Sunday, February 23, 2020

Breaking Island News

USA: Three State-Owned Florida Islands Earmarked for Further Nature Protection Status

Proposals are in place to protect Florida’s Dot-Dash-Dit Islands – an island group home to Tampa Bay’s only coastal colony of wood storks. A public comment session is planned for later this month.

  • Florida’s Dot-Dash-Dit Islands – a group of three mangrove islands in Manatee County, Tampa Bay – have been earmarked to be protected as a critical wildlife area (CWA)
  • The proposed CWA status is aimed at protecting the island’s colony of wood storks – currently the only coastal colony in the whole of Tampa Bay
  • Pending authorization from the Department of Environmental Protection, a decision about the island’s status is expected at a public comment session later this month
Dot Dash Dit Islands - Photo Courtesy of Bradenton.com

Dot Dash Dit Islands – Photo Courtesy of Bradenton.com

 

Manatee County’s First Ever Critical Wildlife Area?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has earmarked a group of three mangrove islands – Manatee County’s Dot-Dash-Dit Islands – for nature protection status, submitting a proposal to the Department of Environmental Protection to list them as a so-called Critical Wildlife Area (CWA). If the application is successful, the islands will form Manatee County’s first ever CWA.

 

 

The Dot-Dash-Dit Islands

Located in the Braden River and visible from State Road 64, the three mangrove islands form home to a thriving community of avian species, including the egrets, roseate spoonbills, anhingas and the only coastal colony of wood storks in the whole of Florida’s Tampa Bay.

Need for Further Protection

The islands are already owned by the state and have enjoyed a successful management scheme at the hands of the Florida Audubon Society, whose watchful eye has seen the island’s rare wood stork community soar to approximately 120 breeding pairs.

Despite the success of the island’s management scheme, both the State and the Audubon Society felt the need further island’s avian community, with human disturbance – posing a considerable threat to bird populations – particularly during nesting season.

If an adult bird is disturbed during this time, there is a high probability that it will fly away from its nest – leaving its eggs or vulnerable young exposed to predators and the elements.

Positive Feedback for Prevention Proposal

Keen to strike a balance between nature protection and public inclusion (the birding industry does, after all, number in the billions of dollars) – the Audubon Society has ruled out closing the island to the general public, preferring to introduce a buffer zone intended at keeping enthusiastic ornithologists at a safe distance from their avian interests.

“We certainly don’t want to discourage people,” said Manatee County Audubon Society secretary Jim Stephenson, “but it’s important that they not get too close.” For that reason, the Society is shunning a physical buffer in favour of using signs to create a spatial buffer. Anyone who encroaches beyond this spatial barrier could receive a ticket from the sheriff’s office.

A final decision will be made by the Department of Environmental Protection after this month’s public workshop – due to be held on July 21 from 18:30 – 20:30 at the Manatee County Library. Stay tuned to Private Island News for further information.

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