Make us your home page
Instagram

Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer

Craig Pittman

Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. He graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the Times. He is a four-time winner of the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida and a series of stories on Florida's vanishing wetlands that he wrote with Matthew Waite won the top investigative reporting award in both 2006 and 2007 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of four books: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" (2012); "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," (2010); and, co-written with Waite, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," (2009). His new book, < a href="http://www.amazon.com/Oh-Florida-Americas-Weirdest-Influences-ebook/dp/B019CB3UNQ"> "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country,"hits stores in July 2016. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Phone: (727) 893-8530

Email: craig@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CraigTimes

link
  1. A reliable Rick Scott ally, Pete Antonacci, named CEO of Enterprise Florida

    State Roundup

    Pete Antonacci, who last week made headlines when he advised scientists to stay in their lane rather than criticize his water agency's work on Everglades restoration, is getting a new job.

    After less than two turbulent years as executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, he's been tapped to take over Florida's beleaguered business-recruitment agency, Enterprise Florida....

    Pete Antonacci, an attorney seen here in 2009, has served many roles for Gov. Rick Scott: general counsel, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District and now, CEO of Enterprise Florida.  [&#13;COLIN HACKLEY | Special to the Times]
  2. Water agency boss who bucked scientists put in charge of Enterprise Florida

    Blog

    Pete Antonacci, who last week made headlines telling scientists to stay in their lane rather than criticize his water agency's work on Everglades restoration, is getting a new job.

    After less than two turbulent years as executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, he's been tapped to take over Florida's beleaguered business-recruitment agency, Enterprise Florida....

    Pete Antonacci
  3. Everglades restoration project leader tells top scientists: Stay in your lane

    Wetlands

    The head of the state agency overseeing the multi-billion-dollar Everglades restoration project said this week he will no longer let his employees cooperate with the top scientists who are supposed to be advising the project.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Dispute over snail kite puts Everglades restoration at risk...

    South Florida Water Management District executive director Pete Antonacci. [Courtesy of Miami Herald]
  4. Pinellas program for endangered sea turtles in disarray

    Wildlife

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County's program to protect sea turtle nests has fallen into disarray, creating what state wildlife officials call an unprecedented situation.

    The lone biologist licensed to oversee the marking of sea turtle nests on 22 miles of Pinellas County beaches was fired last month by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

    Laura Wright says she's still trying to do the job anyway....

    Tracks from a loggerhead sea turtle are a clue to a nearby nest on Pass-a-Grille Beach. Surveying the nests safeguards them.
  5. Air Force backs continued oil drilling moratorium

    Blog

    The U.S. Air Force agrees with Florida politicians that an existing moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico should be extended, according to a letter that Sen. Bill Nelson released to reporters Tuesday.

    The current moratorium on drilling in the eastern Gulf ends in 2022, A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers backs proposed legislation extending it another five years, to 2027 -- despite President Donald J. Trump's executive order pushing for an expansion of offshore drilling....

    The Deepwater Horizon disaster bolstered Florida's opposition to offshore drilling.
  6. "Aggressive" monkeys force state park to close off areas to public

    Blog

    Silver Springs State Park closed two areas to park visitors this week because of concerns about "aggressive" monkeys going after humans. (No, this is not in any way connected to the premiere of "War for the Planet of the Apes," as far as we can tell.)...

    Still from family's video of aggressive monkeys at Silver Springs State Park
  7. Geneticist says Florida panther still deserves endangered species protection

    Wildlife

    As federal wildlife officials review the endangered status of the Florida panther, one scientist's work has been singled out as a focus.

    In 2000, geneticist Melanie Culver and three fellow scientists published a study of the genetics of big cats that concluded that all the panthers, pumas and mountain lions in North America are actually a single subspecies.

    In other words, according to the Culver study, Florida panthers are nothing special, genetically. They're just another big cat in a nation that contains thousands of them, some of which are already hunted. If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopts that point of view, it could lead to taking panthers off the endangered list....

    &#65279;The Florida panther has been on the endangered species list since its creation in 1967. In the mid 1990s, the panther population was estimated at 20 to 30. It&#8217;s now about 200.
  8. Federal officials to review endangered status of Florida panther

    Wildlife

    Four months after federal officials declared manatees are no longer endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it's now reviewing the endangered status of the Florida panther.

    The panther, Florida's state animal, has been on the endangered list since the list was first drawn up in 1967.

    Federal rules require the agency to review the status of each endangered or threatened species every five years, and it's time for that routine review, explained Larry Williams, South Florida field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service....

  9. Chickee hut builder didn't have permit --- but state says that's okay now

    Environment

    TARPON SPRINGS — Last fall, Indian Rocks architect Stephen J. Spencer built a chickee hut on stilts in the waters off Anclote Key.

