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Environment

La Florida

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By Nancy Richie – NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Florida, originally called “La Florida” or “flowery land” by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, is home to an amazing and impressive array of wildflowers and butterflies. Florida is known for many unique characteristics such as having the longest contiguous coastline in the lower 50 states (1,197 miles), the only State to have two oceanic borders (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean) and, of course, the famous Everglades. But it is the vast and diverse number of native plant and butterfly species that really are the most spectacular characteristics for year- round residents ... Read More »

Marco Island Christmas Bird Count

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By Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held nationwide between December 14th, 2012 and January 5th, 2013. For over one hundred years, citizen scientists gear up with binoculars, a favorite bird guide and checklists, and brave the elements to count birds in their backyards and neighborhoods. Generations of families have participated; from avid birders to students to scientists to folks who just enjoy the outdoors. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running wildlife consensus of bird populations in our country. Audubon and many other organizations use the counts to monitor and assess the health and of ... Read More »

Bumper Crop

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com It is common knowledge on Marco Island that Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) are present, popular and so abundant that they are found in almost every neighborhood on the island. Not only do our residents enjoy these charismatic birds of prey, but people travel from all over the world to see them. Professional photographers charge top dollar to school the amateur how to photograph them in the “best light,” though any ol’ camera will do. One can’t go wrong when the subject has big yellow eyes, long downy legs and attitude that could take on ... Read More »

Keeping Plastic’s Footprint Off Our Beaches

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By Danielle Dodder Major beachfront cities like Miami are banning them outright. The resort empire that is Walt Disney World in Orlando has replaced them with paper versions. The small bits of plastic straws and drinking cup lids discarded by people quickly accumulate into a giant toxic mess on beaches globally. The unsightly litter not only ruins the beauty of a pristine beach, but also strangles the birds, turtles and fish who mistake it for food. Straws and lids are the most widely and easily littered items along most beaches, but here on Marco cooperation will hopefully trump the need ... Read More »

Marriott shares bugs with City

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By Natalie Strom natalie@coastalbreezenews.com “I was a killer,” admits Jeane Lefebvre, Grounds Supervisor at the Marco Island Marriott Resort and Spa. “I thought if there was a bad bug, let’s shoot it. Anything I could spray, I would.” Recalling his early years, Lefebvre laughs as he describes his “180 degree turn” when it comes to the use of pesticides. Under the Master Gardener eye of Lefebvre, the Marriott’s grounds have been pesticide-free for 20 years. As Lefebvre battles the biggest pest invasion of his career – the spiraling whitefly – he shares his secrets for a pesticide-free landscape. For 23 ... Read More »

Far From Home

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Something is going on. Razorbills, an alcid bird or a web-footed, diving seabird, have been seen all over Florida by avid birders and beach goers. A few have been reported on Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach as well as in Caxambas Pass. Being a peninsula with one of the longest coastlines in the country, Florida has seabirds, so why is it so unusual to see the Razorbills? Historically, there have only been 14 documented sightings of this species in Florida. But since early December, there have been over 20 reports from Jacksonville to Marco Island of ... Read More »

River of Grass Greenway seen as top priority

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By Natalie Strom natalie@coastalbreezenews.com In an effort to develop a statewide trail and paddle system, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Division of Recreation and Parks recently updated the overall vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS). The new five-year plan lists the River of Grass Greenway as a priority. In early fall, the Division of Recreation and Parks launched the new plan, calling for public comment on what specific trails and paddle ways should be considered areas of initial importance. After hosting six public meetings throughout the state, opportunity and priority maps were developed. This ... Read More »

Florida Wildlife Advisory Group Grapples Gators

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By Coastal Breeze News Staff There are those who like animals and then there are those who LIKE animals. Walking in the footsteps of Steve Irwin, the famous crocodile hunter known for declaring “CRIKEY” at every new challenge, Kevin Hennings has set up the non-profit, Florida Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG). “The primary principle of the Florida Wildlife Advisory Group is education and conservation. All revenue after operations will be structured into a scholarship fund for kids wanting to pursue a college degree in the science field,” said Kevin. Prepping for an official grand opening in January, Florida Wildlife Advisory Group ... Read More »

Monitoring Marco’s Mangroves

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By Natalie Strom  natalie@coastalbreezenews.com  It is no secret that there is a serious problem with the mangroves that exist along San Marco Road leading to the Goodland Bridge. The problem has existed for decades. A sign has been erected explaining the issue in hopes of increasing public support. Scientists have been consistently studying the area and have come up with a solution to the devastation of what is known as Fruit Farm Creek. Now that one phase of the plan has been completed, monitoring the mangroves is more important than ever. Scientists from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida have been ... Read More »

River of Grass Greenway update

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By Patty Huff mulletrapper@gmail.com  The planned River of Grass Greenway will be a safe, non-motorized transportation and recreation corridor across the Everglades between Naples and Miami. It will provide opportunities for education, stewardship, and preservation of the environmental, historic, and cultural assets of this unique area. It will offer activities such as bicycling, walking, bird-watching, photography, fishing, etc. Addressing the needs of citizens, local businesses, governmental and tribal officials is crucial to the development of this unique greenway. Currently, a Feasibility Study and a Master Plan are being developed, and a new interactive website is now available online for the ... Read More »

