decides disputes when local comprehensive plans are not found in compliance with state law.

The Franklin County Commission in 2005 approved changing St. Joe land from agricultural to various new land use categories that allowed marinas, hotels other commercial development and homes along Ochlockonee Bay and east of Carrabelle. Critics said the new developments threatened water quality and the seafood industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today, the Franklin County Commission proposed rescinding two of the land-use changes and voted earlier this year to rescind the other two. That vote today now goes to the Florida Department of Community Affairs for review.

"The rationale essentially was the lack of future population growth did not warrant the allocation of residential land we had," said Alan Pierce, Franklin County's director of administrative services. "That was the central issue -- that we didn't have enough population growth to warrant having this on our map."

Don and Pamela Ashley, a Franklin County couple who have battled the DCA, St. Joe and Franklin County in the courts, said they were pleased by the County Commission's vote. Don Ashley said the land-use approvals in 2005 followed a long-range planning process called "visioning" during which residents were told there wouldn't be land-use map changes proposed -- but then they were anyway.

Ashley said Franklin County in 2005 failed to analyze St. Joe's proposed developments for their effects on natural resources, affordable housing, infrastructure, public access to water and other criteria as required in the county's growth policies.

"The fact is many of us take this area a little bit for granted and don't quite -- I don't think -- fully appreciate how sensitive it is to water quality issues (and) stormwater issues -- certainly to nutrient loading," he said. "I think the communities are more sensitive than they were in 2005."

Pierce said the environmental issues were not a factor in the Franklin County Commission's vote today.

"Those have not changed since we thought the land had suitability" when land use was changed from agricultural in 2005, Pierce said.

St. Joe Co. attorney Bryan Duke said the company needs to see the Franklin County's data and analysis, which are required by state law to support the proposed land use changes, before the company can comment.

He declined to say whether the company's plans for Franklin County are unraveling because of the Franklin County's decisions in recent months. But he did say the county has not explained why it is scaling back the development allowed on St. Joe Co. lands but not on other lands in Franklin County.

"We are just reacting to what they are doing right now," Duke said. "I think that is the safest thing to say."

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and . Do not redistribute without permission).

Panama City airport to pay $251,323 for violations

Airport officials in Bay County have agreed to pay the state $251,323 -- reduced from nearly $400,000 as proposed in May -- to settle proposed violations issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

DEP in May cited the Panama City-Bay County Airport Authority for 72 water quality violations involving the construction of a new airport on a portion of 4,000 acres near West Bay. The airport is being built on land donated by The St. Joe Co., which plans to build homes, commercial and industrial sites on surrounding land the company owns.

The Airport Authority blamed the violations in part on heavy rains that fell in the region in March and April. Executive Director Randy Curtis said the project contractor, Phoenix Construction Services, will have to pay the fine.

James Finch, owner of Phoenix Construction, this week did not return telephone calls seeking comment. He said in June that his firm was not responsible for violations because the Airport Authority hired its own project manager to plan the sequence of construction activities.

But Curtis said the contractor was responsible, not the project manager. And Curtis said the Airport Authority takes responsibility for ensuring that the fine is paid if Phoenix Construction refuses.

"As far as the permit, we (the Airport Authority) are ultimately responsible," Curtis said. "But it is our position the contractor really has the ultimate control. We look to them for resolution."

The new airport is scheduled to open in May 2010 at a cost of $330 million. The new airport will include an 8,400-foot runway, seven gates and 120,000 square feet of terminal space. Airport officials hope the longer runway will attract the larger planes flown by major carriers or overseas charter flights.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Water Network had opposed the airport saying it threatens water quality and wildlife in one of the nation's biological hotspots. But Gov. Charlie Crist, echoing Bay County elected officials, called the airport in 2007 "a national model for economic transformation and environmental preservation."

The airport terminal is being built to LEED standards for reduced energy and water use. As part of the development plan for the St. Joe land at West Bay, 41,000 acres will be preserved.

The Clean Water Network of Florida has warned Phoenix Construction and the Airport Authority that it will sue over violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The group also has blamed DEP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for lax enforcement at the construction site.

