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10/17/2014

Red Bug Slough to celebrate restoration

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​SARASOTA COUNTY – County staff will host a grand opening Saturday, Nov. 8, to celebrate the completion of a wetlands restoration project in three areas within the 72-acre Red Bug Slough Preserve.

The festivities, scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon at the preserve, 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, will include guest speakers, refreshments, environmental education booths and more. Guest speakers include Commissioner Nora Patterson, Dr. Jay Leverone from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Bryan Flynn from Atkins Consulting, Virginia Haley from Visit Sarasota and John Ryan from Sarasota County. Free food and drinks will be provided by Atkins consulting.

Attendees can meet and talk with county and Atkins staff as well as local experts to learn how the new restoration improves wildlife habitat in the preserve and water quality in the slough before it flows into Phillippi Creek and Sarasota Bay.

The project will also enhance existing native habitats and provide improved shoreline habitat for wading birds, fish, turtles and other aquatic animals. In addition, the preserve is home to grey squirrels, marsh rabbits, river otters, an occasional alligator, an assortment of songbirds and wildflowers, including Carolina aster, partridge pea and frostweed.

Red Bug Slough encompasses several miles of hiking trails, a small playground, picnic shelters and a fishing dock. it was purchased in 2000-01 through the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program with funding assistance provided by the Florida Communities Trust.

For more information, contact Jeff Weber at 941-650-8860 or Kathy Meaux at 941-650-1640.

More information about Red Blug Slough »

10/14/2014

Ponce De Leon Inlet dredging will continue through December

The City of Punta Gorda contractor, Marine Contracting Group will be performing maintenance dredging in Ponce De Leon Inlet. Boaters should use caution in the area and should expect delays when passing through the inlet. The project will commence the week of October 13, 2014 and run through the end of the year.

If you have questions, please contact Gary Disher, Canal Maintenance Supervisor at 941-575-5050 between the hours of 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

10/14/2014

Near-record sea turtle nesting concludes on Longboat Key through Venice beaches

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By Hayley Rutger

Sea turtles have finished nesting on beaches from Longboat Key through Venice, which hosted a near-record number of nests, according to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.

The final local nest of 2014 was laid by a loggerhead sea turtle on Sept 6. on Lido Key. Nests continue hatching and rescued hatchlings continue receiving care in Mote’s Hatchling Hospital.

It is important that the public keep beaches dark and clear of obstacles for hatchlings trying to reach the water, according to Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and volunteers who monitor 35 miles of local nesting beaches each day of nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31.

All told, the 2014 nesting season on Longboat Key through Venice produced: 2,448 nests from loggerhead sea turtles, nine from green sea turtles and two from Kemp’s ridleys. That adds up to a grand total of 2,459 nests.

This year’s grand total is strong, finishing only 10 nests short of the 33-year record total that Mote documented in 2012. This year, two parts of Mote’s area — Lido and Casey keys — surpassed their individual records.

More information, including detailed nest counts, on Mote Marine Lab’s website »

10/14/2014

IFAS/Lee County to offer pesticide education seminar Nov. 13th

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FORT MYERS – The University of Florida, IFAS Lee County Extension is offering a one-day pesticide education Natural & Aquatic Areas Seminar. Continuing education units will be provided in Natural Areas, Aquatic Areas, Right of Way and CORE. The seminar is 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 13, at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers.

Seminar topics include: understanding wetland plant habitats; identification of native and invasive species; invasive grasses, trees, vines and shrubs of South Florida; controlling algae and aquatic plant pests; handling, storage and spill management of herbicides.

The cost of the seminar is $15 per person. Make checks payable to “LCEOAB” and mail to UF/IFAS Lee County Extension, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33916.

For more information, contact Roy Beckford at (239) 533-7512.

The University of Florida/IFAS Lee County Extension offers educational programs through a three-way cooperative arrangement between the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Local extension agents are off-campus faculty members of the University of Florida.

