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World Oceans Day Event Friday, June 7, 2019

PKA, along with the Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Florida State Park personnel, and the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce are sponsoring a World Oceans Day Event at the West Use Area of the Perdido Key State Park for Friday, June 7, 2018, from 10 AM until 2 PM. Numerous ocean-related exhibits and presentations, including the Discovery Depot touch tank, will be on display along with sand sculpture by a local artist and sand sculpture contest for children. There will be no charge for Park admission, so please plan to support this environmentally focused PKA event.

Join PKA on PayPal!

You can now join the Perdido Key Association and renew PKA memberships online. PKA has established a PayPal payment capability through this website near the bottom of each page. You do not need to be a PayPal member because PayPal also accepts credit cards. Online payment will be $31, i.e., the $30 dues plus $1 service fee; payment by check and US Mail of $30 remains available


Rosamond Johnson Beach Day May 4

Please plan to attend Rosamond Johnson Beach Day on Saturday, May 4, 2019 for a ceremony honoring US Army Private Johnson. He lost his life at age 17 while saving others in the early days of the Korean War. The Perdido Key portion of Gulf Islands National Seashore is named Rosamond Johnson Beach. With disappointment expressed by Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill and others with the decision to retain park entry fees for the event, the National Park Service recently decided to waive the fees on May 4 for Johnson Beach as well as Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas, Opal Beach, and Okaloosa Beach. For more on the issue, see the April 6, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Rosamond Johnson Beach Entry fee upsets organizers of annual memorial to Korean War hero“ by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.

Pensacola: the “Strongest Town!”

After several weeks of competition mimicking the NCAA basketball tournament, Pensacola emerged victorious among 16 communities by defeating Portsmouth NH in the final round of the 2019 Strong Town Contest. The Strong Towns nonprofit organization encourages development “that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient.” According to Strong Towns: “The city [Pensacola] is growing in population, it is dramatically expanding its local economy and tax base, and it’s doing it largely by focusing on the city’s heart and soul: its historic downtown, which was first built in the 18th century.” For more on the contest, see the April 12, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola wins 2019 Strong Town Contest; crowned world’s ‘Strongest Town" by Kevin Robinson at pnj.com.

Gypsy Spark with Jon Cook at Big Lagoon April 27

Big Lagoon State Park sponsors periodic musical events on park grounds. On Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 4-6 PM, regional musical group Gypsy Spark with Jon Cook will perform at the park amphitheater. The concert is sponsored by Friends of Pensacola State Parks and Visit Pensacola. The concert is free with paid park admission.

Lionfish Festival in Destin

The Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day that was held in the Pensacola area the last few years will be in Destin for 2019. It will be from 10 AM until 5 PM on May 18 and 19 at AJ’s on the HarborWalk Village. The event will provide information about lionfish, activities for children, lionfish tasting, live music and feature the results of the lionfish spearfishing tournament. More on the festival is available at its Facebook page.

Osprey on the Key

Springtime features nesting birds on the Gulf Coast and Perdido Key’s osprey community is no exception. These two young ospreys were spotted in a high nest not far from Perdido Key Drive.

Fewer Hurricanes in 2019?

Experts predict a “slightly below-average Atlantic hurricane season” for 2019, expecting 13 tropical storms with five becoming hurricanes. A weak El Nino and slightly cooler Atlantic Ocean surface water may influence this year’s tropical storm formation and strength. Hurricane season is from June 1 until November 30. For more on the issue, see the April 4, 2019 USA Today article “Hurricane Season is Approaching. This is the first forecast for 2019” by Doyle Rice at usatoday.com.

Surf Style Store

The new building taking shape across from the Eden Condominium on Perdido Key Drive will be a Surf Style beach store, perhaps similar to one located in Orange Beach.

Naval Outlying Landing Field 8 Ceremony

On April 1, 2019, Escambia County officials and others celebrated the transfer of Naval Outlying Field Site 8 from Federal to County ownership. The formal transfer took place on January 29, 2019 after several years of effort, opening it for development as part of the growing Beulah community anchored by the Navy Federal Credit Union campus. It seems likely that a master plan partially financed by Navy Federal will be developed to help guide use of the property. For more on this issue, see the January 30, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Escambia County takes control of OLF 8, land that may be worth up to $32 million” by Kevin Robinson at pnj.com.

