Audubon Florida News

Topic: Assembly,Chapters



Read Audubon Florida’s 2016 Conservation Action Agenda

posted on November 18, 2015 in Assembly,Chapters

Audubon_ConservationPriorities_2016_CoverImage_approvedEach year, Audubon members come together at the Audubon Assembly to approve our annual conservation agenda. Our conservation priorities are expressed in twelve state and regional resolutions.

The conservation priorities are approved by the Audubon Florida Board of Directors and guide our positions and work. Thank you to everyone who helped draft this important document.

Click here to download.

West Pasco Audubon Advocates for Rocky Creek

posted on September 9, 2015 in Chapters,Coastal Conservation,Land Conservation

West Pasco Audubon Society Members With about 25 West Pasco Audubon Society members in attendance, the Pasco Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to pay $3.1 million to buy the Rocky Creek property, which is located just south of the Florida Audubon Society’s Gibbons Sanctuary.

The new coastal preserve is a high quality wetland and coastal hammock habitat, which is valuable to wading and migratory birds. The unanimous vote comes about a month subsequent to a proposal by some Pasco Commissioners to divert environmental lands funds to drainage and stormwater uses.

The Rocky Creek parcel received the highest conservation scoring of any parcel reviewed by the land selection committee to date. The parcel is comprised of 30 acres of saltwater marsh, 1 acre of mangrove forest, and 22 acres of wetland forest, with the balance comprised of uplands that had been previously approved/slated for residential development.

Thanks to West Pasco Audubon chapter and their friends from the Florida Native Plant Society  for communicating with commissioners and turning out to testify in favor of the Rocky Creek purchase.

The photo shows just some of the chapter members on the courthouse steps after the vote.

Audubon Academy in Apopka, FL – A Day of Birds, Learning and Fun!

posted on February 2, 2015 in Chapters

Acad_Florida_2015Based on preferences shown in a survey of Audubon Chapter Presidents last spring Audubon Academies for 2015 will now be one day regional events! Yes, after 10 years of full weekend events the Chapters Committee of the Audubon Florida board has decided to bring leader education and support closer to you! Leaders from two regions have volunteered to host these “by-the-chapters-for-the-chapters” programs. Orange Audubon and Pelican Island Audubon will host the first Academy on Feb. 28 in Central Florida.

tower_acadThe Central Florida AUDUBON ACADEMY will include an introductory driving field trip on Lake Apopka’s North Shore Restoration Area (a globally important IBA, much of which is not currently open to the public), presentations on chapter building, chapter fundraising and fiscal obligations, how to reach diverse audiences, taking birding a step further with citizen science, integrating social media into chapter communications and outreach, after school programs for kids and more. There will be adequate opportunities for networking with Audubon colleagues which is always a highlight.

acad_florida_outside_2014The day includes this very special field trip, relevant learning sessions and lunch all for just $15 and will be held at the University of Florida/IFAS/Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, 2725 South Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703 on Saturday, Feb. 28th from 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (field trip from 7:45–9:45 a.m.).

Additional resources:

Questions?—contact Loretta Satterthwaite or Bob Stamps, (407) 886-2925, LNS-oas@att.net, or RHS-oas@att.net.

PS – For those of you in the northern part of the state, NW chapters are planning the second Academy for May 9th in the Panhandle so stayed tuned!

Osceola County Orders Ecological Review of Deseret Ranch Plan

posted on January 15, 2015 in Chapters,Land Conservation

Deseret Plan MapOsceola County has responded to efforts spearheaded by Audubon Florida and a coalition of Audubon chapters in Central Florida by ordering an independent ecological review of the vast Deseret North Ranch sector plan.

The 133,000 acre development proposal, involving a potential new population of over 500,000 people, and over 180,000 new housing units was headed on a fast track toward approval in October, when Audubon sounded the alert and filled the County Commission chamber with many concerned citizens and representatives from Audubon chapters in Osceola, Orange, Polk, Seminole and Lake Counties.

The Deseret development would be the largest single development proposal ever to take place in the state’s history.

