Current News Items (within the last 30 days)
Mural Dedication Ceremony at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
FORT MYERS – Join Lee County Parks and Recreation and the Friends of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve on Thursday, April 30 at 9 a.m. for a Mural Dedication Ceremony. The large aluminum mural adorns the exterior wall of the Interpretive Center and will greet visitors as they enter the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. The artwork was designed by a committee of staff and volunteers to depict plants and animals visitors will typically see on a visit to the Slough. The funding for this project was generously donated by the Friends of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and it was fabricated and installed by US Sign and Mill.
The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a beautiful wetland preserve with a raised boardwalk open to the public 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. The trail is fully accessible and consists of a ¾ of mile lower loop or the entire trail is 1.2 miles long. Visitors to this Lee County Parks and Recreation site will see examples of old Florida in the plants and animals that live there. This natural setting provides the perfect backdrop for Florida wildlife such as wading birds, turtles, alligators, otters, squirrels, woodpeckers, butterflies, dragonflies and more. Pets are not allowed within this Preserve. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is located at 7751 Penzance Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33966. (239) 533-7550.
The Interpretive Center at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the first public certified green building in Lee County with a Silver designation. It houses nature displays highlighting the plant and animals that live in this subtropical wetland preserve. Learn how to use your senses to find wildlife, view our photo contest winners or relax in a rocking chair on our back deck as you explore this center and all it has to offer. Entry is free with your paid parking fee of $1 per hour per vehicle.
Aquatic Preserve volunteers contribute to comprehensive water monitoring of Charlotte Harbor
Citizen-science program reaches amazing milestone of more than 55,000 volunteer hours
PUNTA GORDA – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognized the contribution by members of the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network at an appreciation event on April 18. Since 1996, this network of 80 volunteers has donated more than 55,125 hours to the state of Florida monitoring water quality in six aquatic preserves, across three counties, surrounding Charlotte Harbor.
The team of local citizens has been trained to collect water-quality samples for analyses, creating a monthly log of conditions across six aquatic preserves: Cape Haze, Lemon Bay, Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass and Estero Bay. This long-term data set enables resource managers to identify background conditions, assess status and trends and identify potential threats to estuarine health.
“Florida’s Aquatic Preserves are fortunate to have this dedicated team of citizen-science volunteers,” said Florida Coastal Office Director Kevin Claridge. “We thank our volunteers for their time and expertise in helping us monitor these estuaries and protecting Florida’s valuable coastal resources.”
As part of the event, the volunteers were rewarded with a wading trip to Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve, providing the volunteers an opportunity to enjoy the estuarine life they help protect. A cookout followed, sponsored by the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves. Awards and plaques were presented to first-year volunteers and those reaching their 10-year milestones.
Regional support for this program spans three counties and involves partnerships with the Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program. In 2007, the program won a Gulf Guardian Award for its effective partnerships with the local community. Support also comes from the Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves and the Estero Bay Buddies Citizen Support Organizations.
Source: Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
More information on the volunteer program »
DOI, EPA, NOAA announce Initiative to prepare natural resources for climate change
The focus of the Resilient Land and Waters Initiative will include Southwest Florida
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today recognized four collaborative landscape partnerships across the country where Federal agencies will focus efforts with partners to conserve and restore important lands and waters and make them more resilient to a changing climate. Building on existing collaborations, these Resilient Lands and Waters partnerships – located in southwest Florida, Hawaii, Washington and the Great Lakes region – will help build resilience in regions vulnerable to climate change and related challenges. They will also showcase the benefits of landscape-scale management approaches and help enhance the carbon storage capacity of these natural areas.
The selected lands and waters face a wide range of climate impacts and other ecological stressors related to climate change, including sea level rise, drought, wildfire, and invasive species. At each location, Federal agencies will work closely with state, tribal, and local partners to prepare for and prevent these and other threats, and ensure that long-term conservation efforts take climate change into account. Additionally, the initiative will focus on conserving coastal wetlands and marine conservation areas, protecting drinking water for urban areas, and providing habitat for wildlife. These collaborative efforts will include the use of existing tools to benefit the entire landscape as well as the development of new tools. For example, in the Great Lakes, partners are developing a coastal wetland prioritization tool that will help determine where restoration efforts are most needed. And in the He’eia watershed on the island of O’ahu, organizations are using NOAA’s Sea Level Rise Viewer to see maps of the potential impacts of sea level rise on the region.