Florida Struggles with Home Rentals

Among the controversial issues affecting Florida property owners is regulation of vacation rental homes. Homes that are rented short term to tourists can cause conflict with full-time residents because of noise and parking issues. How home rentals are regulated and by what level of government, e.g., state or local, has been contentious. For more on this issue, see the January 17, 2019 Florida Watchdog article “Florida bill would move regulation of rental homes from local governments to state” by Kyle Gibson at watchdog.org.


Volunteers and Citizen Science

A recent publication provided state by state comparison of the percentage of adults 65 and older who reported volunteering in the past year. Nevada had the lowest percentage at 16.8%, with Florida fourth lowest at 18.7%. Most states had percentages in the 20s, though the upper Midwest states were in the 30s. Utah had by far the highest percentage of volunteers with 45.9%. The article is available in the April 2019 AARP Bulletin

 There are several opportunities on or near Perdido Key for volunteers of all ages, including citizen science projects such as shoreline profile and seagrass monitoring and organized beach and roadside cleanups.

More on Offshore Drilling

Representatives of the American Petroleum Institute visited Pensacola in early April to support “environmentally responsible access to our offshore energy resources.” On April 4, former US Senator James Webb spoke at a Pensacola Bay Center luncheon and noted, among other arguments in favor of offshore energy production cited in the Pensacola News Journal article, that it would “free the U.S. from potential harmful entanglements with foreign power, and [provide] American citizens with jobs and opportunity.” For access to the April 5, 2019 “ Explore Offshore visits Pensacola to build support for offshore oil industry” article by Kevin Robinson, go to pnj.com.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis “downplayed” concerns that offshore drilling along Florida’s coast are increasingly possible in The News Service of Florida April 16, 2019 article “DeSantis downplays chances of offshore drilling” by Jim Turner at tallahasseereports.com. In January 2019, Florida’s US Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation to extend the moratorium on energy exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico set to expire in 2022. The new legislation would extend the ban until 2027 and also allow Florida to “receive a share of the oil and gas leasing revenue from other areas of the Gulf,” arguing that it “would give Florida a new source of funding and recognize that as long as our shores shoulder some of the risk, it's only fair that Floridians share in some of the benefit." For more on this issue, see the January 5, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Marco Rubio introduces bill to extend moratorium on drilling in Gulf of Mexico” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.

Earthquakes on the Panhandle?

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that an earthquake struck just east of Flomaton, Alabama on March 13, 2019, the fourth small earthquake to affect the Florida- Alabama border region in recent weeks. They are the first earthquakes reported since 1997 and could be related to oil drilling operations. For more on the issue, see the March 16, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Fourth small earthquake confirmed near Florida-Alabama state line” by Annie Blanks at pnj.com.

Airborne Danger from Algae Blooms

Florida Gulf Coast University reported that “airborne cyanobacteria toxins can travel more than a mile inland,” suggesting possible additional health hazards from last year’s blue-green algae blooms. For more on the issue, see the March 18, 2019 TC Palm article “Algae crisis: Airborne particles of toxic cyanobacteria can travel more than a mile inland, new FGCU study shows” by Amy Bennett Williams at tcpalm.com.

Ferry Service Returning to Pensacola

A new operator has been selected to run the Pensacola Bay ferries for the 2019 season. HMS Ferries has reportedly signed a 10 year contract to operate the two ferries, presumably between downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and Ft. Pickens as was done in 2018. Start date and ticket prices have not been announced. For more on the issue, see the March 5, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “New Pensacola Bay ferry operator selected for 2019” by Mellissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.

Great White Shark Caught at Navarre Beach!

On February 26, 2019, the True Blue shark fishing team caught a 10 foot, 650 pound great white shark off the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. After an hour and a half struggle to reel in the shark, the team “put a tag on it, got all the measurements, and got a safe, clean release.” For more on the catch, see the February 26, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Caught on camera: Great white shark caught off Navarre Beach Fishing Pier” by Annie Blanks at pnj.com.

