Audubon Florida News

Topic: Climate Change,Everglades,Volunteering,Wildlife

Get Outside on National Public Lands Day

posted on September 14, 2010 in Climate Change,Everglades,Volunteering,Wildlife

Volunteer to care for our parks and natural places Saturday, September 25, 2010. Help build trails, remove exotics, plant native species, learn about climate change impacts on our natural treasures, and enjoy the great outdoors. More than 40 parks across Florida are participating.

As organizers suggest, after working hard, you can “take a hike, a swim, a bicycle ride and get healthy in America’s backyard.” Find a park near you and register here.

Don’t Miss Upcoming Gulf Oil Disaster Community Forums in Florida

posted on July 10, 2010 in Climate Change,Gulf Oil Spill,Oil Drilling

Environmental and clean business groups will host two Gulf Oil Disaster community forums, one in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, July 14, and the other in Miami on Thursday, July 15. These are excellent opportunities to deepen your knowledge of the crisis and solutions.

St. Petersburg College will present the Impact of the Oil Crisis in the Gulf on Tampa Bay from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 14 in the SPC-Seminole Campus Digitorium (UP 160). Download the invitation to the St. Petersburg forum here St Pete Oil Spill Forum Invitation.

In Miami, the Community Forum on the Gulf Oil Disaster: From Crisis to Solutions is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 15, at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway. Download the invitation to the Miami forum here Miami Oil Spill Community Forum Invitation.

Space is limited for each of these events. So Register Early Here.

Oil Spill Alert: Bird Stewards Needed at a Beach Near You

Least terns feeding on a Florida beach

While Floridians hold their breath and wait, hoping the oil spill will spare our beaches, Audubon recognizes the urgent need to ensure our beach-dependent wildlife like nesting terns, plovers and other shorebirds have as successful a breeding year as possible in those areas that are not impacted by the spill. In this way, we hope their successes will help offset the dramatic losses of threatened wildlife that may occur elsewhere in the Gulf.

One way to help beach nesting birds is to provide bird stewards–chaperones who volunteer a few hours of their time in a shift on the beach to help ensure beachgoers and individuals preparing for the spill do not enter nesting areas, and help educate beach visitors about these remarkable species.

Increasing bird steward efforts in the following counties now can help us ensure birds in these locations have a better chance of survival: Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Nassau/Duval and St. Johns.

We are looking for two categories of volunteers. Click on your category of interest to sign up:

1) Bird Stewards will function as site ambassadors for a shift or shifts. We will train you on the bird protections and biology you will need to be successful. These individuals should like spending time on the beach and interacting with the public.

2) Site coordinators will be responsible for scheduling the bird steward volunteers at their sites, to ensure that all shifts are covered. These individuals do not necessarily have to perform beach steward functions as long as all shifts are covered, but should enjoy “organizing” tasks and have the time to dedicate to coordinating shift scheduling.

Oil Spill Alert: Help Protect Florida’s Beaches and Fragile Shorebirds

NOAA Cumulative Oil Trajectory Map

Step Lightly on Florida Beaches

Well-motivated but not well informed volunteers sent out to clean debris from beaches may be disturbing nesting and other shorebirds.  Volunteers eager to move beach litter above the high water line to make it easier to clean up oil that may come ashore are putting beach and marsh nesting birds at risk.

Some people are moving beach debris such as driftwood from the beach onto high-water areas.  This is harmful as beach wildlife use naturally occurring beach debris near the water line and may be harmed when debris is piled in upland areas on or near their well camouflaged nests.  Traffic in dune areas can also harm vegetation.

Safe Tips for Cleaning Litter off Beaches:

For those who want to clean litter from the beaches in anticipation of oil coming ashore, Audubon recommends the following:

  • Use approved access points and avoid walking or hiking through marshes or seagrass beds.
  • Stay below the tidal line.
  • Leave natural debris in place because it provides nesting benefits to shorebirds and other wildlife.
  • Only remove man-made litter.
  • Do not place litter in the dunes or above the high water line.
  • Don’t use equipment such as rakes, shovels or tractors.
  • Do not bring ATVs or other motorized vehicles onto the beach.
  • Do not bring dogs onto the beach (dogs are a primary sources of beach bird disturbance and mortality.)
  • Respect posted areas and leave signs, posts and twine in place to protect beach nesting bird colonies.