Southwest Florida: The southwest region of Florida includes a number of diverse habitats such as Everglades’ wetlands, coastal mangroves, sea grasses, oyster reefs, and estuary. Home to endangered species like the Florida panther, the region faces threats on multiple fronts – from increasing urbanization and land use changes to invasive species, rising seas, and shifting weather and temperature patterns. Recognizing Southwest Florida as a resilient landscape will tap into the work of the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint for Florida and Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, which are leading efforts to address these threats, in partnership with Federal and state agencies, private landowners, the Southwest Florida regional planning council and NGOs. The focus of the project is on the creation and use of voluntary and non-regulatory conservation incentives that can be applied to a comprehensive vision of conservation and restoration priorities across Florida.
Read more about the Initiative »
Blackburn Point Park grand opening celebration set for April 29
SARASOTA COUNTY – The community is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Blackburn Point Park additions on April 29, to celebrate the improvement and expansion of the park's amenities.
Blackburn Point Park has a long and rich history of serving the community, from the Native Americans who used its shore to secure food and resources, to the fishing industry that thrived there in the early 1900's, to the people who flock to the park each year to enjoy all of the wonderful modern recreational opportunities.
The new park additions will only enhance what has historically been a valuable piece of Sarasota County's past. And now, with the unveiling of all the exciting new additions, Blackburn Point Park is poised to continue that tradition for future generations.
Blackburn Point Park also plays a critical part in Sarasota County's county-wide rowing program, allowing for visiting rowing teams from around the globe to train on-site and experience Sarasota County's beautiful waterways. Teams are expected to utilize the facility while practicing for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, which will be held at Nathan Benderson Park.
New features at Blackburn Point Park include:
- Rowing dock, rowing ramp, motorized boat ramp, and docks
- Two restrooms
- Parking for 56 boat trailers
- A boardwalk with pavilion over the water
- Fishing pier and covered picnic shelter areas
- Improved fenced boat storage and staging/wash area for visiting rowing teams
- Trails meandering throughout the park
- Maintenance barn area
- Low impact development stormwater treatment system with pervious paving and bio-swales
- Native landscaping
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new additions at Blackburn Point Park, located at 800 Blackburn Point Rd, Osprey, 34229, is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, April 29.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.
More about Blackburn Point Park »
USGS Issues Revised Framework for Hydrogeology of Floridan Aquifer
USGS scientists have updated the hydrogeologic framework for the Floridan aquifer system that underlies Florida and parts of Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.
The Floridan aquifer system is the principal source of freshwater for agricultural irrigation, industrial, mining, commercial, and public supply in Florida and southeast Georgia. The extensive underground reservoir currently supplies drinking water to about 10 million people residing across the area as well as 50% of the water that is used for agricultural irrigation in the region.
By describing the hydrologic and geologic setting of an aquifer, a hydrogeologic framework enables appropriate authorities and resource managers to monitor an aquifer more accurately, improving their ability to protect these critical resources and determine the near- and long-term availability of groundwater.
As the first update of the framework for the aquifer in over 30 years, the revision incorporates new borehole data into a detailed conceptual model that describes the major and minor units and zones of the system. Its increased accuracy is made possible by data collected in the intervening years by the USGS; the Geological Surveys of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; the South Florida, Southwest Florida, St Johns River, Suwannee River, and Northwest Florida Water Management Districts; and numerous other state and local agencies.
The USGS is releasing two reports as part of its current assessment of groundwater availability of the Floridan aquifer system.
The first report documents the revised framework.
The second report provides datasets that describe the surfaces and thicknesses of selected hydrogeologic units of the Floridan aquifer system. The data depict the top and base of the aquifer system, its major and minor hydrogeologic units and zones, geophysical marker horizons, and the altitude of the 10,000-milligram-per-liter total dissolved solids boundary that defines the approximate fresh and saline parts of the aquifer system.
