Wednesday Update
February 10, 2021
Welcome to the bi-weekly Wednesday Update!

We'll email the next issue on Feb. 24.

By highlighting SCCF's mission to protect and care for Southwest Florida's coastal ecosystems, our updates connect you to nature.

Thanks to Rob Boas for this photo of a tri-colored heron (Egretta tricolor) taken on the Shipley Trail at the Bailey Homestead Preserve.


Please send your photos to to be featured in an upcoming issue.
Join us LIVE tonight at 7pm for SCCF's Candidate Forum on the Environment!

All six candidates up for election in the March 2 Sanibel City Council race will answer questions about the environment. SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera will moderate the panel, focusing on critical issues such as land use, water quality, sea-level rise, and stormwater management.

If you can't join us live, the forum will be recorded and available for viewing online.
Rae Ann Wessel Honored as Conservationist of the Year at 36th Annual Everglades Conference
By Leah Reidenbach, Research & Policy Associate 

Rae Ann Wessel, SCCF’s retired Natural Resource Policy Director, received the 2021 Conservationist of the Year Award during the 36th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference last week.

Wessel was on staff at SCCF from 2006 to 2020 and currently serves on the Lee County Conservation Lands Program Advisory Board.

“No one does this work alone,” she said. “We all know it takes partnerships, relationship building, and trust to make sure we can achieve goals that are for the common good, not just for individual benefits.”

SCCF is part of the Everglades Coalition, an alliance of more than 60 conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to Everglades restoration. Every year, members of the Coalition meet to discuss current issues, network with other members and conservation leaders, and provide information on the past, present, and future of Everglades restoration.
The 36th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference was held virtually Feb. 2 to Feb. 5 with the theme “Equitable Everglades.” SCCF’s Environmental Policy staff participated in discussions that elevated the issues of equity, particularly in terms of balancing the benefits and burdens of Everglades restoration, as well climate justice and community engagement. SCCF staff reviewed the history of the past 20 years of the largest ecosystem restoration project in the world, from its federal authorization in 2000 to today, and emphasized the need for funding to complete the projects.

A variety of topics were covered across 12 sessions, including lake management schedules, algal blooms, forgotten stories and current voices of frontline communities around the Everglades, climate change, and the media’s perspective on environmental reporting. Political leaders connected with the Coalition through prerecorded video messages by Congressmembers Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Marco Rubio, and Charlie Crist, a live speech by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, and a thoughtful panel discussion on climate justice led by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Wessel was recognized for her dedication and leadership within the Everglades Coalition, her ability to engage diverse perspectives, and for sharing her expert knowledge of the Caloosahatchee oxbows, history, and cultural heritage on her boat tours. She has championed the Everglades for decades and used her passion to educate the public and policymakers. Her advocacy and leadership continue to shed light on issues impacting the Caloosahatchee estuary.

“The hallmark of this Coalition serves as a model for what people can do when they decide to come together and work together through the issues,” Wessel said. “I add my voice to those who are excited about the progress and what is happening [with Everglades restoration].”

Former U.S. Representative Francis Rooney of Naples received the 2021 Public Service Award.
SCCF Opposes Proposed Oil Drilling in Bahamas
Foraging Grounds of Loggerheads a Concerning Factor
During the 2020 sea turtle nesting season, three loggerheads (Caretta caretta) were satellite tagged after successfully nesting on Sanibel in order to learn more about post-nesting movements, migratory pathways, and foraging grounds of loggerheads that nest on the Gulf Coast of Florida. One female, "Pepper," displayed interesting post-nesting movements.

After leaving Sanibel, as seen on her track pictured here, Pepper headed south to the Florida Keys, then swam east and made her way to the Bahamas. Shortly thereafter, Pepper once again headed south, ending up off Cuba's coast. After traveling approximately 1,400 kilometers (about 870 miles), her satellite tag stopped transmitting. Since then, it has transmitted intermittently—showing Pepper remains offshore of Cuba—with the last location data coming on Jan. 23, said SCCF Coastal Wildlife Biologist Jack Brzoza.

