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  • 10 Tips to Save Water for Water Conservation Month

    SWFMD|Updated Apr 15, 2024

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District's (District) Governing Board declared April Water Conservation Month at its March meeting. April is historically one of the driest months of the year and typically marks the peak demand season for public water suppliers. The District also recently launched the Water 101 campaign to educate new and existing residents as well as communities about how they can help protect local water resources and save water and money. The...

  • Rare Scrub Mints are Fast-Disappearing From Florida Landscapes

    Jerald Pinson, Florida Museum of Natural History|Updated Apr 9, 2024

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Scrub mints are among the most endangered plants you've probably never heard of. More than half of the 24 species currently known to exist are considered threatened or endangered at the state or federal level, and nearly all scrub mints grow in areas that are being rapidly developed or converted to agricultural pasture. In a new study, researchers analyzed a distinct type of DNA marker, which shows there are likely more scrub mint species waiting to be...

  • April is National Garden Month, Here's How to Conserve Water

    Kevin Bakewell, Special to the News|Updated Mar 28, 2024

    We've all heard the expression, "The grass is always greener on the other side." As Spring gives way to what seems like an obsession with keeping our landscaping as green as our neighbor's, many of us take that expression literally. Since April is both National Garden Month and National Lawn Care Month, it's a great time to both celebrate the many benefits of gardening and a healthy lawn and consider a few cost-saving tips to keep our water bills in check. Just like blood to...

  • Frostproof Native Crosses Lake Okeechobee on Paddleboard

    Special to the News|Updated Jan 13, 2024

    Frostproof native Mason Gravley was part of a two-person team that has apparently established a new endurance record for Florida. The duo paddle-boarded approximately 34 miles over the course of 11 hours and 27 minutes, navigating the vast and unpredictable waters of Lake Okeechobee. Mason Gravley of Palmetto and Jordon Wolfram of Lakeland successfully completed the crossing on January 1 after a 5:00 am start, marking the first-ever recorded journey of its kind. The...

  • Don't Cut Down That Dead Tree (Unless it's a Risk to Safety)

    FWC|Updated Dec 30, 2023

    Have you ever seen an old, dead tree standing in a forest and thought, "Shouldn't that tree be taken down?" It turns out there are good reasons land managers choose to leave dead trees, called "snags," standing. For many animals, snags provide essential shelter and food, and for people they can provide great opportunities to see birds and other wildlife. What Are Snag Trees? Snag trees are dead or dying trees that remain upright where they grew. They may no longer be living,...

  • Solar Farms Provide a Model for Mixed-Use Land Management

    Jerald Pinson, Florida Museum|Updated Dec 6, 2023

    The expansion of solar farms across the U.S. is similarly creating an abundance of bright, open spaces that require regular upkeep. Unused areas near the solar arrays are increasingly being viewed as prime real estate for growing native flowering plants that support pollinators. Duke Energy Florida recently completed construction of a new solar site in High Springs, Florida, and approached Daniels to see if he'd be willing to conduct a feasibility study that would assess plant...

  • Water Management District Offers Access to Nearly 70 Recreation Sites

    Special to the News|Updated Oct 2, 2023

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District has published its new, free recreational guide highlighting nearly 70 properties. With its new sleeker design, users can scan QR codes to discover specific up-to-date details about each property. There are thousands of acres of recreational lands throughout the District and access to most of them is free to visitors. The new recreation guides also allow users to take notes, learn about various volunteering opportunities and...

  • Polk County Seeks Volunteers to Guide Lake Access

    Mianne Nelson, Polk Communications Division|Updated Sep 27, 2023

    Polk County commissioners are looking for volunteers who would like to serve on the county's Lake Access Advisory Committee. The LAAC studies how to increase public access to Polk County's lakes and reports findings and recommendations back to the County Commission. The Lake Access Advisory Committee includes 10 members appointed by the Polk County Board of County Commissioners. Each Commissioner appoints two members to the Committee, with staggered member terms. Members are...

  • Florida Natural History Museum Works to Preserve Endangered Andean Birds

    Jiayu Liang, Science Writer|Updated Aug 22, 2023

    A team of researchers from Florida is making a significant contribution to the survival of a number of bird species endangered by deforstation in their Andean home. Birds native to the tropical Andes, many of which cannot be found anywhere else, are threatened by increasing agricultural development in the region. A new study details how the resulting habitat loss affects specific species and lays out possible ways to protect birds from human-driven disturbance. The...

