Jan. 11, 2023

Gretchen C. Valade Leaves Astounding Conservation Legacy

While her hometown of Detroit mourns the passing of Gretchen C. Valade last month as the city’s “Angel of Jazz” for her leadership philanthropy, the SCCF Family remembers her fondly as an astounding angel of conservation as well. A seasonal island resident since 1980, Valade died at the age of 97 on Dec. 30, 2022, surrounded by family at her Grosse Pointe Farms home.

“She enabled so many musicians and conservation professionals to realize their dreams, driven by their own passions and her support,” said Erick Lindblad, SCCF CEO from 1986 to 2018. “Sanibel-Captiva and the communities of Detroit are better places because of Gretchen. She was an amazing and inspirational person.”


Sea Turtle Team Responds to 34 Strandings Last Year

SCCF holds the permit for responding to sick, injured, or dead sea turtles on Sanibel and Captiva — including transporting turtles long distances along the beach. The sea turtle team responded to 34 of these cases in 2022 with the help of new equipment purchased with a grant from the Sea Turtle Grants Program, which is funded by proceeds from Florida Sea Turtle Specialty License Plate sales. 

“These items were a huge help during our 2022 stranding response efforts, allowing SCCF staff to move deceased strandings in a manner that is safer for both personnel and the animal,” said SCCF Sea Turtle Biologist Jack Brzoza. 


Sanderling From Peru Sighted on Sanibel

The SCCF shorebird team recently confirmed a sanderling (Calidris alba) they spotted on Sanibel late last summer was originally banded in Peru. Each year, sanderlings make an impressive migratory journey from arctic Canada to South America, flying anywhere from 1,800 to over 6,000 miles. This finding will help inform researchers at the Paracas Shorebird Project about the specific migratory pathways of their banded birds. 


Long, Dry Winter to Stress Wildlife in Post-Ian Habitats

Hurricane Ian, which caused record-breaking damage to personal property and infrastructure on Sanibel, occurred at a time when the summer rains were dying down leading into the dry season. 

“This has placed increased stress on most wildlife species on the island due to the inundation of salt water into the freshwater areas,” said SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz. “With substantial relief of frequent rains being approximately a half year away, many species will have it harder than others.”

To help wildlife survive the long, dry winter, Lechowicz recommends that residents place small freshwater basins such as low tubs or water bowls in their yards to give passerby species a source of freshwater. 


Governor Signs Ambitious Water Quality Order

Yesterday, Gov. DeSantis signed the sweeping Executive Order 23-06 in support of improving water quality within Florida. The order directs the state to spend $3.5 billion over the next four years on Everglades restoration and water quality improvements.  

“The order is an ambitious ask from the governor and seeks to improve our water quality around the state and our resiliency into the future,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis. “As more funding is directed toward Everglades restoration we expect to see less damaging discharges to the Caloosahatchee and improved water quality.”  


Sanibel Sea School Hosts Camps over Holidays

Nearly 130 children enjoyed winter camps with Sanibel Sea School from Dec. 28-Jan. 6, despite the camps looking a little different than normal years. Instead of taking place at the Sea School’s flagship campus, which is still under construction, campers took a full-day charter with Captiva Cruises to North Captiva, explored marine biology at IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers, and more. These camps would not have been possible without the support of our community and generosity of Captiva Cruises and IMAG. 



Meet the Natives:

Ian Survivors

Among the most resilient native plants following Hurricane Ian is the brilliant Jamaica Caper (Quadrella jamaicensis), a shrub that survived and thrived in many areas after the storm. 

“This coastal shrub can be used in many ways — in buffers, as a hedge, as an accent, or as a specimen shrub,” said Native Landscapes & Garden Center Manager Becca Grotrian. “The Jamaica Caper’s shiny green leaves with a bronze underside make it an attractive shrub year-round.”

Jamaica Caper blooms in the spring and summer, and its pollinator-friendly flowers bloom in white before turning to a lovely pink or magenta. The flowers are followed by brown seed pods that, when ripe, open to reveal red seeds that birds enjoy eating. The Jamaica Caper gets 15- to 20-feet tall, likes full sun to partial shade, and dry to moist soils.


Check out our Post-Hurricane Ian Replanting Guide to learn about more storm-resilient native species!