Collaborators at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida have seen similar movements in loggerheads satellite tagged on Keewaydin Island. “Research published by scientists at the University of Central Florida, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, and Southeast Fisheries Science Center National Marine Fisheries Service showed seven tracked turtles to have foraging grounds in the Bahamas,” Brzoza said. “They followed similar paths to the Bahamas as Pepper, although they did not show evidence of crossing the deep channel south of the Bahamas to forage near Cuba.”
In mid-December, the Bahamas Petroleum Company commenced exploratory oil drilling in Bahamian waters. The drilling is south of Andros Island, 150 miles from Florida’s east coast, and the company retains a lease on four million acres between the Bahamas and Cuban coast in the pink area in this illustration, which contains Pepper's foraging grounds.

“We are uncertain what this drilling means for Pepper, Keewaydin turtles migrating to the Bahamas, and other loggerheads foraging in this area,” Brzoza said. “We are hopeful that Pepper's tag will continue transmitting and reveal no displacement from this increased activity.”

Last month, the Everglades Coalition, an alliance of more than 60 environmental and conservation organizations, wrote a resolution, “Opposing Oil and Gas Exploration and Development in Bahamian Waters.” It notes that Bahamas Petroleum Company’s active exploratory well “is nearly the same distance that the Deepwater Horizon was from Florida’s panhandle.” The Coalition “opposes oil drilling operations and development in Bahamian waters due to the potential significant harm risked with an operation so near to Florida’s coast and the Gulf Stream current.” SCCF is a member organization of the Coalition and voted to endorse the resolution.

On Feb. 9, the Bahamas Petroleum Company said it found oil during six weeks of drilling, but not a commercial quantity of it. BPC planned to plug and abandon the well in the next few days and move its drillship, Stena IceMax, away from the site, according to an article in the Sun-Sentinel.

The project caused concern over the possibility that a spill could cause major problems for tourism, fishing, diving, coral reefs, wildlife, and the environment, particularly in South Florida and the Florida Keys.
Scientists Record Wildlife Impacts due to Red Tide

As the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists in Southwest Florida, SCCF staff will continue monitoring its potential impact on sea life.

In the past week, SCCF documented two dead sea turtles that had washed ashore: one Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) and one loggerhead (Caretta caretta). The loggerhead showed evidence of predation. There were no evident signs of injury on the Kemp’s ridley, which is a critically endangered species. 

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) reports admitting 20 new avian patients in the past week--12 died and CROW continues nurturing the remaining double-crested cormorants, royal terns, and one great egret. SCCF staff undertaking the statewide winter Shorebird Survey along the four-and-a-half-mile stretch between the Sanibel Lighthouse to Tarpon Bay encountered a few royal terns that were separated from their flock and appeared not to be flying well. They also observed accumulations of dead sea life, with the heaviest concentrations at the Lighthouse and between Sundial and Gulfside City Park, as pictured here. 

It is not known whether red tide played a role in the Kemp's ridley’s death or how it impacted the sick birds. SCCF Marine Laboratory Director Eric Milbrandt said that patches of blooms have been difficult to interpret on satellite imagery due to the dense fog and high winds, which resuspends sediments. “Along the beaches, the counts are low or absent. The patches tend to get driven deeper by downwelling when winds are more westerly from the fronts.” 
Red Tide Bloom Dissipates; Counts Down to Very Low
The most recent daily sampling map from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), pictured here, shows that the patchy bloom of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, is diminishing in Southwest Florida based on sampling conducted over the past eight days.

Over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background to medium concentrations in and offshore of Lee County (in 18 samples), background to low concentrations in and offshore of Collier County (in 11 samples), and background concentrations offshore of Monroe County (in one sample).

This week's daily samples collected by SCCF's Marine Lab and Sanibel Sea School at local beaches have ranged from medium concentrations (>1 million K. brevis cells/liter) to not present, with most at very low levels.