Source: US Geological Survey news release »
Volunteer for Project EAGLE Lakes Cleanup this Saturday, Apr. 25
Project EAGLE – (Enhancing A Great Living Environment) is a chain of lakes clean-up co-sponsored with the City of Winter Haven and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is held the last Saturday in April from 8 a.m. to noon. The main registration is located at Lake Shipp Park.
Project Eagle Saturday at Lake Shipp Park in Winter Haven, the base for an annual lake cleanup in the Winter Haven area.
The event includes environmental exhibitors, live entertainment, ski show by the Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team and more.
Event sponsors are Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful, Inc., the City of Winter Haven, Anglers with Attitude, Lakeside Adventures, Kissimmee River Valley Sportsman Association, Lakes Education/Action Drive, Old Man Franks, Tanner’s Lakeside, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program. For more information, call or email Janis Jones, Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful, Inc.: (863) 427-5184.
Source: The Ledger »
A Rising Tide Affects Us All-2015 Southwest Florida Sea Level Rise Summit
Register for A Rising Tide Affects Us All--2015 Southwest Florida Sea Level Rise Summit, on Thursday, May 7, 2015, 9am to 5pm, at Florida Gulf Coast University Student Union Ballroom at the Cohen Center, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lee County Florida and the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition. A prominent panel of speakers will cover topics including sea level rise charting, legal and planning challenges to adapting to sea level rise, and proactive solutions to address rising tides.
Admission is free, but space is limited. Reserve your seats at http://flcoastalandocean.org/events/southwest-florida-sea-level-rise-summit/.
2015 Scholarship and Grant Applications Now Being Accepted
APPLICATION DEADLINE: MAY 15, 2015
AWRA Florida has a mission to support education through the Rosanne Clementi Education Program and awards scholarships and grants to pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, environmental education centers, high school seniors, and undergraduate and graduate college or university students.
The J.B. Butler Science Grant is awarded to pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers and/or environmental education centers to aid in water resources education. Each year, approximately five $500 grants are awarded.
The William V. Storch Award is given to graduate and/or undergraduate college or university students to support educational activities. There are two $1,500 awards available each year.
The Sanford N. Young Scholarship is designed to provide funding for at least one $2,000 scholarship each year. It is available to both graduate and undergraduate college or university students.
The High School Scholarship is given to Florida high school seniors who have an intent to pursue academic studies at a Florida college or university. At least one $1,000 scholarship is available each year.
Click here for more information and to download application forms and instructions. All applications must be complete and submitted electronically as one pdf document to email@example.com.
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program is hosting three programs: Register now
The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) is pleased to host three programs:
The CHNEP Environmental Education Workshop
- Environmental Education Workshop on June 5,
- Fostering Behavior Change on June 9 and
- Conservation Lands Workshop on Sept. 10.
is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about environmental education to network and learn more about solutions to issues facing the natural environment of southwest Florida. The workshop will be Friday, June 5, at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center in Punta Gorda. This is the fifth environmental education workshop, and we anticipate a total of 10 presentations will be scheduled.
Click here to register for this workshop.
There is no fee to participate but we do ask that you register by 5 p.m. on May 28. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You may register after May 28 but lunch may not be provided. Donations are accepted to help defray expenses. Any donation of $100 or more will be acknowledged as a sponsor.
Fostering Behavior Change
is a 1.5 hour webinar training led by NOAA Office of Coastal Management (http://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/social-marketing)
on Tuesday, June 9, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Please register at http://noaacsc.adobeconnect.com/cbsm-june/event/registration.html.
The course is designed for those who are working on projects that seek to change the way people interact with the coast. After completing this course, participants will be able to:
- Identify the steps involved in a community-based social marketing project.
- Practice applying the initial steps in this method.
- Recognize the tools used to foster behavior change.
- Share examples of how community-based social marketing has been applied to coastal management issues.
To participate, you need a phone and a computer with Internet access that can connect to Adobe Connect. A PDF of the presentation will be sent by email to all who register — in case there are any issues using Adobe Connect.
The CHNEP Conservation Lands Workshop
is an opportunity for those who work with and are concerned about conservation lands to network and learn more about solutions to issues facing these lands in southwest Florida. The next workshop will be Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center. This is the fourth conservation lands workshop and we anticipate a total of 10 presentations will be scheduled.
