Cold weather and fish kills: What you need to know!

Cold weather and fish kills: What you need to know!

With the ongoing cold weather across the Panhandle, fish kills are being reported in many areas.

In the Panhandle, average water temperatures have dropped down to the 50s (degrees Fahrenheit) in many waterbodies. This is about ten degrees cooler than in normal years. Fish have a tolerance to temperature but when air and water temperatures decrease rapidly, fish kills may occur.

Recent ice coverage in Apalachicola Bay is visible example of the harsh environmental conditions that have led to reported fish kills throughout Florida including the Panhandle. Photo by L. Scott Jackson

Recent ice coverage in Apalachicola Bay is visible example of the harsh environmental conditions that have led to reported fish kills throughout Florida, including the Panhandle. Photo by L. Scott Jackson

Fish kills due to cold weather are naturally occurring phenomena. In some cases there may be an ecological benefit. Exotic fish species that have adapted to Florida’s subtropical climate may not be able to withstand these colder temperatures and large numbers of the populations may be eliminated. The decrease in the population of exotic species may allow for an increase in native populations.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish Kill Hotline provides maps of fish kills throughout the state on a monthly basis. If you see a fish kill you can report it by phone: 1-800-636-0511 or online.

The FWC Fish Kill Website also allows the user to report fish kills and search the current database for fish kills by dates, county and possible causes of fish kills. (See example search below)

Your search was:

  • From 12/01/2013
  • To 01/24/2014
  • All Counties
  • Suspected Causes Cold Weather

Note: Select an Asterisked (*) Column Heading to Sort by That Column

*ID Report
City *County Call
Body Name
20048 122013 12/20/2013 Lakeland Polk Fish Kill Cold Weather N Pkwy Frontage Rd & Carabbean Rd 100s
Species Unidentified
20051 122713 12/27/2013 Treasure Island Pinellas Mortality – Mollusca Cold Weather West Gulf Blvd 100s
20057 010214 1/2/2014 North Port Sarasota Fish Kill Cold Weather El Prada West 100s
Sucker Mouth Catfish
20064 010814 1/8/2014 Tarpon Springs Pinellas Mortality – Cartilaginous Cold Weather Anclote River Boat Ramp 100s
Hammerhead Shark, Jack Crevalle, Pompano, Permit
20065 010814 1/8/2014 Panacea Wakula Fish Kill Cold Weather Lake Tucker / Alligator Point 100s
Trout, Sheepshead
20067 011014 1/10/2014 Fort Walton Beach Okaloosa Fish Kill Cold Weather Cinco Bayou 100s
Species Unidentified, Silverback, Yellow Bellie
20068 011214 1/12/2014 Palm Harbor Pinellas Fish Kill Cold Weather Anclote – Between Marker 32 & 36 Unknown Count
Unknown Count
20069 011214 1/12/2014 Tarpon Springs Pinellas Fish Kill Cold Weather Anclote – N Pointe Alexis Dr Unknown Count
Jack Crevalle, Permit
20070 011214 1/12/2014 Lecanto Citrus Fish Kill Cold Weather Creek Off Pirates Cove 10
20071 011314 1/13/2014 New Port Richey Pinellas Fish Kill Cold Weather 1/4 Mile S Anclote Key 100s
Jack Crevalle, Trout
20073 011314 1/13/2014 Crystal River Pasco Fish Kill Cold Weather East of Power Plant Unknown Count
Jack Crevalle, Pompano
20085 011814 1/18/2014 Pensacola Escambia Fish Kill Cold Weather Heron Villa Lane – Perdido Bay 100
Species Unidentified
20090 012114 1/21/2014 Pensacola Escambia Fish Kill Cold Weather Riola Lane/Perdido Bay Unknown Count
Species Unidentified



Above is an example of the December 2013 reported fish kill map:

Above is an example of the December 2013 reported fish kill map:

There are a number of reasons for fish kills besides cold temperatures; low dissolved oxygen levels, spawning fatalities, diseases and parasites, algae blooms and human induced fish kills.

To report a fish kill to the FWC Fish Kill hotline, you will need information such as the name of the water body, whether the water is fresh, brackish or saltwater, observations of the characteristics of the water, species and number of fish that are observed (if you don’t know the species, you can check unknown), condition of the fish and if there are any abnormalities such as lesions, etc. on the fish.

