The fight for Florida Bay: Why our southernmost estuary is suffering and how we can fix it

The fight for Florida Bay: Why our southernmost estuary is suffering and how we can fix it

Hypersalinity. Sediment destabilization. Nutrient release. To the general population, these words are “science speak.” Without context or real-world examples, they are meaningless.  

To water bodies like Florida Bay, these words are actually ecological occurrences that are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. They are a byproduct of the way water is mismanaged in Florida, creating a harmful chain reaction that could take years for the ecosystem to recover from.

About Florida Bay

Florida Bay is the southernmost estuary of the Everglades ecosystem, located at the tip of the mainland and cradled by the Florida Keys to the south. Spanning nearly 1,000 square miles and dotted with numerous basins and mangrove islands, it is one of the world’s largest estuaries and seagrass communities.

Florida Bay is also one of the most valuable and unique fisheries in the world. Highly-regarded game fish such as tarpon, permit, bonefish, snook, redfish, and trout, migrate to its pristine flats and luscious mangroves. It’s a nursery, nesting site, and feeding grounds for wading birds, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, crustaceans, and sea turtles, who all partly depend on the healthy seagrass.

Lack of fresh water, too much saltwater

When we talk about Florida’s water crisis, the impacts to Florida Bay aren’t as easily seen.

Historically, fresh water flowed south from Lake Okeechobee, through the River of Grass and into the bay, naturally balancing its fragile ecosystem. Today, when water levels in the lake reach a certain threshold, water managers send it to tide via the St. Lucie River to the east and the Caloosahatchee to the west.

As a result, Florida Bay receives only one-sixth of the freshwater flow it once did and the ecosystem is imploding. In the summer of 2015, roughly 40,000 acres of seagrass died in Florida Bay due to lack of freshwater flow and unnaturally high salinities. Aquifers in South Florida are experiencing saltwater intrusion as a result of decreased sheet flow in the Everglades, threatening the drinking water supply for 8 million Floridians.

How do we fix it?

We must build the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Because of water quality regulations aimed at protecting the Everglades ecosystem, the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee must first be cleaned in man-made wetlands before being sent south. This will require additional storage and stormwater treatment areas (STAs) south of the lake, where aquatic vegetation will remove nitrogen and phosphorous from the water as it slowly flows towards the Everglades.

Benefits of the reservoir:

  • Re-directs the flow of water to the south, providing water managers with another option
  • Reduces discharges to St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee by 55%
  • Stores and cleans water to send south to the Everglades and Florida Bay where it’s desperately needed

Awareness is key

In 2018, we joined a gathering of key agencies to spend a day on Florida Bay with fishing guides and learn about the health and challenges its facing. In February 2019, the Everglades Foundation hosted a similar event, inviting media contacts from across the country to set out on the bay and learn about these issues from scientists and conservationists.

This spring, a new conservation-based TV series called Florida Sportsman Watermen will premier, hosted by Florida Bay fishing guide, Captain Benny Blanco. This show was created to bring awareness to water issues around the state from toxic algae blooms and seagrass die-offs to degradation of springs and spreading coral disease. Woven together, of course, with fishing.

We must continue to advocate for Everglades restoration as a whole connected system. Understanding the impacts allows us all to stay vigilant, have informed conversations with others who are affected, and press for science-based solutions that will benefit the entire system—starting with the EAA Reservoir.

Source: https://captainsforcleanwater.org/the-fight-for-florida-bay/

Patagonia Is Cracking Down on the Wall Street Uniform

The outdoor gear maker won’t create the products for just anyone through its corporate sales program. Recently, Patagonia has shifted its focus to “mission-driven companies that prioritize the planet,” the company said in a statement late Tuesday. It has made gear for all kinds of companies in the past, from big banks to nonprofit organizations.

Patagonia said it wants to add more companies that have the B Corp designation to its client list — businesses that meet certain environmental, social and transparency standards and are certified by a private organization. Patagonia itself is a B Corp and some financial and technology firms also have that status.

The company declined to share exactly when the changes were enacted, but current customers shouldn’t fret. Existing corporate customers will remain in the program and still be able to order more branded items from Patagonia.

Fleece and puffer vests or jackets from Patagonia with a company logo have gained a reputation as a go-to corporate uniform in the finance and tech worlds, an odd turn for an outdoor brand that sells everything from wetsuits to sleeping bags.

