• Wildlife stranded on tree islands and levees by extreme high water levels in the Everglades might soon get a break, courtesy of the South Florida Water Management District. The District announced Friday it had deployed heavy equipment to cut a 35-foot gap in the old Tamiami Trail about 30 miles west of Miami. A news release says the emergency project will move additional water south from the 921-square-mile Water Conservation Area 3 in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where levels are the highest on record. The new flood-control channel is said to be capable of moving 800 to 1,000 cubic feet of water per second from the conservation area into the L-67 extension canal, which then conveys the water to Everglades National Park. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Ron Bergeron has been lobbying state and federal officials to lower water levels in the Glades after months of above-average rainfall crowded deer, bear and even wading birds into shrinking areas of higher ground.
• If the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series plans to continue its televised contests next season in Southwest Florida’s Boca Grande Pass, organizers will have to find some other way to catch and release the silver kings besides using a lead-headed jig hanging from a circle hook. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting last week in Pensacola, finalized a rule prohibiting the use of gear that snags tarpon — or any other fish — in the Pass year round. The rule takes effect Nov.1. It comes on the heels of another measure designating tarpon and bonefish as catch-and-release only species. In other action, the commission eliminated a Nov. 1- March 31 recreational season closure for vermillion snapper in Atlantic state waters. The action covering waters out to three miles from shore is consistent with new federal rules that extend more than three miles from land. Commissioners also approved an Oct.1-21 supplemental recreational red snapper season in Gulf state waters for 2013 only. Announcement of a concurrent season in adjacent federal waters is expected from NOAA Fisheries Service shortly.
• The FWC has adopted a rule prohibiting the importation of live captive deer into Florida from out of state. Commissioners said they acted to reduce the chances of introducing chronic wasting disease — an illness that is always fatal to deer and has no cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been documented in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and South Korea, but has not shown up in Florida.
• Everglades National Park wants to know what visitors think about its draft plan for sea grass restoration management in Florida Bay. Park officials say the plan is aimed at evaluating damage to sea grass, determining how to restore lost cover, executing restoration projects and evaluating recovery success. A public meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 16 at Founders Park, 87000 Overseas Highway, Islamorada. Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 4. For more information about the plan, go to www.nps.gov/ever. A final plan is expected to be issued early next year.