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Volunteers needed for 2015 Seagrass Survey in Sarasota Bay

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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 amelton@scgov.net.

All of the event information can also be found at: http://www.scgov.net, keyword search: Seagrass

Event-Related Resources (*Liability Form and Field Book will be provided to Volunteers at event sign-in station)

Event Flyer  •  Event Site Map  •  Liability Form*  •  Seagrass Survey Field Book*

Visit the Seagrass Blog 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 »

Contact Information
Ashley Melton, Environmental Specialist II Sarasota County Government, amelton@scgov.net, Public Utilities - Stormwater, Sarasota, FL. 34240
phone: (941) 650-1089.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Announces Two Blue Dolphin Award Winners

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SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has announced the newest winners of Blue Dolphin Awards. The unique award acknowledges local champions of Sarasota Bay. Sherri Swanson and Scott and Virginia Lloyd-Jones will be joining eight other individuals and groups that have been honored with Blue Dolphin Awards since 2012.

Sherri Swanson works as a senior environmental scientist for HDR Engineering, Inc. She’s being recognized for her volunteer support of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival, the region’s largest public event focused on the welfare and recreational amenities of Sarasota Bay. The third water festival was held in November at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota. Sherri is also a member of the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC).

Scott and Virginia Lloyd-Jones are retirees from Sun City Center being recognized for their ongoing volunteer support of the award-winning SBEP Bay Guardians Program. The couple has participated in numerous volunteer outings throughout Manatee and Sarasota County. The Bay Guardians are the largest volunteer organization in the region focused on area projects that benefit Sarasota Bay.

The SBEP Blue Dolphin Awards were launched in 2012. Prior winners include: Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton, Jack Merriam, the former environmental manager for Sarasota County, AMI Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, Raindrop Cisterns, a company focused on rainwater harvesting, Charles Edwards, a retired biomedical researcher and long-term volunteer with the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee, Denise and Don Elliott with Sunbow Bay Condo Association on Anna Maria Island, Lee Fox formerly with Save Our Seabirds, Inc., and Sean Russell representing the nonprofit Stow It Don’t Throw It Project.

Contact Information
Sara Kane, Public Outreach Manager Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, sara@sarasotabay.org
phone: 941-955-8085 .

Sarasota Bay Guardians Volunteer Event at Phillippi Park

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Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is recruiting Bay Guardian volunteers for an air potato round-up on April 18th. We will be partnering with Sarasota County and Around the Bend Nature Tours.

Volunteers will be removing air potato which is an invasive vine that covers and shades beneficial native plants. The vine grows a large tuber that looks like a hanging potato. There will be a contest with prizes for the smallest, biggest, weirdest-looking, and most air potatoes collected! These events are also a great opportunity to clean up trash.

In order to participate you MUST wear appropriate footwear - closed toed shoes are required. We also recommend long-sleeved shirts and pants. Please bring a bucket and clippers we have found that buckets work well for collecting potatoes and then weighing.

This event is suitable for all ages.

Please wear hat, sunscreen, close-toed shoes are required (old tennis shoes work great), clothes that can get dirty, clippers if you have them and work gloves. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce our plastic pollution. We strongly suggest carpooling, this is a larger event and parking is limited.

Bay Guardians shirts will be available for all volunteers! If you already have one please wear your shirt to the event.

WHAT: Bay Guardians Air Potato Roundup

WHERE: 5500 S Tamiami Trail,Sarasota, FL 34231

WHEN: Saturday, April 18th, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm

Catered lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the event is done!

RSVP Required: Click here to register!

Questions? Contact Camille Boffa at: info@sarasotabay.org, 941-955-8085.

Contact Information
Camille Boffa, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, info@sarasotabay.org
phone: (941) 955-8085.

Save the date: National Monitoring Conference, May 2-6, 2016

Save the date! Join us in beautiful and vibrant Tampa, Florida for the 10th National Monitoring Conference - Working Together for Clean Water - on May 2 - 6, 2016.

