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Cape Yacht Club beach reopens; no toxins in water

CAPE CORAL – The Cape Coral Yacht Club beach reopened Thursday after the latest testing results from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection showed no toxins in the water, the city manager said.

FDEP sampled the waters at the Yacht Club on Monday and posted the results Thursday morning.

“Based on these results, we are reopening the Yacht Club beach for swimming,” said city manager John Szerlag. “I will continue to push for continuity between FDEP and our county health departments relative to when swimming advisories should be issued for public beaches.”

Some who visited the Yacht Club on Thursday were still skeptical of entering the water despite the beach being back open.

“I had a little time off, wanted to see how the water’s doing. I heard the beach is open today, but still doesn’t look too good to me,” Bob Buhler said.

There are still moderate levels of bacteria at the Yacht Club, according to the Department of Health in Lee County, but not enough to warrant a health advisory.

Despite concerns, those who work at the Boathouse Tiki Bar and Grill are glad the beach is back open. General manager Mickey Ferry said business took a hit while the signs were up.

“There is a percentage of sales that we feel like we did lose,” Ferry said. “Normally people come out to the beach, then they come up on the deck, have something to eat.”

Source: WINK News »


Local Working Group meeting set to discuss resource concerns

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The Sarasota Soil and Water Conservation District (SSWCD) in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will convene a local working group public meeting to provide guidance and discuss local resource conservation concerns and NRCS programs in Sarasota County.

The SSWCD local working group will meet at the Sarasota Fairgrounds-Ken Clark Auditorium, 3000 Ringling Boulevard on Wednesday August 17th at 6:30 pm.

The local working group includes representatives from cooperating federal, state and local agencies, conservation organizations, and the public to provide local information on natural resources priorities in Sarasota County.

Local farmers, forestland owners and other land users are encouraged to attend and assist with identifying resource concerns and future direction of our conservation efforts. This prioritization will become the foundation on which our future plans and projects can be based.

SSWCD serves as a local coordinator of technical and financial assistance for natural resource problems from all levels of government to private landowners and land users. This meeting is an important step in helping us carry out our mission. Results will be sent to the NRCS state office for consideration in funding and ranking decisions.

For more information contact NRCS District Conservationist Israel Vega. Reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities is provided, to request special accommodation(s) contact Israel Vega at least 10 days prior to the date of the meeting.

Learn more about NRCS programs, in Florida and elsewhere »

Contact Information
Israel Vega, Natural Resources Conservation Service,
phone: (941) 444-3143.

Public meetings scheduled to consider Critical Wildlife Areas (CWAs)

Critical Wildlife Areas (CWAs) are established by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under the Florida Administrative Code to protect important wildlife concentrations from human disturbance during critical periods of their life cycles, such as nesting or migration. The landowner must support the CWA designation before a site can be considered for establishment. For each CWA, the boundaries and periods of time when portions of the area may be posted are defined in the CWA establishment order. Public access is restricted within CWAs only if posted, "Closed to public access." Dogs, vehicles and vessels are also prohibited from posted areas. The boundary of a CWA may be larger than the posted area because the areas suitable for wildlife may shift. This also allows for only those areas important for wildlife to be posted at any given time. Thus, the area closed within the CWA boundary each year may change.

If you are not able to attend one of the meetings listed below, you can provide comment by emailing Please include the specific CWA name in the subject line.

Public Workshop Schedule

The FWC is working on a statewide effort to conserve Florida's most vulnerable wildlife by creating and modifying Critical Wildlife Areas throughout the state. Visit the link below to learn about the CWA public workshops and how you can be part of the discussion.

Workshops in southwest Florida:

Myakka River (Sarasota County)
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, 2016
North Port Public Library
13800 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port, FL 34287
More information »

Roberts Bay Islands(Sarasota County)
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Celery Fields Nature Center, Sarasota Audubon Society
999 Center Rd. Sarasota, FL 34240
More information »

Dot-Dash-Dit Islands (Manatee County)
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21, 2016 Rescheduled to August 11th, same time.
Manatee County Library
6750 US Highway 301 North, Ellenton, FL 34222-3030

Pine Island Sound (Lee County)
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Ding Darling Education Center
1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, FL 33957

Estero Bay (Lee County)
5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Fort Myers Regional Library, Meeting Room AB
2450 First St, Fort Myers, FL 33901

Two CWAs are already in place in southwest Florida: Myakka River and LIttle Estero Island.