A DEP spokesman responded that the department had begun enforcement action when it was informed of violations in April.

A spokeswoman for the Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville said the agency had issued a notice of non-compliance but there were no plans for issuing fines against the Airport Authority. The district was working to implement corrective measures including installing a silt fence, placing sod and removing sediment from wetlands by hand, the spokeswoman said.

But Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network of Florida, said today that despite the fine, DEP and the Corps of Engineers haven't conducted the oversight needed to prevent violations from happening.

"Was the $250,000 (fine) adequate to deter future violations? I don't think so," she said. "Did it mitigate for the damage they caused? Absolutely not. Will it prevent future problems with these types of violations on this site? Definitely not."

Young said the state and federal government need to do an assessment of the future airport expansion and St. Joe's construction plans to determine how West Bay and the creeks flowing through the area will be protected. St. Joe announced in May it will accelerate construction on 1,000 acres surrounding the airport.

(Photo and map courtesy of the Panama City-Bay County Airport Authority. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and, Do not redistribute without permission.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Judge rules against Corps, Georgia on Apalachicola River case

A federal judge has issued a stunning blow to Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by ruling that water withdrawals from Lake Lanier on the Chattahoochee River for Atlanta area cities are illegal.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been battling in federal court over water from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system since 1990. The ruling today in a consolidated case by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson appears to give Alabama and Florida leverage in securing water they want from the river system.

In a 97-page ruling, Magnuson said the Corps of Engineers had violated federal law by allowing water withdrawals that were not authorized by Congress when a dam was built to establish Lake Lanier in the 1950s.

Magnuson issued a stay of further court proceedings for three years so that the parties involved could seek federal approval for water withdrawals. If they are not successful in getting Congressional reauthorization, then only the Georgia cities of Gainesville and Buford will be allowed to continue their withdrawals, which had existed before Lake Lanier was built.

The judge laid out the history of Congressional authorization for the Buford Dam and concluded that the Corps of Engineers actions in changing reservoir operations were an "abuse of discretion and contrary to the clear intent of the Water Supply Act."

Florida officials said the ruling affirmed their position that the Corps and Georgia could not take water from Lake Lanier without congressional approval. Florida officials said they have been working to protect threatened fish and wildlife along the Apalachicola River and the seafood industry at Apalachicola Bay.

Gov. Charlie Crist said the ruling offers the opportunity for the governors of the three states to work outside the court system for a solution that is beneficial.

"Florida has always been ready to negotiate, in good faith, a fair equitable sharing of the waters in the basin," Crist said. "We remain committed to doing so in the future."

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, in a statement issued by his office, struck a defiant tone, saying his state would appeal Magnuson's ruling.

"His conclusions rely on decades-old assumptions about the construction of federal reservoirs and the role those reservoirs play in providing water supply for growing states such as Georgia," Perdue said. "Our country has changed substantially since the 1940s, when many of these reservoirs were constructed, and I will use this opportunity not only to appeal the judge's decision but, most importantly, to urge Congress to address the realities of modern reservoir usage."

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said the ruling was "tremendous" for his state's economic and environmental future.

"Atlanta has based its growth on the idea that it could take whatever it wanted whenever it wanted it, and that the downstream states would simply have to make do with less," he said. "Following the court's ruling today, this massive illegal water grab will be coming to an end."

Magnuson said the Corps' slow pace of action has provokes the already inflammatory case. And he said the agency's continued use of of a 50-year-old operations manual is "beyond comprehension."

Yet in a statement with added consequences for the nation, Magnuson wrote:

"The blame for the current situation cannot be placed solely on the Corps's shoulders, however. Too often, state, local, and even national government actors do not consider the long-term consequences of their decisions.

"Local governments allow unchecked growth because it increases tax revenue, but these same governments do not sufficiently plan for the resources such unchecked growth will require. Nor do individual citizens consider frequently enough their consumption of scarce resources, absent a crisis situation such as that experienced in the ACF basin in the last few years.

"The problems faced in the ACF basin will continue to be repeated throughout this country, as the population grows and more undeveloped land is developed. Only by cooperating, planning and conserving can we avoid the situations that gave rise to this litigation."