If there are too many fish to count, estimate the total number by counting how many fish are in a 10’ x 10’ area, then estimate the total area that fish are present (along the shoreline and out into the water). Estimate how many 10’ x 10’ areas would fit into the total area, and multiply that number by the number of fish in the original 10’ x 10’ area. This will give you an estimate of the total number of fish.

Make a note of the weather conditions the past few days, air temperature, rainfall, cloud cover, wind strength and directions. Talk to your neighbors to determine if they have noticed anything unusual about the waterbody in the last few days.

For more information on understanding and reporting fish kills check out this publication from the University of Florida IFAS Extension:

UF/IFAS Leon County Extension is Among First Three Commercial “Zero Net Energy” Buildings in Florida!

The old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” does not always apply. During a recent national webinar, research staff at the New Buildings Institute (NBI) headquartered in Vancouver, Washington profiled the University of Florida IFAS Leon County Extension building as a case study. This project proves that older office buildings can be successfully renovated to achieve next-generation performance standards, of which the “Holy Grail” is “Zero Net Energy” (ZNE). ZNE buildings are ultra-energy-efficient structures that produce at least as much energy on site as they consume over the course of a year.

With this achievement, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners has joined an elite leadership group of nationally recognized institutions that have implemented energy-efficient technologies and practices in the design, construction or retrofit, and operation of green buildings. The Board’s Extension Center joins a prestigious list of Zero Net Energy buildings. Similar sized recognized buildings include:  Oberlin College Lewis Center in Oberlin, OH (built 2000); the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, WI (2007); and the Leslie Shao-Ming Sun Field Station in Woodside, CA (2002).

A new solar array covers the employee parking area providing electricity for the Extension Office. This is one of the energy retrofits that has gained national sustainability recognition. Photo provided by Leon County.

There are now 32 “ZNE Verified” buildings nationwide and one “ZNE Verified” district. Two of the ZNE Verified buildings are in Florida, and the one ZNE Verified district is, too; it’s the Anna Maria Historic Green Village. The other ZNE building in Florida is the TD Bank Branch – Ft Lauderdale. Both of these became ZNE Verified during the 2012 operating year, and announced in NBI’s 2013 Research Report.

Average Energy Use Index (EUI) for all 33 ZNE Verified building projects is 21. EUI is NBI’s measure of all energy BTUs (electric and gas) used to power the building. The Leon County Extension building is more energy-efficient than the nationwide average among ZNE Verified buildings, with an EUI of 19. For our square footage, the EUI that most closely matches ours is the Aldo Leopold Center’s. It has an EUI of 16, which is more than offset by its renewable energy generation of EUI 18.

UF/IFAS Leon County Extension OfficeThe Leon County Extension building was built in 1961, renovated in 2000, and retrofitted in 2012 – with T8 lighting, solar PV and closed-loop geothermal HVAC (ground-source heat pumps). The energy system upgrades were funded by a federal energy grant and local tax dollars from the Leon County Board of County Commissioners. These upgrades complemented an underground cistern system designed and installed by staff of County Facilities Management and Public Works in 2010-2011. The four-tank, 40,000-gallon, on-site rainwater harvesting and storage system is used for irrigation of demonstration ornamental and vegetable gardens.

Combined, the water and energy conservation system retrofits have transformed the Extension Center into Leon County government’s “Sustainable Building Demonstration,” which was a vision and goal of the Board of County Commissioners and their County Sustainability Coordinator. Their vision enabled a partnership with the building occupants (University of Florida Extension faculty) and citizen advisory committee members to develop the retrofit plans, and to work with Facilities Management to operate the building efficiently.

Our 52-year-old Tallahassee building – plus 7 of the other 32 ZNE Verified projects – were renovations, not new construction. The average (EUI) of the entire renovation group nationwide was not significantly different from that of new buildings constructed with ZNE goals driving the design and engineering process from the ground up, even though new construction gives more opportunity to incorporate the latest technology in the building envelope. NBI hopes that this very important finding provides motivation for a new focus on the opportunity to successfully renovate existing buildings to meet ZNE status, starting with government agencies, academic institutions and corporations.

To learn more visit our office and project information center located at 615 Paul Russell Rd. in Tallahassee, Florida. You may also call the office for details and to arrange a group tour. 850-606-5200.

Visit our real-time eGauge dashboard with calculated energy consumption, production, and savings.

Leon County Sustainable Resource Center (2)

Real time dashboard with summarized energy production, consumption, and savings. Photo Courtesy of eGauge.










