Ahead of the Tide and Partners in the News

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Sallie O’Hara: Vilano Beach gearing up for sea turtle nesting season

By Sallie O’Hara

“Sea Turtles Dig the Dark!” — that’s the message found on the bumpers of the turtle patrol roving vehicles parked in the North Shores Improvement Association garage bays.

The old firehouse facility on First Street and Meadow Avenue is also the satellite home to the St. Johns County Sheriff deputies who patrol the area. Scott Eastman, director of Eastman Environmental, oversees volunteers monitoring the turtle population’s well-being between April and October every year.

Eastman Environmental was founded in 2010 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and conserving coastal and marine habitats through research, education and community involvement initiatives. The group works with international programs to monitor environmental concerns. Its focus in St. Johns County is protecting sea turtles in Mickler’s Beach, Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Reserve, Guana River South, Vilano Beach and Crescent Beach. The group recently cleaned up the station and organized the stakes and prepped the vehicles — all ready for action.

In 2015, there were 73 recorded turtle nests in Vilano Beach, according to seaturtle.org. This was the most in the area since data collection began in 2009. About 95 percent of these nests survived, producing thousands of baby turtles ready to embark on their ocean adventures. In addition to sea turtle nesting beach surveys, the group also does sea turtle stranding and salvage, marine debris removal, and sea turtle in-water assessments.

Like Scott’s group, there are now more than 1 billion people every year raising awareness of environmental consciousness. All issues are highlighted during Earth Day on Friday, now in its 46th year. This observance, spearheaded by environmental activists back in 1970, unveils hazards of climate change, plastic pollution, deforestation, oil spills, raw sewage, toxic dumps and the impact of human populations depleting habitats for wildlife.

Scott recently shared a new project, titled “Ahead of the Tide,” a 10-part video series which highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local Floridians. Rising seas threaten sea turtle populations. This project was supported by organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation, the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Oceana, Florida Wildlife Federation, the Florida Climate Institute, The Sea to Shore Alliance, and several others. Go to aheadofthetide.org to learn more. In some of the footage, many will recognize much of the beach and aerial footage in South Ponte Vedra and Vilano Beach. Melanie Cavanaugh (from South Ponte Vedra Turtle Patrol) and Scott make a brief cameo in Chapter 6.

Public attitudes about the environment in the early days changed with the 1962 publication of “Silent Spring,” by Rachel Carsen. This best-selling book raised awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health in America and in 24 countries. The founder of the movement, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, envisioned public awareness leading to public action.

Consequently, leading to the 50th year celebration in 2020, Earth Day activists have set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees worldwide. Plant a tree and prevent them from being removed. For our future health and well-being of our environment, take simple actions to protect and appreciate Earth’s resources.

Contact Sallie O’Hara at tarahill@bellsouth.net.

Dates to remember

■ April 20: Vilano Main Street Meeting, 4 p.m., Hampton Inn (95 Vilano Road)

■ April 26: May Street Intersection public meeting, 4:30 p.m., Holiday Inn (Ponce de Leon Boulevard)

■ April 29-30: Fishing for Dreams Tournament, St. Augustine Boating Club, 904-669-2922

Source: Sallie O’Hara: Vilano Beach gearing up for sea turtle nesting season

Ahead of the Tide Played at Sea-Level Rise Panel Discussion Hosted by University of Miami Green U

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Green U kicks off UM’s Earth Week with a panel discussion on the financial, legal and policy implications of sea-level rise in South Florida.





Dozens of students, faculty, local government officials, and community members gathered on campus Monday to hear panelists discuss the legal, financial, and policy issues regarding sea-level rise in South Florida.

The discussion, entitled Sea-Level Rise and its Impacts on Coastal Policy in Southeast Florida and hosted by the University of Miami’s Office of Sustainability, Green U, kicked off the University’s Earth Week events.

Among many effects of climate change, sea-level rise in South Florida is already threatening local residents and businesses. With an estimated rise in sea levels along the South Florida coast ranging from three to six feet by the end of the century, how will communities be affected financially, legally, agriculturally, socially and in terms of health and wellbeing?

The panel discussion helped address these issues and more.

A topic that received considerable attention was how local governments may be held legally and financially responsible for failing to do enough to protect its citizens from the impacts of sea-level rise.

“Local governments may wind up having to pay millions to its constituents for failure to upgrade or maintain infrastructure, which increases vulnerabilities to sea-level rise,” said Thomas Ruppert, an attorney and a coastal planning specialist at the Florida Sea Grant Program.

Ruppert advocated for local governments thinking in all timescales, short- mid- and long-term, in preparing for sea-level rise consequences.

At the same time, however, “individuals have to be responsible, too, and local government can’t be held accountable as the ultimate purveyor of solutions,” noted Jim Murley, recently-appointedMiami-Dade County’s chief resilience officer.