Sponsored by the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC), this national forum is for all water stakeholders, including federal, state, tribal and local water professionals, non-profits, academia, volunteer citizen scientists, and industry. Come to exchange information, network, develop partnerships and new skills, and see the latest technology related to the water resources we know and love -- rivers and streams; lakes; wetlands; coastal waters and estuaries; and groundwater. Conference themes attract papers and posters on topics that range from monitoring and assessment, to protection and restoration, to cutting-edge technologies and methods. Volunteer monitoring programs have always been well represented at this large national conference.

Please feel free to distribute this announcement to your friends and colleagues. Look for our Call for Abstracts later this spring.

For additional information about the NWQMC and updates on the conference, please visit: http://acwi.gov/monitoring/. We look forward to an exciting and informative conference!

Contact Information
Alice Mayio, USEPA Office of Water, Mayio.Alice@epamail.epa.gov
phone: 202-566-1184.

From coastlines to the Everglades, researchers tackle sea level rise

Under the streets of Miami Beach, seeping up through the limestone, water creeps into storm drains and pours into the streets. It happens once a year when the sun and moon align in such a way that gravity pulls at Earth's water. The phenomenon is known as King Tide. It is the highest of high tides, and every year, it puts Miami Beach at risk of major flooding.

FIU researchers were on-site during the latest King Tide event to collect and assess data. The efforts are part of a university-wide initiative to study, better understand and develop solutions for sea level rise. Plans are under way to create an institute dedicated to the interdisciplinary work being done at FIU, which includes collaboration among researchers from Arts & Sciences, Architecture and the Arts, Business, Law, Public Health and Social Work, Engineering, Hospitality and Tourism Management, as well as Journalism and Mass Communication.

South Florida ranks as the world's most vulnerable urban region in terms of assets exposed to the effects of sea level rise. FIU's research is dedicated to developing and implementing solutions for the major environmental and economic challenges created by the rising seas.

Continue reading on Phys.org »


‘Low risk’ contamination sites to get fresh scrutiny under DEP plan

By William R. Levesque

TAMPA – For years in Tallahassee, the list of contaminated sites that are believed to pose a "low risk" to drinking water have numbered about 5,000. But no one is quite sure they are just low risk.

Now the state Department of Environmental Protection is adopting a new strategy aimed at completing a full assessment of each site in smaller counties over the next three to five years by hiring larger counties – including Hillsborough and Pinellas – to check them out.

Hillsborough will administer site assessment and cleanup in Manatee. Pinellas will do the same in Pasco and is expected also to undertake Hernando, Citrus, and Sumter counties.

Such properties, which made it on the list using mapping data and landowners' self-reporting, can contain surprises, said Hooshang Boostani, director of Hillsborough waste management.

Continued in the Tampa Bay Times »


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:

  • When: 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 4 (Dr. Clark's birthday)
  • Who: The public is welcome. RSVP is required.
  • Where: Mote Marine Laboratory's Sea Cinema, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island in Sarasota, Fla., 34236
  • RSVP required: mote.org/memorialrsvp
  • Share your thoughts and photos and memories of Dr. Clark by emailing: rememberingdrclark@mote.org
  • Messages and photos will be shared with Dr. Clark's family, and a selection may be used for Mote's public outreach. If you provide photos, please include caption and credit.
  • Read about Dr. Clark's life.
  • In lieu of flowers, you can honor Dr. Clark’s life by supporting her Lab through the Dr. Eugenie Clark Memorial Research Endowment Fund at www.mote.org/geniememorialfund
  • Click here to read original source on Mote.org »


Low Impact Development Public Workshop to take place March 26

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County residents are invited to participate in a public workshop regarding changes to the Land Development Regulations (LDR) and the Zoning Code regarding the implementation of Low Impact Development (LID). The workshop will take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, at Colonial Oaks Park, Room B, 5300 Colonial Oaks Blvd., Sarasota.

The purpose of the code changes is to identify and eliminate potential barriers that may inhibit the voluntary use of LID techniques, such as stormwater and rainwater harvesting, pervious pavers and pavement, greenroof stormwater treatment system, shallow bioretention, and detention with biofiltration.

LID is an environmentally friendly approach to controlling stormwater pollution by using design approaches that mimic nature and can effectively reduce urban runoff and pollutants from entering waterways.

At the workshop, there will be no formal presentation, but county staff will be available to discuss the changes, answer your questions and gather your input. Public comments collected will be shared with the Sarasota County Commission and Planning Commission.

