News

World Ocean Day 2024

World Ocean Day was held on June 8, 2024 at Escambia County Beach Access #4. Beginning with beach yoga, the event featured presentations by Escambia County’s Sea Turtle Ambassadors, Friends of Pensacola State Parks, Southwest Public Library and the Perdido Key Association as well as offerings from several vendors. While enjoying a beautiful day at the beach, the event provided those attending a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of the ocean and the fascinating sea life it supports. For more information on our oceans and the threats to them, please access the several Power Point slide presentations that follow:

Multi-Use Path Almost Complete!

On about June 7, 2024, workers laid down the final segment of the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path. This was at the west end of Perdido Key State Park connecting the east portion being constructed with the west portion completed over two years ago. What a fantastic opportunity for Perdido Key residents and guests to be able to ride a bicycle or run/walk the six miles from the Theo Baars Bridge to the Alabama border completely separated from Perdido Key Drive! The path also connects with the River Road and Johnson Beach Road paths and has numerous commercial and visit opportunities along the way. A ribbon-cutting ceremony should be announced in the weeks ahead.

Lifeguards on Perdido Key

Escambia County has begun lifeguard service on Perdido Key. From the Escambia County Newscenter article “Pensacola Beach Lifeguards Begin Service at Perdido Key May 23”: “Lifeguards will be stationed at Perdido Key Public Access #2 from May 23 to Aug. 11, 2024, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Throughout the day, a lifeguard will travel to Public Access #1, #3, and #4 to monitor the water and make contact with beach patrons.” For more on this issue, go to https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2024/05/23/pensacola-beach-lifeguards-begin-service-at-perdido-key-may-23.

Updated Beach Flags

Updated Beach Flags

To remain consistent with state and local beach agencies, Pensacola Beach Lifeguards have revised the beach flag system for Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key measuring surf risks as follows:

  • Green flag – Low Hazard: Generally calms surf and currents
  • Yellow flag – Medium Hazard: Moderate surf and/or currents
  • Red flag – High Hazard: High surf and/or dangerous currents; beach patrons encouraged to remain out of the water
  • Double red flag – Water Closed: No swimming or wading  
  • Purple flag – Stinging Marine Life: Flown when jellyfish, Portuguese man o’war or other stinging marine life are present

 

For more on this issue, go to the June 4, 2024 Escambia County News Article “Updated beach flag system” at https://myescambia.com/news/news-article/2024/06/04/pensacola-beach-lifeguards-update-flag-system.

No Probably Cause of Sunshine State Law Violations

As published in the Pensacola News Journal: “An Escambia County Grand Jury has returned a No True Bill over concerns about Sunshine State law violations involving leaked text messages from Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh’s cell phone. The State Attorney’s Office said the grand jury found that probable cause did not exist that any crime had been committed. The No True Bill was returned on May 21.” For more on this issue, go to May 30, 2024 Pensacola News Journal article “Grand Jury finds no probably cause county commissioners violate Florida Sunshine laws” by Mollye Barrows at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2024/05/30/escambia-county-grand-jury-found-no-probable-cause-commissioners-broke-law/73882586007/.

Florida Property Insurance Market Getting Better

According to a recent USA Today article, insurance industry experts say that Florida’s property insurance companies “are on solid footing” and “the insurance market is much stronger than we’ve seen in recent years.” This is because 2023 saw only one hurricane strike in the state and that a “handful of new insurance companies” have enhanced competition. For more on this issue, see the May 29, 2024 Tallahassee Democrat/USA Today Network article “With worst hurricane season forecast, insurance industry supplies some rare good news” by John Kennedy at https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/state/2024/05/29/with-a-record-hurricane-season-forecast-insurers-are-ready-maybe/73836287007/.

Sea Turtle Nesting Season in Progress!

Sea turtle nesting season runs from May 1 through Oct. 31, 2024 with several nests already reported on both Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. Local nesting activity usually peaks in July with hatching in August and September. For more on sea turtles and how to protect them, go to Escambia County’s article “Sea Turtle Nesting Season Starts May 1!” at https://myescambia.com/our-services/natural-resources-management/marine-resources/sea-turtles/sea-turtles-on-the-beach.

