Dr. Rains currently serves as a professor, and chair and director of the School of Geosciences at the University of South Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California at San Diego, his master’s degree in Forest Resources from the University of Washington and his Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences from the University of California at Davis. Dr. Rains is also a certified professional wetland scientist with years of experience in both the public and private sectors in Florida, Alaska and California.
Dr. Mark Rains Appointed as Florida's Next Chief Science Officer
On March 30, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Dr. Mark Rains as the state of Florida's next Chief Science Officer (CSO).
This position focuses on leading statewide strategies to address priority environmental issues statewide, and works to ensure that science is at the forefront of environmental protection and policy. With vast expertise engaging across sectors, Dr. Rains is dedicated to working with stakeholders to ensure common values are implemented into science-based policy decisions.
“It has been an honor to serve as Florida's first Chief Science Officer and an exceptionally rewarding experience. We have accomplished a great deal during the last two years and I feel privileged to have been part of an extremely talented team of professionals who are committed to the protection of Florida’s environment and its rich array of natural resources. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis and Secretary Valenstein, I am confident that the forward momentum will continue." said Dr. Thomas Frazer, Dean and Professor at University of South Florida and Former Chief Science Officer.
View the press release below to read what else environmental leaders and stakeholders are saying about this new appointment and the important role of scientific expertise in Florida's environmental policy and protection.
“From the day he took office, the Governor has made it clear that achieving more for Florida’s environment is a top priority. He cemented that commitment with clear direction and decisive action outlined in Executive Order 19-12,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Since that time, an environmental movement has taken shape in Florida allowing us to lead the nation and resulting in unprecedented protections of Florida’s water quality.”
Governor DeSantis and DEP Celebrate Anniversary of Landmark Executive Order Advancing Water Quality and Everglades Restoration
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection celebrate the two year anniversary of Executive Order 19-12. Governor DeSantis signed this landmark Executive Order less than 48 hours after being sworn into office, outlining his bold vision for Florida’s environment.
The Executive Order directs strategic action with a focus on accountability, transparency and collaboration, including a proposed $2.5 billion investment in Everglades restoration and protection of water resources over four years.
"A clean and abundant supply of water is inextricably linked to our future prosperity and economic well-being,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This executive order laid the foundation for immediate action and represented a fundamental change in environmental policy for our state. I am proud of our accomplishments to date, our work has only just begun.”
"2020 has arguably been one of the most challenging years on record, and I am proud of the dedication and perseverance of DEP in protecting, conserving and managing Florida’s natural resources," Governor Ron DeSantis said. "When I took office two years ago, I laid out a plan addressing the protection of Florida's environment, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not skipped a beat. From increased enforcement, to securing critical land acquisitions, to expanding our state’s water monitoring networks, Floridians can rest assured knowing we continue to prioritize the environmental and economic well-being of our great state.”
"Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor DeSantis in 2020, DEP and our partners have expedited critical Everglades restoration projects, employed sound science to protect and restore our waterways, funded infrastructure projects to improve our state’s coastal resiliency, acquired lands through Florida Forever to safeguard Florida’s critical water supply and provided resource-based recreation to residents and visitors at a time when we needed it most," DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said. "These accomplishments are just a few of the efforts our agency pursues every day. We take pride in our agency’s quick response to communities and public lands in the wake of damaging storms and in our long-term environmental programs to meet the needs of our unique and diverse state."
DEP Secretary Valenstein Highlights Governor DeSantis’ Continued Historic Environmental Achievements
From the day he took office, Governor Ron DeSantis made it clear that achieving more for Florida’s environment would be a top priority. Since that time, an environmental movement has taken shape in Florida resulting in unprecedented protections of our water, air and land. During 2020, under Governor DeSantis' leadership and with the support of the Florida Legislature, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has taken aggressive steps to effectively address environmental issues at the source, while also responding to COVID-19.
On Dec. 21, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a $20 million investment into the protection and preservation of Biscayne Bay, a joint funding initiative between the State of Florida and Miami-Dade County. The Governor was joined at the announcement by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. The press conference was held in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $20 Million for Protection and Preservation of Biscayne Bay
Governor Ron DeSantis announced a $20 million investment into the protection and preservation of Biscayne Bay, a joint funding initiative between the state of Florida and Miami-Dade County. The Governor was joined at the announcement by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein.