Kayaking the Perdido River

The Nature Conservancy plans to use $1 million of BP restitution money to create shelters and launches along the Perdido River. The river feeds Perdido Bay and “Our rivers are the lifeblood of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Daryl Boudreau of the Conservancy. To highlight the value and potential for enjoyment by visitors of the river systems in northern Escambia County, over 60 kayakers were making their way down the Perdido River to the Gulf of Mexico during the week of March 11. For more on this issue, see the March 13, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Paddling on Perdido River? Group pushes for kayak trail to highlight ‘unique and rare gem’” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.

Pensacola Beach among the Best!

TripAdvisor named Pensacola Beach as the fifth best beach in the United States, with Florida’s Clearwater Beach taking the first position. For more on “best beaches,” see the February 28, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “TripAdvisor names Pensacola Beach to list of top 5 U.S. Beaches” at pnj.com.

Governor DeSantis and Florida’s Water Policy

In the wake of last year’s devastating blue-green algae and red algae blooms in Florida’s waterways and along its coastline, newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis began his administration with calls for major changes to the state’s water management policies. These include $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources; establishment of a Blue-Green Algae Taskforce; instruction to the South Florida Water Management District to start the next phase of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project design; creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency; and, appointment of a Chief Science Officer. He also called for the resignation of the directors of the South Florida water management district, a body criticized by environmental groups for its November 2018 vote awarding an eight-year extension to the sugar industry for use of Everglades’ wetlands. For more on these issues, see the Florida Governor website entry “Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Major Water Policy Reforms” at flgov.com and The Guardian January 23, 2019 article “Florida: Republican ‘green governor’ seeks to reverse predecessor’s legacy” by Richard Luscombe at theguardian.com.

How Big is Florida?

According to estimates by the US Census Bureau, as of July 2018 Florida had about 21.3 million residents – up from 18.8 million in the 2010 census. Florida is the third largest state in the country by population, widening its lead over New York’s 19.54 million but well behind California’s 39.56 million and Texas’ 28.7 million. Texas had the largest numerical gain from 2017 to 2018 with 379,128 people with Florida second at 322,513. Further information is available in the December 22, 2018 Ocala StarBanner article “Florida population climbs to 21.3 million” by Jim Saunders at ocala.com.

Lawsuits and Building Permits in the Keys

The effort to control development in the Florida Keys by ceasing to issue building permits for environmental and hurricane evacuation reasons in 2023 will likely face multiple lawsuits. The Miami Herald reported “that property owners are likely to sue the state when they either can’t build what they want or don’t receive what they consider just compensation from the state.” The issue has local relevance because Perdido Key has a resident and hotel cap to help control development. For more on the issue, go to the February 23, 2019 article “Government preparing to be sued in 2023, when the Keys stop issuing new building permits,” by David Goodhue at miamiherald.com.

Neighboring Community News

Pensacola – Pensacola was again listed as one of the most affordable beach towns. SmartAsset determined that Pensacola was the second most affordable beach town in America, with Gulfport, Mississippi on top of the rankings. Nearby Ft. Walton Beach came in 9th in the ranking. For more on this issues, see the February 12, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola is 2nd most affordable beach town in America, per study” by Jake Newby at pnj.com

Milton – The Milton City Council has approved a resolution supporting the further development of a network of sidewalks and trails for pedestrians and bicycles and has “agreed to ask the Florida Department of Transportation for $192,330 to fund the first phase of a five–phase project.” For more on the issues, see the February 21, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Milton Council supports plan to make city more bike, pedestrian friendly” by Annie Blanks at pnj.com

Gulf Breeze – The Gulf Breeze City Council is expected to pass an ordinance to allow golf carts on city streets with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or less. Drivers must be 15 years or older and have a valid driver’s license. For more on the issue, see the February 19, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Gulf Breeze slated to pass long-awaited golf cart ordinance” by Annie Blanks at pnj.com. .

Changes on River Road

The wooden bridge on River Road about a quarter mile from Perdido Key Drive that crosses a small creek leading to the Old River is being replaced. Over the past several months, a number of repairs had been necessary because of rotting boards. Further down River Road, the dog park that provides access to the Old River is also being refurbished. The children’s play equipment has been removed from the area as the park is reconfigured with separate areas for small and large dogs.

Volunteers Needed for Beach Profile Program

Volunteers are requested to help with a "Shoreline Monitoring Citizen Science Program" on Perdido Key as part of research being conducted by the University of New Orleans and Owens Coastal Consultants. The program would extend the work begun in March 2018 on Dauphin Island, Alabama and involves taking periodic profiles of several portions of Perdido Key’s beaches to determine the "seasonal beach and sediment dynamics" so researchers and officials can be better prepared for oil spills in the future. The sample frequency, number of sample locations, and project duration are still to be determined, but Dauphin Island volunteers collect data at seven locations two or three times a month. Having 10 or so volunteers would allow a rotation of sample duties. If interested, please contact Charles Krupnick at [email protected].

More on 16400 Perdido Key Drive Public Beach Access

At its November 14, 2018 meeting, the Escambia County Board of Adjustment approved the Escambia County staff request to allow a variance on the zoning for the currently vacant property at 16400 Perdido Key Drive for recreation use “to construct a public beach access point on the subject parcel.” The owners association of the Seafarer Condominium adjacent to the property, however, has asked the Escambia County Circuit Court to reverse the decision, arguing that the County did not meet all the requirements necessary for the ruling – including “the habitat conservation required for the site.”The legal action is discussed in the January 3, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Perdido Key condo owners take Escambia county to court over beach access” by Jim Little available at pnj.com.

If the Board of Adjustment decision is upheld, additional steps would still be required before part of the property can be open to public use, including more specific studies and planning plus coordination with US Fish and Wildlife. The Board of Adjustment decision followed the October 18, 2018 Escambia County Board of County Commissioners decision “To direct staff to begin to procure the planning aspect moving forward and utilize the funds that are in the Perdido Key Beach Acquisition Project of $50,000” (minutes available at escambiaclerk.com). One proposal for the property calls for 24 parking spaces and another for 39. Background information on the issue is available from the September 25, 2018 article “Three options under consideration for Perdido Key beach access” by Jim Little at pnj.com and the August 2, 2018 article “Perdido Key beach mouse or parking lot” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel available at pnj.com, both in the Pensacola News Journal.

Santa Rosa Island Privatization Issue Still Active

While Escambia County residents voted overwhelmingly to keep existing Santa Rosa Island beach ownership rules (i.e., leasing instead of private ownership), some in Santa Rosa County hope to move forward with privatization. As covered in the Pensacola News Journal November 26, 2018 article “Advocates of beach ownership changes push for new legislation despite recent vote” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel, the issue remains active but with changed political dynamics. Representative Matt Gaetz who sponsored a 2017 privatization measure in the US House of Representatives was reelected while Senator Bill Nelson who opposed the measure in the US Senate was defeated by Governor Rick Scott – Scott like Gaetz a Republican. The US House of Representatives, however, is now controlled by Democrats. The article concluded that it was unlikely Congress would move forward to change ownership without approval from the Escambia County Commission which officially has “no position” on the issue. To access the article, go to pnj.com.

Gulf Breeze Beach Access and Beyond

After decades of dispute and legal proceedings, the Florida Court of Appeals on November 28, 2018 upheld a lower court’s decision that the owners of a 20 by 50 foot portion of land at the end of Catawba Street could prohibit the public from using the property for beach access. The property had been used as such for decades, but the property owners disputed the practice in legal action against the city of Gulf Breeze. During the dispute the city sought to establish eminent domain over the property and also made a “community access” argument, but decided to end its legal battle after losing the latest appeal. Incoming Gulf Breeze Mayor David Landfair expressed concern that the ruling may provide a precedent for other challenges “to the public’s right to access the land.” For more on this issue, see the December 05, 2018 Pensacola News Journal article “Gulf Breeze ordered to pay $250,000 to private property owners over public access battle” by Annie Banks at pnj.com.

Beach access is a concern in many Florida beach communities, not just Gulf Breeze, Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. Problems have developed in part because of private ownership of about 60% of Florida beachfront property, the growing number of people going to beaches, and insufficient public beach access and parking. A Florida law passed in March 2018 stated that local governments could not grant beach access to the public using the “customary use” argument as was attempted by Walton County. The March law is discussed in Pensacola News Journal March 28, 2018 article “Scott signs law affecting public access to many private beaches” by Thaddeus Mast at pnj.com. Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office followed with a clarification discussed in the July 13, 2018 WEAR transcript titled “Florida Governor issues executive order clearing up beach access confusion” by Hannah Mackenzie at weartv.com. US Senator Bill Nelson, the Democratic candidate who competed against Governor Scott for the Senate in the November General Election, urged Governor Scott to hold a special legislative session to repeal the law. For more on this issue, see Pensacola News Journal July 28, 2018 article “Nelson wants repeal of beach access law” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.



International Coastal Cleanup Day Saturday September 15

The Perdido Key Association, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, and the Florida State Parks hosted a cleanup of Perdido Key beaches and the Old River waterfront on Saturday, September 15, 2018. Volunteers met at the Perdido Key State Park West Use Area to pick up material and receive information on their assigned portion of beach for this International Coastal Cleanup Day event. On a clear and very hot day, approximately 60 volunteers showed up with half of these students and professors from Tuskegee Institute. The group made the four hour trip from Tuskegee, Alabama in vans to participate in the event as a project sponsored by the Institute’s science professors.

Perdido Key Shared-Use Path Update

Progress is being made toward realization of a bicycle and pedestrian path along the north side of Perdido Key Drive. The eight foot wide concrete path will be at the ground level, though separate from the roadway, with no boardwalks except in areas where dunes may be impacted. The west portion of the path (from the Alabama state line to the west end of Perdido Key State Park) is fully funded for planning/engineering and construction; planning/engineering is scheduled for completion in November 2018 and construction is scheduled for Fiscal Year 2021. The east portion (from the west end of Perdido Key State Park to Gongora Drive) is fully funded for planning/engineering which is scheduled for completion in July 2019. FDOT does not currently have construction funded though $960,000 of RESTORE (BP penalty) funding has been acquired, with the County working to obtain the remaining funds through grants and other sources. FDOT’s most recent planning level construction cost estimate is $4.5 million.

A Great Turnout for World Oceans Day 2018!

As hoped for, World Oceans Day 2018 at Perdido Key State Park on June 8, 2018 turned out to be a terrific family affair. The several hundred people attending were able to visit the Discovery Depot touch tank and ocean exhibits provided by the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, hear presenters and see exhibits on sea turtle conservation, lionfish and diamondback terrapin awareness, and shore and migrating bird concerns. In keeping with the 2018 World Oceans Day emphasis, additional displays and presentations focused on preventing and mitigating plastic pollution of the oceans and other threats to ocean health – such as acidification, eutrophication, and oil spills. Visitors were also able to enjoy the sand sculptures of The Paradise Sandman (David Robertson), the colorful kites flown by the Emerald Coast Kite Flyers, and a visit by Monty the screech owl from the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. With clear and balmy weather on the beach, all seemed to enjoy the entertaining and educational event.

As coordinated worldwide by The Ocean Project, “World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future.” Co-sponsors of the Perdido Key State Park event were the Perdido Key Association, the Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Florida State Parks, and Visit Pensacola – with additional support provided by the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce, Mullet Wrapper, Audubon Society and Sea Grant personnel, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Perdido Key Souvenirs & More, Tina Morrison (promoter) and the Department of Biology at the University of West Florida.

Perdido Key Drive to become a county road?

Negotiations between Escambia County and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) could result in the county assuming responsibility for Perdido Key drive while FDOT would take over a section of Beulah Road. According to the Pensacola News Journal May 21, 2018 article “Escambia County in talks with state to swap control of Perdido Key Drive with Beulah Road” by Jim Little: “The purpose of the swap would be to allow for quicker construction of a new interchange with Beulah Road and Interstate 10, and allow the county to better implement the Perdido Key Master Plan.” District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill reportedly said he would support the idea as long as it “doesn’t jeopardize state funding for the Perdido Key bike path or would slow down repairs to the road following hurricanes.” To access the article, go to pnj.com.

NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Shorebird and Sea Turtle Nesting Seasons

Shorebird nesting season began on March 1 and continues through October 31, 2019; sea turtle nesting season begins on May 1 and also ends October 31, 2019. Be particularly careful when on or driving near Perdido Key beaches and certainly obey all dune and other access limiting and warning signs.

