News

World Oceans Day 2021

 

The June 8 celebration of World Oceans Day 2021 at the Perdido Key Community Center was a considerable success. Organized by the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, the event hosted many family groups who visited the educational displays and presentations by Florida Fish and Wildlife, Niuhi Dive Charters, Ocean Strike Team, Escambia County Marine Resources, Pensacola and Perdido Bays and Estuaries staff, Alabama Gulf Coast Zookeepers, Clean Horizons, Florida State Parks, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Friends of the Southwest Library and PKA. ECUA’s “Quench Buggy” provided water and information on protecting the aquifer.

 

The event also featured the Community Center’s just constructed Solar Windmill (see photo). As stated in a June 7, 2021 Escambia County media release:

A PrimoEnergy EnergiPlant solar windmill was installed today at the Perdido Key Community Center, in time for World Ocean Day on June 8. The windmill, equipped with a 1200W wind turbine and four 50W solar panels, will also provide seating and phone charging capabilities. Funds to purchase the windmill were provided by Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill’s District 2 discretionary funds. 

The windmill is part of a larger effort to provide amenities along the future Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. When complete, the multi-use path will extend approximately 6.2 miles from the Alabama-Florida state line, eastward through Perdido Key State Park to River Road along the north side of Perdido Key Drive and provide safe access for cyclists and pedestrians.

To access the full County media document titled “Solar Windmill Installed at Perdido Key Community Center,” go to https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/06/07/solar-windmill-installed-at-perdido-key-community-center.

Photo Credit: The Ocean Project Photo

Please check out the following slides that were posted for World Oceans Day

Hover over the slideshows below and you can navigate to different pages by clicking the buttons on the bottom

June 02, 2021

June 03, 2021

June 04, 2021

June 05, 2021

June 06, 2021

June 07, 2021

Pensacola Bay Bridge is Open!

 

After an eight- month closure from damage sustained by barges broken free by Hurricane Sally in September 2020 with its severe impact on residents and businesses in Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach and elsewhere, one span of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge (officially the “General Daniel ‘Chappie’ James Jr. Bridge”) reopened on Friday May 28, 2021 just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. For more on the bridge opening, see the May 28, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola Bay Bridge finally open after 8-month closure; drivers can expect some delays” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/05/28/pensacola-bay-bridge-reopen-traffic-memorial-day-hurricane-sally-skanska/7466670002/.

 

Biden Administration and Oil and Gas Exploration

 

In one of its first actions, the Biden Administration imposed a 60-day pause on the issuance of new leases and permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and offshore. The order “does not limit existing operations under valid leases.” Additional action was taken on June 1, 2021 when the Administration suspended oil and gas leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more on the issue, go to the February 8, 2021 National Law Review article “President Biden Freezes New Oil and Gas Lease and Pauses Permits on Federal Land and Offshore” by James W. Noe and Elizabeth Neoty Craddock at https://www.natlawreview.com/article/president-biden-freezes-new-oil-and-gas-leases-and-pauses-permits-federal-lands-and and the June 2, 2021 USA Today article “Biden suspends oil leases in Alaska’s Arctic refuge” by Matthew Daly of the Associated Press at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/01/president-joe-biden-suspends-oil-leases-alaskas-arctic-refuge/7499711002/

Towing Rates Increase

 

It will be more expensive in Escambia County to park illegally and have vehicles towed. In March 2021 Escambia County approved an increase in “the towing fee for most cars in the county from $100 to $150 a day and increase the cap for storage from $20 a day to $40 a day.” Future changes to the fees will be tied to the federal consumer price index. Pensacola is likely to follow with a similar though not identical policy. Towing rates had not changed in the area since 2009 and were a frequent discussion topic at Escambia County Board of County Commissioner meetings. For more on this issue, see the May 28, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Need a car towed in Pensacola? That might soon cost more as towing rate rises by 76%” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2021/05/28/pensacola-towing-rates-could-rise-76-percent-after-council-vote/7475389002/.

