Perdido Incorporation Initiative
At least 300 people attended the January 23, 2023 “We are Perdido” community meeting on incorporation at Liberty Church on Blue Angel Parkway. Featured was Florida League of Cities Director of FLC University Lynn Tipton who provided detailed information on the process of incorporation, types of municipalities that could result, potential benefits and pitfalls, plus many other relevant topics. “We are Perdido” leader Steven Brendtro then gave a report on the status of their “Government Lite” Perdido incorporation process including its rapid timeline where a go-ahead from local state pollical leaders had already been granted and feasibility study was in progress and expected to be submitted to the Florida legislature by September 1, 2023. Along the way will be community meetings of various sorts. If approved by the Florida legislature and governor in 2024, incorporation could be on the ballot for voters in the Perdido area in the November 2024 general election. To view the January 23 meeting on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IisC1R5M5M; for earlier reporting on the incorporation initiative, see the December 8, 2022 Pensacola News Journal article “Group looks to launch incorporation effort for Perdido Key area” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2022/12/08/perdido-key-residents-launching-effort-to-incorporate-as-new-city/69703179007/; to follow the initiative on social media, go to https://Facebook.com/weareperdido/.
Beach Access #4 Lawsuit Denied
An Escambia County judge denied the Seafarer Condos Owners Association effort to prevent Beach Access #4 from being developed “stating the development was legal.” The beach access location next to the Crab Trap Restaurant was opened in 2021 and provided an additional 35 parking spaces for public use. The attorney for the Seafarer noted his clients “look forward to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services holding the County to the specific requirements of the grant and the Habitat Conservation Plan.” For more on the issue, go to the March 21, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Judge rules public beach access in Perdido Key can stay open to the public” by Mollye Barrows at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/03/21/judge-favors-of-escambia-in-dispute-over-perdido-key-beach-access-4/70030133007/.
Most years Perdido Key beaches have a bout with seaweed lasting a few weeks. With a 5,000 mile swath of seaweed meandering westward in the Atlantic Ocean, one can only hope the seaweed (sargassum macroalgae) does not come ashore in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Escambia County’s marine resources manager Robert Turpin cited a plan to remove excess seaweed from “amenity beaches” on Pensacola Beach if it exceeds normal amounts. Increased algae blooms in recent years may be linked to various human activities. For more on the issue, see the March 15, 2023 USA Today article “Stinky blob of algae takes aim at Florida beaches. What’s causing it? Is it Climate change?” by Dinah Voyles Pulver at https://www.yahoo.com/news/big-stinky-blob-algae-takes-233700065.html and the March 22, 2023 article “Escambia, Santa Rosa ready for 5,000-mile-wide sargassum blob moving toward Florida” by Benjamin Johnson at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/beaches/2023/03/22/sargassum-seaweed-blob-florida-how-are-escambia-santa-rosa-preparing/70031137007/.
Blue Angels Practice and Airshow Schedule
The Pensacola News Journal published the Blue Angels 2023 practice and airshow schedule in the attached March 20, 2022 article “Blue Angels 2023 practice schedule in Pensacola announced.” They will have air shows on Pensacola Beach on July 9 and NAS Pensacola on November 3 and 4. The article is available at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2023/03/20/blue-angels-2023-practice-schedule-in-pensacola-and-where-to-watch/70030551007/.
Both Spans of Pensacola Bay Bridge now open
The second span of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge – the Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr. Bridge – was opened to traffic on February 14, 2023 after long delays in the project caused in part by damage from Hurricane Sally in September 2020. Only two lanes of the three lanes on each span are currently in use as work continues to complete the project. For more on this issue, see the February 14, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Westbound span of Pensacola Bay Bridge is open. PPD has already made 21 traffic stops” by Kevin Robinson at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2023/02/13/pensacola-bay-bridge-to-gulf-bridge-three-mile-bridge-fully-opens/69899483007/.
Perdido Key Multi-Use Path
Progress is being made to begin work on the west portion of the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. Fully funded by a $4.5 million grant from the RESTORE program, in January 2023 the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners awarded $450,000 to a contractor to lead the construction effort. Completion is anticipated in 2024.
Perdido Key State Park
Work has begun on repairs to the Perdido Key State Park East Use Area. When the East Use Area is completed, the West Use Area – currently open for emergency use – will be closed for repairs. Scheduled completion dates are uncertain.
Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore
The dune walkovers and many dunes themselves were destroyed by Hurricane Sally in 2020. A $3.2 million RESTORE grant has been received for “Johnson Beach Access Management and Habitat Protection” with the goal of restoring beaches and dunes and reducing disturbance to habitat. When completed, roadside parking will be prohibited but three parking lots will be built on the north side of the road along with eight new dune crossovers. A .9 mile boardwalk trail will be constructed on the left side of Johnson Beach Road as pedestrians and cyclist enter the park. A number of additional enhancements are anticipated including new entrance sign and reader boards on the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. Contracting packages are being created with construction possibly beginning in fall 2023.
