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The recent heavy rain and rough weather along southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast impacted sea turtle nests along the beaches along the Florida's west coast, jeopardizing the eggs and hatchlings emerging from the nests.

Many nests of loggerhead and green turtles have been documented this year in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by people working under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission permits to survey the beaches for sea turtle activity.
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Late summer is a great time to target snook. With the spawning season over these fish are on their way back into the inlets where they will post up on bait filled grass flats, residential docks and deep mangrove shorelines.

The fall snook season opens Sept 1. The current bag and size regulations for the Gulf of Mexico fishery are as follows: The daily bag limit for snook is 1 fish per person per day with a minimum length of 28 inches and a maximum length off 33 inches.
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Hiking in the great outdoors is good for heart, mind and body.

Hitting the trails at one of the Tampa Bay area’s many parks and preserves provides a welcome opportunity to, for a little while, escape the urban backdrop and reconnect with nature. Fresh air, incredible scenery, glimpses at wildlife - these are all benefits hikers experience as they tap into that adventurous spirit. But hiking offers another important payback: It’s a powerful cardio workout.
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Right plant, right place. Homeowners striving to embrace sustainable landscaping principles should remember that catch phrase.

Sustainable landscaping, with emphasis on little watering, may conjure up images of desert-like scenery in the minds of some homeowners. But the concept includes a broad set of strategies to help homeowners make their yards appealing and undemanding.

Sustainable landscaping involves preserving resources for future generations, said Jane Morse, a University of Florida and Pinellas County commercial horticulture extension agent.
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Growing plants in Pinellas County’s sandy soils can be a challenge, but with work and the addition of lots of organic materials, your plants will thrive.

More experienced gardeners understand the importance of compost. Some even refer to it as “black gold.” You can buy it at most garden-supply centers, but why spend the money when you can make it yourself.

Composting not only provides a way to improve your garden soil, it is also takes recycling to the next level by reusing yard waste, organic waste from the kitchen and more.
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LARGO - Paula Meadors of Largo went from running three miles on her own to a half and full marathon through training with USA Fit Tampa Bay.

“I love USA Fit Tampa Bay because of the people,” Meadors said. “At 225 pounds and 5 foot 5 inches, I am not the stereotypical looking runner. They did not care and continued to encourage me.”

Meadors first heard about the marathon and half marathon training group through a friend at work. Under the guidance and encouragement of her USA Fit coaches and fellow members from all pace groups, she steadily worked her way up to three miles without walking, four times per week. At the end of the 2011 season, she proudly crossed the finish line at her first half marathon, the 2011 Women’s Running Magazine Half in St. Petersburg.
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Tuesday, August 19
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PALM HARBOR - East Lake High School junior Madison Neuhaus doesn’t remember when she started playing softball.

“My brothers played baseball, so I was always at the field,” she said. “I was really young, and I tried swimming and soccer, but softball just kind of stuck.”

Madison, who just turned 16, started with tee ball, then played Little League until she was 12 years old. At 13, she joined Next Level Softball travel ball; this year alone, the team has traveled to Iowa, Atlanta and Tallahassee for tournaments.
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East winds over the last several days have helped to return normalcy in our local fishing scene. Calm seas in the morning have allowed for some trips out in the Gulf for flounder, Spanish mackerel, mangrove snapper and gag grouper.

Nearshore structure within a mile from the beach is a great place to target a multitude of species. Right now you’ll find lots of surface activity at times especially first thing in the morning. Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish are keyed in on the insurgence of small baitfish along the beach. Tossing out handfuls of live pilchards can lead to fast action around the boat. Use a long shank hook and a 40-pound leader when free-lining baits into the activity.
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Congressman David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, has cosponsored legislation (HR 3202) that would amend the Lacey Act of 1900 and ban the importing of lionfish into the United States. 

“This bill is another step in an effort to stop the propagation of lionfish. Without action, lionfish have the potential to be economically devastating to marine fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish lack natural predators in our waters, leading to rapidly increasing populations,” Jolly said in an Aug. 4 media release. 

Lionfish are not native to the waters off Florida’s coast and can consume up to 40 juvenile sport fish per day, can lay up to 2 million eggs per year, and have zero natural predators in the Western Hemisphere. 
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