 

Baldwin County’s Rapid Growth

 

Alabama’s Baldwin County added 47,000 people (26%) in the last decade to surpass Montgomery County as the fourth largest county in Alabama. Madison County (Huntsville) grew by nearly 7,000 people and with Baldwin County accounted for more than 90% of Alabama’s population growth. For more on this issue, see the May 20, 2021 Mullet Wrapper article “Baldwin now state’s 4th largest county” at https://mulletwrapper.net/baldwin-now-states-4th-largest-county/.

Public Parking Fees in Orange Beach

 

Parking at the Orange Beach public beach access location at Cotton Bayou and Alabama’s Gulf State Park beach locations on Perdido Key and Romar Beach is no longer free. Fees required are $3 for two hours, $5 for four hours, and $10 for all day parking.

Private Rosamond Johnson, Jr., Annual Celebration

 

A good number of people turned out to celebrate the life and heroism of Private Rosamond Johnson, the first Escambia County casualty of the Korean War, at the May 1, 2021 event at the Johnson Beach main pavilion. The ceremony began with a stunning rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Mary Lou Talbot – so powerful and inspiring that many on the beach next to the National Seashore pavilion stopped what they were doing to listen and applaud the performance. It was followed by significant and appropriate comments from several speakers, including Interim Superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore Darrel Echols, President/CEO of the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce Eugene Franklin, and Rosamond Johnson’s niece Pam Johnson-Gleen. The event concluded with “taps” and the placement of a flowered wreath at the Rosamond Johnson monument and wayside adjacent to the Pavilion. Photos attached show speaker Eugene Franklin and the wreath place at the Rosamond Johnson monument. The event was sponsored by the National Park Service, Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, and Escambia County. For more on Rosamond Johnson Beach Day, go to http://business.visitperdido.com/events/details/rosamond-johnson-beach-day-2021-20786?calendarMonth=2021-05-01.

 

Johnson Beach Road/Perdido Key Drive Roundabout Public Workshop

 

The April 29, 2021 public workshop at the Perdido Key Community Center was a considerable success with approximately 30 attendees viewing exhibits and submitting comments on the proposed Johnson Beach Road/Perdido Key Drive intersection roundabout. Entering and exiting Johnson Beach Road in the frequent periods of heavy traffic on Perdido Key Drive can be challenging so the hope is the roundabout will improve traffic safety and flow. Particular emphasis was given to the interface of the roundabout with the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path now under construction since pedestrians and cyclists may want to cross Perdido Key Drive at that location to access the Johnson Beach Road path.

Photo Credit: Escambia County Photo

Road Work near the Theo Baars Bridge

 

Road work at the Sorrento Road-Gulf Beach Highway intersection near the Perdido Key Publix began on Monday, May 17, 2021. The improvements planned include a new southbound left-turn lane, new eastbound right-turn lane, extension of the westbound left-turn lane, plus drainage and roadway lighting improvements. For more information of this FDOT project (Project Number 439964-1), go to https://nwflroads.com/projects/439964-1.

Multi-Use Path Construction Continues

 

Construction continues on the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path on the north side of Perdido Key Drive. Concrete for the path now extends from the west end of Perdido Key State Park near the Eden Condominium and Surf Style store to the Seafarer Condominium. The path is for pedestrians and bicycles and not for motorized transportation. As the path enters use in the months and years ahead, discussions and action to ensure use only by pedestrians and bicycles will be a continuing challenge.

Crosswalk Signal Repairs Completed

 

The five crosswalks on Perdido Key Drive were updated in April 2020 with improved “pedestrian-activated flashing in-roadway signs, a bidirectional pedestrian-activate LED crossing sign, a ‘Pedestrian Crossing Ahead’ sign and a ‘Pedestrian Crossing Ahead’ pavement message.” Hurricane Sally destroyed the installations in September 2020. With funding approved by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners for material necessary to repair the crosswalks, the crosswalks are back in commission. Information on the 2020 upgrade drawn from the April 13, 2020 Escambia County news article “Perdido Key Drive Pedestrian Crossing Upgrade Project Completed.”