The proposed code changes can be downloaded here, ftp://ftp.scgov.net/pub/EnvSBC/Workshop.

If you are unable to attend and would like to submit comments, contact Robert Bresciani at 861-0908 or rbrescia@scgov.net. For more information, call 861-5000.


CHNEP Subcommittee to Review Water Atlas Water Quality & Water Clarity Tools

Dear CHNEP TAC Members & Scientific Community,

There will be a CHNEP Subcommittee meeting to review the CHNEP Water Atlas Enhancements Project draft deliverables, including the Water Quality Variables Time Series Analysis (Task 2) & Water Clarity Reporting Tool (Task 3) on Monday March 30, 2015 in Punta Gorda from 9:00 am – 11:00 pm at Laishley Park. The meeting agenda is attached.

The review opportunity is provided before the final draft deliverables are presented to the TAC April 9 for consideration for approval by the Management Conference.

The meeting will be available remotely through Go-To-Meeting, but the details are currently being set up USF & as soon as we have the call-information, I will forward it to you via separate email.

We are looking forward to seeing these very useful tools & appreciate your participation in reviewing them.

We hope to see you March 30 in Punta Gorda.


Judy Ott
Program Scientist, M.S., Licensed Captain
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program

Water Atlas Enhance Review Agenda 2015

Contact Information
Judy Ott, Program Scientist, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, jott@chnep.org, Punta Gorda, FL. 33950
phone: (941) 575-3385.

Help shape the future of parks at upcoming master plan workshops

​SARASOTA COUNTY - Sarasota County is asking for the public's help as it creates a Parks, Preserves and Recreation Master Plan that will serve as a road map for the future of the department.

The plan will provide a framework for enhancing the parks system. Input from the community is critical to its success. Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources needs you to tell them what's working, what's needed, and what's most important to you and your family.

Three upcoming public workshops have been scheduled:

  • 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, Venice Community Center, 326 Nokomis Ave. S., Venice
  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at Morgan Family Center, 6207 W. Price Blvd., North Port
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at Gulf Gate Library, 7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota

“These meetings and other outreach efforts will allow us to collect data and feedback that can help us prioritize the current and future needs of our parks system,” said Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Carolyn Brown.

Sarasota County is home to 160 parks, preserves, beaches and trails totaling more than 55,000 acres that offer fun play spaces, places to enjoy nature and wonderful locations for special events and programs. For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net/parks.


Plan will reduce wastewater flowing into Sarasota Bay

By Kim Kuizon

SARASOTA – Pat Sellers takes her kayak out as much as she can.

"Right there is the bay, and beyond the bay is the Gulf. I just love it," she said.

On her paddle out of Whitaker Bayou, something catches her eye every time.

"I would see very nasty, white-ish colored water," she said.

That would be the flow of treated wastewater into Whittaker Bayou.

But the City of Sarasota said that flow will soon be stopped.

"We are going to be taking a lot of things out of the bay, which should improve the water quality and the aquatics," said Utilities Director Mitt Tidwell.

For years, the city has been approved and permitted by the state to discharge three million gallons a day of brine from treated drinking water into Hog Creek, which flows into Sarasota Bay.

On Friday, that flow of brine stopped when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved a deep water well injection site.

"It is basically a bore hole down into an unusable aquifer where we dispose of the brine," said Gerald Boyce, general manager of City of Sarasota Utilities.

The well is 1,700 feet deep, and the city says nothing there would ever be a source of drinking water.

Continued on MyFox Tampa Bay »


Tom Adams Bridge Maintenance

ENGLEWOOD – Bridge Maintenance is currently underway on Beach Road at the Tom Adam’s Bridge. As of 1:43 p.m. today, the Bridge is open to vehicular/pedestrian traffic however the US Coast Guard has been notified that the draw bridge is not operational at this time. The drawbridge is being evaluated to determine if corrective action is needed. If corrective action is needed, the Bridge may need to be closed temporarily to affect repairs. More information will be provided as necessary.