The state of Florida and Miami-Dade County will each invest $10 million, for a total of $20 million, for important infrastructure updates and new technology to help predict and prevent sanitary sewer overflows into the bay.
In the coming weeks, the state and county will work collaboratively to identify and pursue potential projects. Miami-Dade County has already identified six projects for $5 million, $2.5 million of which the state will cover.
“Florida continues to be a pioneer of environmental protection. This is a historic moment for our agency and our state,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We appreciate EPA’s stringent public review and approval of DEP’s assumption of this program. Our waters and wetlands are critical to our economy and way of life in Florida. As such, it is important for the state to take the lead in their protection. We are pleased that with the assumption, Florida scientists and permitters will now be accountable for state and federal wetlands permits. DEP staff know the state’s resources best and have the expertise to ensure their protection.”
State assumption utilizes the local expertise of DEP’s more than 200 environmental experts to further protect Florida’s diverse and unique natural resources. These capable team members are already responsible for managing Environmental Resource Permitting standards and will bring the same level of dedication to implementing the State 404 program.
DEP Receives EPA Approval for Oversight of Federal Wetlands Program
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that after many years of thoughtful deliberation and preparation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted the state assumption of the 404 program (the federal permitting program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands and other waters of the United States). In 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that authorized Florida to kickstart the state assumption process. After a thorough federal and public review period, coupled with thorough internal preparation, DEP has been approved to adopt the federal 404 program and enhance the protection of Florida's wetlands.
Many of Florida’s restoration efforts, such as Everglades projects, have been delayed by the federal permitting program. Florida is known for overseeing the largest wetland restoration project in the world, as well as many other environmental projects. Assumption of this program allows DEP to harness state resources to more quickly permit these key projects.
State 404 assumption will localize and strengthen DEP’s environmental protection efforts, streamline permitting procedures and eliminate the duplicative reviews that halt progress on both public works and environmental projects. The majority of review requirements overlap between programs and integrating these processes at the state level will provide greater certainty to the regulated community and conserve the time and resources of both applicant and regulator.
Secretary Valenstein and Chris Peterson, St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Member, head out into Florida Bay to see first-hand the importance of Everglades restoration to the health of all water bodies in South Florida.The visit to Florida Bay showcased a greater understanding of the ecological significance of this water body and further illustrated the link between the Everglades and South Florida’s water quality. Immersed in Florida’s native habitat, participants visited the Shark River to see the largest mangroves in the state and fished for snook and redfish in abundant seagrass meadows.
“It’s a privilege to experience Florida at its wildest,” said Secretary Valenstein. “The real Florida lives on in the Everglades and within Florida Bay. The efforts of Governor DeSantis, DEP, the SFWMD, the federal government and our local partners are invaluable to the continued protection of these unique habitats. Florida's water resources are the driving force of our economy, environment and way of life as Floridians. A natural flow of clean, fresh water south through the Everglades will ensure these unique ecosystems are preserved for generations to come.”
SFWMD Governing Board Chairman, DEP Secretary and Environmental Leaders Visit Florida Bay to Discuss Everglades Restoration
Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has prioritized the preservation of Florida’s natural landscapes, enabling native ecosystems and the species they harbor to thrive. These historic and ongoing efforts are especially evident in the restoration and protection of America’s Everglades. Together with partners at the federal and local level, the state of Florida is spearheading one of the largest environmental restoration projects in the world by revitalizing America’s Everglades.
Federal funding for Everglades restoration set record levels through $235 million appropriated in 2020. Combined with $780 million in state funding allocated over the past two years, the total funding for Everglades restoration exceeds half a billion dollars per year. In addition to the Everglades restoration funding, Governor DeSantis has provided over $520 million in water quality investments throughout Florida over the past two years. The Everglades and the ecosystems it supports are international treasures, and the unprecedented financial commitments of the state and federal governments to protect these resources are monumental.