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.
Click here to register for this workshop.
There is no fee to participate but we do ask that you register by 5 p.m. on Sept. 3. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. You may register after Sept. 3 but lunch may not be provided. Donations are accepted to help defray expenses. Any donation of $100 or more will be acknowledged as a sponsor.
House Speaker says water bills closer, advisory council could be sticking point
By Bruce Ritchie
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli said Wednesday that the Senate is getting closer to the House on a comprehensive water bill but some differences remain.
SB 918 was rewritten in a committee on Wednesday in response to requests by business groups and environmentalists, both of whom had raised concerns. Both sides still have issues, with environmentalists still more critical of the Senate and House bills than business groups.
The Senate bill would establish springs protection zones, provide consistency in pollution regulations dealing with Lake Okechobee and incorporate Central Florida water supply planning in state law.
Continued on StPetersblog.com »
Multiple satellite eyes to track algal threat to U.S. freshwater
Four federal agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey have joined forces in an effort to transform satellite data into vital information to protect the American public from freshwater contaminated by harmful algal blooms.
The $3.6 million research project is a collaborative effort among NASA, NOAA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and USGS. Using methods and technology established to analyze ocean color satellite data, scientists from the four agencies will work to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and build an information distribution system to expedite public health advisories.
Algal blooms are a worldwide environmental problem causing human and animal health risks, fish kills, and noxious taste and odor in drinking water. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.
“Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “USGS uses converging lines of evidence from ground to space to assess changes in water quantity and quality, ecosystems, natural hazards, and environmental health issues important to the nation.”
Ocean color satellite data are currently available to scientists, but are not routinely processed and produced in formats that help state and local environmental and water quality managers. Through this project, satellite data on harmful algal blooms developed by the partner agencies will be converted to a format that stakeholders can use through mobile devices and web portals.
US Geological Survey news release continues...
Volunteers needed for 2015 Seagrass Survey in Sarasota Bay
Seagrass stewards, your help is needed!
Below you will find all of the information you need to participate as a Sarasota Environmental Aquatics (SEA) Team volunteer in the 2015 Sarasota County Seagrass Survey.
The theme for this year's event is: Seagrass: The Lawn that Doesn't Need Fertilizer, focusing on how stormwater runoff and pollution affect seagrass species. Residual fertilizer that’s used on lawns can enter our bays and waterbodies as stormwater runoff. The increase in nutrients, such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus, can result in algae blooms. Algae can attach to seagrass blades and drift in clumps, blocking necessary sunlight from reaching seagrasses.
The Sarasota County Seagrass Survey is a citizen science event that celebrates Sarasota County’s commitment to its water resources and focuses on increasing awareness of the economic and environmental value of seagrass habitat. Volunteers and staff will take to the waters around Sarasota Bay to count and identify seagrass species, in an effort to collect data for the County’s Seagrass Monitoring Program.
This fun, family-friendly, hands-on event will include on-site training for all participants and data collectors, followed by a free volunteer appreciation luncheon.
We need the help of our local community members, including: snorkelers, waders, kayakers, boaters, and paddle boarders.
Need more information? Feel free to contact the event coordinator: 941-650-1089 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of the event information can also be found at: http://www.scgov.net, keyword search: Seagrass
Visit the Seagrass Page on the Sarasota Water Atlas to learn more about seagrasses and their importance to our coastal environment.
Learn More about this event, and register online »
Sarasota Bay Guardians Volunteer Event May 2nd at Robinson Preserve
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is recruiting Bay Guardian volunteers for oyster bagging on May 2nd. We will be partnering with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, and Around the Bend Nature Tours.
Volunteers will be filling bags with material to create new habitat for oysters and fish. Oyster beds represent a unique and valuable component of the Sarasota Bay ecosystem. They provide structural habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates. Oysters are also valued for their ability to improve water quality through their prolific filtering capacity. This is also a great opportunity to check out the new Preserve.
In order to participate you MUST wear appropriate footwear—closed toed shoes are required. We also recommend long-sleeved shirts and pants.
This event is suitable for ages 6 and up.