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

State, feds taking aim at Burmese pythons

State officials say they're launching an effort Friday to put a dent in the growing population of wild Burmese pythons, estimated perhaps at 100,000 or more in the Everglades.

Thousands of the pythons, which can grow to more than 20 feet in length, are roaming the Everglades National Park and South Florida after having escaped or been released as pets. The snakes could spread throughout much of Florida and the southeast, according to a federal study.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called on federal land managers to tackle the spread of the pythons in the Everglades. Today, Gov. Charlie Crist's press office today issued a news release saying he had requested that state wildlife officials take action to control the python population.

On Friday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will launch a program to allow about 20 permit-holders to take the snakes from state lands and sell them for their meat and hides.

"The goal is to curb or reduce the number of pythons in the Everglades and our wildlife management areas," said Gabriella Ferraro, an agency spokeswoman in West Palm Beach. "We are trying to put a dent in it that (population)."

Crist spoke with the state wildlife agency last week about taking action, according to a spokeswoman for the governor.

“It is important that we take action now to ensure a safe and healthy future for Florida’s native wildlife and habitats in the Everglades,” Crist said in a news release.

Permit-holders, who won't be paid by the state, will collect basic data on pythons captured. The program will extend through the remainder of the year and will be evaluated for effectiveness, Ferraro said.

"If we have to open it up to other permit holders we will do that," she said.

Nelson sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking his agency to allow a supervised hunt of pythons by park staff, authorized deputies, agents or volunteers.

"They are threatening endangered wildlife there -- and, Lord forbid, a visitor in the Everglades ever encounters one," Nelson said.

"Secretary Salazar agrees with Senator Nelson that pythons pose a significant threat to the Florida Everglades and must be dealt with immediately," the Department of Interior said in response statement. Salazar has asked federal and state agencies to quickly develop a plan to control the invasive species.

Earlier this month, Nelson proposed a ban on the import of Burmese pythons after a two-year-old girl was killed when a pet python escaped in her home in Sumter County.

Everglades National Park officials could not be reached for comment.

(Photo courtesy of Davidson College. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and

Monday, July 13, 2009

Florida imposes first honey standard in nation

Florida agriculture officials say they want to ensure that the honey placed on store shelves is made by bees and is not diluted with corn syrup or other products unless it's labeled that way.

Agriculture Commission Charles Bronson today announced that Florida had become the first state in the nation with a regulation prohibiting chemicals or additives, including corn syrup sweeteners, in products marked as honey. Florida is the fourth-largest honey producer in the nation.

Increasing amounts of honey with added sweeteners is being imported into Florida from Asian and South American countries, Bronson said. Beekeepers complained they were facing unfair competition from an inferior product.

"For people to pay for honey prices and to buy something less than honey was a little bit on the fraudulent side to consumers of the state of Florida and to businesses," Bronson said.

Under the new regulation, honey containing anything other than "natural food product resulting from the harvest of nectar by honeybees" is considered adulterated or mislabeled. The state could issue a "stop sale" order and repeat offenders could face fines of up to $500 per violation, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida honey producers had $15 million in sales in 2008, creating 500 jobs and having an economic impact of $40 million. Bees play a key role in pollinating agricultural crops.

Honey production is closely tied to the natural environment in North Florida, where tupelo honey producers face an uncertain future. Drought, the draining of wetlands and competition for water with Alabama and Georgia has reduced beneficial flooding required by tupelo trees along the Apalachicola River.

Five major honey processors in 2006 petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to establish a U.S. standard for honey, Bronson said. But Bronson said the FDA two years later responded that due to other pressing matters, it would be unable to review the petition.

"We have now put a rule out (saying) what honey really is in the state of Florida," he said. "Twenty-eight states are looking at the same thing.

"We hope the Food and Drug Administration also will look at that definition and realize that honey is what bees make and not what people blend together," he said.

FDA spokesman Michael L. Herndon said the agency "will review the petition as warranted and in the context of other program priorities within the agency." He said the agency responded to the petition in 2006 within 180 days as required by law even if a decision has not been reached.