Changing Dunes on Perdido Key

 

A number of projects are underway on Perdido Key to restore dunes lost or heavily damaged from Hurricane Sally in September 2020. Dunes have been renewed with more sand and sand-retaining vegetation on the beachfront of condominiums on the eastern portion of the island. At the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore (Johnson Beach), piles of sand were created to begin the dune forming process, but several days of strong wind in mid-May 2021 have greatly reduced their size and covered much of the beach front road with sand.

Blue Angel Performance and Practice Schedules

 

Flying F-18 Super Hornets for the first time, the Blue Angels returned to the Pensacola area and NAS Pensacola on Sunday March 14, 2021 with a welcome flyover. The team’s 2021 show schedule is available at https://www.blueangels.navy.mil/assets/docs/schedules/show-2021.pdf; the practice schedule at NAS Pensacola is available at https://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/blueangels/.

Short-Term Rental Issue Off the Table for Now

 

The Florida legislature adjourned on April 30, 2021 and failed to consider bills that would have given the state government more control over vacation rentals; Senate Bill 522 and House Bill 219 were not adopted into state law. Removing local government’s ability to regulate vacation rentals, an effort that could potentially affect homeowner associations as well, has been controversial for several years. For more on the issue go to the May 3, 2021 Anna Maria Sun article “Vacation rental bills defeated” by Joe Hendricks at https://www.amisun.com/2021/05/03/vacation-rental-bills-defeated/ and the March 12, 2021 News Service of Florida article “Vacation rental plan ‘clearly a work in progress’ in Florida legislature” at https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-florida-vacation-rental-bill-overhaul-20210312-w5gi7fvbqkm35dwa6u-story.html; for a website sponsored by the City of Anna Maria working to “preserve local regulation of vacation rentals,” go to https://www.homerulefl.com/.

PKA Facebook Page Under New Management

 

The Perdido Key Association Facebook page will be a much more active social media location than in the past! New PKA Board member John Rossman is now managing the page and encourages PKA members and others to visit the site to comment on Perdido Key relevant issues. Current topics for discussion could certainly include beach access and parking concerns, progress and plans for the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path, and recent proposed legislation on vacation rentals. The Facebook page is accessible from the Home page of the PKA website. A Code of Conduct calls for the page to “focus on Perdido Key issues and not be a vehicle for personal, political or commercial advantage.” We hope you will check it out!

Development “Concurrency Rules” for Escambia County?

 

One of the dilemmas faced by growing areas such as Northwest Florida is having infrastructure keep pace with development and deciding who will pay for it. In Florida, developers of a new housing project may not be required to contribute to the cost of new roads, sidewalks and schools that the residents of the project will eventually need – the capital improvement costs would then likely be borne by taxpayers. Having developers provide “impact funds” as is being discussed in Santa Rosa County would directly contribute to infrastructure creation and likely also raise prices of the houses or other structures involved in the project. Escambia County Commissioners are now considering concurrency rules requiring “that each development be evaluated for its impact on schools and county roads, and if the project would cause the schools or the roads in the area to go over their designed capacity, the developer would have to pay to increase the capacity.” Commissioner Jeff Bergosh who made the initiative, “… doesn’t support impact fees, but believes concurrency rules, which change depending on the area of the county in which the development is taking place, are a better system to have developers pay for upgrading infrastructure required for new development.” For more on the issue, see the May 21, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Escambia County mulls rule change to make developers pay for infrastructure upgrades” by Jim Little at

https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2021/05/21/concurrency-rules-developers-table-escambia-county-florida/5180774001/.

Parks and Parking at Capacity

 

Popular area State Parks at Big Lagoon and the West Use Area of Perdido Key State Park (open for emergency use because of Hurricane Sally damage) can reach their capacity limits and must turn people away. With vacation season almost upon us, local residents should plan ahead and go early to make use of these exceptional local attractions.