Please wear hat, sunscreen, and close-toed shoes, which are required (old tennis shoes work great), clothes that can get dirty, and work gloves. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce our plastic pollution. We strongly suggest carpooling.
Since this is a larger event and we are partnering with Tampa Bay Estuary Program we will not be giving out Bay Guardian t-shirts, please wear yours if you have one.
WHAT: Bay Guardians Oyster Bagging
WHERE: 1704 99th Street Northwest, Bradenton, FL 34209
WHEN: Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm
Catered lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the event is done!
Questions? Contact Camille Boffa at: email@example.com, 941-955-8085.
RSVP Required — Click here to register »
CHNEP Technical Advisory Committee to meet April 9th in North Port
Dear CHNEP TAC Members & Scientific Community,
Please find below a link to the complete agenda packet for the CHNEP TAC meeting next Thursday April 9, 2015 in Lakeland.
The meeting will take place from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Circle B Bar Reserve at the Polk Nature Discovery Center (4399 Winter Lake Road/SR 540). Directions and map are on page 2 of the agenda packet.
You may view & hear the meeting remotely through your PC via WebEx (we hope) by simply clicking on the link: Join WebEx meeting; this should take you right to our meeting. You won’t need a password. But you will need to use the speakers on your PC instead of calling in by phone. Please allow 10 minutes to get logged into WebEx prior to the meeting start time.
During our lunch break, we will have a tram tour of the reserve following a picnic lunch (sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookie provided for a suggested $5 contribution).
Please RSVP for the meeting, lunch & tram tour at: http://doodle.com/fk9u5fkaay7mc7x4
Just in case you need it, I also posted the TAC Agenda Packet on our FTP site. Directions to the CHNEP FTP Site are:
• Address: ftp.ci.punta-gorda.fl.us
• User Name: chnep
• Password: BeachParty777
• Folder: TAC 2015 04 09
• Note: Please copy & paste files from the FTP site to your computer before opening.
If you have trouble, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone at (239) 229-6899.
The agenda topics look great & we're looking forward to your participation in the discussions & reserve tour.
Hope to see you next week.
Program Scientist, M.S., Licensed Captain
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
326 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, FL 33950
(941) 575-3385 email@example.com
TAC Agenda Packet »
Lots of baby scallops found at Mote restoration site in Sarasota Bay
By Stacy Alexander
Mote Marine Laboratory scientists and a Japanese colleague recently tallied a record number of “baby” scallops from their restoration site in Sarasota Bay — good news for Mote’s community-wide partnership working to replenish the Bay’s depleted scallop populations.
Florida’s scallop populations fell dramatically around 1960. The reasons are not fully understood but are thought to include decreased water quality, extreme red tides, destruction of seagrass habitat and overharvesting. To restore Sarasota Bay populations and study which strategies work, Mote is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Sarasota Bay Watch, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Sarasota County, Bay Shellfish Co., local business leaders, and most importantly, many volunteer citizen scientists. Partners are placing young scallops into the Bay, monitoring for recovery and working to improve environmental quality and expand community involvement.
Continued on Mote Marine Laboratory''s news page »
Public celebration of the life and legacy or Dr. Eugenie Clark announced
Come celebrate the life and legacy of "Shark Lady" Dr. Eugenie Clark, the world-famous scientist who founded Mote Marine Laboratory. The celebration will take place on her birthday, May 4, at Mote in Sarasota. (Details below)
Dr. Clark passed away at age 92 on Feb. 25. Her career spanned nearly 75 years of groundbreaking marine research focused on sharks and other fishes, along with teaching, writing and outreach that touched countless lives and helped people around the world become more ocean literate.
Dr. Clark was honored in the U.S. Congress on Monday, March 16. Rep. Vern Buchanan said: "Her legacy is impressive: blazing trails for women in science; inspiring generations of people from ocean experts to school children; swimming with sharks to learn about them; and founding a world-class marine laboratory that turned 60 this year." (Full remarks are available in the Congressional Record.)
She was also honored by Sarasota County on Tuesday, March 17, when county commissioners presented a Certificate of Recognition to Mote leaders.
Celebrate Dr. Clark's Life and Legacy at Mote: