Conservancy of Southwest Florida to host Nature Cat Day May 7

Conservancy Logo

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has partnered with WGCU to host Nature Cat Day, featuring PBS Kids television character, Nature Cat, on Saturday, May 7, at the Conservancy Nature Center.

Children are invited to leave their inner house cats behind and explore the natural world as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida presents a special day of activities and character appearances by PBS Kids newest television show, Nature Cat. Throughout the day, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and experience nature as they encounter animals and enjoy interactive children’s activities that are based on the popular PBS Kids show.

“Our goal at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is to help our community connect with nature, enjoy exploring its many features and grow to love protecting the world we live in,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “Nature Cat Day offers our youngest members of the community the opportunity to have a blast learning with one of their favorite television characters, and we look forward to a day of fun and discovery.”

For more information on activities and experiences available at the Conservancy Nature Center, visit www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida hosts RedSnook Catch and Release Charity Tournament

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Annual competition to promote clean waterways

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida invites Southwest Florida anglers to participate in its annual RedSnook Catch and Release Charity Tournament Oct. 23-25. The three-day fundraising event will feature a kick-off party, two full days of fishing and an awards reception, all while raising awareness of the need for clean waterways and water quality’s influence on the Southwest Florida ecosystem. Proceeds will benefit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s juvenile game fish studies, water quality research and game estuary protection.

thumbnaiThe event begins on Friday, Oct. 23 with a kick-off party at the Conservancy Nature Center, featuring cocktails, dinner, raffle and a live auction. The Friday evening event is open to Conservancy members and supporters. The community can support the anglers and the Conservancy’s clean water efforts for just $50 per person.

Saturday morning, anglers will launch from Naples, Goodland and Everglades City for two days of fishing. The weekend event wraps up Sunday evening with a celebratory awards reception, at Northern Trust, 4001 Tamiami Trial N. in Naples.

For the second year, fly-fisherman Oliver White, will serve as the honorary chairman of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s RedSnook Charity Fishing Tournament.

“As an environmentalist and fisherman, I am proud to help support the Conservancy’s clean water efforts,” said White at the 2014 Charity Tournament. “The slogan, ‘Clean Water! More Fish!’ perfectly sums up what we want to accomplish so we can continue to enjoy our favorite sport.”thumbnail

The annual tournament will support the Conservancy’s commitment to water quality protection by forming relationships with decision-makers to raise awareness of the importance of clean water; minimizing pollution; creating the “Estuaries Report Card” to rate the condition of local waterways every five years; researching and monitoring juvenile gamefish habitats to ensure abundant future fish populations; restoring natural water flows; and protect environmental landmarks such as Ten Thousand Islands, Big Cypress, Estero Bay, the Cocohatchee Slough and the Caloosahatchee River.

“Through our annual RedSnook Catch and Release Charity Tournament, local anglers will have the opportunity to protect the wildlife of Southwest Florida by supporting Conservancy programs that are dedicated to maintaining the quality of Southwest Florida waterways,” said Rob Moher, Conservancy of Southwest Florida president and CEO. “This tournament will support the efforts of these programs to keep the beautiful Southwest Florida waterways clean and safe for future generations.”

For more information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s RedSnook Charity Fishing Tournament, or to register or sponsor a team, please email NikkieD@conservancy.org, call 239-403-4219 or visit www.Conservancy.org/RedSnook.