You can take action in many ways:

1. Volunteer to rescue injured birds and to clean oil off Florida’s beaches and other coastal areas.
2. Sign the petition opposing state and federal plans to expand oil drilling in Florida’s water.
3. Contribute to our special fund to rescue birds injured by the oil spill and underwrite advocacy so this never happens again.
4. Recruit your friends and family to join Audubon’s response efforts.

Red Knot courtesy of Rod Wiley

Send us your photos and video of local habitats and wildlife

Audubon of Florida is urging everyone to step lightly on our beaches and follow safety tips if you are engaged in beach clean up activities.

You can also help by taking pictures and videos of the habitats and wildlife in your local communities. This local knowledge could become very useful as the oil spill evolves.
Follow these guidelines when documenting your coastal areas and wildlife and to send images to Audubon of Florida:

When photographing or filming

  • Follow all Audubon safe tips for beach cleaning.
  • Keep your distance from nesting grounds, marked areas, and resting birds. Do not flush birds.
  • Use long range zooms to capture close up images.

Send your images, video or a notification of their availability to

  • Identify the time, day, date and location that the image was taken, and use GPS coordinates if possible.
  • Identify and clearly spell the name of the photographer/videographer and provide contact information, email, telephone and address.
  • Clearly state whether Audubon may have the rights to reprint, publish in print and electronic vehicles, and share your images, providing proper credit.
  • For large photo or video files, notify us at that images are available and we will contact you with instructions for uploading them.

Note that Florida Audubon does not have a budget to pay for images but provides photo credit to the photographer/videographer.

Additional Resources

Click Here for Florida updates from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Click Here for the most updated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maps on the oil spill’s trajectory.

Click Here to visit the Deepwater Horizon central command.

Your Stories for Real Climate Solutions: John Ehrman to Sell Energy Back to the Grid

Welcome to a new initiative by Florida Audubon to feature stories of Floridians who are acting in their personal lives and businesses to solve climate change and lessen its impacts on birds, wildlife, our state’s special places, and our economy.

John Ehrman_w_Kemps Ridley turtle_sm
John holds an endangered Kemps Ridley turtle. During the cold snap last January, John and his neighbors helped rescue the stunned sea turtles. He said, “more than 1,700 turtles were rescued from St. Joseph Bay by ordinary people like me, along with folks from Gulf World and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. We loaded them in trucks to get them to Gulf World so they could revive in heated pools there.” More than 80 percent of the turtles survived and were returned to the wild. Photo by Penny Weining.

Your stories are a powerful means of inspiring positive change. We welcome you to contribute your observations of the impact of climate change on birds and their habitats, and on what you are doing to contribute solutions. Your experiences can be shared in words, pictures and video. By doing so, you will be helping to build a living record of what Floridians are doing to protect our environment and economy. To send your story or schedule an interview, please write today to Florida Audubon’s Climate and Communications Director Traci Romine at

Your Stories for Real Climate Solutions:
John Ehrman to Sell Energy Back to the Grid

John Ehrman, 58, is not a politician, lobbyist or lawyer. He has no hidden agendas or shadowy alliances with Texas oil men. John is a straightforward, retired civil engineer, who worked for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Last year, he retired and settled into the dream home he built in Cape San Blas, a beautiful, relatively undeveloped area in the northwest Florida Panhandle.

John is also a man who acts on his convictions. He assisted in design and installation of a photovoltaic rooftop solar system for his home, using state-of-the art solar technology. “I’ve always been an advocate of alternative energy sources and I wanted to have back up power in case of hurricanes,” he said. “But my main reason for doing this is climate change. In the whole scheme of things, we’re using this fossil fuel, which is really ancient technology and we don’t need it. We have other sources that are so much less polluting, and essentially free once you put in the hardware. Solar is a never-ending source of energy.”

View from the house_John Ehrman_sm
The view of the bay from St. Joseph Peninsula near John’s home. “I hate the thought of seeing oil rigs on the horizon as future generations watch the sun setting in the Gulf of Mexico, or tar balls on the sugar white sands,” he said.