10/14/2014

DEP partners with Fort Myers on golf course stormwater treatment project

Stormwater project reduces the pollutants reaching the Caloosahatchee

FORT MYERS – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with the city of Fort Myers for a restoration project to reduce pollutants reaching the Carrell Canal and ultimately the Caloosahatchee River. The department is committing $840,000 and the city is providing matching funds in the amount of $890,000. The project will create stormwater treatment systems using diversion structures, filter marshes and control structures within the non-play areas of a city-owned golf course.

Water that flows off land and into creeks, streams or rivers after a rain is referred to as stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff usually contains a number of pollutants including fertilizers, pesticides, oil and grease. Once this runoff reaches a waterbody, the pollutants can cause rapid algal growth, algal blooms and other complications. Retention and treatment of stormwater runoff through filter marshes and diversion structures will reduce impacts on water quality.

This project is occurring in a largely urban area. Because there is little land area to construct new stormwater facilities, this project takes advantage of existing marshes and ponds to improve water quality. This project creatively uses space in a municipal golf course, improving the aesthetic for players and improving water quality for the community.

Continued on DEP’s website »

10/14/2014

Florida-Friendly Native Landscape program Oct. 28th

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The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC), in conjunction with the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, is please to offer the program, “Protecting the Coastal Waterfront with Florida Friendly Natives” by Thomas Becker, University of Florida/IFAS Extension, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Cedar Point Environmental Park, 2300 Placida Road, Englewood, FL on Tuesday October 28, 2014. The program will be immediately followed by a short tour of the Cedar Point Butterfly Garden.

This talk addresses the “how to’s” in creating a Florida-Friendly, low maintenance landscape and plant buffers in order to protect critical habitat. Native plants installed and properly cared for can provide long-term benefits to coastal yards and neighborhoods. Urban landscapes and yards do impact, both positively and negatively, coastal habitats and water quality. The program is FREE but registration is advised. Call 941-475-0769 to reserve your spot!

Cedar Point Environmental Park is a Charlotte County facility located at 2300 Placida Road in Englewood. These lectures are provided through support from the Mosaic Company Foundation, the Mangrove Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Charlotte County and CHEC. Further information can be obtained by calling (941) 475-0769.

10/10/2014

Charlotte County Utilities Receives Grant for East and West Spring Lakes

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – Charlotte County Utilities (CCU) has received notification from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that the East and West Spring Lakes project has been accepted for funding in the full amount that was applied for: $2,071,324.

The funding is from the FY2015 TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Water Quality Restoration Grant. This is the third award of funding assistance that was successfully applied for by CCU on behalf of the East and West Spring Lake project. Please direct questions to the contact below.

Contact Information
Eileyn Sobeck-Bador, Public Relations Manager, Charlotte County Utilities, Eileyn.Sobeck@CharlotteCountyFL.gov
10/10/2014

New Study Finds Steep Increase in East Coast High-Tide Floods

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Flooding events may triple in 15 years, increase ten-fold in 30 years for most towns analyzed, science group finds

WASHINGTON – Flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is now common in some places and is projected to grow to the point that sections of coastal cities may flood so often they would become unusable in the near future, according to a report the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) just released, "Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”

“Several decades ago, flooding at high tide was simply not a problem,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, report co-author and climate scientist at UCS. “Today, when the tide is extra high, people find themselves splashing through downtown Miami, Norfolk and Annapolis on sunny days and dealing with flooded roads in Atlantic City, Savannah and the coast of New Hampshire. In parts of New York City and elsewhere, homeowners are dealing with flooded basements, salt-poisoned yards and falling property values, not only because of catastrophic storms, but because tides, aided by sea level rise, now cause flooding where they live.”

The UCS study is based on an analysis of 52 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauges in communities stretching from Portland, Maine to Freeport, Texas, using moderate sea level rise projections. The analysis reveals that in the next 15 years, most of the towns analyzed could see a tripling in the number of high-tide floods each year and in 30 years a ten-fold increase compared to historic levels.

Researchers say the increases in flooding are so pervasive that Atlantic Coast communities not covered by the analysis may need to brace for similar changes.

The study found the problem will rapidly worsen as sea level rises...