The lands affected include important ecosystem components of the Econlockhatchee River Headwaters, the St. Johns River and tributaries, and highly important wildlife corridors and wildlife habitat. Components of the Sector Plan proposal include a proposed new bridge over the St. Johns River, and a new reservoir which would capture water now contributing to the base flow of the St. Johns River. In October, Osceola County Commissioners voted 4-1 against the transmittal of the plan to the Department of Economic Opportunity, the first step in the approval process. Instead, a commission majority asked the County Manger’s office to initiate a stakeholder process to further evaluate the proposal.

The county has now taken another important step to assure a proper and objective evaluation of this massive development project. Following recommendations made by Audubon Florida during stakeholder meetings, the county has retained some of Florida’s best known and most respected ecologists to perform a peer-review analysis of the sector plan and the land conservation plan presented by Deseret’s planners and biological consultants.  The team, consisting of Dr. Richard Hilsenbeck of the Nature Conservancy. Dr. Reed Noss of the University of Florida, and Dr. Jay Exum of Exum Associates Inc. will spend at least two months in the evaluation process.

Further action by Osceola County on the Deseret Sector Plan will now not take place until April 2015 at the earliest. The outcome of the process will likely be shaped by the recommendation of the county’s new ecological peer review team.

Audubon Florida extends heartfelt thanks to the Audubon leaders in Central Florida who stepped forward to state concerns about the Deseret plan. Audubon also thanks the County Commission, County Manager and staff at Osceola County for doing the right thing to assure a proper and thorough evaluation of the Deseret Sector Plan.

A letter stating Audubon Concerns about the Deseret Sector Plan, and other related materials can be viewed by clicking here.

Deseret Sector Plan Facts:

  • Projected Population – 500,000 +-
  • 182,600 Development (housing) units
  • 43,837,390 Square Feet of Commercial/Service Industry space
  • 23,969,010 Square Feet of Industrial space
  • 15,660,500 Square Feet of Institutional built space
  • 20,390 hotel rooms

Audubon Members Save Barr Hammock Preserve

posted on October 29, 2014 in Chapters,Land Conservation

Audubon Florida helped Alachua Audubon win an important decision at the Alachua CBarr Hammock Preseve Aerialounty Commission Tuesday, October 28, protecting an important piece of conservation land. The 5,719-acre Barr Hammock Preserve was bought between 2006 & 2010 by the Florida Forever, Communities Trust Program and Alachua County for preservation and passive nature based recreation.

The main feature of the preserve, a trail on a levee around Levy marsh, was opened allowing the public to view this important bird habitat. This spot is considered one of the best bird watching opportunities in the county.  After the trail opened, some adjacent residents with homes several hundred feet from the trail complained that trail users were interrupting their privacy. Even though the trail is hundreds of feet away from their homes, and generally screened by heavy vegetation, they claimed that trail users were making noise and were able to look into the windows of their homes.

County staff responsible for managing the Barr Hammock Preserve and the trail investigated the complaints, and found them not meritorious of any action.  The residents took their complaints to the County Commission and were able to get the commission to hold two lengthy discussions of the issue. At one point, some of the commissioners seemed leaning toward supporting the residents’ demands that a portion of the trail be closed.  The Alachua Audubon Society got to work, and obtained several newspaper articles, and an excellent editorial in the Gainesville Sun newspaper urging that the commission honor the original purpose of purchasing the preserve by keeping the trail open. Alachua Audubon also motivated dozens of members to turn out at the county commission meetings.

On October 28, following a two hour discussion and unsuccessful attempts by two commissioners to discourage public use of part of the trail with confusing signage and entrance features, the commission ended up unanimously voting to stick with the preserve’s original management plan and keep the trail open. Special thanks to Alachua County Commissioners Mike Byerly and Hutch Hutchinson who steadfastly argued to keep Barr Hammock fully open to the natural resource based recreation uses it was intended to facilitate.

This case demonstrates why Audubon Florida and all Audubon chapters must be forever vigilant against attempts to harm and degrade Florida’s important conservation lands.

For additional coverage from the Gainesville Sun, please click here.