New Year Brings New Fertilizer Regulations

New Year Brings New Fertilizer Regulations

Beginning New Year’s Day of 2014, a new law went into effect that state lawmakers, environmental advocates, and lawn care professionals hope will reduce Florida’s decades-long problem with stormwater runoff pollution.  The law states that all lawn care professionals applying fertilizer as part of their business must pass a Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) test and receive a certification commonly referred to as a “fertilizer license.” The Florida Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Environmental Protection maintain the records and regulatory authority over these licenses.

Lawn care service providers applying fertlizer to Florida landscapes are now required to complete best management training. Photo credit: UF IFAS

Lawn care service providers applying fertilizer to Florida landscapes are now required to complete best management training. Photo credit: UF IFAS

Fertilizer becomes a problem in the environment when either too much is applied or it is used at the incorrect rate or wrong time.  Rain or irrigation water can move these nutrients (remember, fertilizer is mostly composed of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus) off target, leaching them into the soil and groundwater or running off into surface waters.

Once in a creek, lake, river, or bay, this fertilizer intended to improve growth of turf or landscape plants instead fuels the growth of algae. In certain conditions this causes eutrophication, an overabundance of algae growth which gives water bodies a green, scum-covered appearance. As this plant material eventually breaks down, it uses up oxygen in the waters below, reducing the amount available for fish and other aquatic species.  These scenarios can lead to fish kills and reduced water quality.

A body of water receiving excess nutrients can turn green and unhealthy from too much algae growth. Photo Credit: UF IFAS FFL program

A body of water receiving excess nutrients can turn green and unhealthy from too much algae growth. Photo Credit: UF IFAS FFL program

The new legislation encourages professional lawn care staff to take a day-long course covering these concepts, and additional topics such as irrigation, pest management, and proper landscaping practices.  The course, offered online and in every UF IFAS Extension office, prepares the audience for the test and certification, and gives useful tips and information for their everyday work.

Several counties, most recently Escambia, have passed local ordinances echoing the requirement to have this license when seeking a business tax certification to operate a lawn care service (providing fertilizer) in the county.  In addition, local ordinances typically have a “prohibited application period,” which may involve a particular time of the year or weather condition. The ordinances also restrict blowing or sweeping lawn debris into storm drains, which can cause the same water quality problems as excess fertilizer.  Visit the GI-BMP website to learn more about the program, and if you, friends, or neighbors use a professional lawn care service to fertilize your lawn, be sure to ask for proof of their fertilizer license.





Cogongrass in the Panhandle

Cogongrass in the Panhandle


Join us for a workshop on the biology and control of cogongrass.

January 14, 2014

Registration begins at 8:30am (Eastern Time)

Program starts at 9:00am (Eastern Time) and will end at 4:30pm (Eastern Time).

The cost of the workshop is $25 and includes lunch.


Pensacola, Fl

Crestview, Fl

Chipley, Fl

Tallahassee, Fl

Eventbrite - Spring into Vegetable Gardening

Please remember to specify which locations when calling to register and purchase the correct location ticket when registering online.

Pesticide CEUs have been requested. We are awaiting final approval and will update this post as soon as we have additional information. If you have questions please contact us at 850-606-5200.


Cogongrass in the Panhandle Workshop

9:00 – 9:50 AM – Overview, Biology and Control of Cogongrass – Dr Greg MacDonald, UF-IFAS Agronomy – Participants will learn what we currently know about the biology and control of cogongrass.

9:50 – 10:40 AM – “Safely Applying Right of Way Herbicides” – Jennifer Bearden & Sheila Dunning, UF-IFAS Extension Okaloosa County – Participants will learn pathways of herbicide efficacy, safety, label-reading, and PPE for common Right of Way Herbicides.

11:00-11:50 AM – Update: “Cogongrass Control in ROW, Forestry and Natural Areas – New Research, New Programs” – Participants will learn herbicide selections, application rates, timing and methods of control being researched and employed in the Southeast.