News release continues on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ website »

10/9/2014

Lee County Conservation 20/20 topic of Oct. 16th meeting

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The Southwest Florida Watershed Council will meet at 3:30 p.m. on October 16, at the Calusa Nature Center and the meeting will be held in the Planetarium. The theme for this meeting's "Water Wisdom" presentation will be Conservation 20/20. Members of Lee County staff will discuss the program with an emphasis on water resources. This is an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about how the County will address important water issues through Conservation 20/20. It will also be an opportunity for input on what related issues stakeholders think are important.

The meeting is open to the public and there is no charge to attend.

The Board meeting will begin at 2:30 and meeting materials will follow.

The Center is located at 3450 Ortiz Avenue at the intersection of Colonial Blvd. and Six Mile Cypress in Fort Myers, one minute from I-75 at Exit 136.

Learn more about Conservation 20/20 »

Contact Information
Southwest Florida Watershed Council, Info@SWFWC.org
http://www.swfwc.org/
10/9/2014

DEP Provides $900,000 to Punta Gorda for water supply project

The funding will allow the city to continue work toward long-term solutions for sustainable water.

The city of Punta Gorda secured $900,000 in DEP funding to help move forward a project that will create a sustainable water supply for the city for years to come. The money will help the city finalize the design plans for a reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plant and brackish groundwater supply project.

Shell Creek, which serves as the primary source of water for Punta Gorda residents, contains a high level of dissolved minerals during the off-season. The construction of the reverse osmosis water treatment plant will allow the city to meet DEP standards for "total dissolved solids." It will also help the city meet Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL) rules for Shell Creek, protecting and preserving the quantity of water for years to come.

“I am pleased that the legislature was able to provide funds for this important project that will improve water quality for the residents of Punta Gorda when completed,” Representative Ken Roberson said.

“The RO project is in our city’s strategic plan under two priority areas, which are infrastructure sustainability and quality of life,” Punta Gorda Mayor Rachel Keesling said. “This citizen-driven project, moving forward, means that our water-quality issues will be solved.”

This round of DEP funding will pay the cost of finalizing the design plans. As the design is being completed, the city will continue to work with DEP, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and other agencies to secure additional funding for the $28 million project.

Source: DEP news release »

10/9/2014

Report: Worldwide mangrove destruction costs up to $42 billion in economic damages annually

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90 per cent of the world’s mangroves are found in developing countries

ATHENS – Mangroves are being destroyed at a rate 3–5 times greater than the average rates of forest loss, costing billions in economic damages and denying millions of people the ecosystem services they need to survive, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Importance of Mangroves to People: A Call to Action launched on Sept. 29th at the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, describes how emissions resulting from mangrove losses make up nearly one-fifth of global emissions from deforestation, resulting in economic damages of some $6–$42 billion annually. Mangroves are also threatened by climate change, which could result in the loss of a further 10 - 15 per cent of mangroves by 2100.

Found in 123 countries and covering 152,000 square kilometers, over 100 million people around the world live within 10 kilometers of large mangrove forests, benefiting from a variety of goods and services such as fisheries and forest products, clean water and protection against erosion and extreme weather events.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Mangroves provide ecosystem services worth around US$33 - 57,000 per hectare per year. Add to that their superior ability to store carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and it becomes clear that their continued destruction makes neither ecological nor economic sense."

"Yet, the escalating destruction and degradation of mangroves - driven by land conversion for aquaculture and agriculture, coastal development, and pollution - is occurring at an alarming rate, with over a quarter of the earth's original mangrove cover now lost. This has potentially devastating effects on biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of some of the most marginalized coastal communities in developing countries where more than 90 per cent of the world's mangroves are found."

"By quantifying in economic terms the value of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves as well as the critical role they play in global climate regulation, the report aims to encourage policymakers to use the tools and guidelines outlined to better ensure the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves," he added.

The report argues that in spite of the mounting evidence in support of the multitude of benefits derived from mangroves, they remain one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. The report describes financial mechanisms and incentives to stimulate mangrove conservation, such as REDD+, private sector investments, and the creation of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing national capacity.

News release continues on UNEP’s website »

10/9/2014

Get the latest news from Florida LAKEWATCH!

