It has been another busy year at the Apalachicola NERR and you will see a multitude of accomplishments highlighted in this issue of the Oystercatcher, which serves as our annual report. With things not slowing down this fall, I would like to take this opportunity to look ahead and highlight some upcoming events.
The staff are currently completing the periodic review for our Biosphere Reserve designation. The Research Reserve was designated as an UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve in 1983 due to its high biodiversity and conservation value. Once the review is completed, members of the Reserve Advisory Committee (RAC) and the public will have an opportunity to comment on the review document at the regular RAC meeting in the fall.
We are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to extend the closure period of the St. George Island Causeway Critical Wildlife Area (CWA). Because of its value for nesting shorebirds, the Causeway was designated as a CWA in 1990. Since then, the nesting areas (and now the entire causeway) have been closed to the public from April 1 through August 31. Regular surveys by Florida Audubon have shown that certain species are nesting earlier than April 1st and some birds are not fully fledged until after August 31, hence the need to extend the closure period. The proposed date change for the Causeway, as well as the designation of new CWAs around the state, will be voted on at the November Commission meeting.
In October we will have a new exhibit at the nature center titled “A Walk on the Beach.” Dr. Robert Simmons will be displaying his photography and found object art which focuses on marine debris found in our local waters and along our shores. His use of microscopy will show how the smallest particles of debris make their way into our environment and impact our ecosystem. As Dr. Simmons describes his photographs, “some of them are quite beautiful and others may be a bit frightening.”
Lastly, please join us for Estuaries Day on Friday, September 23rd. As always, there will be games and touch tanks for kids and exhibits for adults. This annual event is an opportunity for us all to celebrate our amazing estuary and all it provides to us.