Historic Agreement on Ocean Treaty
After decades of discussion, countries came together under UN auspices to agree on a “High Seas Treaty” aimed at protecting the 30% of the world’s oceans not previously protected. “Marine life living outside of these protected areas has been at risk from climate change, overfishing and shipping traffic.” The treaty requires formal ratification along with additional administrative action but is set to take effect in 2030, i.e., the goal of the “30 by 30” ocean campaign. For more on the issue, see the March 4, 2023 BBC News article “Ocean treaty: Historic agreement reached after decades of talks” by Esme Stallard at https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-64815782.
Alligator Attack Fatality
An elderly woman was killed by an alligator while walking her dog at Fort Piece, Florida. The 10 foot alligator came out of nearby water and attacked the dog, but turned on her when she protected the dog. According to FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), since 1948 out of 442 unprovoked alligator bites in Florida only 26 resulted in fatalities. Also according to FWC, if attacked by an alligator “the best thing to do is fight back” since it may let go and retreat. For more on the issue, see the February 21, 2023 BBC News article “Alligator kills 85-year-old woman in Florida” by Chloe Kim at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64720198.
Depending on winds and tides, we may soon see our Perdido Key beaches lined with Portuguese man-of-war as in the attached photo from 2020. With long stinging tentacles, they are not to be trifled with – even if dead. For more on these fascinating creatures, go to the Ocean Conservancy short article at the following link. https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2020/03/10/5-facts-portuguese-man-owar/?ea.tracking.id=23LPCNBAXX&utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=202303_OceanWildlife&utm_content=20230303-AmazingOceanWildlife-Prospects-Email1A-23LPCNBAX.
Short Term Rental Discussions
Both Pensacola and Pensacola Beach have discussed some form of regulation on short term/vacation rental properties. “Florida law prevents municipalities from banning vacation rentals or regulating the required length of stay, but cities can pass rules regulating the rentals as businesses.” Those in favor of some regulations voice concern about how short-term rentals can undermine the character of neighborhoods while those opposed can cite possible income loss and private property rights. For more on the issue, see the January 31, 2023 WEAR report “Pensacola Beach residents calling for short-term rental regulations” by Kelsey Coffey at https://weartv.com/news/local/pensacola-beach-residents-calling-for-short-term-rental-regulation and the February 17, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Are regulations needed to keep short-term rentals accountable? Pensacola wants more date” by Jim Little at https://news.yahoo.com/regulations-needed-keep-short-term-101046778.html. Related issues on local control and citizens’ rights being considered in the Florida legislature can be found at the 1000 Friends of Florida article “2023 Florida Legislative Update” at https://1000fof.org/legis/2023-legislative-session/.
Bids to Develop OLF-8
Developer D.R. Horton recently made a $33 million cash offer for OLF-8, the several hundred acre former Naval outlying landing field, followed by a $35 million cash offer from Breland Companies that was then met with a $38 million counteroffer from Horton. Each offer has a number of additional provisions for the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners to consider as is concern on how the bids might impact the $14 million Triumph Gulf Coast grant awarded for OLF-8 roads and infrastructure. For more on the issue, see the February 17, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Bidding war: Escambia County gets multiple multi-million-dollar offers on OLF 8” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/02/17/escambia-county-olf-8-projects-has-offers-from-multiple-developers/69911299007/.
Bands on the Beach for 2023
The lineup for the popular “Bands on the Beach” free concerts held on Tuesday evenings at Pensacola Beach is available at https://www.pnj.com/story/entertainment/2023/02/01/pensacola-beach-bands-on-the-beach-2023-dates-lineup-announced/69862524007/.
Local Affordable Housing Ranked
A SmartAsset.com study of affordable places to live in Florida listed a number of locations in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, including Brent, Bellview, Milton, West Pensacola and East Milton. The study considered factors such as “closing costs, real estate taxes, homeowners’ insurance and mortgage rates across the state.” For more on the issue, see the February 13, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Escambia, Santa Rosa areas dominate SmartAsset’s most affordable places to live in Florida” by Brandon Girod at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/community/2023/02/13/most-affordable-places-to-live-florida-west-pensacola-milton-brent-bellview/69891943007/.
For recent guidance on preventing waterway contamination from sewage, see the February 9, 2023 UF/IFAS Panhandle Outdoors publication “Reducing Health Advisories in Our Coastal Waters, Part 1 Septic” by Rick O’Connor at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2023/02/09/reducing-health-advisories-in-our-coastal-waters-part-1-septic-maintenance/.