Cogon Grass

Cogon grass is an invasive species from Southeast Asia recently spotted on Perdido Key. It is listed as one of the “Top 10 Worst Weeds in the World” and spreads readily and can displace native plants. It is a perennial grass with yellow-green foliage and a “fuzzy, white, and plume-like” seed head. For more on cogon grass, see the University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Science article “Imperata cylindrical” at plants.ifas.ufl.edu.

Solitary Bees Need Help

With only 47 specimens identified in a 2012 survey, the Gulf Coast solitary bee may be on its way to extinction. It does not live in colonies and pollinates only the Coastal Plain honeycomb head (yellow buttons) found on sandy dunes. Biologist Tara Cornelisse calls it a “flagship specie” and indicative of the health of dune systems. Since the bee is struggling to survive, the dunes also may not be doing well. For more on this issue, see the March 27, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola area’s Gulf Coast solitary bee could be added to endangered species list” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com.

Fungus Killing Frogs

Called the “most deadly pathogen known to science” by biologist Wendy Palen of Simon Fraser University, chytridiomycosis is spreading and threatening frogs worldwide. In a recent study published in the journal Science, 90 amphibian species are presumed to have become extinct in the last 50 years and more are threatened. For additional information, see the March 29, 2019 USA Today article “’Catastrophic’ fungus disease is killing frogs everywhere, linked to ‘mass extinction’: Study” by Ashley May at usatoday.com.

Latest on Lionfish

Recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Sea Grant gatherings on lionfish produced a number of interesting findings. Among them was that the number of lionfish reported has declined since 2014, with many divers having difficulty finding them above 120 feet. Along with this is a decline in the number of divers interested in selling lionfish. Whether lionfish have reached their carrying capacity at Northwest Florida natural and artificial reefs is not known, so divers and those working various technologies to remove lionfish are encouraged to continue their efforts. Information drawn from a February 27, 2019 e-mail titled “An Update on the Lionfish” by Rick O’Connor sent in conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week, February 2, 2019 – March 3, 2019. 

OK Year for Sea Turtles 

Escambia County had 96 sea turtle nests on its 37 miles of beach, with the largest number at Gulf Islands National Seashore where 59 were reported. Although less than the 217 nests identified in 2017, the 2018 number (all from loggerhead sea turtles) is considered “solid” for the year. For more on this issue, see the February 20, 2019 Pensacola News Journal article “Escambia sea turtle nesting numbers solid, despite red tide and new hands-off policy” by Melissa Nelson Gabriel at pnj.com

Pensacola Rain and Sea Level Increases

According to the January 11, 2019 Sea Grant Notes, Pensacola received 90 inches of rain in 2017 and 2018. These are 38% above the norm of 65 inches. 

The website Sealevelrise.org noted that Florida sea levels have risen 8 inches since 1950 and are now expected to rise an inch every three years

Plastic Alternatives?

Plastic pollution is a terrible problem in our oceans. Government policy in more than 60 countries is starting to require movement away from plastic and some major corporations are following suit. But replacing plastics is not an easy change and the July 8, 2018 BBC article “What’s the real price of getting rid of plastic packaging?” by Richard Gray (available at bbc.com) highlights some of these difficulties. 

Mr. Gray notes “More than 78 million tons of plastic packaging is produced worldwide every year by an industry worth nearly $198 billion,” with most of it discarded. Coca Cola “sells more than 110 billion single-use plastic bottles globally” but has pledged, along with other multinationals, to reduce its use of plastic packaging. But “plastics are cheap, lightweight and adaptable in ways many of the alternatives are not.” While the cost of producing glass bottles is not much more than plastic ones, glass bottles are much heavier so costs and the pollution generated would be higher. Plastic coverings on food help prevent spoiling, which would be another added cost of abandoning plastic.

Companies have developed biodegradable plastics, such as those made with sugarcane. These are currently more expensive than standard plastics and have the added problem of contaminating the recycling of standard plastics. Recycling plastic is much cheaper than making it new from oil. One suggestion was to make plastic products stronger so they would likely to be reused instead of discarded.

