Ashley Lopez

Ashley Lopez is a reporter for WGCU News. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree. 

Previously, Lopez was a reporter for Miami's NPR member station, 

WLRN-Miami Herald News. Before that, she was a reporter at The Florida Independent. She also interned for Talking Points Memo in New York City and WUNC in Durham, North Carolina. She also freelances as a reporter/blogger for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Florida is gaining wetlands thanks to a mitigation bank project now in the works. Ground crews are currently restoring about 1,200 acres of land in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Federal officials were in Sarasota County this week helping residents get ready for new flood maps. It’s part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA nationwide initiative to update the country’s flood maps.

Some homeowners in Sarasota County might have to purchase flood insurance for the first time or pay to elevate their property sometime next year. County officials are updating flood maps, which could shift more than 42,000 properties into high risk zones.

Water quality and K-12 testing are among the biggest concerns for Lee County groups and residents as the county’s delegation met on Tuesday to discuss the area’s needs ahead of the Legislation session.

State officials approved two land conservation deals for Southwest Florida Tuesday.

The Florida Cabinet voted in favor of a $9.7 million dollar land deal in Collier County.

The 620 acres of land in the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed connects a lot of already protected conservation land. That’s why Eric Draper with Audubon Florida said the purchase was a great decision.

Almost immediately after opening its doors the morning after Florida’s gay marriage ban was lifted, the Lee County clerk’s office began handing out its first same sex marriage licenses Tuesday.

Advocates for a project that could connect the entire state via bike trails hope to get a chunk of new dedicated funding from Amendment One.

Despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, gay marriage may not be a done deal in Florida. That’s because county officials in charge of issuing marriage licenses are dealing with conflicting legal opinions.

The state’s utilities regulator signed-off on a plan that allows FPL to charge its customers for a $190 million investment into a fracking project in Oklahoma. FPL’s representatives said this will save Floridians money in the long-run, but others have warned this decision sets a bad precedent.

Environmentalists are concerned Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to save taxpayer money might hinder land conversation efforts in the state.

A federal appeals court has denied the state’s motion to keep Florida’s gay marriage ban in place. This means gay marriages might start taking place in the Sunshine State as soon as early January.

A panel of judges at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s motion Wednesday asking a court to keep the state’s gay marriage ban in place.

Gov. Rick Scott is touring the state following his re-election last month.  He made a stop in Naples Tuesday night to talk about his priorities for his second term in office.

State Sens. Darren Soto and Dwight Bullard filed legislation Tuesday banning fracking in Florida in an effort to protect the state’s water supply and economy. 

There are several weeks left in this year and Florida has already tied its all-time record of panthers killed by cars. Nineteen endangered Florida panthers have died after being struck by vehicles this year.

A new book published by the University Press of Florida entitled, “Going Ape: Florida’s Battles over Evolution in the Classroom” looks at Florida’s place in a long-fought cultural battle over whether schools should be teaching Evolution as fact—and whether Creationism should also have a place in the state’s textbooks.

Brandon Haught is the author of “Going Ape.” Haught is a former Marine Corps combat correspondent and current public information officer with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. He’s also a founding board member and volunteer communications director for Florida Citizens for Science—a group that describes its work as “rooting out attempts to undermine our state's future, such as the blatant promotion of anti-scientific ideas, Intelligent Design/Creationism.”

With campaigning already underway for this this fall’s mid-term elections, we take a look back to the tumultuous 2000 presidential election between President George W. Bush and Al Gore.  Florida’s 27 electoral votes lay at the center of that contest amid narrow vote margins, conflicting statutes, political disputes and uncounted ballots due to the ‘hanging chad’ issue. 

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Wells shares insights from his experience during that debacle in his book titled, “Inside Bush v. Gore.” 

A gay rights organization ranking shows Cape Coral has the least inclusive local policies in Florida for the LGBT community.

An advocacy group reports Florida schools are failing to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) students.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) newest survey shows Florida’s secondary school policies aren’t keeping this vulnerable student population safe. The group said inadequate policies and school resources are largely to blame.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, who represents parts of Collier and Miami-Dade Counties, said he likes some details in President Obama’s plan relieving about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled law enforcement officials in Florida need a warrant to use new cell phone tracking technology. This could affect a civil rights group’s effort to find out how police in Florida use Stingray technology.

Due to a rise in Coyote sightings in Lee County, state officials are holding a community forum in Cape Coral Tuesday night.