New Crab Trap Device required to help Diamondback Terrapins
Beginning March 1, 2023, recreational traps fished in Florida waters will be required to have a funnel opening no larger than 6×2 inches. The new devices can by obtained at no charge from county extension offices with Sea Grant Agents, such as Escambia County. The new traps are designed to help protect diamondback terrapins in Florida waters. For more on this issue, see the February 3, 2023 UF/IFAS Extension publication “FWC’s New Ruling for Recreational Crab Traps” by Rick O’Connor at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2023/02/02/fwcs-new-ruling-for-recreational-crab-traps/#:~:text=The%20new%20ruling%20calls%20for,%2C%20by%20March%201%2C%202023.&text=Diamondback%20terrapins%20are%20a%20species%20of%20special%20concern%20in%20the%20state.
A Fish Farm near Perdido Key?
An industrial-scale fish farm in the Gulf of Mexico is being proposed for the Pensacola area. In a memorandum from Christian Wagley of Healthy Coast: “A New York company has applied for permits to setup an industrial-scale fish farm about 25 miles offshore from Perdido Key that would raise over 5 million pounds of fish annually. Fish farms similar to this one have caused pollution and harm to wild fish in many areas around the world.” A fish farm proposed near Siesta Key and Sarasota has been opposed by government and non-governmental groups and is currently being challenged in court. Additional information can be found at https://healthygulf.org/2022/08/18/a-new-threat-for-the-gulf-industrial-finfish-farms/. For earlier reporting on the issue, see the July 20, 2022 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola may get one of Florida’s first offshore fish farms, and some are already worried” by Colin Warren-Hicks at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2022/07/20/manna-fish-farms-seeking-open-gulf-mexico-farm-near-pensacola/10051025002/.
Perdido Key Beach Owners Defend Signage
Recent articles in the Pensacola News Journal along with speakers at the Escambia County Board of County Commissioner’s Public Forum on December 8, 2022 addressed the issue of “No Trespassing” signs on Perdido Key private beaches. Unlike beaches on Pensacola Beach and Orange Beach but like 60% of other beaches in Florida, Perdido Key has several miles of privately owned beaches. Escambia County policy specifies Perdido Key beachfront property owners can post up to three single post signs along the borders of their property. Reducing allowed signs would lower the ability of property owners to retain the privacy of their beaches. Several Perdido Key property owners spoke at the Public Forum and did a remarkable job articulating their problems with trespassing and vandalism and the need for signs and more government enforcement. For more on this issue, see the Pensacola News Journal December 9, 2022 article “Perdido Key property owners defend ‘No trespassing’ signs on beaches as visitors push back” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2022/12/09/perdido-key-property-owners-defend-no-trespassing-signs-on-beaches/69709866007/.
More Pensacola Area Accolades
Pensacola was listed as 33 out of 151 on the 2023 list best US cities in which to live. Conducted by nonprofit group Scholaroo, Pensacola fared well in issues such as quality of life and health care. Pensacola Beach was ranked 20th on Tripadvisor’s Best Beaches in the US list, but behind Destin and Panama City beaches. For more on these issues, see the March 02, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola landed on another ‘best cities to live in’ list” by Brandon Girod at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/2023/03/02/pensacola-ranks-in-scholaroos-top-50-best-cities-to-live-in-list/69950697007/ and the March 02, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Pensacola ranked in Tripadvisor’s Top 25 Best Beaches in the U.S. list” by Brandon Girod at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/pensacola/beaches/2023/02/28/pensacola-beach-ranks-in-tripadvisors-top-25-best-beaches-in-the-u-s/69953698007/.
2023 PKA Annual Membership Meeting
About 30 members attended the PKA Annual Membership Meeting on February 25, 2023, at the Eden Condominium; Zoom attendance was planned but connection was not adequately made. Guest speaker Matt Posner, Director of the Pensacola & Perdido Bays Estuary Program, provided valuable information on the health of our region’s waterways as well as the activities of his organization. He emphasized how important seagrass was to our estuaries, noting its health varied by location with the Perdido area in fair shape but Pensacola Bay less fortunate. He also spoke to the recent partial oyster harvest closure in Pensacola Bay caused by excess bacteria but pointed out that local oysters being sold were safe. The Pensacola & Perdido Bay Estuary Program is currently part of Escambia County government and recently completed its first “Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for the Pensacola and Perdido Bay” watersheds. The organization is seeking “National Estuary Program” designation to make it eligible for federal funding. For more on the organization and projects addressing the health of local waterways, see the “2023 – Matt Posner PKA Presentation” slides posted on the Archive page of this website; you can also go to the organization’s website at https://www.ppbep.org/. PKA president Charles Krupnick continued the meeting identifying PKA Directors for 2023 and reporting on PKA membership and finances, noting the strains on the budget from increased cost of goods and services. He covered Association activities in 2022 including appearances at Escambia County Board of County Commissioner and Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce meetings as well as participation in the June World Oceans Day event. He also providing updates on Perdido Key State Park and Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore restoration efforts and other local infrastructure and construction issues. The meeting included a discussion of the current “We are Perdido” incorporation initiative with initiative leader Steve Brendtro in attendance. The audience was encouraged to renew their PKA membership for 2023 as well as to consider becoming PKA Directors. A draft of the “2023 – PKA Annual Membership Meeting Minutes” is posted on the Archive page of this website.