EPA Encourages Consumers to Save 1 Trillion Gallons of Wasted Water

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WASHINGTON – Every year, more than one trillion gallons of water go down the drain because of household leaks. Leaks may increase a water bill by as much as 10 percent. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program encourages consumers to celebrate the seventh annual Fix a Leak Week, March 16-22, 2015, by finding and fixing water leaks in their homes. Annually, the average American family could be wasting more than 10,000 gallons of water — enough for 270 loads of laundry — due to easy-to-fix leaks. Since 2006 WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 757 billion gallons of water and over $14.2 billion in water and energy bills.

Here’s how to reduce water waste:

Check: Look at your water meter, usually located outside your house, before and after a two-hour period of no water use. If the number changed, there is likely a leak, which could be as simple to fix as replacing a worn rubber flapper in the toilet tank.

Twist: Fix dripping pipes, fixtures or hoses by using a wrench to twist and tighten the connections. If needed, pipe tape can help seal shower fixtures or hose connections. Check washers and valves for persistent drips and repair or replace, if necessary. Remind everyone to turn faucets and showers off tightly.

Replace: For old or inefficient fixtures not easily repaired, look for WaterSense labeled models to replace them. WaterSense products are available in a variety of styles and price points at home improvement stores. These money-saving products are high performing and independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water. Look for the WaterSense label on product packaging or the website of your favorite plumbing brand. Many WaterSense partners also offer rebates for WaterSense labeled products.

WaterSense, an EPA partnership program, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes and services. The program helps consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance.

What They Said

“Fixing household leaks is not only an important way to conserve water, but it is a simple way that American families can reduce energy use and lower utility bills,” said Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For More Information Continue Reading on the EPA’s Website


Siesta key sand sculpting event raises $20,000 for sea turtles

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The sand-sculpting event that drew thousands to Siesta Key last year has raised $20,000 for the Key’s original beachgoers: sea turtles. On Thursday, Feb. 26, organizers of the fifth annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition presented their generous donation from the 2014 event to the Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program at Mote Marine Laboratory .During the past five years, the event has raised more than $100,000 total for Mote’s sea turtle program.

Mote has coordinated sea turtle conservation along 35 miles of local sea turtle nesting beaches — Longboat Key through Venice — during each day of nesting season, May 1-Oct. 31, for 34 years.

“This wonderful donation will help us continue providing excellent monitoring and protection for sea turtle nests and hatchlings on our beaches during a very busy time,” said Dr. James Powell, manager of Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “The number of sea turtle nests on our beaches has been climbing in recent years — this is very fortunate. However it means an increasing demand for the work our team is doing. We are grateful for this generous support from the Crystal Classic.”

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic is a community event overseen by the Siesta Beach Festival Board and organized by a committee led by Festival Chair Maria Bankemper on behalf of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. The event was founded in 2010 through discussions between Master Sand Sculptor and Siesta Key resident Brian Wigelsworth and representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Parks and Recreation, Mote Marine Laboratory and Visit Sarasota County.

The 2014 Crystal Classic drew 11 teams of Master Sand Sculptors from nations around the world, including Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Philippines and the United Kingdom, along with multiple U.S. states.

“Every year we have produced this fine event, it has grown in a variety of ways, increasing valuable exposure for Siesta Key and Mote while introducing the public to these 10-foot-tall, ephemeral works of sand art,” said Maria Bankemper, Festival Chair and Siesta Key Chamber board member.

“We are very proud to be a part of such a fabulous event and to also have the ability to donate much-needed funds in support of Mote Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program,” said Jim Syprett, Siesta Beach Festival Chairman. Mote scientists, interns and volunteers are now gearing up for the 2015 sea turtle nesting season, which starts on May 1.

Click here to read original source on Mote.org »


Three Australian pine trees to be removed from North Jetty Park to ensure safety

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SARASOTA COUNTY – Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff will oversee the removal of three Australian pine trees from North Jetty Park, 1000 S. Casey Key Rd., Nokomis, in order to ensure public safety.

The trees are considered a nuisance invasive, and county arborists have inspected them and selected them for removal based on their poor overall health, including browning needles, wood decay and structural defects. Multiple limbs have broken off of one tree in the southwest parking lot area, and the wood is rotted through the main trunk and other areas. Another tree is in close proximity to the concession building and restrooms, posing a threat to the property.

Some areas of the park will be blocked off to restrict public access during the work, which is scheduled to take place March 18–20. Additional work days may be needed if complications are encountered.