New Perdido Key Beach Access Approved by Florida DEP

 

The proposed beach access location just east of the Crab Trap Restaurant received “the final permit it needed from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” according to the May 6, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Controversial Perdido Key beach access point gets OK from state environmental regulators” by Jim Little. As stated by Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh in the article, “We’re going to have 35 parking spots.” “We’re going to have handicap spots. Importantly, we’re going to protect the habitat.” Some funding in addition to the $228,000 already committed to the project will be needed and a lawsuit filed by the adjacent Seafarer Condos Owners Association is still pending. For more on the issue, see the referenced article at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/05/06/perdido-key-beach-access-point-okd-state-environmental-regulators/4973834001/.

Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins

 

Sea turtle nesting season in the Pensacola area is from May 01 until September. The challenge is particularly great this year because many dune crossovers and educational signs were destroyed by Hurricane Sally in September 2021 and still need repair or replacement. This is certainly true at Johnson Beach (Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore) where some dunes were flattened and substantial care is needed to avoid sea turtle and shorebird nesting sites. For more information on sea turtle nesting, go to the Escambia County news article “Sea Turtle Nesting Season Starts May 1, Visitors Can Help Protect Coastal Wildlife” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2021/04/29/sea-turtle-nesting-season-starts-may-1-visitors-can-help-protect-coastal-wildlife.

Hurricane Season Already?

 

With many properties on Perdido Key still recovering from September 2020’s Hurricane Sally, the last thing residents and owners want to hear is the beginning of the 2021 hurricane season! Unfortunately it is almost upon us – officially June 1-November 30 but with a number of May hurricanes in recent years, there is some discussion on expanding the season into May. Escambia County has designated May 9-15 as Hurricane Preparedness Week with Escambia County Emergency Manager Eric Gilmore providing the following advice:

 

Last year we learned firsthand with Hurricane Sally that hurricanes change course quickly and without much warning. It is extremely important to plan ahead now: know your evacuation zone, know your home and know your plan. COVID-19 is still around so we really want to stress that residents have a plan rather than go to a shelter. The county will provide shelters and will do everything possible to sanitize them, but we know that the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading increases when people are in close living conditions. A shelter should be a last resort. Please get your home ready now if it is rated for hurricane strength activity or reach out to family and friends now to develop a plan to stay somewhere safe if you need to evacuate.”

 

For more information on Escambia County’s hurricane preparation guidance, go to https://myescambia.com/stormcenter#:~:text=Hurricane%20Preparedness%20Week%20is%20May,is%20June%201%20through%20Nov. In other hurricane related news, the BRACE Hurricane Sally Recovery Helpline will now receive calls from business owners in addition to homeowners for questions about post-Hurricane Sally assistance. BRACE is the “Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies.”

Protecting the Environment on Perdido Key

 

Why has Perdido Key not become overdeveloped? One reason certainly is because the Perdido Key beach mouse was listed as an endangered species in 1985 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1966. Preventing local extinction of the mouse required protecting its habitat with measures like curbing public access to dunes, planting appropriate vegetation, and restriction predators such as domestic cats. Those hoping to build on the island had to meet stringent requirements and pass through numerous administrative hoops and permissions in order for construction to begin – a process that could take years. To improve the process, in 2008-2010 Escambia County worked with federal agencies to create the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that greatly expedited the process while still protecting the Perdido Key beach mouse, sea turtles and piping plovers (a small shorebird). According to Tim Day, Escambia County natural resource manager: “The endangered species issues have done a good job helping to maintain the vision of Perdido Key as a village which isn’t overbuilt or a condo canyon.” “The island’s habitat has to be as nice as the condo you’ve just constructed.” All of us who appreciate the modest development and wonderful wildlife on our island should strongly support efforts to retain its natural environment and beauty. For more on the Perdido Key beach mouse and the environment, see the December 13, 2017 US Fish and Wildlife Service document “The Mouse that Roared: On a Florida beach, builders and conservationists join forces to save an endangered species” by Dan Chapman at https://www.fws.gov/southeast/articles/the-mouse-that-roared/, also available on the Archive page of the PKA website; the film “Little Beach Mouse from the South” at https://www.intonaturefilms.org/project/little-beach-mouse-from-the-south/; and the Habitat Conservation Plan at https://myescambia.com/docs/default-source/sharepoint-natural-resources-management/perdido-key-habitat-conservation-plan/ada-docs/ada_final-perdido-key-hcp-23nov11.pdf?sfvrsn=db78186d_4.