Thank you to these generous sponsors

The Beacon Group at Morgan Stanley

RGM Capital

Minto Group

Tompkins Family

DeVoe Automotive Group

Longhorn Steakhouse

Whole Foods Naples

Service by Jordan

Russell’s Clambakes

Naples Beach Brewery

Crave Culinaire

Backcountry Fly Fishers of Naples

Northern Trust

Lurgert Insurance

Premier Sotheby’s International Reality

CliftonLarsonAllen

Florida Weekly

Newbury North Associates

Conservancy of Southwest Florida responds to first groundwater test taken from first fracked well in Florida

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Critical groundwater sampling just began a week ago at the Hogan well, where unauthorized fracking had occurred more than a year and a half ago. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had withheld authorization of the technique due to concerns about its potential impact on groundwater resources. Yet, after it occurred, the DEP only did minimal shallow groundwater testing at around 13 feet – even though the fracking chemicals were injected thousands of feet underground.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida insisted that meaningful groundwater testing for potential contamination be done and then entered into a legal agreement that required DEP to conduct deep groundwater testing to approximately 1,850 feet no later than February 2015. We are pleased to see that DEP has now completed its first round of sampling in a deep groundwater monitoring well; however, we are disappointed that the results come over a year and a half after the fracking operation and roughly 6 months after the deadline in our legal agreement. This is a tremendously long time for citizens to wait for monitoring for potential contamination of drinking water supply sources.

This meaningful groundwater investigation is crucially important; however this sampling is not without limitations. For instance, the significant delay of time between the fracking operation and the sampling means that there was ample time for pollution to potentially be dispersed and diluted. Alternatively, the possible migration of pollution from such a great depth could take even longer than the year and a half that has elapsed. For this reason, the initial results will not be conclusive and DEP has committed to ongoing monitoring for another five years from when the Hogan well is plugged.

 Other Outstanding Issues with the Hogan well

Other potential contamination risks are still present at the Hogan well site and must be addressed. The State’s consultant acknowledged in an assessment of the Hogan well site that a nearby abandoned well may present a risk of saltwater intrusion into fresh groundwater and should be re-plugged. The Department has yet to act on this recommendation. This is a crucial next step to prevent potential future contamination of water supply sources.

The fracking operation at the Hogan well highlights the need to immediately suspend the use of all unproven unconventional drilling techniques. The state is not currently prepared to respond to unconventional oil extraction proposals. This was demonstrated by DEP’s request for an extended review period of the December 2013 fracking proposal for the Hogan well. When DEP’s request was ignored and fracking occurred, DEP was unable to promptly initiate groundwater monitoring, leaving citizens at risk.

Furthermore, the State’s review of this operation found several problems with the installation of the Hogan well. Florida’s geology poses added challenges in well construction due to it being naturally fractured. This makes it difficult to properly install well casings to protect water supplies. Unconventional extraction including hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and acid stimulation with fracking chemicals should not continue to be allowed in the absence of science and regulatory safeguards to protect water supply sources from any potential contamination.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

Conservancy of Southwest Florida began more than 50 years ago when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region, including Glades, Hendry, Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. Conservancy of Southwest Florida and its Nature Center are located in Naples, Fla. at 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy to address Wildlife Rehabilitation on July 14 at Evenings at the Conservancy lecture series

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Conservancy of Southwest Florida members and the public are invited to the next Evenings at the Conservancy environmental education lecture series on Tuesday, July 14  from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at Conservancy of Southwest Florida is presenting “Wildlife Rehabilitation: An insider’s look at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital” inside Eaton Conservation Hall from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with an opportunity for questions and answers. 

Fitzgerald has worked in the wildlife hospital at the Conservancy since 1994 and was named director in 1999. With decades of experience and personal anecdotes, she will provide attendees with stories on the daily operations of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital, and highlight some of the most interesting and memorable cases with captivating images and video.

Fitzgerald will also show attendees what they can do to help cut down on the number of injuries to Southwest Florida wildlife, as well as what how to respond and what to do with an injured animal.