Once the design for John’s panels was complete, installation of the system was relatively rapid, just a couple of weeks. And because environmental and energy advocates were successful in achieving net metering policies in state energy law, John will be able to start selling his surplus power back to the electrical grid. He expects to have his inverter and firmware installed, and the kinks worked out, in a couple of weeks.

“I use between 12 and 15 kWh a day and I’ll have a surplus of 5 kWh per day to sell back,” John said. “My house is very well insulated. The key is to build a home that is energy efficient, using energy saver appliances, a tankless water heater, and things like that to decrease your power need. Your solar system will fully power your house or a good percentage of it and send the surplus back to grid.”

Once the system is working optimally, John expects to cover his full home power usage. For now, his electrical bills are significantly lower than other friends who do not have solar systems. During the cold winter when folks in his area were paying close to $200 a month, John’s bill never topped $110.

The federal tax credit and state rebate were incentives for John to install the system. He’s received his federal credit, though the state rebate has been slower in coming. If he does receive the state rebate, the system will pay for itself in a couple of years. If not, due to state backlog in applications, it may take longer to realize a return on his investment.

Solar Panels from man lift 006 John_Ehrman_sm
John’s home in Cape San Blas. Photo by John Ehrman

Dispelling Myths

Some of the myths used to push back against passing strong state policy to build a robust renewable energy market, with strong targets to expand solar energy supply in Florida, are that the sunshine state is too cloudy and that hurricanes can blow panels off of rooftops.

“Hurricanes are not an issue,” John said. “My panels are tested for 150 mph winds, and they are clamped onto the ridges on the roof along the metal seam. The whole roof would have to blow off before those panels would come off.”

As for the claim that solar power is unreliable, John shared that solar powers his home on average between 4 and 5 hours per day, including cloudy and rainy days.

Renewable Jobs in Florida

John’s experience demonstrates how solar and renewable energy produce good, clean local jobs in Florida. “I had 5 electricians on the job for two weeks while they were installing the panels, and all the wiring,” he said. “They were local people from Port St. Joe and were very happy to get the job.”

Standard Renewable Energy, the company that provided the system, was recently acquired by GridPoint and is based in Destin.  “They were very pleased to come out here to do the installation.” One unfortunate aspect of his project was that the solar panels had to be shipped in from China.

“Florida is so far behind. If we had the right state policies, Florida could be manufacturing solar panels right here,” he said. “We need to step up to the bat, especially with our renewable resources here. We’re the sunshine state—let’s use it.”

Promote Strong Conservation and Renewable Energy Policy for Florida

posted on April 7, 2010 in Climate Change,Online Advocacy,Renewables


Now is the time to press your legislators to push back attempts to weaken energy conservation laws and to set stronger renewable energy policy for Florida.

Some legislators seem intent on reversing state policy on energy conservation and weakening gains to achieve strong renewable energy policy that would create a market for solar and other renewable energy.

Promote Energy Conservation

Audubon made energy conservation a top priority in 2008 and helped secure language that required the Public Service Commission to consider all costs of producing electricity, including costs related to climate change, when considering how much money utilities have to spend on conservation measures.

However, some utilities are complaining that the new conservation goals are too expensive and could increase rates – even though average bills will go down. Strong energy conservation policy promises to save eight million megawatt-hours of energy annually and in doing so allow utilities to avoid building dozens of expensive new power plants certain to raise people’s rates. Energy conservation is also one of the best avenues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect Florida’s birds, wildlife and natural habitats from the effects of climate change.

solar pane2lFlorida Needs Strong Renewable Energy Policy

Strong renewable energy policy will also protect the environment, and as importantly, drive new job creation and attract clean, high technology industries—for solar and other renewable energy—to Florida.

With the right policies, Florida can become a leader in providing an ideal business environment for solar and biomass energy providers, for manufacturers of clean energy parts and systems, for electricians and installers, and for innovative energy research. The Blue Green Alliance studied the benefits a renewable electricity standard would have for Florida and found that this policy would generate business for 1,617 firms and create as many as 18,704 green jobs. Florida must act to put in place a state renewable energy policy that will create new jobs right here in Florida where they are most needed.