Photo Credit: USFWS

Increase Signage on Perdido Key

 

Substantial efforts are being made to replace and add signage on Perdido Key so visitors are aware of authorized parking locations and beach access as well as precautions protecting wildlife and the environment. These include signs along Perdido Key drive restricting roadside parking, at beach access locations explaining public/private beach regulations and at various condominiums discussing beach access and use instructions. Complementing these efforts are Escambia County flashing roadside signs emphasizing Perdido Key Drive parking restrictions.

Search for Beach Vitex

 

During April, Escambia County Sea Grant Representative Rick O’Connor will be leading efforts to identify beach vitex in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. 75 locations affected by the plant were previously identified with four in the Perdido Key/Perdido Bay areas. Beach vitex is an aggressive and hardy invasive species that can displace native vegetation and completely take over areas like Perdido Key when not caught early. If interested in attending a Zoom presentation on conducting a survey to identify the plant, e-mail Rick at Roc1@ufl.edu; information about beach vitex is available online in articles such as “Getting Rid of Beach Vitex” by Rick O’Connor at https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/2019/06/18/getting-rid-of-beach-vitex/.

It’s Time to Appreciate the Perdido Key Master Plan!

 

The 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey showed 43.6% of property owners supported the Perdido Key Master Plan but 46.4% were neutral. This probably means many Perdido Key property owners are unaware of the plan and its merits. As emphasized by Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill at the February 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting, the Master Plan is one of the ways development is managed on Perdido Key and should be very much appreciated by owners and residents of the island. Many PKA members attended charrettes and are familiar with the process leading to approval of the Master Plan in 2016, so it is probably up to us to ensure the value of the plan is known to others who care about Perdido Key and its future. Information about the plan is available on the PKA website at https://www.perdidokeyassociation.org on the “Master Plan” page with links to supporting documents on the Escambia County webpage.

Johnson Beach Update

 

Gulf Islands National Seashore, including its Perdido Key Area (Johnson Beach), suffered $4.5 million of damage from Hurricane Sally and will not be getting any extra funding from Congress to make repairs. $2 million will be required for road repairs and $1.2 million for repair of the ferry pier. At Johnson Beach, the pavilion parking area near the entrance is open, but vehicle access beyond the pavilion is not allowed because of sand and infrastructure concerns. Pedestrian and cyclist, however, can use the road. Park officials expect vehicle access will be restored within a few weeks though parking is likely to be restricted. Infrastructure repair will begin in late-summer 2021. For more a park damage and restoration, see the December 3, 2020 article “Fort Pickens will reopen Saturday, almost three months after Hurricane Sally” by Madison Arnold at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/12/03/fort-pickens-reopen-saturday-three-months-after-hurricane-sally/3812982001/.

Shorebird Nesting Concerns on Perdido Key Beaches

 

Shorebird nesting on Perdido Key is endangered because many boardwalk dune crossovers were destroyed by Hurricane Sally in September 2020. According to Caroline Stahala, the Western Panhandle shorebird program manager at the Audubon Society: “The one thing about these birds – seabirds or shorebirds – is that they lay their eggs right on the sand and they’re camouflaged, so you aren’t going to see these eggs but you’ll step on them.” She urges beach visitors to “take notice of signage, walk only in designated areas and be cognizant of visible activity such as mating behavior that mean there could be nest and eggs around.” For more on seabird nesting, see the March 2, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Shorebirds need dunes to nest, but beachgoers are walking over them due to Sally damage” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/03/02/perdido-key-shorebird-nests-trampled-due-hurricane-sally-damage/6824159002/.

