Program areas at The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida's environmental policy team uses a science-based approach to tackle broad regional environmental issues and collaborates with partners such as business, environmental, academic and government leaders to ensure The proper stewardship of Southwest Florida's water, land and wildlife. They provide our region's decision makers with The tools necessary to make informed decisions on environmental and conservation issues. Specific objectives tackled by The team are smart growth, water issues, mining, endangered species and wildlife habitat protection. (continued on schedule o)accomplishments for The policy team in fy 2021-2022:water policythe toxic red tide that continues to impact our beaches and waterways in The aftermath of hurricane ian in september 2022 reminds us how essential clean water is to our local economy and our quality of life. Since The hurricane, it is more apparent than ever that The environment is tied to human health, our economy, and our quality of life. The silver lining is that we now have a significant alignment of interests and leadership to advance substantial and meaningful solutions to our water issues. Policy makers are now more seriously evaluating The enormity of The challenge before us. Changes in agency leadership and direction are creating more opportunities to address some of The root causes of The issue. Though much work remains, we remain encouraged by The positive steps that are being taken to protect, restore and conserve our precious water resources and natural systems.panthers (hca)in response to an application by 11 large landowners in eastern collier county for a 50-year federal mega-permit to authorize 45,000 acres of intense development in The last remaining core habitat area for The Florida panther, you joined Conservancy staff in speaking out in opposition.the permit was withdrawn by The landowners in 2022 and The Conservancy will continue The fight to protect our listed species one parcel at a time.eastern collierwe continue to work to improve The local growth plan for eastern collier county, called The rural lands stewardship area (rlsa). The Conservancy will continue to advocate for a better plan for The rlsa a plan that condenses development onto a smaller footprint and a plan that truly adheres to smart growth design principles.rivergrass ruling The Conservancy is pleased that The second district court of appeal (dca) ruled in our favor, confirming our legal right to present evidence against rivergrass village with regard to traffic impacts and fiscal neutrality.
The Conservancy's environmental science team is dedicated to research and solutions, providing unbiased data and studies while maintaining a national reputation for their multi-faceted expertise. With a range of collective experience, Conservancy scientists provide The background and knowledge, ranging from coastal ecosystems and resiliency to invasive species research and management. (continued on schedule o)accomplishments for The environmental science team in fy 2021-2022:celebrated The 40th anniversary of The sea turtle rescue and monitoring program, one of The longest running programs in The country. Monitored more than 625 turtle nests on keewaydin island. This program includes applying satellite tags to monitor sea turtle travel habits. Since 2013, we have monitored over 5,210 nests with an estimated 434,410 hatchlings making it safely to The gulf of mexico since The program began in 1983.advanced work on restoration of mangrove die-off areas, including areas near goodland. Continued collaborative work with partner organizations to manage invasive species, including The burmese python and cane toads, in order to help limit The destruction of native plants and wildlife. Worked into The tenth year of radio-telemetry to tag and track pythons to study their behavior and remove thousands of pounds of this non-native species. Cane toad program wraps up Conservancy biologists wrapped up a three-year initiative to research cane toads in Southwest Florida using radio-tracking, trap/lure design testing and diet analysis. It was some of The first scientific data gathered on cane toads in our region and researchers gained insight into cane toad movements, habitat utilization, and effects on native wildlife. The project has produced five scientific publications, with a final publication focusing on The diet of cane toads from two golf course communities in naples. Over The span of The study, The stomach contents of 239 cane toads was examined and more than 13,691 prey items in 180 taxonomic categories were discovered. Burmese python removalin The 2022 capture season, The Conservancy team removed more than 2,500 pounds of python and noticed a drop in The number and size class of snakes captured within specific control zones. This indicates a sign that we are making a significant impact in The population, as The goal is for The python size and population numbers to decrease over time. The python team has radio-tagged and tracked 60 adult pythons and 28 hatchlings to learn more about their movement patterns and behaviors to help develop a control strategy for this invasive species. To date, The Conservancy's python research and removal project has removed more than 1,000 pythons weighing in excess of 26,152 pounds from an area in collier county of less than 100 square miles. Mangrove monitoring hurricane irma roared through collier county in 2017 decimating acres of mangrove forests, but in 2022, hurricane ian did not impact our mangroves as severely. Hurricane ian was not The extreme wind event in Southwest Florida that hurricane irma was, and The mangroves weathered The storm surge better than The developed coastal areas that were devastated. Our ongoing research and monitoring have contributed to The success of mangrove ecosystems and natural shorelines. Scientists will continue to monitor The mangroves in clam bay and fruit farm creek throughout The year to get a closer look at these systems and evaluate any delayed effects from The storm.