  • Polk County Accepting Environmental Land Nominations for Purchase or Conservation Easements

    Gaye Sharpe, PPolk Parks and Natural Resources Division|Updated Aug 8, 2023

    Polk County's Environmental Land's program is opening the process for accepting site nomination forms from landowners beginning August 1. A 2022 voter-approved referendum created additional funding to acquire, preserve, protect, manage and/or restore water resources, environmental lands and important fish and wildlife habitat. This allows the county's Environmental Lands program to continue protecting important natural resources, connect greenspace and agriculture within the...

  • How to Deal With Protected Bears in Unexpected Areas

    Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission|Updated Jun 11, 2023

    Close on the heels of the recent discovery of a black bear hiding in a tree on the Lake Wailes Trail, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing the reminder that juvenile black bears are starting to leave their mothers' home ranges in search of new homes of their own. Between the ages of 1½ -2½ years, juvenile or yearling bears start dispersing in spring and summer, with spring marking a return to activity for bears after limited...

  • Stormwater Management A Major Challenge for Many Local Governments

    NAPSI|Updated May 9, 2023

    It's raining hard. You need to get to an important appointment. You're halfway to your destination when you hit a roadblock. The intersection is flooded, wind gusts have downed electrical wires and there's no end in sight. You have no choice but to return home, where there's no electricity. Scenarios like this-and much worse-are playing out in communities around the country. Climate change is causing more destructive conditions nationwide, turning every street into a...

  • Polk is Subject to Tornadoes Both Winter and Summer - Here Are Some Safety Tips

    Jeff Foley, Polk County Communications Division|Updated May 2, 2023

    Did you know that, according to Florida State University's Climate Center, Florida is the state with the most tornadoes per 10,000 square miles? This means that, while other states do get more tornadoes annually, Florida is No. 1 when you consider the size of the state vs. the number of tornadoes. Florida averages 12.2 tornadoes per 10,000 square miles. "During the summer, tornadoes can accompany severe weather," said Paul Womble, director of Polk County's Emergency...

  • Endangered Florida Panther Sighting in Lake Wales

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 26, 2023

    APRIL 21 - A Florida panther, an endangered and protected species, has been seen in Lake Wales overnight and during the early morning hours of Friday, April 21. The big cat was seen by residents of Lake Wales Country Club. According to reports and photos posted by the public, a second panther has been seen in an area near US 27 between Lake Wales and Frostproof. That cat is apparently a mother of kittens. The males of the species tend to wander long distances in search of mate...

  • Endangered Florida Panther Spotted in Lake Wales Area

    Robert Connors|Updated Apr 21, 2023

    An endangered Florida panther, a rare, protected species, has been seen by several members of the public in the vicinity of Lake Wales Country Club. Area residents are encourage to keep pets indoors while the large cat is in the area. Although they are not known to pose a risk to humans, if the panther is sighted, residents are urged to remain at a great distance. Sighting data, including photographs, may be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission...

  • Summer Lightning Season is Approaching - Know How to Stay Safe

    Jeff Foley, Polk County Communications Division|Updated Apr 19, 2023

    Florida has long been known as the lightning capital of the United States. In 2022, Polk County led the way in central Florida with 285 lightning strikes per square mile. Lightning is a leading cause of storm-related injury and death. Lightning strikes can result in cardiac arrest. Only about 10% of people struck by lightning are killed but the remaining 90% are left with varying disabilities. In addition to lightning and thunder, thunderstorms can feature winds over 50 mph,...

  • Call Before You Dig Is Good Advice for Residents

    Manuel Solis-Bauza, Special to the News|Updated Apr 5, 2023

    With warmer temperatures and April kicking off the best time of year to plant, spring means more people are heading outdoors to upgrade their landscaping, install a fence and overall improve their home's curb appeal. Given that it's the most active season for home beautification projects, Sunshine 811 encourages homeowners and professional contractors to dig safely, especially as landscaping and fencing combined cause the most damage to underground utility lines – resulting in...