OLF-8 Agreement

 

OLF-8 is the 640 acre former Navy Outlying Field 8 adjacent to the Navy Federal Credit Union complex in the Beulah area of western Escambia County purchased by the County in January 2019. Future use of the property has been debated for many months over whether it should be predominantly a commerce/industry park or a more mixed used area with substantial commercial, residential, and public services in addition to commerce/industry. The topic has been addressed extensively in recent Board of County Commissioners Public Forums as well as webinars from architectural firm DPZ selected to create master plan alternatives for OLF-8. At a March 11, 2021 meeting, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners approved what has been referred to as a “hybrid plan” for mixed use of the property, with “a tentative division of 271 acres for commercial and industrial; 47 acres for mixed-use for both residential and retail; 45 acres for public amenities such as a post office, school, day care and trails; and 61 acres for other residential such as multi-family units, duplexes and townhouses.” The next phase of the project will involve “zoning and density” studies over the next few months. For more on the OLF-8 decision, go to the March 11, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “OLF-8 hybrid plan overcomes major hurdle, proceeds to zoning phase” by Emma Kennedy at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/03/11/olf-8-hybrid-plan-overcomes-major-hurdle-proceeds-zoning-phase/4647125001/.

“Perdido Precinct” Sheriff’s Office Reopening

 

A good crowd was on hand for the February 6, 2021 reopening of the “Perdido Precinct” substation of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office at 12950 Gulf Beach Highway, with another substation opening in Moleno on February 20, 2021. Sheriff Chip Simmons presided at the ceremony and has stated: “We want to make sure that the people of Perdido and the people of the Molino area have access to a substation in the precinct and a lieutenant who knows their areas…” “We are going to have the same deputies work the same areas on a permanent basis [Lt. Tony Tampary will supervise the Perdido Precinct]…” The Perdido Precinct substation will be a base of operations for deputies but is not expected to be permanently manned. For more on the reopening, see the February 8, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “ECSO reopens substation in Perdido Key, station in Molino to follow soon” by Colin Warren-Hicks at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/crime/2021/02/08/ecso-reopens-substation-perdido-key-molino-station-opening-soon/4435112001/.

Solar Windmill coming to Perdido Key

 

The Escambia County Board of County Commissioner’s (BOCC) agreed to purchase a unique wind and solar powered bench centerpiece for the expected “Heritage Park” on the east side of the Perdido Key Visitors Center at 1550 Perdido Key Drive. As stated in the February 4, 2021 BOCC meeting agenda:

The EnergiPlant Solar Windmill is an entirely free-standing nano-grid structure that draws on solar and wind energy to produce power capable of charging usb-enabled devices, with seating and space for advertisements and/or other messaging. Installation of the solar windmill will provide a demonstration of alternative energy sources at the Perdido Key Community Center, consistent with the future use of the Community Center as an environmental learning center. The installation will also accommodate cyclists and pedestrians traveling along existing infrastructure and the future Perdido Key Multi-Use Path, providing a rest area and amenity access at the existing Perdido Key Visitor Center. This location also supports pedestrian/cyclist access to Perdido Key State Park.

For more information on the project, go to BOCC meeting Agenda 2021-1524 at https://civicclerk.blob.core.windows.net/stream/ESCAMBIACOFL/aebf4747-e07d-40da-94b0-d0c88709c210.pdf?sv=2015-12-11&sr=b&sig=aP1yV%2FGnnLcA7QLSo5HYMIY2S3ZR7b5bEowKzZLTWLE%3D&st=2021-02-12T20%3A28%3A16Z&se=2022-02-12T20%3A33%3A16Z&sp=r; for more on the Solar Windmill including the photo used in this entry, go to the June 02, 2017 University of California San Diego Center for Energy Research (CER) article “New EnergiPlant Wind Turbine Provides Power and Public Space” at https://cer.ucsd.edu/_news-events-articles/2017/news-ESW-wind-turbine-dedication.html.

Photo by: UCSC Photo

Bands on the Beach for 2021

 

The Santa Rosa Island Authority has announced the schedule for 2021 “Bands on Beach” performances at Casino Beach on Pensacola Beach. Performances are given every Tuesday evening from April 6 until October 26. For more on the free concerts, see the March 1, 2021 Pensacola News Journal article “Bands on the Beach releases full 2021 artist lineup and schedule” by Jake Newby at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2021/03/01/bands-beach-2021-schedule-musicians-released-pensacola/6868687002/.