Click button below to learn more about red tide and how to track it.
RECON Weather Station Back Up and Running
By A.J. Martignette, Marine Laboratory Manager

The River, Estuary, and Coastal Observation Network (RECON) was established by SCCF in 2007 to enhance the monitoring of water quality in the Caloosahatchee River and the surrounding estuary. RECON currently consists of seven water-quality sites and one offshore wave buoy. In 2012, three RECON sites were upgraded and equipped with weather stations. These stations were funded through Lee County by a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District. 

They were the first local weather stations located directly on the water and were designed to give boaters accurate, near real-time, information on weather conditions. 

Most of the RECON stations are set up on U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) channel markers with permits issued by the USCG for them. The use of channel markers provides SCCF with several advantages, such as significant cost savings over installing new pilings, and ease of obtaining a permit. They do, however, have one big disadvantage: Because they are navigational aids, vessels are constantly maneuvering in close proximity to them. Incidental collisions between passing vessels have happened on several occasions. The majority of these collisions result in significant damage or destruction to the channel marker, although most of the time, the RECON sensors have survived. Unfortunately, this was not the case at the Gulf of Mexico site early last year.
On the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2020, the channel marker was struck by a boat. The steel piling was pushed over 15 to 20 degrees and the piling cap was dislodged and knocked into the water. The piling cap is the structure on the top of the piling that holds the channel marker day boards and navigation light. It is also where the RECON solar panel, power system, modem, and weather station are located. These components were all destroyed during the February incident.

The USCG attempted, without success, to right the piling in April. Weather and COVID-19 delays prevented them from returning until August, when they determined it needed to be replaced. The new piling cap has a different style. The other two RECON weather stations are attached to wooden pilings, allowing us to easily attach the components. The steel piling and piling cap required us to engineer a new way of attaching everything. Luckily, the USCG shared a detailed schematic of the new piling cap with extra holes for bolting parts into it.
Working from the schematic, a 3-D computer-aided design model of the piling and a custom structure that can be bolted to hold the weather station and topside RECON components was designed. In addition, a tree stand, like those used for hunting, was modified and attached to the piling ladder to serve as a work platform for the installation.

On Jan. 22, the new topside RECON structure and weather station components were attached to the piling. Installation took around four hours and went according to the plan. The modified tree stand, coupled with a climbing safety harness, made the otherwise-tricky installation relatively straightforward.

Near real-time weather data from the Gulf of Mexico RECON station is available again at The water quality component of this station will remain offline until the return of the sensors from the manufacturer for their yearly maintenance.
Doc Ford's Co-Sponsors First Issue of New SCCF Magazine

SCCF is proud to recognize Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille as a sponsoring partner for our new magazine launch.

“This new magazine is a great vehicle to give our members and neighbors a deep dive into the nature that surrounds us and the work SCCF does to protect it,” said SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera. “It’s just terrific that Doc Ford’s has joined us as a funding partner for the first issue.”

The magazine, Connecting You to Nature, will be published twice annually in the winter and spring.

The first issue will be mailed island-wide and to all SCCF members next week. It is intended to deepen readers’ understanding of how the land, water, and wildlife on and around Sanibel and Captiva depend on SCCF’s stewardship in partnership with the community. 

“Doc Ford’s has partnered with SCCF since the first year we opened our doors,” said Marty Harrity, proprietor of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille. “They have been the conservation stewards for our islands for more than 50 years, and this year we’re happy to help share their stories in the Connecting You to Nature magazine.”

The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company will be joining Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille as the funding co-sponsor for the inaugural issue.

If your company is interested in future underwriting opportunities, please contact SCCF Development Director Cheryl Giattini at 239-395-2768.
Why Did the Florida Chicken Turtle Cross the Road?

During the last 30 years, the Florida chicken turtle has been rare on Sanibel, with only four verified sightings between the 1980s and 2019. But that changed recently when Doug and Leah Beck (pictured here), who are major supporters of SCCF’s terrestrial and freshwater turtle research, alerted SCCF herpetologist Chris Lechowicz to a strange-looking turtle crossing the street near their home.

Lechowicz was excited to inform them it was in fact a pregnant female Florida chicken turtle. She was radiographed by CROW, which showed seven eggs, and was outfitted with a radio transmitter. “We can track her movements on the island and learn which habitat she chooses during both the dry and wet seasons,” Lechowicz said, adding that this is the western-most island location documented for this species.

Lechowicz, SCCF Director of Wildlife & Habitat Management, said the Florida chicken turtle (Deirochelys reticularia) is an ephemeral species of turtle that is only active at certain times of the year. They live around temporary water bodies and remain dormant in the dry season (aestivation) until the proper amount of water collects in wetlands during the wet season. However, they can become active during the dry season with irregular but consistent rainfall. Populations of these turtles are especially scarce on barrier islands because they need freshwater and feed mostly on crayfish, tadpoles, and fish.
They are often confused with freshwater sliders and cooters because they are part of the same taxonomic family—Emydidae—which is the largest turtle family in the United States.

Here is how you can identify them:
The Florida chicken turtle has an oblong shell shape, web-type patterns on the carapace, a very long neck like a softshell turtle, and a characteristic black bar on the bridge (running alongside both sides of the turtle’s body). No other U.S. species possesses this black-barred bridge. Here, a Florida chicken turtle hatchling swims in a shallow marsh on Sanibel. Notice the web-like pattern on the carapace (top of the shell).

They also have an odd nesting pattern and even stranger incubation cycle. Chicken turtle eggs have been shown to go through a diapause (a pause in egg development)—the eggs don’t develop continuously as they do in other native turtles. Instead, they wait for an environmental cue, such as a seasonal temperature change or increased rainfall indicating the beginning of the rainy season. This is a common trait in many South American species of turtles, especially along the Amazon River. The longest-recorded incubation time for this species is around 18 months, whereas the duration for most of our turtles is around 60 days.

Because of this species’ unusual lifecycle and rarity, it’s easy to understand why Lechowicz is especially pleased that the sharp-eyed Becks quickly reached out to him about their find.

To report any findings of unusual terrestrial turtles, email
Proposed 2021-2022 State Budget: Environmental Priorities  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget and its priorities will be the focal point of the legislative session that starts on March 2.

The proposed budget is $96.6 billion—a $4.3 billion increase over last year’s adopted budget of $92.3 billion. It includes $625 million for Everglades restoration and protection of Florida’s water resources, for the third year running, to meet the governor’s funding goal of $2.5 billion over four years.  

The budget also proposes $1 billion in funding over four years for the Resilient Florida Program. Funding will be made available to state and local governments to better prepare for the impacts of sea-level rise, intensified storm events, and localized flooding. The funding for this program will come from Florida’s Documentary Stamp Tax and will be provided as debt service to bond more than $1 billion in total program funding over four years. 

Other environmental budget priorities include a continuation of funds approved last year for water quality such as the clean-up, prevention, and mitigation of harmful algae blooms, funds for septic and wastewater improvements, and project acceleration to curtail nutrient pollution.

Florida Forever, the state’s premier land acquisition program, faces a devastating cut in the proposed budget at $50 million—half of what it received last year and just a fraction of its historical funding of $300 million per year. SCCF supports statutorily dedicated funding for the Florida Forever conservation and recreation lands program. Land conservation is critical for supporting Florida’s tourism and nature-based economy.