“No one was forced to live in Miami and no one will be forced to leave. We have freedom of choice. Urban economics is a powerful thing. Probably more powerful than any policy we can implement,” said Murley.

Mitchell A. Chester, a civil trial lawyer and an editor for several online publications on the impacts of sea-level rise, is adamant about protecting the most vulnerable and less affluent communities in South Florida through financial, legal, housing, and social adaptation strategies. Those populations, he said, will be the first and worst hit by sea-level rise impacts and other climate change effects.

“If we continue to ignore this, ultimately this becomes a crime against humanity. Our kids will be climate refugees,” said Chester.

While local and state governments should do what they can to adapt to climate change and sea-level rise and protect natural ecosystems, Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said that “ultimately the fate of the Everglades and similar natural places is up to the federal government and working with other countries to lower carbon dioxide emissions.”

Mitigation at the global level should be combined with adaptation at a more local level, he said.

The discussion was moderated by Teddy Lhoutellier, Green U’s sustainability manager.

Please take a minute to review the University’s Climate Change Special Report athttp://climate.miami.edu.

Source: Green U Hosts Sea-Level Rise Panel Discussion


Partner Spotlight – Sea Turtle Conservancy

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The Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, is the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group. An international nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization, Sea Turtle Conservancy was founded in 1959 by world-renowned sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr to save sea turtles from eminent extinction through rigorous science-based conservation. Headquartered in Florida, the organization carries out worldwide programs to conserve and recover sea turtle populations through research, education, advocacy and protection of the natural habitats upon which depend upon. Over the course of 55 years, Sea Turtle Conservancy’s research programs have yielded much of what is now known about sea turtles and the threats they face, and the organization is applying this knowledge to carry out the world’s most successful sea turtle protection and recovery programs.

STC has chosen sea turtles as the focus of its conservation efforts in part because these ancient creatures are among the most important indicators of the health of the world’s marine and coastal ecosystems. STC believes that whether sea turtles ultimately vanish from the planet or whether they remain a wild and thriving part of the natural world, will speak volumes about both the general health of the planet and the ability of humans to sustainably coexist with the diversity of life on Earth.

Some of STC’s current projects include: retrofitting the Florida panhandle with sea turtle-friendly lighting; tagging and monitoring turtles in Costa Rica and Panama; advocating for laws and policies that address sea level rise and educating the general public; satellite tracking sea turtles; administering the sea turtle grants program and much more! Learn more at www.conserveturtles.org

Partner Spotlight – Oceana

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Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Our offices around the world work together to win strategic, directed campaigns that achieve measurable outcomes that will help make our oceans more bio diverse and abundant.

The U.S. Department of the Interior is considering opening a large swath of the Atlantic to offshore oil and gas exploration  and offshore drilling. Oceana has worked for the past 3 years to prevent the dangerous use of seismic airguns used to search for oil and gas off our Atlantic coast, and the drilling it could lead to. Seismic airguns are so loud that they can disturb, injure and even  kill marine life.

Since Oceana began working to stop this threat to marine life, 109 East Coast municipalities, 101 Members of Congress, more than 700 state and local elected officials, and roughly 1,100 business interests have all publically opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic blasting, citing threats to marine life, coastal communities and local economies. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation.

Seismic airgun blasting, the process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is also being considered for an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida. President Obama needs to hear from the people who will be most affected by seismic blasting and offshore drilling — and that’s where you come in. We have some great momentum, but we’re only going to #StopTheDrill if more of us take up the call, and urge your elected officials to #ProtectOurCoast.  You can help your city pass a resolution opposing this threat. Learn more here: http://usa.oceana.org/seismic-airgun-testing/pass-resolution-your-town-or-city-step-step-guide

Partner Spotlight – Florida Wildlife Federation

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The Florida Wildlife Federation is a private, statewide, non-profit citizens’ conservation education organization composed of thousands of concerned Floridians and other citizens from all walks of life who have a common interest in preserving, managing, and improving Florida’s fish, wildlife, soil, water, and plant life. As the State Affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, FWF has been improving Florida’s wildlife since 1936. The “Goal” of the Federation is to be the leader in promoting, through education and political action, the conservation, restoration, sound management, and wise and ethical use of Florida’s natural resources, to the end that present and future Floridians may live, work and pursue traditional outdoor activities in an outstanding natural environment.

Florida Wildlife Federation Coastal Policy to Protect our Beaches and Shores:

In 2015, as part of our ongoing effort to preserve our coasts, FWF assisted with the development of a film entitled “Battle for the Barriers: Nature Always Wins.”  Compounded by sea level rise and stronger, more frequent storms, lives and infrastructure in coastal communities are increasingly at risk for flooding and wind-driven destruction from super storms and hurricanes.  The film explores adaptation strategies and projects in coastal states along the U. S. Eastern seaboard, designed to safeguard people, wildlife and properties in storm-prone areas.  There are appearances in the film by former Congressman Tom Evans, Jr. (an FWF volunteer Board Member), Manley Fuller, FWF President, and Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation President. FWF has also worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy in educating Floridians about the serious nature of sea level rise, coastal development and impacts to fish and wildlife.