PKA Holiday Party 2022
The PKA Holiday Party on December 12, 2022 provided a wonderful kickoff to the Holiday Season! With terrific decorations and great food provided by PKA Board members and many others, good cheer and comradery were the order of the day. Held at the Palacio Resort – Perdido Key for the first time, the old saying that “a good time was had by all” was particularly appropriate!
International Coastal Cleanup Day 2022!
On a beautiful September 17th, about 25 volunteers participated in a cleanup of Perdido Key beaches sponsored by the Perdido Key Association and Florida State Parks and supported by the Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Perdido Rotary Club and Perdido Key Chamber Foundation. The event was part of local celebrations of International Coastal Cleanup Day – a worldwide event for the past 35 years now held in over 150 countries. Trash collected during the event was deposited in a container provided by ECUA.
World Oceans Day 2022
World Oceans Day is held every year on June 8 to celebrate the bounty and importance of our wonderful oceans. For those of us on the Northwest Florida and Alabama coast, our part of the oceans is the magnificent Gulf of Mexico! The UN theme for World Oceans Day 2022 is “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.” Support is also requested for the 30×30 project where 30% of the oceans and 30% of land is protected by 2030. Currently less than 17% of land and 8% of the oceans worldwide are protected.
Perdido Key’s World Oceans Day celebration at the Perdido Key Visitors Center was a considerable success. Families, other groups and individuals enjoyed the many ocean-themed exhibits and discussions provided by participants. Activities included a touch-tank of mollusks and other animals found in local waters plus a visit by a tiny owl from the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. The event also featured the opening of the Perdido Key Coastal Demonstration Garden adjacent to the Visitors Center. Organized by the Perdido Key Area Chamber of Commerce, personnel from many local, state and federal organizations contributed to this year’s World Oceans Day event.
NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Shark Attacks in 2022
According to the International Shark Attack File, five people died from shark attacks in 2022 (one in Hawaii, two in South Africa and two in Egypt). 57 unprovoked attacks were also reported. Florida had 32 provoked bites and 16 unprovoked bites. For more on the issue, see the February 6, 2023 Treasure Coast Newspapers article “Shark attacks: Florida researchers release 2022 statistics on shark bites and deaths” by Ed Killer at https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/florida/2023/02/06/shark-attack-uf-university-florida-gainesville-museum-natural-history-florida-program-shark-research/69866763007/.
For detailed information on our local manatee population, go to https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2021.725837/full?&utm_source=Email_to_authors_&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&utm_campaign=Email_publication&field&journalName=Frontiers_in_Marine_Science&id=725837&fbclid=IwAR2smP1pPGGJYPZOckHKUAgugORPsRDGA29JcMMYdFUgrLdu2uAkXMKW5t4.
Facts on Recycling
Among several interesting facts from the March 17, 2023 BBC News article “How recycling can help the climate and other facts,” 53.6 million tonnes (a tonne is 1,000 kilograms/2,205 pounds) of electronic waste (phones, TVs, etc.) were discarded in 2019 with only 17.4% recycled. One tonne of smartphone waste contains 154 pounds of copper, 33 pounds of lithium, 2.2 pounds of silver and 8.2 ounces of gold – enough gold for 26-78 wedding rings. For more information, go to the referenced article at https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230317-how-recycling-can-help-the-climate-and-other-facts.
Fewer Monarch Butterflies in Mexico
The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexican mountains have dropped by 22%. This is measured by the number of acres with trees covered by monarchs. The loss of trees is caused by several factors, including illegal logging and decline from disease, pests and fires. Monarchs are also threatened by the loss of milkweed plants along their migration routes to the United States and Canada. For more on the issue, see the March 22, 2023 Associated Press article “Number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico drops 22%” by Mark Stevenson and Armando Solis at https://apnews.com/article/mexico-monarch-butterflies-report-e03c8d43df1872b645c7083a6ae3e691.