Coconut Grove: “Miami will bloom with new orchids”

Coconut Grove: “Miami will bloom with new orchids”

Photo: City of Miami Twitter

“Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood will be flush with orchids in the near future.

On Monday morning, city of Miami officials, representatives from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Million Orchid Project and volunteers began planting hundreds of native orchids in the neighborhood.

The Million Orchid Project was launched in 2014 to bring back the orchid population by having a new generation of seedlings planted in urban areas.

‘Launching the Million Orchid Project to Coconut Grove brings all the things we love about the Grove together: environment, history and beauty,’ Miami city commissioner Ken Russell said on Twitter.

At a press conference Wednesday morning along Main Highway in Coconut Grove, Russell said ‘our goal is to put 100 orchids on every mahogany tree on Main Highway over the coming months…So as these bloom in the coming years, you’re going to see a sense of the Grove that we remember from long ago.’

The orchid species that will be planted in the Grove include the cowhorn orchid, clamshell orchid and butterfly orchid…

More than a century ago, before railroad expansion, the region’s ecosystem bloomed with orchids that grew on native trees, Fairchild officials said…

Last year, the Million Orchid Project planted thousands of orchids throughout Miami Beach and about 250 at Tivoli Lakes in Boynton Beach. ”

— Johnny Diaz,South Florida Sun Sentinel
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“What’s the value of a clean beach? Here’s how economists do the numbers”

“What’s the value of a clean beach? Here’s how economists do the numbers”

Photo: Florida Trend

“…In one recent study, I worked with other researchers to estimate increased travel and time expenditures that people incurred to avoid trash and debris on 31 Southern California beaches. No one wants to go to a beach littered with hypodermic needles, plastic bottles and discarded fishing nets. But cleaning up marine debris is expensive, and it is hard for communities to recover the costs, particularly for public beaches with open access. Understanding the value of cleaner beaches can help build support for funding trash collection.

To measure the amount of debris, we hired workers to walk the beaches tallying quantities of trash. Then we surveyed Southern California residents about how often and where they went to the beach, which enabled us to correlate numbers of visitors at each beach with quantities of debris. Finally, using travel time and expenses for each visitor to visit each beach, we modeled the relationship between where they chose to go to the beach, how much they spent to get there, and the cleanliness of the beach.

Using this model, we found that visitors to these beaches would be willing to incur $12.91 in additional costs per trip if each of the beaches had 25 percent less debris. This translated into a total willingness to pay $29.5 million for action to reduce marine debris by 25 percent on these beaches…”

— Timothy Haab, The Conversation, Florida Trend
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“After decades of destruction, native orchids making a comeback”

“After decades of destruction, native orchids making a comeback”

Photo: South Florida Sun Sentinel

“The delicate Florida Butterfly orchid, decimated by development and illegal collection over the past century, is about to make a comeback in Palm Beach County.

Students at 12 schools have been attaching them to trees on their campuses, where they are expected to flourish unimpeded over the next six months. Several businesses and clubs are also propagating the fragrant plants, creating a potential native orchid renaissance that is already spreading through South Florida.

The flowers are budding as part of the Million Orchid Project, a plan developed by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables to replenish South Florida’s native orchids in urban settings…

The Million Orchid Project started in 2012, after Fairchild garden officials observed a similar propagation project in Singapore, said Jason Downing, a Fairchild conservation biologist. Now four sites in Miami-Dade are growing the plants and introducing them to native trees, making sure to attach only orchids that are native to the area and won’t crowd out local native flora, he said…


Orchids are a colorful group of flowering plants made up of petals, sepals and lips. There are about 30,000 varieties.

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables began the Million Orchid Project in 2012. The garden wants to replenish the wild orchid population that has been decimated by theft and development.

Orchids can be grown at home. Many people make the mistake of overwatering them. They need a south or east-facing window and a balanced fertilizer, according to the American Orchid Society.

Pine Jog Environmental Center is planning to release an orchid-growing kit later this year called OrKit.”

