Jungle Trail provides a view into history of Indian River County

Eric Hasert, TCPalm.com

The Historic Jungle Trail, a bit of old Florida in Indian River County, the Jones Pier, the oldest pier in Indian River County, and Pelican Island, the first national wildlife refuge, all interconnected within this scenic road off A1A in northern Indian River County.

Click here to view a slideshow of 38 photos from the historical Trail, including several of the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

WILDLIFE REFUGES TO ALLOW GM CROPS AND NEONIC INSECTICIDES

Reversal of National Ban Threatens Pollinators and Other Wildlife in Their Refuges

August 6, 2018
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Washington, DC — The Trump administration has opened national wildlife refuges up to genetically modified crops and powerful pesticides, reversing a ban adopted under Obama, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) memo posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In 2014, the agency had banned both GM crops and neonicotinoid pesticides throughout the entire National Wildlife Refuge System citing adverse effects on pollinators and non-target wildlife.

In a memo dated August 2, 2018, Gregory Sheehan, the FWS Principal Deputy-Director, rescinded the 2014 ban effective across all 562 of the nation’s refuges and directed them to “consider the options” of GM crops and neonics subject to approval “on a case-by-case basis.”

Sheehan asserted that the move was intended to “provide adequate forage for waterfowl and migratory birds” but cited no examples of where native plants or conventional agriculture needed supplementation.

“The claim that refuge wildlife need genetically modified soybeans cannot be made with a straight face,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Peter Jenkins, noting that the agricultural biotech industry has been lobbying the Trump administration to reverse the ban which undermines industry sales pitches that their products have no ill side-effects. “These refuges are supposed to benefit wildlife, not a corporate bottom line.”

Click here to read the full press release.

You may also be interested in signing a Take Action opportunity on this topic, by the Earth Day Network, at https://earthdaynetwork.salsalabs.org/neonicotinoid

Federal Border Wall Funding Spares Wildlife Refuge, But Not Much Else

Leif Reigstad
Texas Monthly, April 3, 2018

As another government shutdown loomed, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill in late March, and the omnibus bill included funding for the construction of 33 miles of President Donald Trump’s wall along the border in the Rio Grande Valley. But the legislation spared the federally owned 2,088-acre Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, which had been in the path of the wall according to a proposal that was released last August.

The plan to build the wall through Santa Ana had prompted fierce protests from local activists and environmentalists, and it appears as though their efforts have succeeded. While the bill calls for more than $1.3 billion toward border fencing, including 25 miles of border wall funding through Hidalgo County and eight miles through Starr County, it does specifically say the funding may not be used to build a wall through the refuge, which is one of the nation’s top bird-watching sites and home to more than 400 types of birds and endangered species. “None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge,” the bill states.

Click here to read the full story.

Help REI Grow the OptOutside Movement

November 14, 2017
National Wildlife Refuge Association

For the last two years, REI’s award-winning #OptOutside campaign has encouraged more than 7 million people to #OptOutside.  REI's campaign is "designed to provoke discussion by exploring nine ‘brutal truths’ juxtaposed with nine ‘beautiful possibilities.’  Together, they paint a picture of what could happen if we stay inside as a species, or #OptOutside."

Their new report, to further their campaign, is entitled "The Path Ahead: Without realizing it, we are becoming the world's first indoor species.  Are we too late to change course?"

Camera Ready

Nature operates on its own schedule but these photo contest winners were waiting

Vero Beach Magazine, July 2017

Some photographers went for the big picture and others focused on the small stuff, but a common trait among winners of the Pelican Island Preservation Society’s photo contest was patience.  

Nathan Adams was on his daily walk combing the beach for something to shoot when he noticed the interesting way a wave kicked up over a tiny shell. So he readied his camera — and waited. An hour later, he got the shot that would become the contest’s best-in-show winner, which he called “Seeking Shelter.”

Click here to read the full story.

Anne Michael's Crusade to Educate About the Barrier Island's Correct Name

Vero Beach Magazine, July 2017

Mrs. Joe W. (Anne) Michael is on a crusade to educate full and part time residents and visitors as to the correct name of Indian River County’s barrier island — and to convince them to use it. 

It is Orchid Island. This is the name officially stamped on maps, signs and into the hearts of those who waged a hard-fought battle some 100 years after the island’s pioneers named it for the tiny wild orchids growing on live oak trees. 

In 1985 she and her late husband, Joe, along with other civic leaders won that battle and restored the rightful name, Orchid Island, at the time when the county’s barrier island was indiscriminately labeled “Hutchinson Island” along with the barrier island in St. Lucie and Martin counties.

Click here to read the full story.

Protecting Pelican Island

March 10, 2017
Ken Warren, Public Affairs Specialist
US Fish & Wildlife, Ecological Services Office, Vero Beach

Dozens of people got their feet wet in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida recently while building an oyster reef breakwater. The reef is designed to prevent further erosion of iconic Pelican Island, which has already decreased in size 60 percent from its original 5.5 acres.

Over a span of about six hours, staff and volunteers from several agencies transported (by truck and by boat) about 600 bags of fossilized shells and stacked them around a small mangrove island near Pelican Island proper at the national wildlife refuge that bears its name.

“We expect oyster spat, that is very young oysters, to attach themselves to the reef, but it remains to be seen if they survive to become adults. Regardless, the shell we’re laying today will provide habitat for a variety of oyster community species and will provide a breakwater to protect Pelican Island,” says biologist Patrick Pitts of the Service.

Click here to read the full story.

Wildlife Refuges Are for People Too

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges near urban areas provide easy escapes for city dwellers

By Reed McManus
"Sierra," March/April 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking it to the streets. Known for its khaki-clad rangers dedicated to protecting habitat for grizzlies, roseate spoonbills, butterflies, and lizards, the USFWS's National Wildlife Refuge System has, since 2011, also been focusing on the human communities near many of its refuges. Some 80 percent of U.S. residents live in urban areas, and more than 100 of the system's 562 refuges are located within 25 miles of 250,000 or more people.

But sometimes those people don't know a nearby refuge exists. The solution for a relatively small federal agency: Team up with nonprofit groups already working in urban neighborhoods to introduce schoolkids and other residents to their local wildlands, then get them out to discover, appreciate, and care for the natural world.

Click here to read the full story.