Florida Gov. Scott Issues Emergency Order for Toxic Red Tide
The algae outbreak started nine months ago and has become the state's longest on record since 2006. The red tide has killed scores of marine life, including countless crabs, eels and fish, as well as dozens of manatees, hundreds of endangered sea turtles, potentially a whale shark and 11 bottlenose dolphins.
The toxic bloom, which is caused by the Karenia brevis organism, has become a public health concern. Residents along the southwest coast have reported respiratory problems due to winds picking up the aerosolized toxins. People can also become ill after consuming contaminated seafood.
Harmful algal blooms can cause about $82 million in economic losses to the seafood, restaurant and tourism industries according to NOAA.
Red Tide Status Map, August 10, 2018.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Scott's emergency was declared for Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
"I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide, so we can combat its terrible impacts," Scott said in a news release. "This includes making additional FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) biologists and scientists available to assist in clean-up and animal rescue efforts."
The executive order will direct $1.5 million in funds to state agencies, including $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to increase its response to red tide impacts, $900,000 for hard-hit Lee County's cleanup efforts and $500,000 for VISIT FLORIDA to establish an emergency grant program to help the affected communities bring in tourists.
Today, I issued an emergency declaration to help SW FL and Tampa Bay area combat impacts from red tide. We’re direc… https://t.co/4JUdWz2EvA— Rick Scott (@Rick Scott)1534192842.0
Red tide is a natural phenomenon but some have pointed fingers at climate change, as well as mining and agricultural practices that can cause excess nutrients to flush into the waters.
Gov. Scott, who has served for eight years, has also faced a share of the blame for the state's frequent red tide and blue-green algae outbreaks.
The Washington Post reported last week:
During Scott's tenure, budgets for environmental agencies have been sharply reduced. The budget of the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees water issues from Orlando to Key West, was cut. Many of the more than 400 workers who lost their jobs in the $700 million cut were scientists and engineers whose jobs were to monitor pollution levels and algal blooms. Scott also abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw development in the state.
Scott, who is battling incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate, has accused Nelson and the federal government for "allowing discharges of tainted water from Lake Okeechobee that have led to ugly, smelly and potentially dangerous algal blooms in places including the state's St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers," the Post wrote.
"Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem," Scott's television ad declares. "But Nelson's a talker, not a doer."
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla), visited Mote Marine Lab Monday and spoke with its scientists about ways to combat red tide. Earlier this year, Congress successfully passed a Buchanan-sponsored bill that added $8 million to combat toxic algae blooms.
Buchanan hopes to know how much of that funding will go to Florida in the coming days, the Bradenton Herald reported.
"We need more scientists, we need more answers. There's still a lot of questions," he said, according to the Herald. "I've heard for many years of red tide being a natural occurrence, and I'm sure that's the case (for) hundreds of years, but I think there are things aggravating a lot of this and we've got to get serious about it. Because it affects animals and tourism and (the) value of real estate. We've got to get whatever resources we need and I think we'll do it on a bipartisan basis. I think enough is enough."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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