    When Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials asked why he would do that without bothering to apply for permits, he had a simple answer:

    Because he had hired a member of the Seminole Indian tribe to build the chickee, he contended, the structure wasn't subject to any local, state or federal rules....

    A trust controlled by local architect Stephen J. Spencer built a chickee hut without state or federal permits in shallow waters it owns near Anclote Key Preserve State Park. Florida environmental officials protested, but have since decide to let the hut stay. However, they did make Spencer pay a $2,500 fee. [Courtesy Florida Department of Environmental Protection]
  10. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    But to residents of mostly rural Jackson County, the stuff is just "garbage juice," and it carries a toxic taint that they don't want in their drinking water. Their allies include the NAACP, all five county commissioners and their Republican state senator....

    When Waste Management held a public hearing on its proposal for using deep-well injection to dispose of its leachate, only one person attended, a reporter for the local paper. After her story ran, people throughout the county objected, including 200 who showed up at a meeting sponsored by the NAACP. [Ronstance Pittman]
  11. Florida Cabinet votes to buy Blue Springs, saved by long-ago secret love affair

    Water

    Florida's Cabinet voted this week to acquire 407-acre Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County, a jewel of a spring that's been privately owned since 1958.

    The spring was saved from development thanks to a long-ago secret love affair involving a St. Petersburg business mogul and his faithful assistant.

    The Cabinet approved the purchase for $5.25 million, which state officials said was 10 percent below the owners' asking price The parcel includes a set of six springs and a mile of land along the Santa Fe River....

    A swimmer jumps from a dock into Blue Springs, a privately owned spring in Gilchrist County that the Florida Cabinet voted to buy on Thursday. It was once owned by the most powerful woman in St. Petersburg. [JOHN MORAN | Special to the Times]
  12. Cabinet votes to buy springs that were saved by love affair

    Blog

    Florida's Cabinet voted Wednesday to acquire 407-acre Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County, a jewel of a spring that's been privately owned since 1958 -- thanks to a long-ago love affair involving a St. Petersburg business mogul and his faithful assistant.

    The Cabinet approved the purchase for $5.25 million, which Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said was 10 percent below the owners' asking price, according to WUFT. The parcel includes a set of six springs and a mile of land along the Santa Fe River....

    Privately owned Blue Springs Park was just approved for purchase by the Cabinet.
  13. Filling sinkhole taking longer than expected, Mosaic says

    Water

    Phosphate giant Mosaic expected to be finished by now with filling in the massive sinkhole that opened up at its Mulberry processing plant last August. But it's not.

    Company officials announced Wednesday that the hole beneath its phosphogypsum stack is wider than they had thought — 80 to 100 feet wide, instead of 45.

    That means it will take a lot more grout than expected, which means completely filling in the hole will take longer. No one knows how much longer....

    Mosaic officials said the hole beneath its phosphogypsum stack is wider than they had thought &#8212; 80 to 100 feet, instead of 45.
  14. South Florida water managers renew paid python hunter program

    Blog

    Impressed by the success of their pilot program, the South Florida Water Management District voted to keep on employing a team of paid python hunters to track down the big snakes that invaded the Everglades, according to the Miami Herald.

    The water agency bosses were delighted that the 25 hunters who were part of the pilot program bagged 158 snakes and about 2,000 eggs before it ended June 1, and wanted it to continue. That 158, incidentally, is more than any other organized hunt -- the state's "Python Challenge" in 2013 nabbed just 68, and the one last year got 106 (an amount that could be replaced by a single clutch of eggs from one female)....

    Dusty “Wildman” Crum caught this 16-foot-10-inch Burmese python in the South Florida Water Management District’s experimental python hunt. The snake had 73 eggs.
  15. Jim Kern started the Florida Trail five decades ago; he's still waiting for the Legislature finish it

    Essays

    Look how far you can get just by putting one foot in front of the other.

    Jim Kern has hiked trails all over the globe. He just got back from walking around Corsica. He's clambered across the mountains in Nepal and trekked through the jungles of Borneo. He's 83 and still pulling on his boots to wander the woods around his St. Augustine home whenever he can.

    TAMPA BAY TIMES ENVIRONMENTAL COVERAGE:

    ...

    Saint Augustine, FL-June 4, 2017. Jim Kern sits in his home under two paintings by Fort Pierce artist A.E. Backus. Kern lives on his island property surrounded by the waters and marsh of the Tolomato River North of Saint Augustine, Florida. The avid hiker has worked since the 1960's to get the Florida Trail on the list of National Scenic Trails and continues his efforts to get the state and federal funding to complete what he started. (Photo by Bob Self for For The Tampa Bay Times/Authorizing Editor Patty Yablonski)