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Friday, July 29, 2011

Libby Carnahan
Sea Grant Extension Agent

Today, Tampa Bay is cleaner, safer, and more eco-friendly thanks to the work of 80 dedicated volunteers. In Tampa Bay, it is estimated that thousands of abandoned crab traps have been accumulating in the bay for decades. This July marked a temporary 10-day closure in blue crab fishing season, which happens only once every 2 years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) closure allows local environmental agencies to remove any trap from the water because during the closed season, all crab traps are considered derelict. This effort decreases ghost fishing, eliminates hazards to navigation, and improves the aesthetics of our waters.

On July 16, 2011, a total of 28 boats at Fort Desoto, Demens Landing, Bellair Boat Ramp, the Courtney Campbell Boat Ramp, Williams Park, and Cockroach Bay, headed out into bay and Gulf waters in search of abandoned traps. We collected a total of 215 traps! Of those traps 124 traps were blue crab and 91 were stone crab traps. Stone crab season is currently closed and reopens October 15th.

The FWC authorized cleanup event was coordinated by Tampa Bay Watch in collaboration with Florida Sea Grant, Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, and Audubon’s Florida Coastal Island Sanctuaries. However, it is the citizens who donated their time, their boats, and their passion for the environment to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude!

Derelict Crab Traps
Florida Sea Grant Derelict Crab Trap Information
Ghost Fishing

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

At Pinellas County Extension – registration made easy

Rain barrels, cooking classes, financial plans, 4-H … Pinellas County Extension has always addressed a variety of issues to help residents improve their quality of life. As an outreach of the University of Florida, the educational programs are geared toward making the most of resources, from money management skills to programs that teach energy efficient practices.

To make it easier for residents to participate in the variety of classes and program, Extension agents are introducing a citizen-friendly process to facilitate advance registration for programs. The new format will make it easy to sign up for any of the special events.

Visitors to will notice a process that is simple to follow, with readily available information and a fun new look.

“We are very excited about this new registration because it is so easy and fun for people to use,” said Mary Campbell, director of Pinellas County Extension. “We hope it will translate into more of our citizens taking advantage of our services.”

The new registration site will come online on Monday, Aug. 1, for all of the Extension classes that require registration, including those held at the Extension office in Largo, Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs and Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg. Online visitors will be easily directed to the registration page. Payment for classes with fees can be made using a credit or debit card (no cash or checks).

Pinellas County Extension is a partnership between Pinellas County government and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) as part of a nationwide network of land grant universities. The University of Florida is an equal access/equal opportunity institution.

The mission of Pinellas County Extension is to provide research-based knowledge and education programs enabling people to make practical decisions to improve their quality of life and the world around them. Education focuses on sustainable living, lawn and garden, families and consumers, and 4-H youth development.

Pinellas County Extension offers programming at the Extension office, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, (727) 582-2100,; Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs, (727) 453-6800, and Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, 1800 Weedon Drive N.E., St. Petersburg, (727) 453-6500,

Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the event, contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756, (727) 464-4062 (V/TDD).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Extension Trains New Citizen Scientists

Mary Campbell, Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent

Extension launched its Citizen Scientist program in Pinellas onJune 20th with over 60 people attending the first training opportunity. Citizen Scientists select a plant (oranimal) in their backyard or local park to observe and collect data on life cycle events like flowering and fruiting.

Phenology is the study of recurring life-cycle events, such as the flowering of plants and animal migration. Monitoring the changes to life cycle events is very important for addressing applied environmental issues like climate variability and change. The data collected adds to the overall understanding of changes to life cycles of local plants and animals. The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) monitors the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes. A national network was set up in 2007 to make more data available for a larger variety of plants and animals to assist scientists.

Changes have been noted in the timing of bud break in the spring for certain plants, movement of pests into new areas, and changes in migration patterns of wildlife. Anyone can participate in this program to provide additional observed data to scientists and research organizations. An online data base and other tools are available through Nature’s Notebook. A printed questionnaire of specific information is used to record data and a very simple method is provided to make sure data is consistent.
There are not enough scientists to collect all the data we need to study the effects of climate change on local plants and wildlife”, said George Kish, Project Manager with the USA-National Phenology Network. “That is why we need everyone’s help in collecting important data to see the impacts in our area and throughout Florida.

Join us for the next training opportunity on August 20 at Brooker Creek Preserve – online registration
For more Information : Nature’s Notebook.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Swimmingly Good Savings

Covering a pool when it is not in use is the single most effective means of reducing the pool’s heating costs, by as much as 50%–70%. Pool covers also can minimize the pool’s chemical use by 35%–60%, conserve water needed by 30%–50%, and reduce cleaning time by keeping dirt and other debris out of the pool.

When choosing a cover, look for:
  • durability
  • ease of taking on/off
  • price and warranty
  • insulation value and material transparency
  • storage need
  • safety
Swimming Pools fact sheet from the Florida Energy Systems Consortium