THE PINES OF MARCO ISLAND, Not traditional christmas trees

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  Did you attend the City’s Christmas Tree Lighting last weekend? Have you gone by Veterans’ Park to see this beautifully trimmed tree? If not yet, take a look and Merry Christmas! On our semi-tropical barrier island, there are predominantly three species of pine-like trees. None would make for a hearty Christmas tree, but all have a value in our community. So, put up your artificial tree or get one from a big tent; the pines on Marco Island are not your traditional Christmas trees. Southern Slash Pine  The Southern Slash Pine is a native tree ... Read More »

MARCO BEACH BASICS

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City of Marco Island  Marco Island has six miles of spectacular beaches, including a three-and-a-half mile crescent beach. From Tigertail Beach with its abundance of native flora and fauna, to South Beach, where a variety of beach experiences and activities are available, Marco Island offers a unique and fantastic beach experience to all of its visitors and residents. Tigertail Beach  Tigertail Beach, part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, is operated by the Collier County Parks and Recreation Department and hosts 60 species of migrating and resident coastal birds. The widest beach in Collier County opens up south of Tigertail ... Read More »

The White Pelican

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  One the largest and oldest known birds in our nation, named by a German naturalist in 1789, is the White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. It migrates from the north to winter in south Florida, particularly Sarasota to south of Marco Island, giving the moniker, “snow bird,” real meaning. Once hunted as sport, the White Pelican is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 and is listed as a species of special concern in the State of Florida and several other states. This species of pelican, one of the two in the United States (the ... Read More »

Beach clean-up report

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Submitted The City of Marco Island Beach Advisory Committee hosted a Beach Clean-Up on Sunday, November 18, at South Beach. Over thirty participants collected garbage. Publix provided the water, bags and gloves for the clean-up; MICA provided the vehicle to haul trash, supplies and participants if necessary and also disposed of all trash collected. Two large pieces of lumber were removed from beach between the two jetties at Cape Marco and over forty bags of trash were removed from the beach. Participants reported an abundance of cigarette butts and plastic bottle caps, but much fewer straws than usual. Thank you ... Read More »

Talking Trash: the toxic type

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Monthly, different local groups and residents make the effort to organize and pick up trash on Marco Island’s beach. Weekly, we all make the effort to throw trash in the appropriate receptacle; the regular trash bin which goes to our overflowing county landfill or the recycling bin which keeps excess trash out of the landfill so that products can be repurposed and reused. Those are our choices at home and work. Daily, we pick up trash as we take walks in our neighborhoods, parks or on the beach. Trash; it is part of our life. ... Read More »

Snowy Egrets: One of the coolest birds on our beach

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com One of several larger shorebirds that are spectacular to watch while walking the beach, especially along the Tigertail Lagoon and Sand Dollar beach peninsula area, is the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Just saying the name can cool one off on a hot Florida day at the beach. When walking the beach, one notices that there are several large white birds with long legs in the tidal zone and lagoon area. The Snowy Egret is easily identifiable by its bright yellow feet. Perhaps they are yellow galoshes? Not the largest of the long-legged shorebirds, the Snowy ... Read More »

Sandhill Cranes

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Sandhill Cranes (Grus Canadensis pratensis), one the most common cranes in the world, is not commonly found in our area of southern Florida. Being dependent on freshwater marshes as habitat, the coastal, brackish and saltwater wetlands are not suited for this bird species. On occasion there will be sightings of Sandhill Cranes on a golf course or open park area in Collier County, but that is rare. So common that it is worldwide, it is rare down here, especially on Marco Island. Driving northwest to Lake Okeechobee and further up the middle of the state, ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Tidbits

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By Coastal Breeze News Staff There are five species of sea turtles that nest on Florida’s beaches. The most common is the loggerhead. The green turtle and leatherback are also found frequenting beaches throughout the state. The Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill sea turtles nest in Florida but not very often. All five species are listed as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Sea turtles are considered to be a keystone species within their ecosystems. The extinction of any one of the many sea turtle species would affect many other organisms within both beach systems and marine systems. ... Read More »

Sea Turtle Tidbits

By Coastal Breeze News Staff    As more and more sea turtle nests are hatching along Marco’s beaches, it is important to consider ways to safeguard the threatened species. One of the best ways to make a personal impact is by properly disposing of your garbage – whether on the beach or not. It is estimated that Americans use 380 billion plastic bags every year. Considering that only two percent of these bags are recycled and the other 98 percent will take 1,000 years to biodegrade, it is no surprise that sea turtles and other marine creatures are beginning to ... Read More »

Sentinel of the Bridge

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Who hasn’t noticed when crossing the Jolley Bridge leaving the island, the lone American Osprey sitting on the hand rail, the light pole or sign, usually looking to the south, and sometimes, it seems, looking right into your eyes through the windshield? This American Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has been observed on our bridge for years. My daughters as young girls, then driving to high school on their own, have always noticed it in the mornings, admiring its tenacity perched on the sign as cars zoom by ruffling its feathers and enjoying one of our unique ... Read More »