DeSantis announces creation of blue-green algae task force (YouTube

Ron DeSantis announces newly-formed Blue-Green Algae Task Force

HOBE SOUND — Gov. Ron DeSantis has placed a special emphasis on Florida's environment since taking office, and Monday was one more step in the direction to clean up the state's waterways.

At the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, DeSantis named the five members of the state's newly-formed Blue-Green Algae Task Force.

"The focus of this task force is to support key funding and restoration initiatives and make recommendations to expedite nutrient reductions in Lake Okeechobee and downstream estuaries," DeSantis said.

The team consists of:

  • Mike Parsons, professor of marine science at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers and director of it's Coastal Watershed Institute and Vester Field Station.
  • James Sullivan, executive director of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
  • Valerie J. Paul, director of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.
  • Wendy Graham, director of the University of Florida Water Institute.
  • Evelyn Gaiser, professor at Florida International University.

DeSantis said the task force was also to include a sixth member, University of Florida's Sea Grant program director Karl Havens. However, Havens passed away over the weekend. He was 62.

DeSantis said the new task force will be led by Department of Environmental Protection secretary Noah Valenstein and Thomas Frazer, the state's first chief science officer, a position created by DeSantis.

"It's one thing to go and get the resources," DeSantis said, "but I want to make sure when we are applying those resources, we are prioritizing the projects which are most urgent, and doing what we can to effectively deal with the nutrients, to deal with the algae, and to deal with the red tide."

DeSantis said the task force will:

  • Identify opportunities to fund priority projects with state, local and federal funding;;
  • Build on DEP's updated Basin Management Action Plans;
  • View and provide the largest and most meaningful nutrient reductions in key waterways.

"These task force members represent some of the best research institutions in our state and they are some of the best environmental scientists in the world," DeSantis said. "I'm confident their work will lead to significant progress and improvement in water quality."

More: Gov. Ron DeSantis names UF's Tom Frazer as Florida's first chief science officer

DeSantis is encouraged Monday's step is one in a series of steps which will lead to success with improving the quality of Florida's waters.

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