Highlighting the importance of these efforts, on Nov. 19, DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Chairman Chauncey Goss, along with Captains for Clean Water co-founders Captain Daniel Andrews and Captain Chris Wittman visited the critical ecosystem of Florida Bay - a shallow, sub-tropical estuary nestled between the coastal wetlands of the Southern Everglades and the Florida Keys.
“Our springs are a litmus test for Florida’s water quality; they are the barometer of the effectiveness of our land management activities,” said DEP Secretary Valenstein. “What happens on the land can affect our groundwater, creating a ripple effect that impacts every component of our environment. Protecting and preserving Florida’s natural and rural lands is a critical step in ensuring our key ecosystems are allowed to flourish. These projects highlight the importance of science-based decisions for land conservation and efforts to preserve one of Florida’s unique natural resources.”
Senator, DEP Secretary and Environmental Leaders Tour Critical Land Conservation Projects
Senator Keith Perry, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and other environmental leaders recently visited several land acquisition projects in the Suwannee Valley, which illustrate the importance of land conservation and its role in protecting Florida’s springs.
The day included a visit to Gilchrist County’s Bell Ridge Sandhills site located within the Devil’s Ear Spring Priority Focus Area – a 3,000-acre grassland ecosystem with a critical role in water recharge of the Floridan Aquifer. This land is proposed to be preserved through a conservation easement funded in part by the Florida Forever program, springs funding through the Suwannee River Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure the continued protection of these vital lands and resources.
Springs are the window into the health of Florida's groundwater. DEP protects the vital springs resources through a variety of funding programs, including Florida Forever, the state’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. Through Florida Forever and other programs, environmental partners at the federal, state and local level are working to better protect Florida’s springs and other natural resources. During the site visits, environmental leaders discussed the importance of stakeholder partnerships in ensuring the conservation of lands for habitat protection, aquifer recharge and water quality statewide.
“It was an honor to join Secretary Valenstein to visit the Red Hills Conservation Florida Forever Project,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “The Florida Forever Project is crucial to conserving natural lands and waterways and renewing Florida’s commitment to conserve the state’s natural and cultural heritage. This partnership has proven to be great for Florida’s economy and the economic impact from longleaf ecosystems provides a great benefit for our state. I’d like to thank all of the environmental leaders who are working hard to ensure Florida’s natural resources are protected for future generations.”
Chief Financial Officer and DEP Secretary Visit Red Hills Conservation Florida Forever Project
Highlighting Florida’s continued efforts to conserve and protect the state’s natural resources, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and various environmental leaders visited the Red Hills Conservation Florida Forever Project, located in the Red Hills region of North Tallahassee. During the visit, attendees witnessed first-hand the work that goes into protecting endangered longleaf pine forests, Lake Miccosukee and various regional ecosystems surrounding the property.
“Land conservation has a far-reaching impact on virtually every component of our environment and communities,” said DEP Secretary Valenstein. “It is a critical component in our collaborative efforts to ensure our natural resources are protected and remain healthy for generations to come. This property is a great example of the continued coordination among environmental stakeholders that has strengthened our ability to safeguard our state's conservation lands.”
Governor DeSantis Announces Preparation for Algal Bloom Mitigation Following Announcement
Following an announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) that they will release of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, Governor Ron DeSantis charged DEP and the South Florida Water Management District to proactively deploy innovative technology to mitigate the risk of blue-green algae blooms.
“This action is a direct result of recommendations made by the Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Although the task force emphasized the importance of preventative measures, they recommended clearly that DEP invest in a broad suite of technologies including those capable of reducing the abundance of algae and toxins they produce,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazer. “The application of the proprietary algaecide to release water coming from Lake Okeechobee holds a great deal of promise and we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of the technology to help guide future mitigation efforts around the state.”
“Harmful algal blooms have a debilitating effect on our ecosystems and our communities,” said Governor DeSantis. “That is why, for the first time, I made it a priority to secure dedicated funding to deploy innovative technology to mitigate blue-green algae blooms. I will continue to advocate for better management of Lake Okeechobee and the resources needed to bolster our natural resource protection efforts. Our economy and way of life depend on it.”