2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting

 

The 2021 PKA Annual Membership Meeting was held Saturday, February 27, 2021 at the Eden Condominium – the first Perdido Key Association meeting with both in-person and remote Zoom attendance. The featured speaker was Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill who focused on results from the 2020 Perdido Key Property Owner Survey, including development, traffic, wildlife and environment, and governing concerns. He also fielded questions from attendees, including beachfront access and erosion issues. PKA president Charles Krupnick followed with updates on the PKA budget, past and current Association initiatives and damage to area beach parks from Hurricane Sally. Approximately 35 people participated in the meeting in-person and a similar number attended online. The Eden staff provided superior support, including COVID-19 precautions and assisting with Zoom preparations and presentation.

NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Florida Panthers “at Risk”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials announced that at least 20 Florida panthers died in 2020, all but one because of interaction with people and mostly from vehicle collisions. This is a lower count than recent years but probably not good news since it suggests there are fewer panthers left. An estimated 120 to 230 adult panthers may remain in the wild with the species survival threatened largely by development. For more on this issues, see the December 28, 2020 Association Press article “Wildlife Officials: 20 Florida Panthers Killed This Year” at https://apnews.com/article/wildlife-florida-coronavirus-pandemic-environment-st-petersburg-e1eb45baf6ce9ff13b6e9f5f6a32dca5.

 

Photo By: FWS Photo by Larry W. Richardson

Manatees in Trouble

Manatee Appreciation Day is the last Wednesday in March and this year came at a time of growing concern for Florida’s incredible manatees. At least 317 manatee deaths have occurred in the first two months of 2021, much more that the past five year average of 100 deaths a year. According to director of the Save the Manatee Club Pat Rose: “It looks like we have a substantial number of manatees that are starving.” Poor water quality from stormwater runoff leading to algae blooms and loss of sea grass may be responsible. For more on the issue, see the February 28, 2021 Fort Myers News-Press article “Florida manatees are dying in droves this year. Experts blame poor water quality, starvation” by Chad Gillis at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/02/27/florida-manatee-deaths-way-up-2021-experts-blame-water-quality/6817814002/; for information about Manatee Appreciation Day go to https://nationaldaycalendar.com/manatee-appreciation-day-last-wednesday-in-march/.

Jellyfish to Inherit the Earth?

The Ocean Conservancy points out the jellyfish have survived for over 500 million years and are well adopted for a warming ocean with increased salinity and acidity. “A warming ocean means an ocean with more jellies and fewer turtles, fish and marine mammals.” For more on jellyfish and changes in the oceans, go to the Ocean Conservancy article “Four Ways to Channel your Inner Jellyfish when times get Hard” by Cody Sullivan at https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2021/03/09/4-ways-channel-inner-jellyfish-times-get-hard/.

 

Photo By: NOAA Photo

Plastic Waste in the Oceans

According to a recent article from the BBC, a large majority of plastic waste in the oceans (80%) comes from 1,000 of the world’s rivers. For more on this issue, go to https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-56937300.

Endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

The Kemp’s Ridley is one of four species of sea turtles found in the Perdido Key area, the others being loggerhead, leatherback, and green sea turtles. They weigh less than 100 pounds and are no more than two feet in length. Only a few thousand remain and face threats from habitat loss and oil spills, in addition to bycatch losses from commercial and recreational fishing. Of the 609 sea turtles found dead after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, 481 were Kemp’s Ridleys. Following turtle friendly lighting guidance regulations and nesting precautions will help all sea turtles survive. Information for this entry was drawn from the e-mail “The world’s most endangered sea turtle” by Nicholas Mailos, Senior Director, Trash Free Seas; for more on local sea turtle issues, go to Escambia County’s Natural Resources Management page “Sea Turtles on the Beach” at https://myescambia.com/our-services/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/sea-turtles/sea-turtles-on-the-beach.

Photo By: Kate Sampson NOAA Fisheries