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The latest version of the Florida LAKEWATCH newsletter is now available. The LAKEWATCH newsletter is dedicated to sharing water management information and information about the University of Florida/IFAS Florida LAKEWATCH program at the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

In this issue:
  • Total Color and Total Alkalinity Analysis
  • Innovations in Citizen Monitoring of Aquatic Plants: Passive Mapping with Sonar and Automated Processing
  • LAKEWATCH Welcomes New UF Faculty in Restoration Aquaculture
  • FWC, Partners See Ultimate Coral Reef-building Success
  • Nonnative Fish Provide Exotic Fishing Alternatives; Most Have No Bag Limits!
  • Volume 66 of the Florida LAKEWATCH Newsletter »

    Contact Information
    Florida LAKEWATCH, fl-lakewatch@ufl.edu, 7922 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL. 32611
    phone: (352) 392-4817.
    http://lakewatch.ifas.ufl.edu/
    10/8/2014

    Register now for free "Living at the Lakes" classes

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    Want to learn more about our local lakes?

    Living at the Lakes is a three-class, free program, offered to all Polk County residents to share information on common lake questions. Join us for three, two-hour classes to hear from our local experts and get your questions answered. Space is limited and registration is required. Sign up link is below.

    Session Dates: October 16, 23, and 30, 2014 from 6-8 PM

    Tentative Agenda:

    October 16:
    • Know the Flow! An Introduction to Water in Central Florida – MJ Carnevale, City of Winter Haven
    • Why is my Lake Green? An Introduction to Water Quality Issues – Curtis Porterfield, City of Lakeland

    October 23:
    • How can I Help Improve Local Water Quality? (Florida-Friendly Landscaping) – Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
    • How Raingardens Help with Water Quality – Mike Britt, City of Winter Haven

    October 30:
    • The Importance of Lakefront Vegetation – Shannon Carnevale, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
    • Wildlife Found In and Around Our Lakes • Reinier Munguia, Lake Region Audubon Society
    • Invasive Exotic Plants (tentative) – Charles Thompson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

    Sign up using EventBrite.com »

    10/7/2014

    EPA extends comment period on contentious waterways rule

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is extending the comment period on a controversial water regulation in order to allow the public to weigh in on a soon-to-be-released scientific report, the agency said today.

    The comment period on the proposed rule to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act will now close Nov. 14, the agency said in a statement, three weeks later than the previous deadline of Oct. 20. This is the second extension the agency has granted on the proposed rule.

    Opponents of the proposed regulation, which would increase the number of streams and creeks that currently receive automatic protection under the 1972 law, have argued that the agency is rushing the process by proposing it before a peer review of the key scientific report was completed. Last week, EPA's Science Advisory Board sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy saying that the regulatory proposal is supported by science and in fact should be more expansive (Greenwire, Sept. 30). But the board is still completing its review of the scientific report that the agency said the proposed rule is based on. It is expected to be completed by the middle of this month.

    The main industry coalition opposing the rule has argued that too many new items have been added to the process during the comment period and has called for the proposal to be withdrawn. Meanwhile, a number of stakeholders have asked the agency to extend the time frame to allow them to digest and comment on the scientific report.

    "EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have always maintained that having the latest peer-reviewed science is an essential part of determining jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act," EPA said in a statement today. "The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will soon complete its peer review of the report on the connectivity of streams and wetlands. To provide the public with the opportunity to comment on the SAB review and in response to requests for additional time to comment on the proposal Waters of the U.S. rule, the agencies are extending the public comment period to Friday, November 14, 2014."

    The new deadline comes after the midterm elections, when both sides will have a better handle on whether Congress may intervene on the proposal. The House has already voted to block it. Democratic Senate leaders have so far staved off a vote on the issue, although more than half of the chamber is on record in opposition.

    10/7/2014

    Photographer Clyde Butcher, local water resource experts to appear at Sarasota Bay Water Festival

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    SARASOTA – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) will host four panel discussions and one presentation at the 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival set for Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park. The panel discussions focus on the protection of bay wildlife, the bay’s economic value, water quality and restoration progress, and the problem of discarded plastic harming marine life, birds and other wildlife. Acclaimed Florida photographer Clyde Butcher will also share insights, answer questions and sign his latest book beginning 2pm.