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEP is engaged in a broad suite of water quality improvement efforts across the state,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Of particular importance to the state are those projects tied to springs restoration.This diverse selection of projects will be complemented and enhanced by department initiatives to increase facility inspections, water quality monitoring and enforcement.”
Governor DeSantis announced $50 million for statewide springs restoration projects
Governor Ron DeSantis announced $50 million for more than 20 statewide springs restoration projects to aid the recovery and provide additional protection for Florida’s springs. These projects work in concert with increased monitoring, enforcement, and other measures to ensure compliance with best management practices implemented under the Governor’s leadership to improve water quality across the state.
"Florida’s springs are integral to both our economy and environment,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our state is home to more large springs than any other state in the nation and they serve as a fun source of recreation for our residents and visitors to enjoy.
“Lake Okeechobee continues to be at the center of many discussions surrounding water quality in Florida, and rightfully so,” said Governor DeSantis. “Lake Okeechobee has far reaching impacts on Florida’s natural resources. The allocation of more than $5 million in grant funding will ensure our state’s environmental leaders can continue enhancing our ability to monitor and protect water quality and marine life for years to come.”
Governor DeSantis Highlights $5.2 Million in Lake Okeechobee Water Quality Research Grants
Governor Ron DeSantis announced more than $5 million in grant funding will be awarded to the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute as part of Florida’s continued efforts to protect water quality and the Sunshine State’s natural resources. The two grant recipients will be using the funding to implement enhanced nutrient removal technologies, water quality monitoring and data sharing and work to improve the relationship between environmental conditions and nutrient dynamics in Lake Okeechobee. These efforts will result in a better scientific understanding and management of nutrient conditions in Lake Okeechobee.
Senate Bill 712 was sponsored by Sen. Debbie Mayfield and Rep. Bobby Payne
Governor Ron DeSantis Signs SB 712 “The Clean Waterways Act”
Governor Ron DeSantis made another historic step in Florida’s fight to protect water quality and conserve the state’s natural resources by signing Senate Bill (SB) 712. This bill carries a wide range of water quality protection provisions aimed at minimizing the impact of known sources of nutrient pollution, realigning the State’s resources to enhance the protection of Florida’s environment, and strengthening regulatory requirements.
Governor DeSantis Signs HB 1091
Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1091 that was passed unanimously during the 2020 Legislative Session. HB 1091 includes a 100% increase in penalties for sanitary sewer overflows and an across-the-board 50% increase for all other environmental fines. Governor DeSantis has made enforcement of the state’s environmental laws a top priority. “The department is grateful for the Governor’s and legislature’s commitment to environmental enforcement,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “These penalty increases will provide an additional tool for the department to enforce Florida’s environmental laws.”
Governor DeSantis Announces Commencement of EAA Reservoir Project Site Work
Governor DeSantis, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that site work has begun for the EAA Reservoir Project after recently receiving the required federal permit. The project provides ecological benefits, reduces harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and sends more clean water south to the Everglades.
Governor DeSantis Commends President Donald Trump for Historic Everglades Restoration Funding Request
Governor Ron DeSantis commended President Donald Trump for including $250 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) in his budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2021. This comes after Governor DeSantis recently sent a letter to President Trump requesting that he include $250 million in his request to Congress to build on last year’s $200 million in federal Everglades restoration funding.
Governor Ron DeSantis Joins DEP, FWC and Other Partners to Kickoff Launch of Florida’s Coral Reef Campaign
Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton and other partners to kickoff 100 Yards of Hope and announce a new initiative to promote awareness and protection of Florida’s Coral Reef ecosystem.
Governor DeSantis Announces Agreement for Acquisition of 20,000 Acres of Critical Everglades Wetlands
Governor Ron DeSantis announced the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has reached an agreement with Kanter Real Estate LLC., that will allow for the purchase of 20,000 acres of critical wetlands in Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA 3) within the Everglades Protection Area located in Broward County. This acquisition would represent the largest wetland acquisition in a decade.
