April 5, 2023

County Denies Rezoning Request by Eden Oak

BOCC Unanimously Votes Against Coastal Wetlands Development

Opponents of Eden Oak won a hard-fought victory today when Lee County’s Board of County Commissioners unanimously denied a request to rezone coastal wetlands for a housing development.  

"We commend the Lee County Commission for their leadership in denying this zoning request," said CEO James Evans. "If approved, this project would have had extensive impacts on mangrove wetlands, water quality, and critical wildlife habitat, and would have put more Lee County residents in harm's way during the next storm." 


First Snowy Plover Nest Marked Off on Sanibel

Snowy plovers — small, state-threatened shorebirds — are breeding once again on Sanibel. SCCF shorebird staff recently discovered the first nest of the season and marked off the area to give the birds space and protection. They also learned the nest belongs to a familiar male, who has fledged chicks every year on the island since being banded in 2019. 

If you find a shorebird nest with eggs, leave the area and contact SCCF at 813-756-8773 or shorebirds@sccf.org.


Periwinkle Preserve Trail to Open Soon with a New Look

The SCCF Periwinkle Preserve trail is getting close to reopening after extensive clean-up efforts post Hurricane Ian. This heavily forested preserve experienced heavy damage as storm surge killed many of the tropical hardwood trees. 

“The upcoming rainy season will show us what vegetation will come back on its own and what we will want to replant,” said Chris Lechowicz, director of Wildlife & Habitat Management Program.


Red Tide Counts Continue to Decrease in Lee County

On March 31, Lee County reported three water samples containing bloom concentrations of Karenia brevis, marking a significant decrease from February.

“The lower counts continue the same trend that we saw in March of fewer samples with bloom concentrations,” said SCCF Research & Policy Associate Leah Reidenbach. “Water clarity around the island is good, and there have been no recent reports of respiratory issues or fish kills on Sanibel beaches.” 



Sign Petition to Ensure Right to Clean Water in Florida

Join the movement to establish a fundamental Right to Clean Water for all Floridians by signing a petition to get a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot. SCCF’s Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis explains how the ballot initiative would allow citizens to sue state executive agencies for the harm caused to Florida’s waters.

"If passed, Floridians could make sure that our agencies are working to enforce the laws that we have tasked them with upholding," said DePaolis.  



Distressed Sea Turtle Rescued on Captiva

Last week, SCCF staff worked with partners from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and South Seas Resort to help transport a distressed loggerhead sea turtle from Captiva to Mote Marine Lab & Aquarium in Sarasota. Thanks to all for their quick response! 

Please report suspected strandings by calling our SEA TURTLE HOTLINE at 978-728-3663.

SCCF Attends International Sea Turtle Symposium

In March, SCCF sea turtle staff Kelly Sloan and Jack Brzoza joined former SCCF biologist Andrew Glinsky at the 41st International Sea Turtle Symposium in Cartagena, Colombia. The symposium brought together a global network of those involved in sea turtle protection, research, and advocacy. 

Sunset Cruise Connects Everglades & Water Quality

On March 23, the annual Everglades Update set sail with Captiva Cruises to discuss how the water quality around Sanibel and Captiva is dependent on Everglades restoration. SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis was joined by Steve Davis, Ph.D., from the Everglades Foundation in leading the conversation.  


“Stopping pollution from the lake will solve about 50 percent of our pollution issues, so it’s important that we continue to support Everglades restoration,” DePaolis explained.  


Meet the Natives: Ian Survivors

A happy surprise is now showing up all over the islands in the form of dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis). Naturally a beach plant, but commonly used in landscapes, the seeds of this low-growing groundcover likely spread across the island with Ian's storm surge. And though the living plants were mostly wiped out in Ian, it is a salt-tolerant pioneer species that grows quickly and is highly drought tolerant, allowing it to thrive in our current conditions.

Visit our Native Landscapes & Garden Center, 1300 Periwinkle Way, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday!

SCCF's Spring Magazine Arriving Soon

SCCF is excited to announce that the Spring 2023 issue of Connecting You to Nature will be arriving in mailboxes this week. This issue focuses on the tremendous need for our communities to be "Resilient and Vigilant" in these post-Ian times. And, how SCCF is leading the way.

It also provides updates on habitats and wildlife sightings, including species that have not yet been spotted since the hurricane.

Huge thanks to Bailey's General Store and Uhler & Vertich Financial Planners for returning as the co-sponsors of the spring issue of our bi-annual magazine. READ ONLINE

Sign Up for Earth Day Breakfast & Beach Clean Up

Please join SCCF Coastal Watch in honoring our planet this Earth Day on April 22 by cleaning up Sanibel's beaches. Volunteers can pick a section of beach to remove debris from 9-11 a.m. The cleanup will be preceded by a light breakfast provided by Bank of the Islands at the Bailey Homestead Preserve from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Also mark your calendars for a special event with Congress Jewelers from 3-5 p.m. at the Bell Tower in Fort Myers. Details coming soon!

We are using our new volunteer software for this event, POINT, and new users will need to make an account before signing up. Please email kmcneal@sccf.org with any registration issues. SIGN UP HERE


Join Us for Emerging from Hurricane Ian, Part 2

Join SCCF CEO James Evans & Coastal Resilience Manager Carrie Schuman at 6 p.m. on April 11 for a community discussion on rebuilding Sanibel and Captiva following Hurricane Ian. The hybrid event is organized by SanCap Citizens for a Resilient Future in partnership with the City of Sanibel. 


Coastal Watch Takes Part in Great American Cleanup

On April 1, Coastal Watch partnered with Keep Lee County Beautiful for the Great American Cleanup. Along with Coastal Watch Director Kealy McNeal, 15 eager volunteers helped remove many trash bags of debris from Tarpon Bay Beach. 

Read more volunteer news and opportunities in the April 2023 Watch Newsletter.  

Native Caterpillars Feasting on Strangler Figs

Sanibel residents are reporting damage to their strangler fig trees (Ficus aurea) due to predation from Edward’s wasp moth caterpillars (Lymire edwardsii), a native moth that seems to be booming. 

“We’re unsure why Edward’s wasp moth caterpillars are having such an impact, because we’ve never seen this happen before. It may be because they have less food to eat due to the storm,” said Adult Education Director Jenny Evans. “We advocate against chemical treatment or harming the moths, as they are native and play a role in our local ecosystem.”


More than 300 Attend CFI Get Inspired Volunteer Expo

SCCF was one of 15 nonprofits that participated in CFI's inaugural Get Inspired! SanCap Volunteer Expo. The expo at BIG ARTS attracted more than 300 people who were able to explore ways to help the community and environment. 


Love Plants? SCCF Hiring Garden Center Intern

  • Native Landscapes & Garden Center Intern, Seasonal



Thanks to Jeremy Pool for reporting this red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) in his neighborhood pond on Sanibel.

Please report your post-Ian wildlife sightings. SCCF is grateful for citizen science as we build an inventory of species that survived the hurricane.

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