    SBEP is the Founding Sponsor of the Water Festival, HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor, and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor. The Water Festival celebrates the importance of Sarasota Bay to the region’s environment and economy. Here’s the schedule:

  • Noon – Protecting Sarasota Bay Wildlife – Panelists include James Powell with Sea to Shore Alliance, Jim Cutler with Mote Marine Laboratory, Mark Rachal with Audubon, and Tim Thurman with Longboat Key Turtle Watch.
  • 1 p.m. – Economic Value of Sarasota Bay – Panelists include Paul Hindsley with Eckerd College, Christine Johnson with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Jennifer Shafer with the Science Environmental Council of Southwest Florida, and Sara Kane with SBEP. Professor Hindsley completed the recent two-year Economic Valuation Study of Sarasota Bay funded by SBEP.
  • 2 p.m. – Meet Clyde Butcher, Florida’s Acclaimed Nature Photographer – Clyde will share insights, answer questions and sign his latest book.
  • 3 p.m. – Water Quality & Restoration Report – Panelists include Damon Moore with Manatee County, John Ryan with Sarasota County, and Jay Leverone with SBEP.
  • 3:30 p.m. – Plastic Pollution & Wildlife – Panelists include Sherri Swanson with HDR and David Pilston with Save Our Seabirds. The presentation will also be an opportunity to learn more about this year’s After Party beginning 8pm at Circus City Architectural Salvage in downtown Sarasota. The evening event features live music and the Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Design Contest. Ticket sales benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance, two local nonprofits focused on protecting wild birds and marine species.

  • The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival is being supported by 39 sponsors from the public and private sector. More than 70 local organizations will have exhibits and displays. Other highlights include Dragon Boat Races, local artists and photographers selling gift items for the holiday season, new and vintage boats, a community art mural supported by students from Bayshore High School in Bradenton, and a display of the winning entries to the I Love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest.

    Learn more at SarasotaBayWaterFestival.com »

    10/6/2014

    Caloosahatchee/Wetland forum on Oct. 14th

    Southwest Florida residents—particularly those in LaBelle, Moore Haven and Clewiston (upstream Caloosahatchee)—are invited to attend a community forum on the Caloosahatchee River and wetlands issues.

    EPA and NOAA specialists will visit to share their ideas and help initiate discussions among Caloosahatchee stakeholders. The forum will be on Tuesday October 14th from 6:30-8 pm at the Harborside Convention Center, 75 Taylor St, Punta Gorda, FL 33950 . This forum is designed to educate and engage citizens on how wetland loss - and the loss of the natural cleansing and storage as a result - is an often overlooked factor why downstream waters like the Caloosahatchee are in such poor condition.

    Agenda:

    6:00pm Sponsors and Speakers arrive at Harborside Convention Center
    6:00-6:30 Last minute set-up and coordination on-site
    6:30-6:35 Introductory remarks
    6:35–6:50 Presentation on Importance of Wetlands by FGCU
    6:50-7:05 Presentation on Historical Wetland Losses by NOAA
    7:05-7:30 Presentation on Loss of Wetland Regulatory Protections and EPA’s efforts to Address It by US EPA
    7:30-7:45 Audience Questions and Answers
    7:45-7:55 What Citizens Can Do to Help
    7:55-8:00 Closing Remarks

    Contact Information
    Jennifer Hecker, Director of Natural Resource Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, jenniferh@conversancy.org, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, FL. 34102
    phone: (239) 262-0304 x250.
    http://www.conservancy.org/
    10/3/2014

    The Applebutter Express to Headline Sarasota Bay Water Festival November 1

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    SARASOTA – The 2014 Sarasota Bay Water Festival will feature more than five hours of free live music on Saturday, November 1 at Ken Thompson Park. The award-winning guitarist Ben Hammond is the performing emcee for the third consecutive year. The Applebutter Express is this year’s headliner band and the other performers include Serotonic and Ari and the Alibis. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the live music starts 10:30 a.m.