Governor Ron DeSantis Applauds President Donald Trump’s Significant Increase in Everglades Restoration Funding
Governor Ron DeSantis applauded President Donald Trump for securing $200 million for Everglades restoration in the federal budget that the President signed into law. Since taking office, Governor DeSantis has championed historic investments in Everglades restoration and water quality to protect Florida’s precious natural resources. The $200 million federal appropriation secured by President Trump for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration is a $130 million increase in Everglades restoration funding from last year. This important funding advances critical Everglades restoration projects including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project, which will help reduce harmful discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and send more water south.
Governor DeSantis Announces Advancement of Old Tamiami Trail Roadbed Removal Project
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board voted yesterday to advance an important Everglades restoration project and remove 5.5 miles of Old Tamiami Trail roadbed in Miami-Dade County. Removing the roadbed improves the volume of water flowing south through the Everglades into Everglades National Park. Recently, Governor DeSantis announced DEP issued the required permit for the project.
This critical project is a component of the larger Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which also includes the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. CEPP will help deliver additional freshwater from Lake Okeechobee south to Water Conservation Area 3, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. The project is in Miami-Dade County south of U.S. 41 between the L-67 Extension Canal and Shark Valley Loop Road. Elevating Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41), removing roadbed, and restoring the historic sheet flow of water south are all part of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Everglades restoration priorities.
Environmental Leaders React to Governor DeSantis’ Bolder, Brighter, Better Future Budget
Governor Ron DeSantis released his Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget, which continues historic levels of funding for the environment, including Everglades restoration, targeted water quality improvements, alternative water supply and innovative technologies. View what environmental leaders and stakeholders are saying about the proposed budget.
Governor DeSantis Announces His Bolder, Brighter, Better Future Budget for FY 2020-2021
The budget includes more than $625 million in recurring funding for Everglades restoration and the protection of vital water resources, positioning Florida to be able to reach the Governor’s goal of investing $2.5 billion over four years. Included in the more than $625 million investment is more than $322 million for Everglades restoration projects, $150 million for water quality improvements, $50 million for springs restoration and more than $22 million to combat the harmful effects of algal blooms and red tide. The budget also invests $50 million in beach nourishment to address Florida’s critically eroded shorelines, nearly $9 million in coral reef protection funding, as well as $154 million to protect Florida’s prized properties and water: $100 million for the Florida Forever Program and $54 million in new funding for state parks.
The C-44 Reservoir will store 50,000 acre-feet of water, including local basin runoff and Lake Okeechobee releases. This will reduce harmful releases reaching the St. Lucie Estuary that can fuel harmful algal blooms. The C-44 STA will treat the water stored in the reservoir before it is released into the estuary.
Governor DeSantis Activates C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area
Governor Ron DeSantis visited the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) site to highlight Everglades restoration and activate the pumps which began the process of filling the manmade wetland with water. The C-44 STA will remove harmful nutrients and provide regional water quality benefits. Joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), conservation groups, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and local community leaders, Governor DeSantis celebrated this important Everglades restoration project as water filled the wetland.
The initial version of the Protecting Florida Together water quality status map focuses on blue-green algae, red tide and nutrient concentrations in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and their respective estuaries, and Lake Okeechobee. Additional features will include an expanded statewide map to be added over the next year.
Governor DeSantis and First Lady Join DEP, DOH and FWC to Launch First-Ever Comprehensive Water Quality Dashboard
Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis held events in Fort Myers and Stuart to announce the launch of ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov, the state’s first-ever comprehensive water quality dashboard. The Governor and First Lady were joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, Chief Science Officer Dr. Thomas Frazer, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton, Congressman Brian Mast and other environmental stakeholders.
Governor DeSantis Breaks Ground on Embankments and Canals to Complete the C-43 Reservoir
Governor Ron DeSantis visited the site of the Caloosahatchee (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir to break ground on the embankments and canals to complete this important Everglades restoration project. The Governor was joined by members of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as well as conservation groups, local community leaders and other environmental stakeholders.
Governor DeSantis Announces Removal of Tamiami Trail Roadbed
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued a permit to the Department of Interior’s National Park Service, Everglades National Park, for the removal of 5.45 miles of roadbed along the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41). This critical project is a component of the larger Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), which also includes the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. CEPP will provide the necessary components to deliver additional freshwater from Lake Okeechobee south to Water Conservation Area 3, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. Bridging Tamiami Trail remains one of Governor DeSantis’ priority Everglades restoration projects.