Please log on to the SCCF Legislative Tracker for more details and for full coverage of the bills that will impact our environment. 
Meet the Natives:
Wild Olive
Looking for a versatile, low-maintenance, hardy shrub? Look no further than the wild olive (Forestiera segregata). Also known as the Florida privet, it just might be the plant you’re looking for. This 10- to 15-foot shrub can be used as a buffer shrub or stand alone as a landscape accent. It tolerates full sun to partial shade and a range of soil conditions from dry to moist. Wild olive is quite attractive when in full bloom as it becomes covered with small greenish-yellow flowers that attract bees. The flowers are followed by small, dark fruits that resemble small olives (hence the name) which birds love.
SCCF's Native Landscapes & Garden Center at the Bailey Homestead is open Monday through Thursday, 10am to 3pm. We will also continue to offer contactless deliveries and curbside pickup. Simply place your order online by midnight on Tuesday for pickup or delivery that Wednesday.

Please email our Garden Center Assistant Sue Ramos at with any questions or requests.

SCCF members will get their discount by entering this promo code: SCCFMBR10 
2021 Everglades Update to Address Importance of EAA Reservoir

Please join SCCF and the Everglades Foundation on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 6pm to 8pm for a virtual panel discussion to explore the benefits of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.

The EAA Reservoir was one of the original Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects conditionally authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000.

A vital component of Everglades restoration, it is the only project that will provide the dual benefits of reducing damaging discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries and restoring freshwater flows to the Everglades and Florida Bay. The project will reduce the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries by more than 55 percent and almost double freshwater flows south to the central Everglades.

The EAA Reservoir Project has had a long history filled with uncertainty and mired in litigation, politics, and the state’s plan to acquire U.S. Sugar’s lands and assets. It wasn’t until 2018, when the coastal communities of the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries were devastated by harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide, that the State of Florida made the project a top priority.

On Jan. 10, 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-12, Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment. Among the governor’s top priorities for reducing the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the coastal estuaries was a plan to accelerate construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Everglades restoration, the project is finally moving forward. The South Florida Water Management District recently broke ground on the stormwater treatment area for the project and we are finally starting to see progress on construction. Meanwhile, some Florida lawmakers are raising concerns about funding for the EAA Reservoir citing budget shortfalls related to the COVID-19 pandemic to justify halting the project.

Join us to learn more about this critical Everglades restoration project and the benefits it will provide to the Everglades and coastal communities and how we can keep this project moving forward.

The program will be moderated by SCCF CEO Ryan Orgera, Ph.D., and the panel will include:

  • Steve Davis, Ph.D., Vice President of Communications and Engagement and Senior Ecologist, Everglades Foundation
  • Capt. Daniel Andrews, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Captains for Clean Water
  • Marisa Carrozzo, Everglades and Water Policy Manager, Conservancy of Southwest Florida
  • James Evans, Environmental Policy Director, SCCF
Join Green Readers for Book Discussion

The Green Readers, SCCF's nature-based book club, is pleased to announce that February's book selection is Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. As the book that partially inspired Sanibel Sea School's hands-on, nature-based curriculum, this month's selection can be enjoyed equally by young adults and the young-at-heart. All ages are welcome at this month's virtual discussion, scheduled for Thursday, March 4, at 5pm. (Regular participants: please note the time change!)

Carl Hiaasen is a well-known novelist or columnist for the Miami Herald. The New York Times notes that Hoot is “...about greedy developers, corrupt politicians, clueless cops, and middle-school screwballs of all persuasions. You don't have to be a young adult to enjoy it. Hoot is a story of good versus evil: how to save a species of owl endangered by the imminent construction of the 469th Mother Paula's All-American House of Pancakes."

Join the Green Readers group on Facebook at Green Readers Facebook Group.

Register in advance to join the Zoom book discussion on March 4 at 5pm. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Mangrove Restoration Brings Community Together
In January, Coastal Watch launched its newest initiative, Back to Our Roots, to teach the value of mangroves on the islands through community involvement. The Coastal Watch Advisory Committee chose mangroves to be the focal point of 2021 because these unique trees play a valuable role in the barrier island ecosystem in Southwest Florida.