  • Volunteers Needed to Watchdog County Environmental Lands Program

    Jeff Foley|Updated Feb 7, 2023

    Following voter approval of Polk Foever, a new 20-year environmental land tax passed last November, Polk County is reactivating its long-standing citizen's committee that successfully guided a prior 20-year effort. The Board of County Commissioners this week approved the re-creation of the Polk County Conservation Land Acquisition Selection Advisory Committee (CLASAC). As an advisory committee, CLASAC members will review potential Polk County land acquisitions for...

  • Invasive Snakehead Fish a New Threat to Florida

    Kaitlin Kovacs and Jerald Pinson|Updated Jan 24, 2023

    A population of non-native aggressive, air-breathing fish known as the goldline snakehead (Channa aurolineata) was documented for the first time in the Gulf Coast region, according to a recent study. The fish were discovered in a freshwater pond in Manatee County, Florida, about 250-km from the only other known population of this species in the United States, which has existed in Broward County, Florida, since about 2000. Native to Asia, snakeheads have been introduced to the...

  • Water from a faucet striking a hand.

    District Asks Homeowners to "Skip a Week" of Irrigation this Winter

    Special to the News, SWFWMD|Updated Jan 10, 2023

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is reminding residents who irrigate their lawns to "Skip a Week" or more of watering during the cooler months of January and February. According to research by the University of Florida, grass doesn't need to be watered as often during the cooler months. One-half to three-quarters of an inch of water every 10–14 days is sufficient. In fact, if your lawn has received any significant rainfall, then you can turn off y...

  • Polk Seeks Volunteers to Direct Lake Access

    Mianne Nelson, Polk BoCC Information Director|Updated Dec 27, 2022

    Polk County commissioners are looking for volunteers who would like to serve on the county's Lake Access Advisory Committee. The Lake Access Advisory Committee studies how to increase public access to Polk County's lakes and reports findings and recommendations back to the County Commission. The Lake Access Advisory Committee includes 10 members appointed by the Polk County Board of County Commissioners. Each Commissioner appoints two members to the Committee, with staggered...

  • Several Polk Environmental Lands Sites Reopen to the Public

    Special to the News|Updated Oct 5, 2022

    Several Polk County Environmental Lands sites have reopened to the public following Hurricane Ian, including Crooked Lake Prairie, Crooked Lake Sandhill, Gator Creek Reserve, Hickory Lake Scrub, Lakeland Highlands Scrub, Sherwood L. Stokes Preserve and SUMICA. While these sites are open, visitors are advised to use caution and follow the posted trail closures. Sections of trails may be under water and portions of trails may be closed, due to excessive downed trees and debris....

  • Hurricane Ian Closes All Polk Environmental Lands Closed Effective Monday

    Special to the News|Updated Sep 26, 2022

    In preparation for the approaching storm, all Polk County Environmental Lands sites and Natural Resources Stormwater Treatment Wetlands will be closed Monday, September 26, 2022 out of an abundance of caution and will remain closed until further notice. These sites include Circle B Bar Reserve, Crooked Lake Prairie, Crooked Lake Sandhill, Gator Creek Reserve, Hickory Lake Scrub, Lakeland Highlands Scrub, Marshall Hampton Reserve, North Walk-in-Water Creek, Peace River...

  • Plenty of Floridians Enraptured by Migration's Many Mysteries

    Special to the News, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission|Updated Aug 26, 2022

    As Floridians say goodbye to Swallow-tailed Kites for the year, we get ready to welcome a new wave of visitors on their cross-continental journey. Be on the lookout for a host of warblers including the Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, Palm, Yellow-rumped and Golden-winged, as well as raptors, cuckoos, thrushes and grosbeaks. These world travelers use nothing but their own small yet powerful bodies to traverse grand distances humans would find daunting. Why do they go through all...

  • Learn to Attract Florida Wildlife to Your Property

    News Staff|Updated Aug 4, 2022

    If you are a lover of nature and wildlife, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would like to invite you to learn how to attract wildlife to your yard by planning and planting for their needs. The process or attracting birds and other wildlife is relatively is simple and usually satisfying. It requires an adequate supply of food, water and shelter to provide the habitat they need to survive, increasing the number and variety of species that visit your...

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