FWF is a strong supporter of the Coastal Barriers Resources Act (CBRA) which provides protection to barrier islands and sensitive coastlines.  FWF is supporting appropriate sea level rise adaptation policies for Florida, a state that is already experiencing the effects of sea level rise, particularly in South Florida.  To view a clip of the film, produced by Sharon Baker and Teleduction, Inc., please visit http://www.fwfonline.org/The-Issues/Coastal-Barrier-Resources-Act.aspx or view below. FWF is also a founding member and active participant of Smarter Safer, a coalition of conservation and business interests committed to coastal policies and legislation that promote public safety, save taxpayer dollars and which protect coastal fish and wildlife habitat. Acquisition of properties subject to flooding can also lead to shoreline wildlife habitat and improved public recreational access to our waters and shorelines.

Partner Spotlight – The Sink or Swim Project

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Delaney (right) with actor/musician Jack Black (left), who interviewed her as part of a new show that will focus on South Florida’s sea level challenges.

The Sink or Swim Project is designed to educate, inform and engage people on climate change and especially the risks from sea level rise that South Florida and our planet face. The Sink or Swim Project was founded by Delaney Reynolds, a fourth generation Miami, Florida resident that splits her time between that vibrant city of a few million people and a 1,000 acre island in the Florida Keys named No Name Key that’s best known for having just 43 solar powered homes, along with a few hundred of the diminutive Key Deer.
The Sink or Swim Project’s core educational work involves classroom presentations to school age children and young adults, as well as college students and adults. We use real science in informative and creative ways to illustrate exactly what has happened to our warming planet, what is about to happen in our lifetime (and beyond), in addition to discussing possible solutions. Power point presentations, videos and hands on tools and props are utilized to engage participants in hopes that they will become involved.
In addition to our educational efforts, social activism is a growing part of The Sink or Swim Project’s work. This includes periodically sharing our thoughts on a variety of issues ranging from science to politics via our blog and social media (Facebook , Twitter and Instagram), as well as public speaking on political topics of concern.  
Late 2015 and early 2016 has been a very busy time for The Sink or Swim Project. Some examples of its recent work would include the following:
In addition to being featured in the Ahead of the Tide series, our founder, Delaney Reynolds, has also been filmed for inclusion in the Emmy award winning Years of Living Dangerously series that will appear later this year on The National Geographic Channel. In December, Delaney spent the day with The Year’s Miami Correspondent, actor/musician Jack Black, who interviewed her as part of the show that will focus on South Florida’s sea level challenges.
Just before Christmas, The Sink or Swim Project went global by making its presentation via Skype from Miami one night to a girls’ school, Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior, India, the next morning. The Indian girls, while half a world apart, had the same concerns and passions that Delaney does here in Miami and were inspired by her to become involved in their community to seek solutions for the future. To read more about The Sink or Swim Project’s India presentation click here: http://miamisearise.com/2015/12/28/from-india-with-love/
One of The Sink or Swim Project’s recent classroom sessions took place on January 30th for the Breakthrough Miami program and a group of 80 students. More on this event and the excellent interaction the children had that day can be found at http://miamisearise.com/2016/02/12/february-is-for-much-more-than-flowers-candy/.
On February 26th Delaney gave a TED Talk in Miami about The Sink or Swim Project and the need for voters to demand more from our political leaders. The Talk will be posted on YouTube, as well as www.miamisearise.com in about a month.
On February 27th, Delaney proudly lectured at the University of Miami as part of their annual Empowering Effective Climate Communications, a gathering of the region’s top climate scientists and policy makers. In addition to speaking about The Sink or Swim Project’s educational and activism efforts, she was also pleased to share the Ahead of the Tide trailer and invite everyone to become involved with this important initiative.
And to end the month with a ‘bang’ The Sink or Swim Project was proud to learn that Delaney Reynolds was selected to serve on Phillipe Cousteau’s newly created International Youth Leadership Board/Council.  To learn more about Earth Echo’s amazing work, as well as the Council, please visit here: http://earthecho.org/news/earthecho-youth-leadership-council.  
2016 holds the promise of what we hope will be much more productive work including activism in the 2016 Presidential Election, adding a section to our website on Solar Power in hopes of changing ‘The Sunshine State’ into “The Solar State’ and continuing our classroom educational efforts in hope of engaging as many young people as possible to become involved and part of the solution with the hope that we can cool our planet and change our behaviors to protect it.