Almost four years after the devastation brought on by the landfall of Super storm Sandy, coastal scientists and policy-makers are still working to fashion a response shaped by the lessons learned from the storm. Some of the battle is scope, particularly given Sandy’s unique size and attributes. Another factor is sound science, since gathering, analyzing and reporting findings in an accurate and accessible manner is hardly a task accomplished overnight.

MIAMI (August 17, 2016) —  To improve public space and engage residents in civic life, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is joining Miami-Dade County to support the Million Trees Miami initiative, in the community-wide effort to plant one million trees by 2020.  According to a recently released Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, conducted by the University of Florida and Florida International University, the County has only 19.9 percent tree canopy—well below the 30-40 percent recommended coverage for a healthy urban forest.

It’s an inland (and upland) problem with a serious coastal impact… and experts warn conditions in the future could make it even more prevalent in our coastal ecosystems. The issue is colloquially referred to as “blue-green algae” (actually, cyanobacteria), which can produce harmful toxins. Florida is facing cyanobacteria-contaminated waters now, particularly on the east coast where Lake Okeechobee (source for the freshwater bacteria, which is very resistant to salt water) drains into the Atlantic.

Bethany Quinn and her husband Sean moved into their home in Stuart, in Martin County, three years ago. 

It’s the same house Bethany grew up in, nestled in a middle-class neighbourhood and across the street from the St. Lucie Lucie River, part of the larger Indian River Lagoon estuary. As a girl, Quinn would swim in the river with her family. But today Quinn doesn’t allow her two daughters to go near the water. The river isn’t safe, in her view; it’s too polluted. â€œI just don’t see how it can come back,” Quinn said.

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