The article is worth reading in full. Plastic pollution is a worldwide crisis and must be dealt with, but the costs and unintended consequences of shifting from plastic should be recognized as well.

Pensacola Pass Inlet Management Plan

On February 1, 2018, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners approved District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill’s request to set aside funds for the “Pensacola Pass Inlet Management Plan.” The plan could lead to a policy where the sand dredged from the Pensacola Harbor channel – which is required periodically to keep the channel navigable for large ships – would be dumped on the beaches of the Perdido Key Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore instead of offshore as is the current practice. With the general westerly migration of sand in the region, Perdido Key beaches west of the National Seashore would also benefit from the project. 

With funding for a study assigned (more is needed from the state), putting substance on the proposal will begin with meetings of various stake holders, such as the National Seashore, Navy Installations Command, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Port of Pensacola – PKA may also be invited to participate. When implemented, Perdido Key beaches will not quickly leave the critically eroded status so concerns for further erosion and from destructive storms will remain, but hopefully in the coming year’s progress will be made.

PKA-Funded Environment/Wildlife Panel Upgrade on Johnson Beach

In keeping with its education purpose, the Perdido Key Association contributed to an upgrade of the interpretive wayside panels near the Perdido Key Discovery Trail at the Perdido Key Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Johnson Beach). PKA Director Joe Stone worked closely with Gulf Island National Seashore Visual Information Specialist Brent Everett in helping to bring the project to fruition. The December 8, 2017 “Gulf Islands News” release stated (in part): 

Several interpretive wayside panels were recently upgraded and installed at the national seashore’s Perdido Key Area thanks to the Perdido Key Association (PKA). The wayside panels and some associated hardware had weathered badly since it was first installed. The PKA approached the National Park Service earlier this year to provide financial support for the upgrade. ‘We are grateful to the Perdido Key Association for their generous donation in support of the national seashore,” said Superintendent Dan Brown. “Interpretive wayside panels are a critical tool of the National Park Service to share the important stories of the national seashore.” At Perdido Key these waysides interpret the natural beauty and dynamic wildlife of the area, provide trail guidance and safety reminders, and tell the story of important figures like Rosamond Johnson.

PKA Annual Membership Meeting

The Perdido Key Association held its 2019 Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Eden Condominium on Perdido Key. After meeting preliminaries and member approval of the 2018 Annual Meeting Minutes and Financial Report, PKA president Charles Krupnick introduced featured speaker District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill. The Commissioner addressed many of the issues important to Perdido Key property owners and residents, including the Perdido Key Shared-Use/Multi-Use Path – generally on track despite the loss of some previously expected funding; the Pensacola Pass Inlet Management Plan – study approved by the Board of County Commissioners that should lead to a process where sand dredged from Pensacola Pass would be deposited on the Perdido Key Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and be available for migration to the rest of Perdido Key; Florabama traffic – incremental progress being made, but an elevated pedestrian cross-over is unlikely; Escambia County budget issues – current spending may not be sustainable for the long-term; efforts to create public beach access and parking at 16400 Perdido Key Drive – an initiative he opposes which has an uncertain fate; and, the Perdido Key Master Plan (the “People’s Design Document”) – discussions continuing with the principal developer. Commissioner Underhill also noted the importance of the Habitat Conservation Plan as a defense against overdevelopment and provided detailed responses to the multiple questions, which seemed much appreciated by the audience. 

PKA president Charles Krupnick then reported on PKA 2018 initiatives. In addition to periodic testimony at government decision-making bodies on issues relevant to Perdido Key, PKA co-sponsored International Coastal Cleanup Day in September and Adopt-A-Highway cleanups of a portion of Rt. 98 every quarter. He highlighted the very successful World Oceans Day event in June at Perdido Key State Park where an estimated 400 people came to view a variety of ocean conservancy relevant exhibits, plus sculptures in the beach sand and colorful kites in the skies overhead. He also noted the completion of the County’s Perdido Key Dune Restoration Project, but that little progress had been made toward underground utilities on Perdido Key. An unapproved version of the 2019 meeting minutes will be posted in the Archive page of the Perdido Key Association website in the near future.

Perdido Key Association
PO Box 16337
Pensacola, Florida 32507

Perdido Key Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; donations are tax-deductible.