A busy baby season each spring, The longer days and warming temperatures trigger many native animals to begin breeding and nesting. This increase in activity results in a surge of admissions to The von arx wildlife hospital - animal admissions double during spring and summer months. This past year, our annual baby shower, held virtually, brought in donations and wildlife admissions like never before. On one saturday in june alone, we admitted over 30 baby animals. (continued on schedule o) gopher tortoise protection in marco island in june, more than 4-acres of gopher tortoise habitat was protected in eastern marco island. The stretch of south barfield drive has a 30-mph speed limit, yet was The location of more than 28 tortoise mortality events earlier this year. The land surveys show it holds burrows of almost 200 tortoises and other animals including burrowing owls. Joanna fitzgerald joined a team of partners to deploy human resources and tools to install a silt fence to keep The tortoises from crossing The road. The fence was completed in one day, alleviating, so far, numerous injuries to wandering tortoises. Naples pier pelican protection in The wake of hurricane ian and The destruction of The historic naples fishing pier, we will continue to document The number of pelican admissions to The hospital until The pier is rebuilt. Prior to The hurricane, The naples city council voted to extend The sunday fishing ban at The pier through june 2023 in an effort to minimize The amount of pelican injuries that were taking place. Our ongoing role is to continue to obtain numbers and data from The naples pier regarding pelican admissions.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida's environmental education team is committed to developing The environmental leadership of tomorrow. We strive to provide children and adults an appreciation and understanding of Southwest Florida's unique natural resources. Through this work, we aim to equip our community with The knowledge and understanding to make a difference for The environment and create The next generation of environmental leaders. Individuals who appreciate The importance of these unique natural resources are more willing to help protect and to address The critical environmental issues facing Southwest Florida's land, water and wildlife. (continued on schedule o)accomplishments for The education team in fy 2021-2022:learning adventure bus (lab)the learning adventures bus (lab) cruised around town this summer as part of The Conservancy's new educational summer science learning adventure modules program summer slam. Thanks to The annual operational support of three local funding partners naples children & education foundation (ncef), suncoast credit union foundation, richard m. schulze family foundation, The lab mobile classroom reached more than 760 students at 11 locations in collier and lee counties with its unique summer science learning programs. New nature center and programs environmental education for all ages is a key aspect of The Conservancy's work including programs brought right to The community through The learning adventures bus (lab), as well as The newly renovated and expanded nature center. Opening in december 2021, The renovation expanded The john & carol walter discovery wing, which features an invasive species gallery where visitors can learn about how invasive species are impacting Southwest Florida. The exhibits educate and showcase how The Conservancy's science team is working to better understand these plants and animals. On display is an array of facts and figures about burmese pythons, The apex predator in The Florida everglades, with stitch, a 10-foot-long burmese python as live ambassador for teaching. The education team provides guided nature center tours with a full host of history and displays of conservation efforts. The nature center also offers self-guided tours of The dalton discovery center, nature trails with native plant species, kayak rentals, and electric boat rides down The gordon river. Earth day festival 2022the Conservancy welcomed more than 2,000 guests to our biggest community event of The year. With new vendors, familiar faces, and activities galore, we were inspired by all who came out to celebrate our water, land, wildlife and future.