    The Applebutter Express was born in Bradenton when Kyle Biss met his future wife Shannon while working at a local record store. Fiddler Joe Trivette and bass player Matt DeSear joined the duo in 2012. The prolific foursome has performed at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Suwannee Springfest, Hulaween and many other popular music events.

    Serotonic formed in Tampa in 2010 and has quickly developed a regional following with their blend of conventional and innovative music. That includes plenty of funk and jazz. And finally, Ari & the Alibis infuse funk, jazz and samba with blues, soul and tango. The Sarasota band includes singer Ari McManus, guitarist Nicolaas Kraster, bass player Gregg Voorhes, drummer John Walker, and trombonist James DaBone.

    Other festival highlights include local artists and photographers selling gift items, Dragon Boat Races, expert speakers, a presentation by acclaimed nature photographer Clyde Butcher, a display of the winning submissions to the I Love Sarasota Bay Photo Contest, food trucks, fun activities for kids, vintage and new boats, an interactive community art mural supported by students at Bayshore High School in Bradenton, and displays promoting kayaking and paddle boarding. A free water taxi service provided by Freedom Boat Club will operate between Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron next to Ken Thompson Park.

    New for 2014 is an after party featuring live music, craft beer samples and the original Aqua-Garde Fashion Show Design Contest. The party will be held at Circus City Architectural Salvage in downtown Sarasota. The doors open 8pm and the fashion show contest is set for 10pm. Ticket information and details about entertainment are posted at WaterFestivalAfterParty.com. Proceeds benefit Save Our Seabirds and Sea to Shore Alliance.

    The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) is the Founding Sponsor of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival. HDR, Inc. is the Community Sponsor and Sea to Shore Alliance is the Host Sponsor. SBEP is one of the 28 National Estuary Programs in the U.S. celebrating its silver anniversary.

    Other sponsors in random order include Sarasota County, Freedom Boat Club, Manatee County, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, Cannons Marina, City of Sarasota, Mote Marine Laboratory, Save Our Seabirds, Sarasota Bay Watch, High Five Dragon Boat, WUSF Public Media, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Town of Longboat Key, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, WSRQ Talk Radio, City of Bradenton, Around the Bend Nature Tours, The Inner Circle Spa, Sarasota Day, Suncoast Food Trucks, The Old Salty Dog, MindSpa, Frank’s Gentlemen’s Salon, Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers, Stantec, Vintage Paws Sanctuary, SUP Sarasota, UF/IFAS Extension, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Friends of Sarasota County Parks, Circus City Architectural Salvage, N2 Publishing, Friends of Disc Golf, Sun King Disc Sports, Top 10 Sarasota, Surfing’s Evolution & Preservation Foundation, ROI Media, and Triple 3 Marketing.

    Visit the Festival website »

    Contact Information
    Bryan Moore, Festival Site Manager, Triple 3 Marketing, bryan@triple3marketing.com
    http://www.sarasotabaywaterfestival.com/
    10/3/2014

    Sunshine State Survey: Water is environmental issue of greatest concern to voters

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    USF's school of Public Affairs and Nielsen's latest results on their annual Sunshine State Survey were released on Sept. 30th, asking how Floridians feel about crime and environmental issues.

    USF Political Scientist Dr. Susan MacManus said Floridians believe Florida's biggest environmental issue is water.

    "What is the biggest environmental problem facing Florida, hands down it's water, water-related problems," she said. "Specifically, 32 percent - almost the third - mention either the quality or the shortage of water."

    The Sunshine State Survey shows Floridians are now more critical of the state's job protecting the environment since the 2012 survey. Only one-third of those polled believe the state is doing a good job.

    When asked to identify “What is the biggest environmental problem facing Florida today?” 39% of the respondents refer to a problem involving water; 19% cite a pollution problem; 8% mention a political problem; another 7% point to potential disasters stemming from humans or nature; food production-related problems are the top concern of 2%, while 6% cite a wide range of other problems. Almost one-fifth (18%) gave no response to the question, reflecting less general knowledge of environmental challenges than of those in some other policy areas.