The event is open to the public and all Conservancy members are encouraged to attend.  Light refreshments will be available. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required as seats are limited. To make a reservation, call 239-403-4207 or email Sophia Navarra at sophian@conservancy.org. For more information on upcoming events, visit www.conservancy.org/evenings.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida began more than 50 years ago when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region, including Glades, Hendry, Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. Conservancy of Southwest Florida and its Nature Center are located in Naples, Fla. at 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.conservancy.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida to expand Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital

LynnSlabaugh, Sharon and Dolph von Arx

Dolph and Sharon von Arx announce $500,000 grant match

Conservancy of Southwest Florida is expanding the existing wildlife hospital to accommodate the new outdoor wildlife rehabilitation area. The expansion of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital will enable the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to care for a greater number of animals within the wildlife rehabilitation facility by building new wildlife recovery areas, enhancing outside structures and continuing to provide exceptional care for the animals.

“As our organization embarks on the next half-century, the need for replacing and expanding our outdoor wildlife rehabilitationand recovery spaces is urgent,” said Lynn Slabaugh, board chair, Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “For many of our von Arx Wildlife Hospital patients, the majority of their recovery time takes place outside – in a more natural setting. Our current outdoor wildlife recovery areas are outdated and do not serve the growing number and variety of patients we see.”

During the expansion celebration today at the Conservancy Nature Center, Dolph and Sharon von Arx announced the Conservancy’s receipt of a $500,000 state grant to help fund the project and they pledged a matching gift.

“The increase in growth and development in our region right now is negatively impacting Southwest Florida’s wildlife habitat,” said Dolph von Arx, conservancy supporter. “Sharon and I are committed to supporting the outdoor facilities to enable the Conservancy to further its mission of providing quality care to injured and orphaned wildlife.”

“The new hospital wing will make a vast difference in what we do within our facility because we will be able to care for a greater number of injured animals,” said Dr. P.J. Deitschel, veterinarian for Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “These improvements will help us continue our goal of rehabilitating animals and returning them to the wild.”

The expansion will also feature a new educational complex that will allow visitors to view the Conservancy’s permanent resident animals. Visitors will learn about the threats to native wildlife and what the public can do to protect and prevent wildlife injuries.

“In the new guest education area, visitors will come face-to-face with some of our ‘ambassador’ animals,” said Conservancy President and CEO Rob Moher. “These former patients are unable to be released due to the extent of their injuries. We are taking great care to create areas which replicate their natural environment as much as possible.”

Expansion features include:

  • A new and enlarged shorebird recovery area
  • Two large outdoor rehabilitation structures to accommodate the increasing number of patients, including the ability to care for otters through the entire rehabilitation project
  • 10 small mammal recovery areas
  • Four permanent public viewing areas for Florida birds of prey, shorebirds, and other “animal ambassadors”
  • Design and installation of public educational materials
  • Improvements to infrastructure including water, power and caregiver access
  • Additional maintenance and storage facilities

Funding

Estimated construction cost $2 million

  • $1.6 million raised to date
  • $1.1 million from generous donor support
  • $500,000 from a state grant
  • 80 percent of goal to date

Initial expansion plans are underway. Construction is set to begin this summer with an expected completion date in early 2016.

Commitment to Sustainable Building Practices

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital was the first building in Collier County, and the first wildlife hospital in the State to achieve LEED Platinum Certification for its environmentally conscious design and construction. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida seeks sponsors for the new wing of the wildlife hospital. Donors have the opportunity to sponsor rehabilitation areas as well as a variety of other facilities within the wildlife hospital. For more information regarding expansion efforts and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.conservancy.org/wildlife/expansion or contact Paul Seifert at 239-403-4205 or PaulS@conservancy.org.

About the Conservancy

Conservancy of Southwest Florida began more than 50 years ago when community leaders came together to defeat a proposed “Road to Nowhere” and spearheaded the acquisition and protection of Rookery Bay. The Conservancy is a not-for-profit grassroots organization focused on the critical environmental issues of the Southwest Florida region, including Glades, Hendry, Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, with a mission to protect the region’s water, land and wildlife. Conservancy of Southwest Florida and its Nature Center are located in Naples, Florida at 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. For information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, call 239-262-0304 or visit www.conservancy.org.