Issues of Interest

ORCHIDS The City of Miami Beach will be planting 20,000 rare cowhorn orchids throughout the city as part of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Million Orchid Project. Approximately 85,000 orchids have been planted in public spaces since 2014, with the goal of restoring native plants to suburban landscapes.

ZIKA VIRUS The Zika virus has largely been dormant throughout Florida, with just 84 Zika infections reported so far this year, including 65 that are travel related. Feeding Florida, a statewide network of food banks, said that there will be a series of events across the state to distribute Off! mosquito repellant donated by SC Johnson. The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.8 million grant to Florida State University professor Hengli Tan to study how fast both the Zika and West Nile viruses target human brain cells and how the brain reacts to infection at different stages of development.

CITRUS UPDATE The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary $17.5 million operating budget that reflects a 22 percent spending cut, with no change to the “box tax” on oranges. The budget includes $4.65 million from the Legislature, down from $7.65 million in the current fiscal year. More than half the staff has been cut in the last three years. The proposed budget will not be finalized until October and is based on the estimate that growers will produce 10 percent less boxes next growing season. Members of the Commission plan to request that the current executive director, Shannon Shepp, give a 90-day notice of intention to leave as they feel her position will be difficult to fill should she leave.

FEDERAL RED SNAPPER SEASON EXTENSION The Trump Administration expanded the federal red snapper season by 39 days. Red snapper may now be caught in the Gulf of Mexico’s federal waters on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 16th through September 4th. Also included are Monday and Tuesday of July 3rd-4th and Monday, September 4th. This is the longest red snapper season since 2013.

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