A non-binding international standard for honey was established in 1981 and revised in 2001. It also states that honey shall not have any food additives or additions other than honey.

Nancy Gentry of Interlachen, owner of the Cross Creek Honey Co. and a member of the state honey technical council, said, "Honey is a magical food from an insect that comes to us pure right from the beginning."

"Unfortunately," she said, "We've had a lot of people decide they want to make more money from the product they got so they cut it (mix it)."

"We have millions of barrels of products coming across the U.S. border that is not honey yet is being sold that way. And it is killing the U.S. honey producers."

Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and

Friday, July 10, 2009

Climate Commission's Murley honored, discusses issues

Jim Murley already has received some honors in his life, yet he says being recognized by Gov. Charlie Crist as this week's "Point of Light" is particularly meaningful.

Murley is chairman of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission and he is director of Florida Atlantic University's Cantanese Center for Urban & Environmental Solutions. He was named a point of light in honor of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Awareness Month.

"It is particulary meaningful to me at this time because it represents recognition of my efforts, in collaboration with many partners, to move forward on a set of very important issues dealing with energy and climate facing Florida," Murley said today in an e-mail to He is travelling out of the country.

Crist said Murley has been a tireless advocate for climate change awareness in Florida. "His breadth of knowledge and dedication to making Florida an example of environmental stewardship has been a great service to the people of this state," the governor said in a news release.

Murley said the commission now is working on preparing legislatively mandated comments on proposed energy efficiency goals for utilities. The commission, which holds a telephone conference call on July 22, also is moving forward with administrative steps on awarding $60 million in federal economic recovery funds awarded to Florida by the U.S. Department of Energy, he said.

With a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade bill having passed the House two weeks ago, Murley said the final outcome could pre-empt a state proposal being prepared by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for presentation to the 2010 Legislature.

"The bill also contains very detailed direction for the preparation of federal and state climate adaptation plans that if is eventually passed and funded will be very helpful in assisting the (commission) implement the Florida Climate Action plan," Murley said.

Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facing enviro criticism, Crist says he's helping economy

Gov. Charlie Crist today defended his record against environmental criticism by saying he's looking out for the state's economy.

Crist was criticized for signing a water bill last week and a growth-management bill on June 1 after environmental groups called for them to be vetoed.

Senate Bill 360 lifts state oversight of road requirements for new development in more than 200 cities and seven counties designated as "dense urban" land areas. Senate Bill 2080 allows water use and development permits to be approved by water management district directors rather than their governing boards.

The St. Petersburg Times said that with the water bill signing, the governor's "sellout to developers is now complete." The Orlando Sentinel said the water bill signing represented the "latest environmental betrayal" for the one-time green governor.

Asked by for a response today, Crist -- prior to a tour of the Department of Elder Affairs -- said, "I think what we've done is tried to help Florida's economy. And I think everybody understands that our economy needs help."

"I'm trying to do that in a responsible way," he said. "That's why I've signed those bills."

While environmentalists argued that the bills could allow urban sprawl and allow strain on water supplies without public input, development groups said the bills were needed to encourage construction in urban areas and the development of alternative water supplies.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole defended the water bill this week in a column distributed to the media but also said the bill may need revision in 2010. Today, he elaborated with a WFSU-FM radio audience, saying that more public input is needed on proposed permits when they also deal with water policy questions.

"Without question I think there are some issues as a result of this bill that need to be addressed," Sole said. "One of the issues we talked about is the need for governing boards to talk about water policy and less focus on individual permits."

"However, how do you deal with a situation when a permit application is touching on those policy issues?" Sole said. "I think the bill as written unfortunately doesn't strike that effective balance. I do expect the need to go back to the legislature to deal with those scenarios."

Also on the radio show was Audubon of Florida's Eric Draper, who said he expected the water bill to be revisited next session because he said sponsors of the Senate bill and House amendment indicated a willingness.

Meanwhile, DEP contends that SB 2080 does also not allow 50-year permits to private landowners as some environmentalists have feared. Rather the law instead provides for those permits cities, counties, water utilities and other water supply authorities who have agreements with landowners and it preserves the state's legal authority to revoke a permit, according to DEP water resources officials.