Native vegetation will be replanted as necessary to provide shade in park areas and enhance habitat diversity.

For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.


Invasive vegetation to be cleared from Ted Sperling Park at South Lido

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SARASOTA COUNTY – The county's Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department, in partnership with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, will be removing invasive vegetation and other nuisance species of shrubs and trees from natural areas of Ted Sperling Park at South Lido Beach in the coming weeks.

This phase of the project, the first of two, will focus on removal of Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, carrotwood and other invasives from the shoreline and mangrove swamp habitat at the Sarasota park.

To ensure public safety, certain areas of the park may have limited or restricted access during periods of work. Temporary trail closings are anticipated during both phases of work, and public visitors are encouraged to pay attention to all posted signs in work areas.

The first phase will not impact the nature park or nature center, where the kayak launch is located.

The work will be done by a licensed tree service contractor and will minimize impacts to desirable species of native vegetation. Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources staff will monitor the site while the land management and habitat restoration work is underway.

“Our goal is to enhance and restore nursery and foraging habitat and improve the diversity of plant communities and wildlife native to Sarasota Bay,” said Parks Specialist Robert Pasquali.

Additional work in Phase 2 of the project is anticipated in the high-use recreation areas of the park over the next six months. Native trees and shrubs will be planted in the park in order to add or increase shaded areas and improve native habitats.

The entire project is expected to last through May 2015.

For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.


Public input sought on FWC permit request for lake restoration

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District to conduct restoration activities on 23 lakes and water bodies in the FWC’s Southwest Region.

This permit is required pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The request is part of an overall initiative in which the FWC is working with the Corps to obtain permits for routine restoration work in 94 lakes and water bodies throughout Florida.

The following water bodies within the FWC's Southwest Region are included in the permit application:

  • Kissimmee River (including Paradise Run) in Okeechobee, Glades, Highlands, Polk and Osceola counties;
  • Lake Arbuckle, Lake Hancock, Lake Isabell, Lake Livingston, Lake Marion, Lake Pierce, Lake Weohyakapka, Mud Lake and Tiger Lake in Polk County;
  • Lake Adelaide, Lake Istokpoga, Lake Josephine, Lake Sebring, Little Red Water Lake, Red Beach Lake and Wolf Lake in Highlands County;
  • Lake Lindsey in Hernando County;
  • Lake Manatee in Manatee County;
  • Lake Seminole in Pinellas County;
  • Middle Lake in Pasco County;
  • Lower Myakka Lake and Upper Lake Myakka in Sarasota County.

The FWC is seeking a permit which would authorize all of its routine mechanical aquatic plant maintenance activities related to habitat restoration and navigation maintenance within these water bodies for a period of 15 years. The proposed maintenance techniques include mechanical harvesting and shredding of aquatic vegetation and use of earth-moving and tilling equipment on vegetated areas during dry conditions. The proposed restoration activities on lakes and other water bodies would improve habitat for fish and wildlife and provide outdoor opportunities for boating, angling and wildlife viewing.

The Corps permitting process requires the opportunity for public comment. On March 9, the Corps published a Public Notice for the proposed work on its website at: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx. To view the notice, click on the following file number to open the Public Notice: SAJ-2014-02266 (SP-JED). If you would like to provide comments or have any questions regarding the Corps permit process, please follow the directions included in the Public Notice. Note that the web address is case sensitive and should be entered as it appears above.

Learn more about mechanical control of aquatic plants

Contact Information
Nancy J. Sticht, US Army Corps of Engineers, nancy.j.sticht@usace.army.mil
phone: 904-232-1667.

Public Invited to Series of Workshops on Surplus Lands

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will hold a series of public workshops to gather feedback for the biennial assessment of surplus lands. The meetings will take place at the following times and locations:

• March 19, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
Bartow – Carver Recreation Center, 520 Idlewood Avenue S, Bartow, FL 33830

• March 24, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
Sarasota Service Office, 6750 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34240

• April 1, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
Tampa Service Office, 7601 US 301, Tampa, FL 33637

• April 2, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.
District Headquarters, 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, FL 34604

The public may also submit comments on the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/SurplusLands.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the District’s Governing Board adopted an updated policy that would direct staff to conduct a biennial review of District lands intended to identify parcels for potential surplus. The new policy also provides for the District to surplus lands while maintaining conservations easements.