“Mangroves protect our shorelines and homes from wind damage, erosion, and storm surge and mangrove-lined shorelines decrease wind speeds and reduce wave height,” said Eric Milbrandt, Ph.D., SCCF Marine Lab Director and Scientific Advisor for Coastal Watch. “This provides additional protection for barrier islands facing sea-level rise.”

The ultimate goal of the Back to Our Roots initiative is to restore mangroves in order to preserve our islands for generations to come. Around Sanibel and Captiva, mangrove populations are considered stable but there has been noticeable degradation from a lack of tidal flushing. Without mangroves, the natural shoreline becomes threatened with increasing erosion.
Without intervention, there will be continued mangrove loss that will lead to increased shoreline erosion. 

Not only are the shorelines at risk, but losing mangroves will also result in a loss of the many ecosystem services they provide. “Mangroves provide so many benefits and services including pollutant trapping, shoreline stabilization, storm protection, habitat for invertebrates and fish, and energy for our food webs,” said Milbrandt. 

Through the Back to Our Roots initiative, Coastal Watch and SCCF’s Marine Lab are partnering to restore mangroves by allowing people to “adopt” a mangrove propagule that will later be planted at one of three local restoration sites with a goal of 10 total acres of restored area. Additionally, a “living shoreline” is being researched for both sides of Woodring Road, along with a culvert or bridging project to help restore this vulnerable area. 

“Back to Our Roots is a way to connect people to nature by teaching them the importance of mangroves and allowing them to take part in a much broader conservation initiative,” said Conservation Initiative Coordinator Kealy McNeal. “Through education, we can teach people to value, understand, and ultimately care for our environment.”

Coastal Watch will be hosting one more virtual workshop on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 1pm.
Sanibel Sea School Offers After-School Beachcombing

Throughout January, Sanibel Sea School educators offered after-school beachcombing sessions from 3:30 to 5:30pm each Tuesday. These hands-on outings were designed for students to get outside and explore nature. The next after-school program will focus on surfing.

For the beachcombing classes, students used their powers of observation to compare and contrast shorelines on the bay and Gulf sides of the island. “On our way to the beach, we honed our observation skills by playing games to notice less conspicuous things in nature,” said Marine Science Educator Brianna Machuga. “Then, my students were able to notice subtle differences in the shorelines, such as larger shells on the Gulf side of the island.”

The after-school beachcombing sessions also incorporated ocean art. For one class, students embarked on a scavenger hunt to find items to adorn a mobile. “Through beachcombing, students not only made new discoveries, but learned how to identify their finds using a field guide and then got to express their creativity,” said Machuga. In another session, students used natural materials they found along the wrack line, such as shells, algae, and coconuts, to create ornate, ocean-themed sand sculptures. 

Through these sessions and activities, students became more aware of a variety of beach treasures that wash ashore and learned the biology behind them.

Sanibel Sea School’s next after-school offering is surfing. Students will learn to paddle a surfboard and maneuver turns, and even gain confidence to pop up on the surfboard.

Learn more about Sanibel Sea School’s after-school programs at
Register for Next 'Weeds & Seeds' Virtual Walk on Feb. 22
Weeds & Seeds walks have gone (mostly) virtual—please join SCCF for the next walk on Monday, Feb. 22 at 9am. This group of amateur botanists enjoys sharing their enthusiasm for native plants. A leader will be on location, highlighting plants from the field, while another will be showing identifying characteristics through high-resolution pictures in studio.

This hour-long, interactive program encourages conversations. 

Walks will occur on every other Monday at 9am through the end of March.

Pre-registration is required through Zoom, though you do not need a Zoom account (you will just need to enter your name and email address). If you are new to Zoom and would like a quick walkthrough of features or need to troubleshoot, join the meeting at 8:45am so we can do our best to assist.  

Register in advance for Weeds & Seeds on Monday, Feb. 22, 9am. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 
Final Evening at the Homestead: Florida Needs Fire!
Join us on Tuesday, March 9, for an engaging presentation on fire in Florida's ecosystems by Reed Noss, author of Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain.