To listen to WFSU-FM's "Perspectives" show, click here.

(Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More than half of Florida cities qualify for growth exemptions

More than half the cities in Florida now qualify under a new state law as "dense urban" land areas which can be exempted from state review for adequate roads to accompany development, according to a list published today by the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

The list includes cities such as Tallahassee, Gainesville, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Fernandina Beach, Key West, Panama City and Destin as well as cities in seven qualifying counties: Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Seminole. Of Florida's 411 cities, 238 now qualify under the law.

State law had required that roads be planned to accompany for new development. Senate Bill 360, signed by Gov. Charlie Crist on June 1, lifted the requirement in those dense urban land areas. Miami-Dade County was specifically exempted from the law along with portions of Broward County.

Cities and counties qualified for exemptions as dense urban land areas if they averaged more than 1,000 people per square mile. Cities qualified if they were within a county other than Miami-Dade that qualified as a dense urban land area.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs is emphasizing that road requirements contained in local ordinances and land-use plans are not affected by the new law unless those local governments take action to rescind them, department spokesman James Miller said.

"We're just trying to clear up the confusion that is pretty prevalent around the state," Miller said.

SB 360 supporters said the previous requirement in state law for transportation "concurrency" encouraged urban sprawl into rural areas with highways rather than redeveloping cities with more traffic congestion. Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and SB 360 sponsor, said in a newspaper opinion column that the bill provided cities with the planning tools they've been asking for.

Crist signed the bill over the objections of environmental groups and the Florida Association of Counties. The association said previous estimates of more than 200 cities that would qualify for the exemption raised planning concerns for the counties surrounding them.

"Are you going to go from a two-lane road in the city to a four-lane road in the county when you cross the (city limits)?" said Cragin Mosteller, the association's communications director. "We felt that is a complication in what we feel already is a bad bill."

To view the official list of qualifying cities, click here.

Florida local governments challenge new growth law

By Michael Peltier
The News Service of Florida
A coalition of local governments today asked the courts to throw out a new growth management law they say will leave them holding the bag.
Six weeks after Gov. Charlie Crist signed Senate Bill 360 into law, plaintiffs including Lee County and the City of Weston filed suit in the Second Circuit Court in Tallahassee asking the court to do what opponents couldn't in the 2009 legislative Session: Kill a measure that among other things loosens local control over development in the state’s most densely populated areas.
Passed during the final days of the 2009 session, the bill was amended to include a number of other provisions local governments say will cost them at a time they are already scrambling to make ends meet.
The suit attacks the new law on a couple of fronts by saying it improperly encompasses multiple issues and amounts to an unfunded mandate prohibited under the Florida Constitution.
 “The significant costs of SB 360 on local governments in Florida were well-known to (but ignored by) the Legislature,” the lawsuit contends.
Other local governments are expected to sign on as the lawsuit works its way through the courts.
The challenge is the latest development since the issue emerged as one of the most controversial of the 2009 session.  The law went into effect June 1.

The plan removes transportation concurrency requirements in the state's dense urban land areas -- tracts with an average of at least 1,000 people per square mile or in counties with populations of at least 1 million. The provision would directly affect eight of the state's largest counties and nearly 250 municipalities across the state.

The measure exempts from the development of regional impact process those dense urban areas or parcels classified as urban infill, community redevelopment or those that are part of an urban service area. It also creates a two-year extension of projects that are otherwise compliant with local and state permits.
The bill prompted controversy in both chambers. It passed the Senate on a 30-7 vote. The House passed it by a 78-37 tally.

Backers said the state’s 25-year-old growth management law encouraged the type of sprawl it attempted to avoid.  Crist said it would encourage growth in urban areas, promote environmentally friendly practices and free up construction projects that are waiting in the wings.
But some worry about the way the bill is worded and that some of its provisions will encourage new development in some areas that aren't in the urban core. Cities and counties led a push for Crist to veto the measure, calling it ironic that the state, which forced local governments to adopt tougher growth management laws 25 years ago is now restricting their oversight.
“This re-write substantially alters the role local governments can and will play in the process,” said Lee Arnold, a lobbyist for Lee County. “In the end, it will dismantle growth management as we know it.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Local efforts boost recycling as state eyes 75-percent goal

With the state now working toward a goal of 75 percent recycling, some innovations may hold promise in Florida's future of waste management.

