Annual Membership Meeting, January 7
First, the nearly 30 members present voted by acclamation to install two new Directors on the Board. They are Linda Palma and Tim Nelson. Both Linda and Tim spend a lot of time volunteering at the
Buffer center, helping with ongoing projects and creating new enhancements for the Visitor Center. Among their many contributions, Linda has recorded a self-guided audio tour of the exhibits by Sandra Chafin, now available any time in the Visitor Center. Tim and Allix North have produced a beautiful drone fly-over tour of the Buffer Preserve. You can watch it on the television in the Visitor Center.
A $500 check from the Florida Scallop and Music Festival of Port St. Joe was presented by Guerry Magidson, Chairman of the Board of Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, to Friends President Lynda
Buffer Preserve Manager Dylan Shoemaker presented a PowerPoint talk on the issues facing the Buffer Preserve this year. He reminded us that the mandate of the Preserves is “To Conserve and Protect.” Six current issues were discussed:
I. Restoring the hydrology (natural water flow) within the Buffer’s three watersheds. The focus now is on the Money Bayou watershed.
II. Protecting plant and animal resources.
III. Controlling invasive species, both plants and animals.
IV. Protection of the 18 cultural and historical archaeological sites in the Preserve.
V. Promoting conservation and responsible use of the natural area by the public. The Preserve has recently added a new staff member, Shana Hale, who specializes in education and outreach.
VI. Promoting scientific research that contributes to conservation and protection of native ecosystems.
Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves Manager Jonathan Brucker presented a talk about current projects of the Aquatic Preserves. Volunteer opportunities were emphasized. Aquatic Preserves volunteers are needed to help with water quality monitoring in the four bays, St. Joseph Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Alligator Harbor, and St. Andrews Bay. The water is tested for nutrients and for harmful algal blooms. Volunteers may also help with seagrass monitoring at around 25 sites in St. Joseph Bay and others in Alligator Harbor and Apalachicola Bay. If you want to volunteer, please email Jonathan.Brucker@dep.state.fl.us , or call the Aquatic Preserves, 850-670-7723.
Several important restoration projects are underway in the bays of the Preserves. Seagrass restoration is an important one since many marine animals depend on the seagrass. Scars in seagrass beds will be filled in using a sediment tube method, beginning this summer, and 49 buoys have been deployed to prevent motor boats entering shallow areas of the bays. Other restoration projects include oyster clutch replacement and the Living Shoreline Project, funded by BP oil spill payments, which will add beneficial vegetation along shorelines.