— Lois K. Solomon, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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Digital billboards coming to a Florida beach near you? “Okaloosa focuses on beach safety”

Digital billboards coming to a Florida beach near you? “Okaloosa focuses on beach safety”

Photo: Wikipedia

“Okaloosa County officials hope a new public beach safety campaign will help educate visitors about the beach flag warning system, Gulf of Mexico currents and marine life…

On Tuesday, the County Commission unanimously approved spending up to $200,000 in TDD promotional reserve funds for the new beach safety campaign.

The funding includes $119,217.50 that will be paid to St. Petersburg-based Aqua Marketing & Communications for billboard advertising.

Digital and vinyl billboards containing information about the beach flag system, currents and marine life are planned to be installed at various locations…

Adams said the exact locations of the billboards are being negotiated…

In addition, the campaign will feature location-based, digital beach safety alerts that will appear on smartphones once drivers enter a ‘geo-fence,’ which is a virtual boundary around a real-world geographic area…

Such push notifications could include ‘Welcome to Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Red flags are flying,’ Adams said.”

— Tony Judnich,
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Invasive Species: “Space Invaders”

Invasive Species: “Space Invaders”

Photo: David Moynahan in Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bulletin

“Recently, I was at a local bar shooting aliens. They just kept coming, rows and rows of them, dropping bombs while I tried to pick them off with one puny laser after another. I had a good run for a while, until the speed at which they descended upon me increased to the point where I no longer stood a chance. My defenses were destroyed. My fingers were tired. Those aliens bombed me into obliteration…

I realized that this 1980s throwback serves as a perfect analogy for the real war we wage on invasive species here in Florida every day. Invasive species are not native and are causing, or are thought to have the potential to cause, harm to native ecosystems. Like the rows of aliens in Space Invaders, invasive plants and animals seem to just keep coming no matter how many we eliminate. And, like the token-slurping arcade game, the fight against invasive species will cost a great deal of time and resources if we ever hope to win.

Invasive species closely follow habitat loss as a leading cause of extinction. They cost huge amounts of money to control. In some cases, they are downright dangerous. To put it simply, they’re bad news. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) aggressively targets invasive species as part of its overall management of wildlife habitat in Florida. This is especially true in South Florida, a region appropriate to describe as the front line in the war on invasive species here in the Eastern United States.

J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area (WMA) occupies 60,478 acres in Palm Beach County, Florida. Invasive species seem to creep in from all directions there, resulting in an uphill battle in the larger war. Carrie Black, the lead area biologist for J.W. Corbett WMA who oversees its management, took some time with me to explain why and how this battle gets fought.

‘The problem with invasives is that they’re exploiting resources that native species require for their survival because no natural enemies exist to keep the number of invasives in check,’ Carrie told me over the phone. ‘If there’s some disturbance in the environment, [invasive] plants are well-adapted to come in and take over. Open spaces are very important for our native plants and animals, and Florida is a fire-adapted ecosystem. Typically, the pine flatwoods, which is one of the most common communities in Florida, would burn every two to three years. That creates a very open environment. When these exotics come in, they create dense [stands], they don’t behave the same way that native plants do to fire, and they really take up valuable habitat, places that other animals would use either for housing or, in some cases, for food.’

A question that came to mind early in the conversation was how it was possible to make even a dent on 60,000-plus acres of invaded land. The answer is two-fold: have your own invasive species biologist and hire contractors to cover as much ground as possible. At J.W. Corbett WMA, the two work in tandem to ensure that the issue is, quite literally, nipped in the bud…

Would you like to play a role in invasive plant management? Check our list of events to find an invasive species workday near you. Each of you can help FWC better understand the distribution of invasive species by downloading the FWC Reporter App, participating in Florida Nature Trackers and/or by downloading the IveGot1 app. To see the benefits of invasive species management, visit a WMA near you. See you out there!”

— Peter Kleinhenz, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bulletin issue #16 2017

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