The intent of this policy is to continue to protect properties that are providing substantive environmental benefits while surplusing properties that provide less environmental value. The surplus process will then generate revenue to buy lands with higher environmental benefits.

The potential surplus lands will also be discussed publicly at the District’s Environmental Advisory Committee meeting on April 14. Following review of public comments, District staff will finalize its Surplus Lands proposal and present it to the Governing Board at its May 19 meeting.

Listed of lands proposed for surplusing »


Residents and business owners urged to keep grass clippings out of roadway

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SARASOTA COUNTY – With the rainy season fast approaching, residents and business owners are being reminded to keep lawn clippings out of local roadways.

Doing so will help to ensure that area waterways and aquatic life are protected, and prevent the possibility of costly damages to important infrastructure.

While it may seem harmless, yard debris can easily be transported to stormwater pipes and ditches, which can lead to flooding and costly maintenance, costs which could also be passed on to homeowners. Plus, residents and business owners can be subjected to fines.

Yard debris also poses an environmental threat, because as it decomposes, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are released causing algae blooms, which can block sunlight and lead to fish kills and unsightly waterways.

Keeping the grass clippings on the lawn will not only protect the environment and local infrastructure, but also provide beneficial nutrients to the soil, and your lawn, according to Wilma Holley, a Florida Friendly Landscaping Specialist for the UF/IFAS Extension in Sarasota County.

"It's important to remember that keeping yard debris off the roadways is a benefit to everyone," Holley said. "Sarasota County's waterways are of vital importance, and protecting one of our most precious assets should be a top priority."

If you would like to report a violation, or if you have questions about grass clippings and leaves being left in the roadway, please call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.

Learn More about how you can help to protect stormwater quality »


Sarasota County seeking nominations for naming of Walton Ranch site

SARASOTA COUNTY – The Board of County Commissioners is asking the public to submit names for the Walton Ranch site (environmental land in east Sarasota County). Ideas must be submitted by 5 p.m. on March 16. The land will be named for one or more of the following: Selection criteria:

  1. Geographic Location: clearly located or associated with a distinct portion of the county
  2. Historical Value: specific historical value or significance to the County
  3. Individual or Group: must fulfill at least one of the following:
    • A well-known, elected, appointed or volunteer community leader.
    • An individual or group who has positively influenced a large populace of the county through a significant contribution of money, time or material.
    • An individual or group who had a major involvement in the acquisition or development of the facility.
    • An individual or group whose civic leadership contributed to the betterment of the community.

Please submit your nominations via email to bonderci@scgov.net or by mail to the address below. You'll need to include your contact information with your submission and explain how the name meets the name selection criteria. You may attach any necessary documentation you feel necessary. Any resident or group located in Sarasota County may submit proposed names.

If you have any questions, please call Brie Ondercin at 941-861-5000.

Mail submittals to:

Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Walton Ranch Site - Name Submission - Brie Ondercin
1660 Ringling Blvd., 5th Floor
Sarasota, FL 34236


Volunteers needed for Bay Guardians cleanup at Bowlees Creek March 28th

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Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is recruiting Bay Guardian volunteers for an island clean-up on March 28th

Partners for this event include; SUP Sarasota and Suncoast Waterkeeper (kayak sponsor), Sarasota Birding Guide (lunch sponsor), Florida Audubon Society, and Around the Bend Nature Tours.

Bowlees Creek is an island with sand spurs and mangrove roots. This will be a strenuous event and volunteers will be cleaning up trash and debris in the interior and perimeter of the island. We will be paddling less than 1/4 mile from the launch site to the island and kayaking through a boat channel. We will meet at the end of Whitfield Ave and everyone will be required to bring their own canoe or kayak. If you do not have your own kayak and would like to participate, there are a limited number of kayaks that will be available to use, however you MUST reserve a space before March 13 in order to use a kayak sponsored by SUP-Sarasota. Most of the these kayaks are tandems. You can also rent your kayak from a local provider.

Please wear hat, sunscreen, clothes that can get dirty/wet, and work gloves. Please bring a reusable water bottle to help reduce our plastic pollution. We strongly suggest carpooling.