11:00 – 11:25 AM – “Imazapyr and Glyphosate Application Rate, Timing, and Methods  for Cogongrass Control” – Dr Pat Minogue, UF-IFAS/NFREC Forestry

11:25 – 11:50 AM – “USFS/Five-State Forestry Agency Cogongrass Initiative” – Dr Jeff Eickwort, FDACS-Florida Forest Service 

11:50 AM – 12:40 PM – “Cooperative Invasive Species Management in the Panhandle”

11:50 – 12:10 – “Breaking down Artificial Barriers to Allow Everyone to Cooperate” –

Brian Pelc, Natural Areas Restoration Specialist with The Nature Conservancy, and Invasive Species Coordinator for the Apalachicola National Forest, USFS 

12:10 – 12:25 – A Regional Case Study from the Apalachicola CISMA (Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area) – Brian Pelc, Natural Areas Restoration Specialist with The Nature Conservancy and Invasive Species Coordinator for the Apalachicola National Forest, USFS 

12:25 – 12:40 – A Regional Case Study from the Six Rivers CISMA – Brooke Saari, Sea Grant Extension Agent, UF/IFAS Extension in Okaloosa and Walton counties

12:40 – 1:30 PM – Lunch (catered-in at each host site)

1:30 – 2:30 PM – “Tools for Identifying, Tracking and Managing Cogongrass across the Landscape” – Participants will learn to use technologies available to identify, track and manage cogongrass infestations.

1:30 – 2:00 PM – “Monitoring Cogongrass Infestations with EDDMapS” – Jed Dillard, UFIFAS Extension Jefferson County

2:00 – 2:30 PM – “A Local Case Study from the City of Tallahassee”– Tony Murray, Coordinator of Environmental Regulation Compliance with City of Tallahassee Environmental Policy and Energy Resources/ Policy & Program Development 


The following topics will be covered by Extension faculty at each site.

Okaloosa – Jennifer Bearden and Sheila Dunning

Washington – Mark Mauldin and Josh Thompson

Leon – Will Sheftall and Stan Rosenthal

Jefferson – Jed Dillard

2:30  – 2:55 PM – Cogongrass and Look-alikes ID – Participants will learn how to identify Cogongrass and some similar plants.

3:00 – 3:25 PM – Label Reading Exercise – Participants will learn to read herbicide labels and why it is important.

3:30 – 3:55 PM – Sprayer Calibration – Participants will learn methods to calibrate ATV and Backpack sprayer equipment.

4:00 – 4:25 PM – Personal Protective Equipment – Participants will learn proper equipment and why it is important.

4:25-4:30 PM – Evaluation

Deer Feeders Can Hide Trouble!


Palmer amaranth can reach heights up and signal real trouble for hunters, farmers, and land managers. Loaded with numerous small seeds, mature plants and "offspring" difficult to control. Photo Courtesy of University of Florida / IFAS

Palmer amaranth can reach heights up 10 feet and signal real trouble for hunters, farmers, and land managers. Loaded with numerous small seeds, mature plants and “offspring” are difficult to control. Photo Courtesy of University of Florida / IFAS

Deer feeders are common in North Florida, and “deer corn” is sold in multiple markets. Cross-roads convenience stores sell it in plain brown bags and big box stores in town sell it in camouflage  bags with three color pictures of giant bucks on the front. With the high price of corn in 2012, many hunters saved a few dollars buying “combine run” corn from local farmers or corn screenings from grain elevators. The corn’s no different, however, either product can contain weed seed, especially Palmer amaranth. These weeds can mean big trouble for farmers and hunters.

Palmer amaranth is a species of pig weed, but it’s not your granddaddy’s “careless weed”. It’s taller than either red root pigweed or spiny pigweed, and is becoming resistant to several herbicides, most notably glyphosate (“Roundup”). Amaranth seed are small and plentiful (1 to 1.5 millimeters in diameter) and easily can fit in the nooks and crannies of grain harvesting and handling equipment. 


Palmer amaranth first true leaves have small notches on the end and can serve as an identifying characteristic. Photo Courtesy of University of Florida / IFAS.

Palmer amaranth first true leaves have small notches on the end and can serve as an identifying characteristic. Photo Courtesy of University of Florida / IFAS.

Once Palmer amaranth seed make it into a deer feeder, there’s a huge opportunity for seedlings to take root in places under the radar of typical scouting and control measures. If these seedlings are herbicide resistant, you’ve done far more harm to the landowner than any savings on corn cost can offset. Conservative estimates indicate herbicide costs have at least doubled due to herbicide resistant weeds. Do your local farmer a real favor; scout and control weeds coming from your deer feeder.

Further information on identifying and controlling Palmer amaranth is available from your county Extension agent or at


Feeding corn to deer and turkey is permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as long as the following restrictions are met. “Resident game and wild hogs may be hunted in proximity of year-round game-feeding stations on private lands, provided the feeding station has been maintained with feed for at least six months prior to taking resident game,” and “Wild turkey may not be taken if the hunter is less than 100 yards from a game feeding station when feed is present.” See General Information regarding Feeding Game at