More information from FWC about CWAs »


Cape Coral pushes for clarity on beach closures

Closing the Yacht Club Beach in Cape Coral on Saturday was a first for City Manager John Szerlag. And the much beloved beach will remain closed until further notice.

In the meantime, Szerlag said he wants greater continuity and clarity of when to close a beach from the Florida Department of Environmental Control and the Florida Department of Health.

“We don't want (the decision to close a beach) to be a political decision like in 'Jaws', we want it to be based on scientific fact," Szerlag said in reference to the 1975 blockbuster.

Szerlag said he based the decision to close the beach on a letter from the DEP. The letter said water near the Yacht Club contained about 1 microgram/liter of the toxin microcystin. While the letter notes World Health Organizations puts anything below 10 micrograms per liter as low-risk for health risk, the letter did recommend that “sensitive populations” such as children, elderly and immunocompromised populations avoid any exposure.

At the city council meeting Monday, Szerlag defended his decision to close the beach in reaction to the letter from DEP. Councilman Richard Leon questioned why the beach was closed for 1 microgram/liter when the World Health Organization says anything below 10 micrograms/liter is low-risk.

Continued in the News-Press »


UF/IFAS conducting Charlotte County water quality survey

PUNTA GORDA – The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is conducting a survey throughout Charlotte County to address people’s biggest concerns as it relates to water quality. The survey will inform the development of educational programs in the county.

Take the survey »


Boaters, snorkelers needed for Pine Island Sound Scallop Search

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FORT MYERS – Join Florida Sea Grant, UF/IFAS Lee County Extension and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation by participating in the 2016 Pine Island Sound Scallop Search, a resource-monitoring program in which volunteers snorkel, looking for scallops in select areas within Pine Island Sound. The Aug. 6 event is sponsored by Lee County Parks & Recreation, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve and Pineland Marina.

Purpose: To monitor and document the health and status of the bay scallop population.

How it works: Up to 40 boats are needed with as many as 150 participants to search selected sites in Pine Island Sound and San Carlos Bay for the elusive “bay scallop.”

History: Large populations of bay scallops (or Argopecten irradians) disappeared from Southwest Florida waters decades ago due in large part to degraded water quality, related declines in seagrass acreage, over-harvesting and other causes. Water quality and seagrasses have improved in many areas to levels that may once again support these important bivalves. This event is modeled after the successful Great Bay Scallop Search conducted in Tampa Bay since 1993. Pine Island Sound’s inaugural event was in 2010.

Need to know: Reservations are required to participate in the event. Space is limited; reserve your spot now. Scallop searchers will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at Pineland Marina, 13921 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, FL, 33922, to receive survey equipment and instructions for the monitoring event. Lunch will be provided to participants once they return to shore and report information.


Sea Grant is recruiting:

  • Volunteers with shallow-draft boats. Please let us know the style and size of your boat. Please bring a dive flag if you have one. Canoes and kayaks are also welcome, but sites are very limited; please sign up early. Personal watercraft (Jet Skis, Sea-Doos, etc.) are not allowed in the search.
  • Please let us know how many additional people you can take aboard so we can pair you with additional volunteer snorkelers.
  • Snorkelers without boats are welcome, however space is limited.
  • Volunteers need to bring: mask, snorkel and gloves and be able to snorkel/swim 50 meters (about 150 feet) along the bottom—fins and weight belt are optional but suggested.
  • Reservations are required. Survey sites and equipment are limited. The Scallop Search promises to be a popular event—so sign up early.

Sign up today at the link below or by emailing Joy Hazell or by calling the Florida Sea Grant/Lee County Extension office at (239) 533-7518.

Sign up for the Scallop Search »


Study: More homes at risk of storm surge in Southwest Florida

More than 340,000 homes in Southwest Florida are at risk of hurricane storm surge, with a potential rebuilding cost topping $65 billion.

The Sarasota-Bradenton area ranked eighth among major U.S. metro areas for storm surge risk, according to an annual study by data provider CoreLogic.

Florida, surrounded by water, remains the state with the most homes at risk of a storm surge and with the highest reconstruction cost in the U.S.

Seven weeks into the 2016 hurricane season, CoreLogic says it has used more advanced data than in previous years to measure the potential damage that could be caused by a major storm.

That has added 20,500 Southwest Florida homes since last year to the list of properties that could be affected by a storm surge.