Bay Guardians shirts will be available for all volunteers! If you already have one please wear your shirt to the event.

WHAT: Bay Guardians Clean Up
WHERE: 100 Whitfield Avenue, Sarasota 34243
WHEN: Saturday, March 28th, 2015, 9:00am-12:00pm

Catered lunch will be provided for all volunteers after the event is done!

Questions? Contact Camille Boffa at: info@sarasotabay.org, 941-955-8085.

Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring the area's greatest natural asset-Sarasota Bay. Its unique program strives to improve water quality, increase habitat and enhance the natural resources of the area for use and enjoyment by the public. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the United States that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an "estuary of national significance."

RSVP required! Click here to register »

Contact Information
Camille Boffa, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, info@sarasotabay.org
phone: (941) 955-8085.

FGCU professor wins international award for career in wetland research and education

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Dr. William Mitsch, director of Everglades Wetland Research Park, has received one of three 2015 Ramsar Convention Awards of Merit.

Professor Mitsch is the author of the innovative textbook Wetlands, which has been described as the “wetland bible”. The book has essentially defined the field of wetland science since its first edition in 1986.

Professor Mitsch designed, built and managed from 1992-2012 one of the most productive riverine wetland research laboratories in the world. In 2008 the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park became the 24th Ramsar site in the USA. In 2012 he became a professor and Eminent Scholar at Florida Gulf Coast University and Director of Everglades Wetland Research Park in Florida. The laboratory has already established a reputation as a major destination for visiting wetland scientists from around the world and a place to address large-scale ecosystem restoration in areas such as the Florida Everglades.

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.

Photo source: FGCU

Information about all 2015 Ramsar Convention award winners »


UF survey: Floridians want to conserve water, but only if it doesn’t cost too much

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Floridians remain concerned about water and are willing to make changes to conserve it, at least until their efforts cramp their lifestyles, according to an annual University of Florida study on state residents’ attitudes about this precious resource.

For the second consecutive year, an annual online survey conducted by UF’s Center for Public Issues in Education shows that water ranks third on a list of 10 topics people consider important -- behind the economy and healthcare and ahead of public education and taxes. Eighty-three percent of 749 respondents indicated water is an important or extremely important issue.

Yet while three-quarters of them said they were likely to vote to support water conservation programs and nearly as many said they would support water restrictions issued by their local government, only 42 percent were willing to take action to conserve water if it meant their lawns would suffer.

”From our 900 miles of dazzling beaches to the crystal-clear cold waters of 700 named springs, water is all around us, and Floridians understand its importance,” said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “But we must also help to educate them about protecting this natural resource.”

For full article continue on UF’s website here »


SBEP Offers Free Kayak Tour Trips in March and April

SARASOTA, FL – The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) has five free guided kayak excursions on Sarasota Bay remaining for this season. The next trips are to Blind Pass on Saturday, March 7 and 21, Philippi Creek on Sunday, March 29, and Lyons and Blackburn Bay Saturday, April 4 and 18. All of the SBEP kayak excursions require online registration at sarasotabay.org.

The SBEP Bay Wise Kayak Tour Program is a fun learning opportunity to discover the plants, animals, habitats, and restoration projects that distinguish Sarasota Bay. Brad Tanner, a professional guide and the School Programs Coordinator for Mote Marine Laboratory, is the kayak tour leader. Brad is also a member of the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee.

Prior trips included Neal Preserve (12/6 and 12/20), Leffis and Jewfish Key (1/3 and 1/17) and the Lido Mangrove Tunnels (2/7 and 2/21). Additional information and online registration is available at sarasotabay.org. Participants are required to bring their own kayak and gear. Outfitters throughout the region rent kayaks and offer demonstrations and beginner classes.

The late Jack Taylor, a respected marine biologist and former member of the SBEP Citizens Advisory Committee, launched the kayak tour program in 2007 as part of a SBEP Bay Partners Grant. Jack earned a PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Florida. He was active with many conservation groups throughout the region and some of his poetry is also posted on the SBEP website at sarasotabay.org.

Contact Information
Sara Kane, Public Outreach Manager Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, sara@sarasotabay.org
phone: 941-955-8085 .
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