More on Rice’s Whale

The status and protection of the endangered Rice’s whale have been in the news the last year or two. Most recently northwest Florida’s US Representative Matt Gaetz has introduced legislation “to support Air Force exemptions to the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act” that would allow testing and training activities that “may result in the incidental take [harming or killing] of the Rice’s Whale.” According to Michael Jasny of the National Resources Defense Council (a nonprofit organization focused on environmental issues), passage of the Gaetz amendment “would just be setting a terrible precedent.” For more on this issue, go to the May 31, 2024 Pensacola News Journal article “Congressman Matt Gaetz again tries to remove protections for severely endangered Rice’s Whale” by Tom McLaughlin at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/navarre/2024/05/31/congressman-matt-gaetz-seeks-to-remove-eglin-protections-for-rices-whale/73891931007/.

Lionfish Tournaments

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced its 2024 Lionfish Tournament which will take place from May 24 until September 2, 2024.  Participants can compete in either the commercial or recreational divisions and compete for top competitor grand prizes. For the full tournament announcement, go to https://fwcreefrangers.com/lionfish-challenge/. The FWC tournament follows the successful Emerald Coast Open tournament where 147 divers participating. A total of 11,844 lionfish were removed from area waters during the Feb 1-May 16, 2024 Pre-Tournament and May 17-18, 2024 Tournament. For more on the Emerald Coast Open, go to https://emeraldcoastopen.com/.

Pensacola Area State Parks Article

The Pensacola News Journal published an informative article on our area’s Florida State Parks noting that each(i.e., Big Lagoon State Park, Perdido Key State Park and Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park) has “a unique identity” and offer activities from stargazing to rare plants. To access the article, go to the April 16, 2024 Pensacola News Journal article “Looking for things to do in Pensacola? Try one of our three state parks” by Brandon Girod at https://www.pnj.com/story/life/2024/04/16/florida-state-parks-big-lagoon-perdido-key-tarkiln-bayou-preserve/73333768007/.

No More Tolls on Foley Beach Express Bridge!

Trips from Perdido Key to Baldwin County and beyond will be less expensive and maybe quicker because tolls on the Foley Beach Express Bridge (next to The Wharf district in Orange Beach) were terminated on May 23, 2024! This follows the bridge’s purchase by the State of Alabama from the Baldwin County Bridge Company for $57 million. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said ““Our coast continues to experience record growth and success, and I am proud we are making needed infrastructure improvements in the area that will help alleviate traffic congestion for Alabamians and those visiting our beaches.” For more on this issue, see the May 23, 2024 WBRC article “Tolls eliminated from Beach Express after state purchases private toll bridge” at https://www.wbrc.com/2024/05/23/tolls-eliminated-beach-express-after-state-purchases-private-toll-bridge/.

June 18 Boat Launch Ribbon Cutting

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Perdido Bay Boat Ramp and Multi-Use Area at 10836 Lillian Highway will be held at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. The boat ramp is located just north of the Lillian Highway/Rt. 98 intersection and should be a great addition to the County. Further public notification of the ribbon cutting is expected shortly.

New PKA Members

Following a successful mail-out membership campaign, the Perdido Key Association membership has increased by more than 80 families! We plan to build on this success with other initiatives later this year and look to your continued support in encouraging others to join.

Northern Lights and Cicadas All at Once!

May 2024 was a month of unusual natural phenomena. Because of intense solar storms, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) were visible at least as far south as northern Alabama while several broods of cicadas made their presence heard across the same and many other areas of the country, though Northwest Florida seemed too far south to be part of these events.

Where do Beaches come from?

We all enjoy our beautiful beaches, but where do they come from? For some interesting beach facts, go to the February 7, 2024 Ocean Conservancy article “Top Facts about the Beach” by Robyn Stegman at https://oceanconservancy.org/blog/2023/02/09/top-facts-about-the-beach/?ea.tracking.id=24LPENBDXX&utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=202405_BeachC&utm_content=20240528-BeachSummerRoundup-Prospects-Email1A-24LPENBDXX.

Rosamond Johnson Beach Day Celebrated

Rosamond Johnson Beach Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 4, 2022 at Johnson Beach – the beach named for him at the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore. He was a 17 year old African American Army private who saved two wounded soldiers and died trying to save a third during the Korean War. The event featured several speakers including Escambia County Commissioners Jeff Bergosh and Lumon May, National Park Service officials, featured speaker Retired Navy Captain Pat Everly and members of Private Johnson’s family. For more on the ceremony, see the May 5, 2024 Pensacola News Journal article “Escambia community honors Rosamond Johnson, who joined Army at 15, died in Korea at 17” by Troy Moon at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2024/05/05/rosamond-johnson-beach-in-perdido-key-celebrates-korean-war-hero/73553161007/