"Using more granular-level data has given us an even clearer picture of which homes are at risk of storm-surge damage," said Tom Jeffery, senior hazard risk scientist for CoreLogic.

Continued in the Herald-Tribune »


Polk stormwater projects ranked

BARTOW — A stormwater treatment plan proposed for wetlands adjacent to Lake Conine in Winter Haven was the top-ranked project by the county's Stormwater Technical Advisory Committee, whose recommendations go to the Polk County Commission.

Other projects in the order in which they were ranked were Crystal Lake, Crooked Lake West and Audubon Saddle Creek.

The Lake Eva and Lake Gwynn projects tied for fifth place, followed by projects proposed for Lake Annie and Lake McLeod.

Source: The Ledger


Civil Engineers: State Infrastructure Is Mediocre, But Improving

A new report card released by Florida's civil engineers shows the state's infrastructure is mediocre, but making some gains.

Engineers are giving the state a C grade overall. That’s an improvement over that state's C - grade released in 2012. The rating comes from the Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The group analyzed a number of categories including drinking water, energy and transit. The state’s aviation, bridges and ports get the highest ratings, all in the B range. But coastal areas, school facilities and storm water management need improvements; they all land in the D range. The group’s president, Jose Acosta, says the report can help policymakers prioritize the state’s needs.

“Really it’s about creating a dialog about what are needs are proactively,” he said.

The engineers are calling for increased investment at the state and local level, to prepare for a growing population, rising sea levels and tropical storms.

“Because of population growth and the various needs throughout our state, from the Keys and Miami, all the way up Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, we need to have a stronger commitment to funding our infrastructure and having the collaboration and coordination needed to get there,” he said.

According to a separate analysis by the group, infrastructure inefficiencies cost American households $3,400 each year.


Lehigh Acres MSID celebrates new name, accomplishments

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District is celebrating its first anniversary with its new moniker and its 58th year in the community.

Over the last year, it has achieved a number of milestones by building and fostering relationships with local and state governments, said Commissioner Ken Thompson, chairman of the board.

In May, the LA-MSID broke ground on the Southwest Lehigh Weirs project, also known as the Aquifer Benefit and Storage for the Orange River Basin project.

The project provides construction of 25 weirs in Lehigh through a strategic partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Continued in the Lehigh Acres Citizen »


Environmental groups visiting DC to press for purchase of Lake O ag lands

Environmental groups are sending a contingent to Washington, D.C., this week in hopes the federal government will put pressure on the state to buy agriculture lands south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration projects.

Under the Charlie Crist administration, the state was prepared to buy out all of U.S. Sugar and turn those lands into a storage and conveyance system that would take water flows from the lake and deliver them to the Everglades and Florida Bay, where the water naturally belongs.

Jennifer Hecker, with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, collected dead sea grass from local beaches, along with a container of water filled at the Centennial Park boat ramp in downtown Fort Myers.

"We’re getting a mass of sea grass where it’s all washing up on the beaches and basically the scientists believe that the color of the water is so dark, that it is tricking the sea grasses into shedding their leaves," Hecker said Wednesday morning. "They’re not certain whether this will cause it to permanently die-off but they’re monitoring the situation and the beaches of Sanibel are coated now with this grass."

Continued in the News-Press »


“Living shorelines” will get fast track to combat sea level rise

Wetlands, sand dunes and mangroves could protect shorelines more inexpensively than walls and bulkheads. Permits to build living shorelines could be issued in as few as 45 days, instead of 215.

As sea levels rise along U.S. coasts, it may soon get easier for people and local governments to obtain federal permits to build what are known as “living shorelines,” natural or nature-based structures designed to protect communities and infrastructure from extreme storms and flooding even as they protect habitat.

The Army Corps of Engineers is considering a new category to its nationwide permits that would allow speedier approval of living shorelines, which include wetlands with sea and marsh grasses, sand dunes, mangroves, and coral reefs.

Currently, it’s much faster for property owners in many parts of the country to get a permit for sea walls, bulkheads and other so-called gray infrastructure than it is to get a permit for construction of nature-based systems. If the corps moves forward with the new category, though, permits to build living shorelines could be issued in as few as 45 days, instead of 215, a spokesman for the agency said.

“The living shoreline piece is a part of what we’re pushing as a nonstructural, nature-based method that is a lot less costly,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, who ushered in the proposed permit during his time as chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, before his retirement last week. “It helps us with our environmental focus; it helps us with the endangered species, perhaps. All of that is a natural way that we can reclaim some of our land and take the focus off of expensive infrastructure.”