Volunteers Needed for Conservation Cleanup Crew

SCCF Coastal Watch is looking for volunteers to join the Conservation Cleanup Crew, which will be focused on removing non-natural debris from SCCF conservation land. Preserves open to the public and/or that have significant trash visible from the road will be top priority.  

Cleanups will be scheduled every Thursday and Friday morning for the foreseeable future.   


Sanibel Beach Cleanup Efforts Continue

Last month, SCCF Coastal Watch partnered with the City of Sanibel to host a series of beach cleanups along the entire length of the island’s Gulf-side beaches. Over 130 volunteers participated in four cleanup days in December, removing impressive amounts of both trash and dead fish from Lighthouse Beach Park to the Tarpon Bay Road Access. Their efforts totaled over 275 volunteer hours! Beach cleanup events are continuing this week, and more will be announced soon.  


Adopt to Become a Mangrove Mama or a Propagule Papa!

SCCF Coastal Watch’s Adopt-A-Mangrove program invites local community members to “adopt” mangroves to nurture at their homes. The adopted plants will eventually be returned to SCCF and planted at one of SCCF’s many shoreline restoration sites this year. Seedlings will be available for adoption between 12-2 p.m. on Jan. 24-26 during the re-opening of our Native Landscapes & Garden Center, located at 1300 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL.  



Save the Date! Paul McCarthy Memorial Lecture on Feb. 6

The 5th Annual Paul McCarthy Memorial Lecture will feature Emmy-winning TV host, conservationist, and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott. With three decades of adventurous storytelling, Corwin currently is the creator, executive producer, and host of ABC’s groundbreaking television series “Wildlife Nation,” which explores the remarkable story of North American conservation, highlighting heroes working to save endangered species and wilderness. The Paul McCarthy Memorial Lecture Series was conceived by the Boler Family Foundation, which underwrites the series to honor their dear family friend. An email with a link to purchase tickets for in-person and virtual options will be coming your way soon!

Join SCCF for 'Cold Chocolate' at Point Ybel Brewery

Meet us at Point Ybel Brewing Company in Fort Myers on Sunday, Jan. 29! Our free event will take place from 4-6 p.m. and will feature live music from the Boston-based duo ‘Cold Chocolate.’ Point Ybel Brewing Company is located at 16120 San Carlos Blvd, Fort Myers, FL, 33908. The event is free, and a food truck will be on site. Children and accompanied minors are welcome. We hope to see you there! 


Schuman to Facilitate Discussion at Climate Summit

On Jan. 17, the all-day Southwest Florida Climate and Community Summit will take place in Naples, FL. SCCF Coastal Resilience Manager Carrie Schuman, Ph.D., will be participating in the summit as a facilitator during the tabletop discussion session. Schuman and her co-facilitator, Rookery Bay Reserve Coastal Training Program Specialist Marissa Figueroa, will lead an engaging group conversation about "improving the resilience of our coastal interface." 


Solar Co-Op Launching for Sanibel, Captiva Residents

The Sanibel Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group is teaming up with the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) to launch a local solar co-op. The co-op will be officially announced next week at the Community and Climate Summit. The co-op will be available in Lee and Collier Counties. 

Sign up for an in-person Solar 101 info session on Jan. 17, or a virtual webinar on Jan. 30. There is no fee to register for the co-op or the sessions.


DePaolis Featured Speaker at Public Forum on Water Quality Challenges

The Estero Council of Community Leaders is holding a town-hall-style Public Forum on Greater Estero Water Quality and Environment Actions and Solutions on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m.

The forum features four local experts, including SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis.

"As we look to rebuild our community and environment after Hurricane Ian, we must understand the unique challenges we face in Southwest Florida," said DePaolis. "This forum will help explain the impacts of our changing climate on multiple aspects of our human and natural environments and hopefully start a conversation that will lead to novel and effective solutions."


We’re Hiring!

  • Marine Laboratory Research Assistant: Full-time
  • Sanibel Sea School Summer Camp Counselor: Seasonal
  • Sanibel Sea School Summer Camp Photographer: Seasonal


Thanks to Beth Baker for sending this shot of a marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris) taken at Periwinkle Park.

Please click here to report your post-Ian wildlife sightings.

Click here to subscribe to Connecting You to SCCF and other SCCF mailing lists.
Stay Connected!
Facebook  Instagram  Youtube