Governor DeSantis and Florida Cabinet Take Action to Expedite Construction of EAA Reservoir Project
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet took action to expedite construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. During today’s meeting of the Governor and Cabinet, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund approved the early termination of a state lease with Florida Crystals on lands needed for the EAA Reservoir Project.
Environmental Leaders Praise Governor DeSantis’ Legislation to Expedite Water Quality Improvements
View the full press release to see what state officials and environmental stakeholders are saying about the announcement.
Governor DeSantis Announces Legislation to Expedite Water Quality Improvements
Governor Ron DeSantis announced proposed legislation for the 2020 Legislative Session that will expedite water quality improvements throughout Florida. The legislation incorporates recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, which the Governor created shortly after taking office to aid DEP in protecting, conserving and managing the state’s natural resources.
Blue-Green Algae Task Force Comes to Consensus on First Set of Water Quality Improvement Recommendations
The Blue-Green Algae Task Force met and approved its first set of recommendations to address water quality and harmful algal blooms. The Blue-Green Algae Task Force is an advisory body, appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, to aid the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in fulfilling its mission to protect, conserve and manage the state’s natural resources and enforce its environmental laws. The task force, through its discussion and deliberations, provides guidance and specific, science-based recommendations with the goal of expediting improvements and restoration of Florida’s water bodies that have been adversely affected by blue-green algae blooms.
Governor DeSantis Announces Early Termination of the lease on Lands Needed for Construction of the EAA Reservoir
Governor DeSantis, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced the early termination of the Florida Crystals Lease for the stormwater treatment area (STA) component of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. The termination of this lease on the STA footprint is an important step as it is critical for the necessary access for site preparation and will allow the District to meet its expected construction schedule.
DEP Announces Opportunities to Expand Water Quality Restoration Efforts
DEP announces new opportunities for all public and private parties to help expand the state's water quality restoration efforts. In light of the Executive Order signed by Governor DeSantis just 48 hours after taking office, which prioritized science-based solutions and immediate action to implement water quality improvement projects, DEP is embarking on an expanded public solicitation process to identify projects for future funding opportunities.
Governor DeSantis Requests $625 Million in Recurring Funds for Everglades Restoration and Protection of Water Resources
This funding will meet the $2.5 billion goal outlined in the Governor’s Bold Vision for a Brighter Future budget. The Governor also announced his support for legislation to increase fines for environmental crimes by 50 percent across the board. The legislation will also empower DEP to assess daily fines until the environmental harm has been remedied or a plan has been developed.
Pythons decimate other animal populations, disturbing Florida’s delicate ecosystems and threatening the biodiversity in the Everglades and surrounding areas.
Python Removal Efforts To Protect The Greater Everglades
Governor Ron DeSantis joined the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to announce new efforts to remove pythons from the Greater Everglades.
Governor Ron Desantis Announces Appointments To The Red Tide Task Force
Secretary Valenstein joined the Governor for the announcement of 11 expert researchers to the recently reorganized Red Tide Task Force.
Governor Ron Desantis Announces Dr. Julia Nesheiwat As Florida’s First Chief Resilience Officer
Governor DeSantis has announced the appointment of Dr. Julia Nesheiwat as Florida's first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO).
New DEP Environmental Crimes Unit Makes First Arrest
In the first arrest by the new DEP Environmental Crimes Unit, a Tampa resident was charged with felony dumping for commercial purposes. A DEP Southwest District Office investigator found video evidence of the suspect dumping two drums of a corrosive material into a Tampa alley.
Record Investments For Florida’s Environment
Governor Ron DeSantis visited Audobon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples to highlight record environmental funding in his Bold Vision for a Brighter Future state budget.
"Governor DeSantis has continued to make it very clear that it is his expectation that Florida’s environmental laws are enforced,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “We are committed to carrying out this directive and are pleased to have this additional tool to do more for Florida’s environment now.”