The move toward more natural coastline protection comes as federal agencies, state governments, and local and business leaders focus increasingly on the concept of resilience as they plan for how communities will adapt to climate change.

Continued in Scientific American »


July 15th is deadline for 2017 CHNEP calendar submissions

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Thanks to all who have submitted images already. All entries received before July 10 (except some sent using DropBox) have been sent email messages to confirm the entries and form have been received. If you thought you had and didn't receive an email, please resend them.

There's still time! The deadline to submit up to three photographs and paintings for the CHNEP 2017 calendar is 5 p.m. on Friday, July 15.

We will again be able to print and distribute 34,000 calendars. Thanks everyone who makes this project possible.

—Maran Hilgendorf

Submit your artwork for the CHNEP 2017 calendar

We live in a beautiful place and many of you have captured this beauty in your artwork, as evidenced by the calendars produced by the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) since 2005. The CHNEP is a partnership program working to protect the natural environment of Florida from Venice to Estero Bay to Winter Haven.

You can have your photographs and paintings published in the 2017 calendar. The CHNEP encourages you to submit up to three images that capture the beauty of the native, natural environment found within the CHNEP study area. [The study area includes the counties of Lee, Charlotte, Polk, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota (all but city of Sarasota and islands), Manatee (rural third) and Highlands (western third).] The images could have been captured today or 50 years ago, as a painting or photograph. The goal is that the 2017 calendar will depict the beauty and diversity of the native, natural environment found within this geographic area, which may include estuaries, rivers, streams, native plants, native wildlife and people enjoying these resources.

To enter your images, complete the release form and submit your images by 5 P.M., July 15, 2016. There is no fee to enter. Additional guidance is provided at, or at the link below.

Instructions for submitting artwork for 2017 CHNEP Calendar »


Scores turn out for clean water on Fort Myers Beach

Supporters of clean water in Southwest Florida gathered at the Fort Myers Beach Pier on Saturday, calling for government action on water quality.

The rally, attended by about 150, was put on by the Southwest Florida Clean Water Movement, led by John Heim. Other groups, including Captains for Clean Water were present.

“This is to keep the pressure on. It’s a multiplex effort to try and get the action we need for clean water not just in Lee County and Southwest Florida, but everywhere,” Heim said.

Lake Okeechobee releases and their link to brown water and green algae fueled Saturday's protest. Massive blooms have recently shut down beaches and recreational areas on Florida's east coast. Gov. Rick Scott has asked President Obama to declare a federal emergency over discharges from Okeechobee. Although Southwest Florida has encountered murky water and algae blooms, no beaches here were closed.

Continued in the News-Press »


Citizen scientists create DIY floating islands

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By Ernesto Lasso de la Vega

Citizens of the Venice Garden Civic Association Lakes Group (aka The Lakes Group) have taken upon themselves to beautify the stormwater pond in their Southwest Florida neighborhood. With the help of a FLMS Love Your Lakes Shoreline Grant Program, the residents were able to purchase plants to protect the shoreline in places where erosion and lack of vegetation has jeopardized their shore properties.

In addition, plants and materials were also used to construct a prototype “do-it-yourself” floating island. This island will work as a filtration unit for the excess nutrients present in the water and will generate more plants as they overpopulate the island. These plants will then find their place as new shoreline plantings where homeowners have accepted the responsibility and desire to enhance their littoral zone.

The civic association has invested over 63 hours of work, showing other communities that their efforts have paid off. Birds have been spotted nesting in these areas, flowering plants have beautified the shore and the community is expecting the water quality to improve. Citizen scientists will continue to monitor the pond with measurements of turbidity in the water using a Secchi disc.

Editor’s note: Ernesto Lasso de la Vega, Pond Watch Coordinator for the Lee County Hyacinth Control District, continues to work with the homeowners, providing education and guidance for their project. He will be creating a short video at the end of the project. Stay tuned!

Source: Florida Lake Management Society newsletter »


CHNEP partners asked to submit project information for annual EPA report

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Dear CHNEP Resource Managers, Technical Partners and Stewardship Coordinators,

As we do each summer, we're asking you to share your land acquisition and habitat restoration projects from this past year from throughout our watershed - so we can report your accomplishments to EPA and also help secure future federal funding support for the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

To help capture as many of your accomplishments as we can, would you please provide basic information about of your "favorite" (top 4-8) land acquisition and habitat restoration projects that you began (or plan to begin) during this past year (Oct. 1, 2015 - Sept. 30, 2016)? Yes, I know we are asking for a time period that hasn't happened yet, but that is the time frame EPA requires.