Stay tuned for updates on legislative proposals and help Audubon push back attempts to roll back the 2008 conservation language and promote strong renewable energy policy.

Florida Audubon Statement on Offshore Oil Drilling Plan

posted on March 31, 2010 in Climate Change,Oil Drilling

new york times drilling map

Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida, responded to plans previewed today by the Obama administration that would open Florida’s waters to offshore oil drilling.

“Allowing oil drilling off of Florida sends the wrong signal to the world about America’s commitment to real and lasting energy independence,” Draper said. “This is a sad day for Florida when we put our clean beaches at risk for dirty and dangerous oil drilling. The right road to independence from foreign oil is a cap on greenhouse gases, cleaner cars, renewable energy conservation.”

Awards Reception: ‘Honoring Our Pioneers, Heroes and Champions’

posted on March 18, 2010 in Calendar,Climate Change,Renewables

event invite

Renewable Energy is Florida’s Best Bet for Economic and Environmental Security, Not Offshore Drilling

tall capitol

Be in Tallahassee March 22nd and 23rd to voice your concerns about this urgent issue. See the invitation for all of the details.

Audubon of Florida is part of the Renewable Energy Alliance, REAL, that brings together environmental and clean business partners to achieve robust renewable energy policy for our state.

Together with our partners, we just launched a new fact sheet that outlines why we need robust renewable energy policy. Solar power, biomass and other renewable sources of energy are affordable, protect Floridians from price shocks, provide reliability to the transmission grid, and create jobs right here in Florida. Read the REAL fact sheet and share it to urge others to add their voices to the chorus of Floridians dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas pollution to protect the environment and ramping up new, sustainable job growth through the development of a renewable energy market.

To take your commitment a step further, join Audubon and its partners in Tallahassee for a lobby day on March 22nd and 23rd.

Clean Energy Advocates & Oil Drilling Opponents,
We Need You March 22 at the Capitol! Register Now

Help Pass Clean Energy Jobs Legislation This Session;
Jump-Start Florida’s Economy and Stop the Threat of Risky Offshore Drilling

Be in Tallahassee March 22nd and 23rd to voice your concerns about this urgent issue. See the invitation for all of the details.

Climate Peril to Birds Demands Action in Florida

ROYT chick  Linda
This Royal Tern chick was photographed by Linda Martino at Huguenot Memorial Park in Jacksonville in summer 2009. Audubon is working in Northeast Florida to protect these birds and others from human disturbance and to conserve their important beach habitat. Notice where the chick is standing: Young Royal Terns do not thermo-regulate well and so being able to sit undisturbed at the water’s edge helps them keep cool.

Statement of Audubon of Florida on the 2010 State of the Birds Report

The 2010 State of the Birds Report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon and other leading conservation organizations shows that climate change will have an increasing impact on birds and their habitat—and the ecological and other benefits they provide to people. It issues an urgent call for sound energy policy that will reduce carbon emissions, and for strategic conservation investments that will help species adapt to a changing climate. If we can help the birds weather this unprecedented threat, we can help ourselves.

In Florida, some of the most threatened birds include coastal species, such as the red knot and royal tern. The Florida scrub-jay, our state’s only endemic species, as well as the ruby-throated hummingbird, prothonotary warbler and roseate spoonbill, are all at risk from climate-induced habitat changes.

“The report makes it clear that these birds will not survive the human-caused changes to our global climate,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida. “Like canaries in a coal mine, the dangers they face warn of dangers to us as well. It’s up to us to reduce the threat.”

Everglades restoration that achieves ecological benefits, protection of our important beaches and coastal habitats, and putting meaningful renewable energy and energy and water conservation policies into place are all winning strategies that Audubon of Florida is working hard to achieve.

What Florida Audubon is doing complements innovative federal efforts to help species adapt; efforts that come with new investments that will create jobs and protect beautiful and sensitive habitats across America. And we’re part of ongoing Audubon efforts to pass ground-breaking climate and energy legislation to control the emissions that cause climate change while there’s still time to make a difference.”

As Glenn Olson of the National Audubon Society said at the news conference announcing the findings, “If you love nature and care about the health of our planet, there is no time to lose. This isn’t just about birds; it’s about our chance to shape our future.”

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