Word of the change spread when Binna Kim, president of the coincidentally-named communications agency Vested, shared on social media Monday an email from a third-party supplier of Patagonia’s corporate garments after it tried to order items for a client and said it was rejected.

According to the email from the unidentified supplier cited by Kim, Patagonia was reluctant to sell co-branded gear with companies they consider “ecologically damaging,” such as the oil and mining industries. It also singled out religious groups, political-affiliated organizations and financial institutions.

Late last year, Patagonia updated its mission statement, saying, “We’re in business to save our home planet.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/sorry-wall-streeters-you-now-need-to-earn-your-patagonia-vests

5 U.S. Presidents with Ties to the Outdoors

Take a second to read about 5 U.S. Presidents who have made their mark on the world of outdoor recreation.

Theodore Roosevelt: The Cowboy Conservationist

Teddy-Roosevelt-Was-the-Toughest-Person-Ever

No discussion of outdoor-loving presidents would be complete without mention of Teddy Roosevelt. This guy’s penchant for rugged outdoor activity was truly remarkable. He first meandered onto the western landscape in his younger days, with hopes of hunting bison, and eventually found himself running a small cattle ranching operation in North Dakota.

Unlike many of his peers, who traveled West only to exploit the land for their own financial gain, Roosevelt saw the inherent value it had to offer a nation that was rapidly growing but still in its infancy. His early years out West were dominated by hunting trips and cattle drives, but once he saw the havoc that unregulated hunting and ranching was wreaking on the landscape, his thirst for adventure gave way to a desire to help preserve the beauty of the West forever.

To this day, few presidents can claim a conservation legacy as profound as the one left by Theodore Roosevelt. In addition to creating the U.S. Forest Service and designating 150 national forests, the Roosevelt administration produced 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks and 18 national monuments.

To this day, Roosevelt is considered the father of the modern conservation movement.

Gerald Ford: Yellowstone Park Ranger

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Long before Gerald R. Ford was keeping American entertained with an epic highlight reel of presidential bloopers, he was holding it down as a park ranger in the Canyon Ranger District of Yellowstone National Park.

Still the only POTUS to have actively served as an NPS ranger, Ford enjoyed the distinguished title of ‘armed guard’ on one of Canyon’s bear feeding trucks.

In addition to contributing to the dangerous habituation of Yellowstone grizzlies, Ford handled meet and greets for important park visitors. Years later he would call his brief stint as an NPS ranger one of the greatest summers of his life.

Jimmy Carter: Paddler, Fly Fisherman and Environmental Stalwart

 

According to a New York Times article from 1994, former Georgia peanut farmer Jimmy Carter was far and away the most skilled fly fisherman to ever occupy the Oval Office.

“Since taking up the sport in the early 1970’s on Georgia’s Chattahoochee River, Carter has passed the big tests of casting a clean line,” the article reads, “taking heavy trout on fine tippets, and tying flies that can stand close inspection.”

Carter didn’t stop at fly fishing. He also enjoyed paddling the many whitewater tributaries of the North Georgia mountains, famously braving the class IV rapids of the Chattooga while lobbying for the river’s protection as a wild and scenic waterway during his tenure as governor.

During his single term as president Carter kept a steady eye on environmental issues, implementing the Soil and Water Conservation Act, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Antarctic Conservation Act, and the Endangered American Wilderness Act.

Herbert Hoover: Master of the Rapidan

Herbert Hoover is probably best known for presiding over the worst financial collapse in the history of the civilized world, but man could he cast a mean dry fly.

It’s said that Hoover, who honed his fly fishing skills on Virginia’s Rapidan River, turned to fishing as a respite from the demanding rigors of life in the public eye.

Hoover himself famously claimed that “there are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.”

He was what we call in today’s terms a “fly fishing purist” or “trout snob”, whichever you prefer.

In an interview with the National Park Service, Pete Hoover, the grandson of the 31st President, recalled Hoover saying “that really there’s only one kind of fishing and that’s trout fishing in streams.”

Hoover

Barack Obama: Bear Grylls-trained Survivalist and Environmental Conservationist 

Okay, that’s not a recognized certification of any kind, and our 44th President isn’t really known for his outdoor prowess. But hey, he dined on half-eaten salmon with Bear Grylls in Seward, Alaska. How could I leave him off the list?

He also preserved 260 million acres of land for future generations, more than any of his predecessors, by designating 19 national monuments.

Credit: TRAVIS HALL, GO OUTSIDE

5 U.S. Presidents With Ties to the Outdoors