Summer Camp with Francis M. Weston Audubon – A Real Life Experience

posted on August 11, 2014 in Chapters,Coastal Conservation

Lessons on the beachThis summer, 19 youngsters from Escambia County had the opportunity to learn about Sharing the Shores with their feathered neighbors.  A week-long camp entitled “Environmental Encounters” put on by the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society (FMWAS) was held at Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola, FL. This wonderful coastal park provided the perfect location for campers to learn about flora and fauna of woodlands, wetlands, and Gulf ecosystems.

painting the eggsNature hikes, games, field investigations, and animal encounters were just a few of the daily activities.  Each day campers learned about a new part of our coastal environment using equipment including anemometers, thermometers, transects, and binoculars to look at biotic and abiotic factors found in each ecosystem. Volunteers from agencies such as Gulf Power, Florida Native Plant Society, Francis M Weston Audubon, and AmeriCorps were gracious enough to donate time and activities to enhance the lessons, making them even more engaging and meaningful.   Their time and effort was greatly appreciated.  The kids loved it all!

eggs - scrapeThe students were surveyed at the beginning and end of the camp to assess their knowledge of shorebirds and environmental issues surrounding the health of these birds. The results of the pre and post tests showed an average improvement of 42%!  That just goes to show that the some of the best educational experiences are ones in which you have just that… experiencesReal life experiences! Nothing takes the place of observing, touching and beginning to understand the things that most people only read about.  It was summed up nicely by one boy saying “I can’t wait to come back next year!

We certainly feel the same way!

artists with decoysPlanning and coordination of the camp was funded by Audubon Florida, recognizing the unique talents of FMWAS educational program and staff.  The camp was also sponsored by Big Lagoon State Park with local support for scholarships.

Manatee County Audubon’s Bob and Nancy Dean Receive Charles H. Callison Award

posted on May 30, 2014 in Chapters

Nancy & Bob Dean -- Nat'l Audubon 2014 Callison Award Winners

Each year a nationwide search unveils some of the most extraordinary volunteers within the Audubon Community.  Just this month, nominated by their peers at Manatee County Audubon Society, Bob and Nancy Dean were flown to Seattle, Washington to be honored at the National Audubon board meeting with the Charles H. Callison volunteer of the year award.

Charles H. Callison served with National Audubon Society from 1960 to 1977. An eminent conservationist, he was instrumental in Audubon’s fight to pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, including the Clean Air and Water acts, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. A firm believer in the strength of the grassroots, he expanded the reach of Audubon by chartering and supporting hundreds of new chapters nationwide.  To receive an award in his name is one of the greatest honors in the conservation community.

Nancy and Bob Dean being presented with the 2014 Charles H. Callison Award certificate and Great Egret print by National Audubon Society president, David Yarnold, at the National Audubon board of directors meeting in Seattle on May 16, 2014. Photo credit: Barbara Rowse Lasseter

Bob and Nancy Dean have been a critical component of their chapter for the past 27 years.  While avoiding the traditional roles their leadership was nonetheless ever present.  Their boots have left many a footprint at the Felts Preserve where they played a significant role on the Sanctuary’s restoration team.  Their annual offering of “Beginning Birding” classes has fledged close to 400 birders over the past 12 years.  Most recently they were tireless advocates when construction of a convention center and hotel threatened an important mangrove rookery that provides habitat for a wide variety of waterbirds on Sarasota Bay.  In their free time they have created a digital library through the Chapter website that has become a valuable avian resource accessible to all.

Bob and Nancy are also passionate birders with over 4100 species on their global “life” list. Bob often remarks, their “mutual passion for birding has been the glue for their marriage”.  This passion along with their professional work lives has provided a solid foundation from which they contributed future conservation initiatives while enhancing existing programs.

Congratulations to Bob and Nancy Dean for following in the footsteps of Charles H. Callison and to Manatee Audubon for taking time to recognize the stars in their midst.

 

 

City of Stuart Wins Audubon’s Excellence in Water Conservation Award

posted on April 29, 2014 in Chapters,Everglades,Water Issues

sammiCongratulations to the City of Stuart for receiving Audubon Florida’s third annual Excellence in Water Conservation Award.

Each April, Audubon recognizes an outstanding municipality or utility with the Excellence in Water Conservation award. Recipients must demonstrate a commitment to caring for Florida’s finite water resources.