Development “Concurrency” Discussed

With rapid development in Northwest Florida ongoing, many are concerned that infrastructure – including schools and roads – is not keeping up with the creation of new neighborhoods and commercial enterprises. “Concurrency” can require developers to provide infrastructure if evaluation of their proposed developments indicate the need, but concurrency has not been required in Escambia County since 2013. District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh brought up the issue at a recent meeting of Escambia County Commissioners noting: “I understand we’re a growing community … I’m not anti-growth; I’m actually pro-growth, but it has to be done intelligently. Right now, we’re the only large county in the state that does not have both local option sales tax and some form of transportation, mobility fees, concurrency or impact fees.” He hopes to get concurrency back into the County’s land development code. For more on this issue, see the May 3, 2024 Pensacola News Journal article “As Escambia grows, commissioners may tap developers to help upgrade infrastructure” by Jim Little at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2024/05/03/escambia-county-to-look-at-concurrency-to-pressure-from-new-growth/73540003007/.

 

River Road Reopened!

Replacement of the culverts under River Road and related construction at the bridge area are completed. Vehicular traffic and use of the bicycle/pedestrian path have been restored!

Search for Invasive Cogongrass

Cogongrass is a destructive invasive species that has been found on Perdido Key and other locations in Northwest Florida and Coastal Alabama. Cogongrass is relatively easy to identify currently as a tall grass with a fluffy top. Once established it is difficult to remove without speading it further so following proper procedures is important. Guidance on identifying cogongrass and its removal can be found in the UF/IFAS April 20, 2024 article “Now is the Time to Search for Invasive Cogongrass” by Rick O’Oconnor at https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/nat/2024/04/20/now-is-the-time-to-search-for-invasive-cogongrass/; the article was republished in the April 17-May 01, 2024 Mullet Wrapper article titled “Invasive cogongrass has reached Perdido Key” at Mullet Wrapper: Invasive cogongrass has reached Perdido Key in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach.

Fish Farm

The off-shore fish farm proposed for the Gulf of Mexico about 26 miles south of Pensacola is in the permit approval process. US agencies including NOAA and important interest groups support its creation while some environmental and other groups are opposed. It would be the first major finfish farm in US federal waters though a small scale operation is approved for the Sarasota area but delayed by legal challenges. Concerns about off shore finfish farms include likely increase in nutrient levels in surrounding waters, possibility of disease spreading from fish farms to native species and dangers to whales and other sea life from the apparatus. The Perdido Key Association has joined the “Don’t Cage Our Oceans” coalition that opposes the fish farm. For information on the opposing initiative, go to Don’t Cage Our Oceans | STOP INDUSTRIAL OCEAN FISH FARMING (dontcageouroceans.org); for the website of the group proposing the fish farm, go to Florida Offshore – Manna Fish Farms; for an early report on the proposed fish farm, go to the July 20, 2023 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 Manna Fish Farms seeking to open Gulf of Mexico farm near Pensacola (pnj.com).

Charging E-bicycles

With electric bicycles growing in popularity and likely to be ridden extensively on Perdido Key in the coming years, users are encouraged to exercise caution when charging their e-bikes since excessive heat, fire and even explosive danger could arise. For more on this issue, go to the April 28, 2024 BBC article “E-bike users warned of indoor charging dangers at  https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cv20vzpm123o.

RESTORE Amendment 3 Approved by BOCC

Escambia County’s proposed “Restore Act Multi-Year Implementation Plan Amendment 3” includes a request for “Perdido Key Public Beach Access – Property Acquisition and Construction” where $3.6 million would be used to acquire Perdido Key property for public beach access and parking among other “potential amenities.” At its January 23, 2024 meeting, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioner voted in favor of the Amendment that will now pass to the US Treasury Department for review and action. To view RESTORE Amendment 3, go to https://myescambia.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/myip-3-flyer-draft-final-3.pdf?sfvrsn=8ab1b668_2.

Perdido Key Private Beach Public Access Dispute

District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh and Escambia County are following up on a finding that some 1957 deeds transferring Perdido Key property from the Federal Government to private ownership specified the southerly 75 feet of the Gulf front lots were “subject to a perpetual easement for a beach for public use generally.” The properties affected are from Perdido Skye Condominium to the eastern boundary of Perdido Key State Park. A recent entry in Commissioner Bergosh’s blog points to likely legal action by some affected beachfront property owners regarding the easement. For more information, consult Commissioner Bergosh’s blog at http://jeffbergoshblog.blogspot.com/ and the April 13, 2023 Pensacola News Journal article “Old deeds give new life to the fight for public access to Perdido Key beaches” by Mollye Barrows at https://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2023/04/13/property-deeds-give-public-an-edge-in-fight-for-access-to-beaches-on-perdido-k-versus-private-beache/70107445007/.