Governor Desantis Signs Hb 5401
Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 5401. The bill implements the directive in Executive Order 19-12, to transfer the Environmental Crimes Unit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The budget supports major reforms implemented by Governor DeSantis in Executive Order 19-12 to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water resources. Most notably, it includes more than the $625 million the Governor requested for Everglades restoration and initiatives to protect the state’s water resources.
Bold Vision For A Brighter Future Budget Signed
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Bold Vision for a Brighter Future state budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
"This announcement today is great news for Everglades Restoration and water quality in Florida,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “With the Governor’s leadership and federal partnership, we will be able to complete critical water projects like the Tamiami Trail Bridge Project, and continue expediting our efforts to do more for Florida’s environment now.”
Full Funding For Critical Tamiami Trail Project
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that full funding has been secured to complete the project to elevate the Tamiami Trail. The U.S. Department of Transportation has matched the state of Florida’s $40 million for the Tamiami Trail by awarding an additional $60 million to fully fund and allow for the completion of the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Phase II project, which is critical to the Governor’s plan to preserve the environment.
Topics discussed by roundtable participants ranged from water quantity, including reuse and innovative technology to 21st century infrastructure like leak detection and mitigation technology. Panelists also discussed technologies to improve water quality and creating a culture of water ethics focused on conservation and sustainability.
Discussion On Water Challenges In Florida And Israel
Governor Ron DeSantis and DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein led a roundtable discussion on water challenges in Florida and the contributions that Israeli technologies could lend to ongoing water management efforts.
On Governor DeSantis’ second full day in office, he issued Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment), implementing major reforms to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water quality.
Historic Investment In Everglades Restoration And Water Resources
Governor Ron DeSantis and environmental leaders reflected on the Florida Legislature’s work in providing historic funding toward Everglades restoration and Florida’s water resources.
The Governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein.
Bold Vision For Protecting Florida’s Environment
Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science regarding his bold vision to protect Florida’s environment.
St. Johns Tour Of Algal Bloom
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein joined St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman and agency water quality experts to examine an active algal bloom on the lower St. Johns River and to discuss nutrient reduction and remediation projects.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointments of five expert researchers and leading scientists to the newly established Blue-Green Algae Task Force. The Governor was joined by First Lady Casey DeSantis and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein.
Blue-Green Algae Task Force Appointments
The focus of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force is to support key funding and restoration initiatives and make recommendations to expedite nutrient reductions in Lake Okeechobee and the downstream estuaries. The Task Force will identify opportunities to fund priority projects with state, local and federal funding.
The initiative is a partnership between the host committee, NFL Green, Ocean Conservancy and The Everglades Foundation to raise awareness and reduce the environmental impact of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LIV Environmental Initiative Ocean To Everglades
Governor Ron DeSantis joined the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee to help launch Ocean to Everglades (O2E), the Super Bowl LIV environmental initiative.
The Governor was joined by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, Chief Science Officer designee Dr. Tom Frazer, and University of Florida President Dr. Kent Fuchs.
Governor Outlines Environmental Priorities At The University Of Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis participated in a roundtable discussion outlining his environmental priorities regarding $625 million for Everglades restoration, the appointment of a Chief Science Officer, and a strategic plan to combat blue-green algae blooms and red tide.
During the Captains for Clean Water Skiff Challenge, skiff manufacturers put their boats and best teams to the ultimate endurance test, circumnavigating the state of Florida in a nonstop race from Pensacola to Jacksonville, a total of 1,300 miles.
Governor Attends Captains For Clean Water Skiff Challenge
Governor Ron DeSantis, joined by First Lady Casey DeSantis, spoke at the Captains for Clean Water Skiff Challenge, an annual test of endurance in which teams circumnavigate the state to highlight the need to protect Florida’s water quality, Everglades and environment.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Dr. Thomas K. Frazer as Florida’s first Chief Science Officer.
Governor Appoints Dr. Thomas K. Frazer As Chief Science Officer
In his newly created role at DEP, Frazer will lead the effort to ensure sound science is at the forefront of the mission to achieve more now for Florida’s environment.
The release included approximately 2,000 juvenile fish and 30 adult redfish.