An energy bill signed last year by Gov. Charlie Crist established a 75 percent recycling goal for the state to reach by 2020. The bill directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to come up with a plan for meeting the goal by Jan. 1, 2010.

The group Sustainable Florida recently awarded two waste programs for representing some of the best sustainability practices around the state. They were Waste Management Inc. of Florida for its single-stream recycling programs and the city of North Miami for its partnership with RecycleBank.

Waste Management says last year it boosted recycling by 38 percent at its Pembroke Pines waste processing facility and by 17 percent at Orange County's facility, which the company operates. The company attributes its increase to new "single-stream" recycling programs that don't require homeowners to sort recyclable materials.

Rather than having separate recycling bins for paper and containers, residents in those areas now put glass, paper, cans and plastic containers all in one bin separate from the garbage. A processing line with a magnet and various screens is used at the waste processing plant to sort the recyclable materials.

"The most important thing about automated single stream: It's easy," said Larry Dalla Betta, municipal manager in Florida for Waste Management Recycle America. "It's user-friendly. People don't have to sort into those carry bins."

Some companies that buy recyclable materials a few years ago were raising concerns that mixing materials such as glass and paper could ruin them for recycling, but those concerns seem to be going away, industry observers said.

"At this point it (single-stream recycling) is the preferred method they are looking at because it saves costs and labor," said DeAnne Toto, managing editor of Recycling Today magazine. "It really is the way most new MRFs (materials recycling facilities) are being designed."

Victor Storelli, a broker of recyclable materials in Fort Lauderdale, says many purchasers of recyclable materials are opening their own single-stream recycling facilities.

"They can't come back and say single-stream (recyclable materials) are contaminated and no-good," he said.

Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which collects recycling data, confirmed that Orange County's recycling rate increased by 17 percent last year. But the department couldn't say whether the Waste Management operation caused the increase or whether other recycling facilities also contributed.

The department also couldn't confirm the increase at the facility in Pembroke Pines, which accepts waste from more than one county. Dalla Batta also credited Miami-Dade County for a publicity campaign that helped increase recycling there.

In North Miami, the city partnered with RecycleBank to pay residents to recycle. Residents receive a 96-gallon recycling cart and households begin to earn points towards gift cards and products with companies based on the amount they recycle.

The city reports that recycling increased from an average of 20 tons per month to 128 tons in the first month of service, saving $6,000 per month in disposal fees.

A radio-frequency chip in the recycling cart identifies the cart owner. The cart is weighed and the homeowner's account is credited for the recyclable material. Those credits can be redeemed for vouchers that can be used at participating merchants.

RecycleBank and single-stream recycling can help the state meet its 75 percent goal, said Ron Henricks, program manager for DEP's recycling program. But he said there's no magic bullet for achieving the goal.

Florida recycled 28 percent of its waste in 2007. Henricks pointed out that about two-thirds of the waste produced in Florida is in the commercial sector compared to one-third in residential.

"The commercial sector is where the real low-hanging fruit lies," Henricks said. "The question is how are we going to do that or get local governments to convince the commercial sector to do that?"

For more information on Florida's 75 percent recycling goal, visit the Florida DEP web page.

Top photo courtesy of Waste Management Inc. of Florida. Bottom photo courtesy of city of North Miami. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not redistribute without permission.

Monday, July 6, 2009

DEP's Sole defends water bill signed by governor

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole is defending Senate Bill 2080 following harsh criticism of Gov. Charlie Crist for signing the measure.

Environmental groups including Audubon of Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida had called on Crist to veto the bill because it was amended in the waning days of the legislation to direct the chiefs of the state's five water management districts to approve development and water-use permits without public hearings.

In signing the bill, Crist said he is asking the districts to continue approving permits at public meetings. Even so, the governor was criticized in editorials by the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel.