    Read the Sunshine State Survey Data Release Summary No. 4 »

    10/3/2014

    Floating chapel leaves St. Petersburg, anchors in historic Cortez



    ST. PETERSBURG — Three years after America's only floating chapel docked at the Pier, the distinctive blue-roofed attraction is off to a new port of call.

    While it signals an adventure for new Sarasota owners, who hosted their first wedding this weekend, it's lousy timing for waterfront businesses that catered to chapel visitors.

    "We thought it was a great boost for the area," said Peter Ceruzzi, manager of Fresco's Waterfront Bistro. "It's a shame."

    You'll see the chapel for a final month in St. Petersburg starting in late March, when it will sit outside the Renaissance Vinoy Resort.

    But its new home is historic downtown Cortez, on the mainland across from Anna Maria Island, not quite an hour's drive from the Pier.

    It's a third stop for what's billed as the world's largest floating chapel. The creation has been the Tampa Bay area's from the start.

    Continued in the Tampa Bay Times »

    10/2/2014

    Sanibel Island wildlife being threatened by deadly disease

    By Katie Jones

    LEE COUNTY – A "cold-blooded" killer is wiping out reptiles and other species in Southwest Florida. Officials with the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife, also known as CROW, said a deadly disease called Ranavirus is spreading and killing animals in our area.

    "It causes intense internal bleeding or hemorrhage and so it causes death fairly quickly in fact there is no treatment or cure for this disease," Hospital Director Dr. Heather Barron said.

    CROW's hospital director Dr. Heather Barron said they've seen at least five cases of Ranavirus in the Sanibel, Captiva area this year alone. She's worried it could be spreading across the state.

    "All of a sudden it will just explode and you can have up to 90 percent death or mortality in a small population at one time," Dr. Barron said.

    Dr. Barron said right now, the disease remains a mystery mainly because most cases haven't been documented. Ranavirus attacks in reptiles, amphibians and fish. Once it strikes, Dr. Barron said chances of survival are very slim.

    "It could be affecting animal health, human health and could be trying to tell us something about environmental health," Dr. Barron said.

    Dr. Barron said the virus doesn't directly affect humans but there is cause for concern. She said Ranavirus is responsible for a global decline in many species and could bring a big blow to the local economy.

    "It can go in and wipe out large numbers of fish and that can really have an economic impact on people throughout the world," Dr. Barron said.

    If you think you've found an animal with Ranavirus, call the CROW hotline at 239-472-3644.

    Source: Fox 4 News

    10/2/2014

    It’s time for the annual LeBarge Historical Cruise and Tour

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    The Historical Society of Sarasota County (HSOSC) is hosting its 25th Historical Cruise and Tour of Sarasota Bay on the LeBarge tour boat on Sunday, November 2, 2014 from 11am to 1pm. The cruise will feature narration by popular local historian John McCarthy. Guests can expect a complimentary continental breakfast and a cash bar at noon.

    Norma Kwenski, Volunteer Extraordinaire, grabs the catbird seat on LeBarge, next to our commentator, always-captivating John McCarthy, one of Sarasota's leading historians. This specialty cruise tour has been a favorite with residents and tourists alike who want to learn more about the bygone people and places that have impacted the development of Sarasota County. Guests cruise along the shoreline of Sarasota Bay and enjoy the sunshine and refreshments while John McCarthy paints a picture of the formative years in Sarasota’s growth.

    Tickets are $40 per person. A VIP pass is available for $50 which provides early boarding and a complimentary beverage from the bar (limited to beer, wine and soda). Reservations are a MUST.

    Historical Cruise Guests should be at the LeBarge slip, south of Marina Jack in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park by 10:15am, rain or shine. Proceeds benefit preservation projects and community outreach programs at the Historical Society of Sarasota County.