We need your project information by Fri. Aug. 19, 2016 to include it in our EPA NEPORT report which is due in early September. Hopefully, this will "only" take you about 1 hour to complete. To make it easier to describe your projects, there is a blank Excel table available; you can simply enter the information into the file and email it back to me. To request a copy of the Excel file, email me at

Types of information we need about your projects include:

  • Project Name
  • Habitat Description
  • Project Description
  • Lead Implementer & Other Project Partners
  • Acres
  • Lat/Long or Address
  • Estimated Project Cost & Funding Source
  • Site ownership
  • Project Start Date

Types of restoration projects include:

  • native upland, wetland & submerged habitat restoration,
  • hydrologic restoration,
  • exotic plant & animal removal,
  • prescribed fire,
  • others

While this is another task in your very busy schedules (for which I apologize), it is an excellent opportunity to show-case your amazing accomplishments on a national level.

I'll contact key staff from our partner organizations directly in the next couple of weeks, but any contacts and/or projects you can provide by Aug. 19 would be greatly appreciated!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or (941) 575-3385.

Thank you again for all you do!

Judy Ott
Program Scientist, M.S., Licensed Captain
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
326 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, FL 33950
(941) 575-3385

Learn more about the CHNEP, including the program's plan and guiding documents, at


Sarasota County seeks to strengthen volunteer base as hurricane season continues

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County Health and Human Services is continuing to recruit a team of volunteers to manage and run Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) during a time of disaster. The VRCs are community locations where people who step forward to help during a time of disaster register and get their volunteer duty assignments. This is part of Sarasota County’s effort to strengthen the volunteer base for the hurricane season which continues through the end of November.

Those interested in volunteering can attend a VRC Recruitment and Training Workshop. The training will occur on Friday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Morgan Family Community Center, 6207 W. Price Boulevard in North Port. Participants will gain “hands on” practice in setting up and running a Volunteer Reception Center.

Officials say it is a challenge to register everyone who volunteers following a disaster. Sarasota County has adopted VRCs as a best-practice model to help ensure volunteers work in meaningful and constructive roles during the disaster response and recovery process.

“We look forward to strengthening our community’s capabilities in placing volunteers during a time of disaster,” said William Freitas, Human Services Strategic Planner. “This training workshop provides disaster volunteers an opportunity to practice the process while training new volunteers who will serve on the Volunteer Reception Center Team.”

“The VRC would open at the direction of officials after the ‘all clear’ notice has been given,” says Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane.

To reserve your place at the workshop, visit or call Mindi Rohan, Project Consultant at 941-313-5821 for more information.

Those who are unable to attend the training session can register to become a HS-Disaster Recovery Team member through

Information is also available at the Welcome Center at Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota.


Turtle nesting breaks record midway through season

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Just two months into sea turtle nesting season, Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are happy to announce a record-breaking number of nests along Mote-monitored beaches from Longboat Key through Venice. The first nests of the season are also starting to hatch.

“We are excited to announce that we have broken the 35-year annual record for sea turtle nests along our area’s beaches with a total of 2,638 confirmed nests so far and we are only halfway through the nesting season,” said Kristen Mazzarella, senior biologist with Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program.

Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a group of scientists, interns and volunteers who monitor local nesting beaches daily from May 1-Oct. 31 — report that this year's 2,638 nests have already surpassed the previous record, the entire season total from 2015, by 163 nests.

Longboat Key broke its record of 698 nests on Thursday, June 30 with 716 nests and Casey Key broke its record of 1,174 nests on Saturday, July 2 with 1,184 nests. Lido Beach (record of 98 nests in 2014) and Venice (record of 424 in 2012) aren't far behind their past local records. So far there have been 86 nests documented in Lido Beach and 383 nests in Venice.

The first nest to hatch on Mote-monitored beaches was found Sunday, June 26 on Venice Beach.

Continued on Mote Marine Laboratory’s website »


CHNEP receives FWF Conservation Organization of the Year award

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The Florida Wildlife Federation has named the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program among 10 outstanding Florida conservationists that are being recognized for their conservation achievements.