In an opinion column submitted today to the news media, Sole said he told the governor the bill should be signed for the many benefits Sole said it provides to the environment and people of Florida.

They include providing for the use of "Florida-friendly" landscaping, allowing the South Florida Water Management District to compensate local governments that could be affected by the purchase of U.S. Sugar Corp. lands and allowing long-term permits. Environmental groups also have criticized a portion of the bill that allowed 50-year permits for alternative water supply projects.

Sole also wrote that he is committed to preserving the public process throughout the next year.

"I will continue working with the executive directors of the state's five water management districts to ensure openness and transparency," Sole said. "In addition, I look forward to working with the 2010 Legislature to develop a process that sustains transparency and stakeholder participation."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hints of a comeback as scallop season opens

STEINHATCHEE -- The expansive sea grasses in the clear waters off Taylor County wave gently in the currents and shimmering light while occasionally revealing an orange starfish, a blue crab or a clump of gray oysters.

Donning their masks and snorkels, thousands of visitors to the Big Bend each year glide gently over the underwater meadows looking for bay scallops, with their string of sparkling blue eyes looking back amid the lush green sea grasses. Fried or sauteed with pasta, fresh-caught scallops are a Big Bend tradition.

July 1 marks the scalloping season along the northern Gulf Coast and the Big Bend, where scallops are the most plentiful. But scallops also are showing signs of a comeback in Southwest Florida where they also were once more plentiful.

A restoration project involving conservation groups and about 60 families may be helping the scallops increase in numbers but state fisheries officials can't be sure, said Steve Geiger, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In some of those areas, families tie to their docks cages of scallops that reproduce, sending larvae to settle throughout the area. The scallops are taken from the wild when they are smaller and allowed to mature in saltwater tanks before being placed in the cages.

Scallop populations in Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay now are approaching healthy levels. In Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, they're also showing signs of improvement.

"I would like to think the restoration we are doing is speeding up the recovery that would happen naturally," said Geiger, a research scientist in the agency's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.

But there are not enough scallops in South Florida to allow recreational harvesting any time soon, Geiger said. Scalloping now is allowed only from the Pasco-Hernando County line near Aripeka to the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

Scallops historically occupied bays and near-shore waters from Palm Beach to Louisiana. But commercial fishing in the mid-1900s, dredging and filling shorelines and bays and changes in freshwater flow patterns caused by development substantially reduced the range of healthy populations, Geiger said.

Now the focus of recreational scalloping is in the Big Bend and eastern Panhandle where the numbers are most plentiful. There is no commercial harvest of bay scallops in Florida.

Researchers have found more scallops in St. Joseph Bay than last year but fewer in the Big Bend, including Taylor County, and much fewer in areas around Wakulla and Franklin counties, which were among the best areas in the state last year, Geiger said.

Off Steinhatchee in Taylor County, it could take longer for visitors to catch their limits. Geiger said the heavy rains and flooding this year may have resulted in fewer numbers because scallops cannot tolerate much fresh water.

A University of Florida study has shown that scalloping provides a $90 million annual economic impact for Taylor County, said Dawn Taylor executive director of the county's Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Development Council. Details of the study could not be confirmed by She said boat captains are reporting plentiful scallops in some deeper waters.

Scalloping is a clean sport and a fun family activity that allows children to glimpse a lot of sea life that they normally would not get to view, Taylor said. Visitors from Florida cities and surrounding states pack the few hotels and marinas that dot the Big Bend coastline.

"As far as the economy goes, in this area scalloping season is our saving grace," Taylor said. "I know all our motels and marinas along the coast line -- this is their best time of year. They really look forward to it."

Divers and snorkelers must display a "divers-flag" while in the water and they must have a regular Florida saltwater fishing license when using a boat. Starting Aug. 1, a regular license or new shore-based license will be required if wading from shore.

To view an FWCC news release with more details about regulations, click here.

To view an FWCC report with sample results for scallops by region, click here.

To view an FWCC scientific report on scallops' life history, click here.

Photos courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and . Do not redistribute without permission.