DEP Joins First Lady For Red Tide Recovery Redfish Release
First Lady Casey DeSantis led a red tide recovery effort in Collier County with the shoreline release of more than 2,000 redfish. FWC, Duke Energy and Coastal Conservation Association Florida have joined forces to address the decline in redfish numbers along the southwest coast as a result of red tide.
Chief Science Officer Applications
DEP closed a worldwide search for the Chief Science Officer and received 34 applications.
Naples and Stuart, Florida
Governor Desantis appoints three key members to the South Florida Water Management District Board.
Dep Meets With U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers
DEP participated in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public meeting regarding updates to the Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule.
Established Blue-Green Algae Task Force
DEP established the Blue-Green Algae Task Force and initiated search to select members, including sending letters to state universities to encourage Florida’s academic leaders to participate.
Appointment Of Dep Secretary Noah Valenstein
Governor DeSantis appointed Noah Valenstein as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, which was unanimously confirmed by the Florida Cabinet.
Dep Directs Water Management Districts On Priorities
DEP directed each Water Management District to prioritize its budget to reflect the vision laid out by Governor DeSantis in an executive order and to increase collaboration, transparency and accountability.
Letter To President Trump
Governor DeSantis, along with U.S. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting the prioritization of the $200 million annual commitment from the Federal Government for its portion of Everglades Restoration.
Letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Governor DeSantis sent a letter to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Andrew Kelly requesting that the USACE engage with stakeholders throughout South Florida as they make updates to Lake Okeechobee management tools that affect release schedules.
DEP Secretary Meets Congressional Delegation
Secretary Valenstein spoke with legislative partners about the agency’s priorities and how they will be implemented through Governor DeSantis’ Bold Vision for a Brighter Future budget. Secretary Valenstein addressed the House Agriculture and Natural Resources meeting, as well as, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government meeting. The Secretary broke down the recommended $625 million for Florida’s water resources into four categories: Everglades restoration, targeted water quality improvements, springs restoration and alternative water supply. Additionally, he highlighted the impact that data, enforcement and partnerships have on protecting Florida’s natural resources. Investing in these initiatives will achieve more now for Florida’s environment.
Request to Reverse Oil Drilling Permit
DEP filed a Motion for Rehearing and a Request to Certify the case to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the recent opinion reversing the department’s decision to deny the Kanter Real Estate exploratory oil drilling permit in the Everglades.
DEP began searching for individuals for the Governor to consider.
New Chief Resiliency Officer
Governor DeSantis announced he would appoint a Chief Resiliency Officer to be housed in the Executive Office of the Governor.
Naples and Fort Lauderdale, Florida
SFWMD Board Appointments
Governor Desantis announces his intent to appoint two key leaders to the South Florida Water Management District Board.
Agencies Initiate Partnership
Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Economic Opportunity and VISIT FLORIDA have initiated work to increase green infrastructure collaboration.
Bonita Springs, Sarasota and Stuart, Florida
Water Policy Reforms Announcement
Governor Desantis meets with stakeholders and announced the Executive Order directing DEP and Florida's water management districts to take immediate, strategic action to achieve more now for Florida's environment.
This budget recommendation includes an unprecedented $360 million for Everglades Restoration.
$4 Billion to Protect The Environment
Governor DeSantis recommended to the Legislature a more than $4 billion investment to protect our environment, agriculture and natural resources, including nearly $1.9 billion specifically for the DEP.
South Florida WMD Board
Governor DeSantis requested the resignations of South Florida Water Management District Board Members and has since appointed eight new members.
Secretary Valenstein Meets with Stakeholders, Local Officials in Bonita Springs to Discuss Environmental Priorities
Secretary Valenstein joined environmental stakeholders and local officials in Bonita Springs to discuss environmental priorities outlined in Governor DeSantis’ executive order, which calls for immediate, strategic action to achieve more now for Florida's environment.
Water and natural resources are the foundation of Florida’s communities, economy and way of life and we must work together to take action to restore and protect the environment.
Executive Order Issued
Less than 48 hours after being sworn in, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order outlining his bold vision to achieve more now for Florida’s environment.