Conservation award winners are chosen from nominations made to the Federation’s board of directors based on their accomplishments on behalf of Florida’s fish, wildlife and native habitats.

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program received the Conservation Organization of the Year Award for 2016. Established in 1995, the program encompasses 4,700 square miles from Bonita Springs north to Venice and east to Winter Haven. It is one of only 28 estuary programs across the United States.

The estuarine conservation program is commended for the collegial partnership of citizens, elected officials, resource managers, and commercial and recreational resource users. Using sound science to build consensus, the partnership effectively acts as a single voice for the Charlotte Harbor watershed.

However, it was the estuary program’s outreach to elementary school students through its Adventures in the Charlotte Harbor Watershed that caught and held Florida Wildlife Federation’s attention. The educational program, financially supported by the Federation, includes not only the coastal schools, but also the often overlooked “upstream” and rural schools.

By engaging local schools and communities, the program is strengthening the land-water connection and building a multi-generational appreciation of the Charlotte Harbor estuarine watershed.

Source: Florida Weekly »


Public workshops on Manatee Protection Plan July 12th & 14th

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – Charlotte County Community Services will be holding a series of two public workshops to discuss the Manatee Protection Plan. The Manatee Protection Plan will provide streamlined permitting for dock/marina construction while meeting State and Federal listed species regulations.

The public is encouraged to attend and be a part of the process for the Manatee Protection Plan.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 6 – 8 p.m.
Tringali Park - Community Center
3460 N. Access Road, Englewood, FL

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 6 – 8 p.m.
Carmalita Park – Meeting Room
2605 Carmalita Street, Punta Gorda, FL

Contact Information
Tina Powell, Manager,  Charlotte County Parks & Natural Resources ,
phone: 941-613-3220.

Register now through Aug. 30th for free Conservation Lands Workshop

The CHNEP Conservation Lands Workshop is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about conservation lands to network, collaborate and learn about solutions to issues facing these lands in southwest Florida. The next workshop will be Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center (75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda). Confirmed presentations are listed below.

Conservation lands increase the quality of life and enhance the tax base of the adjacent private lands. They provide essential habitat for native species, allow water to flow naturally on the surface and to aquifers -- cleansing and storing water as it moves -- and they protect human development, as the mangroves did during Hurricane Charley. Land can be conserved through purchase and by conservation easements by citizens, jurisdictions, agencies, land trusts and others.

The CHNEP thanks the speakers who are donating their time and expertise and the sponsors, as of June 24, including Mosaic, Janet and Bruce Bunch, GE Foundation, Jelks Family Foundation, Charlotte County, Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center and the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Inc. The CHNEP is still seeking sponsors.

To learn more and to register for this workshop, go to There is no fee to participate but we do ask that you register by 5 p.m. on Aug. 30. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You may register after Aug. 30 but lunch may not be provided. Donations are accepted to help defray expenses. (Lunch and refreshments for each person cost approximately $25.) Any donation of $100 or more will be acknowledged as a sponsor. Please invite others to attend.

We anticipate the Sept. 7 program will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m., but the doors will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The agenda and additional details will be sent by email to all who register.

After the workshop, PDF files of the presentations and videos (PDF of presentation and audio) will be posted at Presentations from annual workshops since 2012 will also available from this site soon.

Register online on »

Contact Information
Maran Hilgendorf, Communications Manager, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program,, 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
phone: (941) 575-3374.

Sanibel Island seeing negative effects from Lake Okeechobee discharges

Communities along the west coast of Florida are reporting negative effects from the Lake Okeechobee discharges.

Sanibel Island released new images to WPTV, comparing water quality from the beginning of June until now.

On June 2nd, the water in San Carlos Bay appeared green. Director of Natural Resources, James Evans reports the weekly discharges were 1,048 cubic feet per second.

Three weeks later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased discharges to 9,046 cubic feet per second, three times the harmful threshold.

Continued on »


Mote Marine Lab reminds area residents to be kind to Marine Life this Independence Day

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As you enjoy Southwest Florida's coastal waters this July 4 weekend, Mote Marine Laboratory, a nonprofit research and education institution, the Sarasota Police Department, and Suncoast Charities for Children, would like to remind boaters to follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles, manatees and dolphins.

Keeping local waters and beaches safe will be especially important during the July 4 weekend, when local waters and beaches will be busy for the holiday, and during the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix on July 2 and 3 off Lido Beach.

Mote&srquo;s tips for beachgoers and boaters »

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