Fire is an ancient ecological and evolutionary process in Florida, extending back tens of millions of years. Many plants, animals, and entire ecosystems are fire-dependent. The safest way to maintain the biodiversity of our fire-dependent ecosystems is to manage them in a way that mimics or simulates natural fire regimes. 

Noss is a writer, photographer, lecturer, and consultant in natural history, ecology, and conservation. He was formerly Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor of Biology at the University of Central Florida. He received a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Conservation Biology, Science Editor for Wild Earth magazine, and President of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His recent research topics include disturbance ecology; ecosystem conservation and restoration; road ecology; and vulnerability of species and ecosystems to climate change and sea-level rise. Noss has more than 340 publications, including eight books. He is currently working on a book on the endangered ecosystems of North America.

Register for the lecture, which will be presented virtually on Tuesday, Mar. 9, at 7pm. If you missed our previous Evenings at the Homestead, you can view them online on our SCCF YouTube Channel.
SWFL Climate Compass Series Features Free Virtual Lectures
Growing Climate Solutions is introducing a free, three-part, virtual speaker series to address the changing climate and its impact on the region. The SWFL Climate Compass Series will feature prominent national speakers discussing critical aspects of climate change, including politics, maritime activity, and real estate.

Registration is free. Each event takes place on a Wednesday at 4 pm. Here is the speaker lineup:

  • Feb. 24: A Conservative Approach to Solving Climate Change will be presented by former U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina) who is executive director of, a grassroots community advocating free-enterprise solutions to climate change.
  • March 24: The Nexus of Our Climate, Oceans, and Security: Challenges and Opportunities will be presented by Ret. Rear Admiral Jonathan White, an advisory board member for the Center for Climate and Security and president/CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
  • April 21: The Coastal Real Estate Reckoning is Already Happening will be presented by Wharton School of Business Professor Benjamin Keys, who also is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Growing Climate Solutions formed in 2019 as a partnership between the Community Foundation of Collier County, Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Conservancy of Southwest Florida. It has expanded to include community leaders from the business, health, civic, faith, and nonprofit sectors across the five-county region.

Ana Puszkin-Chevlin, Ph.D., regional director for Growing Climate Solutions, said the goals of Growing Climate Solutions and its speaker series are to “build climate awareness, protect natural assets, engage and empower community leaders, ensure a prosperous and healthy community, and increase the visibility of local climate action.”
SCCF Featured at Virtual Sanibel Shell Show in March
SCCF is proud to be featured in the upcoming 2021 Virtual Sanibel Shell Show.

In one video, SCCF Marine Lab Director Eric Milbrandt, Ph.D., and Policy & Research Associate Leah Reidenbach discuss the oyster restoration project, which was partially funded by a grant from the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club.
Another video features Shannon Stainken, Education Program Manager at the Sanibel Sea School. With the signature enthusiasm and depth of knowledge the hands-on marine science school is known for, she describes sand dollars in detail. 

The Virtual Shell Show will air for FREE on the Shell Club's YouTube channel on March 5-6, from noon to 3pm each day. For more information visit the Shell Club's website.
“Natives in the Garden” Exhibit Features Outdoor Art

More than a dozen locally created 3D works are on display for the joint SCCF and Sanibel-Captiva Art League “Natives in the Garden” outdoor exhibit at the Bailey Homestead Preserve.

The exhibit is open now through March 12, Monday-Thursday, 10am to 3pm.

The original works of weather-resilient, outdoor art featured in “Natives in the Garden” were created by members of the Sanibel-Captiva Art League and SCCF, and 20 percent of the proceeds of works sold will support SCCF’s mission. Pictured here is a piece submitted by Kay Sadighi.

On Wednesday evening, Feb. 10, SCCF will livestream a City Council Candidate Forum on the Environment as CEO Ryan Orgera moderates a live, socially-distanced panel featuring all candidates up for election. Click here to watch.
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