    Details and how to register »

    Contact Information
    Linda Garcia, Historical Society of Sarasota County , hsosc1@gmail
    phone: (941) 364-9076.
    9/26/2014

    Mote receives NOAA grant for marine animal rescue and rehabilitation

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    Mote Marine Laboratory recently received a $99,615 grant for its dolphin and whale rescue and rehabilitation efforts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    The grant was part of about $2.7 million total awarded as 35 grants to organizations in 18 states through the 2014 cycle of NOAA’s competitive John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program. This Program, established through an amendment to the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, is a vital source of funds for marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation by members of the NOAA-coordinated National Marine Mammal Stranding Network — including Mote.

    "Prescott grants are extremely important to us as a nonprofit organization rescuing and rehabilitating marine animals,” said Gretchen Lovewell, manager of Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program. “These grants are the only direct source of federal funds for members of the National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. As part of this network, we are first responders providing emergency aid to dolphins, whales and other marine mammals that might otherwise have no helping hand."

    Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program provides 24-hour responses to reports of sick, injured and deceased whales, dolphins and sea turtles — all federally protected species — in Sarasota and Manatee counties and is often asked to assist with rescues and large-scale events beyond this designated area due to their extensive experience dealing with stranded animals. The program also helps state biologists respond to sick, injured or deceased manatees, endangered marine mammals living in Florida’s coastal waters.

    Mote responders transport stranded dolphins, small whales and sea turtles to Mote's Dolphin and Whale Hospital or Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital for treatment designed to help them recover and return to the wild, while giving deceased animals a detailed post-mortem examination called a necropsy. Necropsy findings help scientists evaluate the long-term mortality trends of these species, especially those relating to disease, injuries and manmade threats such as boat strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Findings offer vital information for resource managers working to protect marine animals.

    Bones of deceased dolphins and small whales are preserved in Mote’s Ruth DeLynn Cetacean Osteological Collection, which contains hundreds of carefully documented bone specimens used in scientific studies.

    The new Prescott funds will support operations, equipment and other key needs of Mote’s dolphin and whale rescue and rehabilitation programs, such as travel to distant rescue sites. It will also strengthen Mote’s diagnostic abilities by supporting the purchase of a MiniXray HF100 + Ultralight Portable X-ray unit.

    “The portable X-ray will help us take images in the field and know sooner whether an animal can be released immediately or needs further treatment, and it can help us work with animals too large or cumbersome to bring into our vet lab,” Lovewell said. “With deceased animals, it will help us look for stingray barbs, fishing hooks or other foreign bodies and take a careful look at the overall body prior to conducting a necropsy or preparing the skeleton for documentation and study,” Lovewell said.

    This year alone, Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program and animal hospitals have responded to more than 80 stranded sea turtles and 40 stranded marine mammals — a challenging task for a nonprofit such as Mote, which relies greatly on grants and support from the community to help animals.

    While Prescott funds are vital to animal rescuers, the overall budget for this federal program has been cut in half during recent years. “Only about half of the proposals submitted were funded this year, so we are very grateful and fortunate to receive these funds,” Lovewell said.

    9/26/2014

    District to hold public workshop on priority list

    The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is soliciting stakeholder input on the annual update of the Priority List and Schedule for the Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels. A workshop will be held at the District’s Tampa Service Office, 7601 Highway 301 North on Wednesday, Oct. 1 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

    Minimum flows and levels are limits set by the District Governing Board for surface waters and groundwater that are intended to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area that may be caused by water withdrawals. Reservations set aside water from withdrawals for the protection of fish and wildlife or public health and safety. The Priority List identifies water bodies for which the District plans to establish minimum flows and levels and reservations.

    Written comments on the draft Priority List and Schedule are welcome and may be submitted to Doug Leeper, Chief Advisory Environmental Scientist with the District’s Water Resources Bureau via email at doug.leeper@watermaters.org or by U.S. Mail at 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604-6899 no later than October 15, 2014.

    The current Priority List and Schedule is posted on the District’s Minimum Flows and Levels (Environmental Flows) Documents and Reports web page at: watermatters.org. The draft FY2015 Priority List and Schedule will be made available at the same web page on September 19, 2014.

    This workshop can also be accessed remotely via conference call and on-line through Cisco WebEx Meetings. For instructions, please visit watermatters.org/calendar and click on the meeting agenda.

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