2023 PKA Holiday Party!

Those attending the PKA Holiday Party on December 11, 2023 at the Palacio Resort on Perdido Key Drive had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones. Wonderful food and multiple beverage choices were available and terrific decorations on display. The PKA Board of Directors wishes you and yours the very best of Holiday Seasons!

PKA Annual Membership Meeting!

Approximately 30 people attended the Perdido Key Association Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, February 24, 2024 at the Eden Condominium, with others joining on Zoom. Featured speaker Christian Wagley, the coastal organizer for Healthy Gulf, gave a terrific presentation on several issues including potential threats from a proposed industrial fish farm in the Gulf of Mexico offshore from Pensacola and the status of and efforts to help the rare Rice’s whale. PKA President Stan Capua followed and addressed Perdido Key issues such as continued work to restore Perdido Key State Park and the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore (Johnson Beach) from 2020’s Hurricane Sally damage, progress on the Perdido Key Multi-Use Path and other construction and development related issues. Other Board members provided information on the Perdido Key Drive/Johnson Beach Road roundabout and changes to Beach Access #2; “We Are Perdido” leader Steve Brendtro added an update on the Perdido area incorporation initiative. The meeting minutes will be posted shortly on the Archive page of the PKA website.

Perdido Key Beach Cleanup

The Perdido Key Association, Friends of Pensacola State Parks and Florida State Park rangers hosted International Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at the Perdido Key State Park West Use Area. Over 50 volunteers helped cleanup our beaches including very active participation from 10 students from Pensacola Catholic High School. Trash removed included large debris remaining from Hurricane Sally. T-shirts unique to the event were distributed to all participants. It was a great community effort to improve our Perdido Key’s beach environment!

NOTES ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Nutria on Perdido Key?

 

Nutria are invasive rodents from South America now found in many parts of the world. Often introduced for their fur and sometimes used as a food source, nutria can be destructive and have severely damage wetlands in places like Louisiana. A population of nutria has been identified for many years on Perdido Key, primarily on the Lost Key Golf Course. If seen elsewhere, please contact the Escambia County Extension Office at 850-475-5230 ext.1111or Roc1@ufl.edu.

Tilapia in Escambia County?

 

Tilapia is a fish we might have for dinner, but is considered an invasive species in the United States. Originating primarily in Africa, Tilapia have been found in the upper arm of Bayou Chico here in Escambia County. If caught (perhaps with a cast net) or photographed, please contact the Escambia County Extension Office at 850-475-5230 ext.1111or Roc1@ufl.edu for species identification and to help begin a management plan. Drawn from May 9, 2024 Sea Grant Notes – Invasive Species by Rick O’Connor.

Blue Tilapia credit USGS Noel

Highlighting Endangered Species

 

Here are three endangered ocean species discussed in a May 13, 2024 Ocean Conservancy e-mail by Emily Simeral Roberts with links to additional information:

  1. Oceanic whitetip sharks are top predators that love the wide-open ocean. Because their meals can be few and far between, oceanic whitetip sharks are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat pretty much anything that comes across their paths, including large fish like tuna and marlin, cephalopods, other sharks and even sea birds. Learn more about oceanic whitetip sharks >>
  2. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the world’s most endangered sea turtle. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles spend their days in shallow waters with muddy bottoms in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Females nest every one to three years and often travel hundreds of miles to get to just the right location, aiming for the same beach where they hatched. Learn more about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles >>
  3. North Atlantic right whales are among the world’s largest animals, weighing up to 70 tons. Animals that big need a lot of fuel, and they can eat up to 5,500 pounds of food a day. You might be able to recognize North Atlantic right whales by the callosities around their heads, which are raised patches of thickened skin that are often covered by crustaceans known as whale lice. Learn more about North Atlantic right whales >>

Cuban Treefrog

 

The Cuban treefrog is an invasive species and predator of Florida’s native treefrogs. Cuban treefrogs are widely dispersed in southern Florida and have been making their way north with 81 sightings reported in the Panhandle. Identification and removal of the species before they become more established is a priority. To find out how to identify Cuban treefrogs and what to do when found, go to the February 24, 2023 UF/IFAS article “The Cuban Treefrog in Florida” by Stephen A. Johnson at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/UW259.