The City of Stuart demonstrated an exceptional commitment to promote a community wide water ethic, under the leadership of project coordinator Mary Kindel. By implementing smart conservation techniques, Stuart successfully avoided the need to build a reverse osmosis plant – saving taxpayers an estimated $13 million.

Jane Graham presented Mayor Troy McDonald with the award at Monday’s City Commission meeting. Audubon of Martin County President John Nelson and South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Vice-Chairman Kevin Powers testified in support and congratulations to the City of Stuart.

Public education is a key focus of Stuart’s 20 year conservation program. Through community events like “Saturday in the Park”, rain barrel decoration contests, and school tours of the water treatment plant, Stuart is making water conservation a way of life for its residents. Notably, there is a water usage barometer in a prominent location in town so people can see how they are doing. Here’s a picture of Stuart’s water conservation mascot Sammi the Sailfish with the barometer “How low Can you Go?” In addition, the plan includes rebates and retrofits for showers, toilets, and other water saving devices for its residents and businesses.

Through these efforts, the City of Stuart aims to reduce water usage by 23% in 20 years. Since 2008, the city has already reduced water usage by 16%.

Keep it up Stuart. As Water Conservation Month comes to a close, we must conserve water year round. One in three Floridians depend on the Everglades for fresh water so conserving water means protecting the Everglades.

Previous winners of this award were Miami-Dade County and Cooper City.

Join the Audubon Society of the Everglades for their Annual Meeting on Tuesday, April 1

posted on March 26, 2014 in Chapters

Eric Draper_Headshot_WEBThis year’s meeting includes a special presentation from Audubon’s Eric Draper!

The Audubon Society of the Everglades is holding its annual meeting next Tuesday, April 1 and you are invited! Don’t miss a special presentation from Audubon’s Eric Draper, “Water and Land Conservation Next Generations”.

The evening will include a pot luck dinner. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. and the food will be served at 6:30 p.m. The annual meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. People with last names that begin between O-Z, please bring a main dish; A-J, bring salads and veggies; K-N, bring desserts. All food should be ready-to-serve, as we have no kitchen. Audubon Society of the Everglades will supply drinks.

Eric Draper is Executive Director of Audubon Florida. Audubon owns Florida’s premiere ecotourism destination Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as well as other conservation lands and nature centers, fields 20 scientists to study water birds, operates the Center for Birds of Prey, and is the state’s oldest and most influential conservation group. Audubon Florida has 35,000 members and 44 chapters.

A Florida native, Eric Draper is a career conservationist and is recognized as a leading advocate for Everglades restoration, water resource protection and land conservation. Previously, he was National Audubon’s Sr. Vice President for Policy, staff director for the Florida House of Representatives Majority Office, and started Florida TNC’s government relations program.

Location:

FAU Pine Jog Environmental Education Center
Rooms 101 and 102
6301 Summit Blvd. (near Jog Road)
West Palm Beach, FL 33415

White Ibis is the Bird of the Month for April! Attend next Tuesday’s meeting to hear more about this fascinating bird from expert, Clive Pinnock.

Everglades Day at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

posted on February 19, 2014 in Chapters,Events,Everglades

EvergladesDay_Alligator_2014_LoxahatcheeThe 15th annual Everglades Day was held February 8 at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Audubon Society of the Everglades, located in Palm Beach County, is one of the main organizers of this family-friendly annual event. Over two thousand attendees enjoyed guided nature walks, canoeing, educational exhibits, a great line-up of speakers, and other fun activities.

EvergladesDay_2014_LoxahatcheeLoxahatchee is home to Wood Storks, Everglade Snail Kites, alligators, bobcats, river otters, and lots of other wildlife. The refuge also serves as a Water Conservation Area and provides flood control for surrounding areas, and helps improve water supply in addition to providing important habitat for wildlife.

Thanks to the members of Audubon of the Everglades who help make this event such a great success!

If you missed the fun this year, you can still visit the refuge which is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Learn more about the refuge and plan your visit here: http://www.fws.gov/loxahatchee/visit.html

 

 

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