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Friday, April 27, 2012

Gator Bait

Photo by Larry Harter  
Lara Miller
Natural Resource Agent

Many Pinellas County parks and preserves post “DO NOT FEED” the alligator signs around lakes and ponds. These educational signs teach the public about the dangers of feeding alligators while also helping to protect alligators from unnatural interactions with humans. These signs are increasingly important as human population increases have placed tremendous pressure on wildlife habitat. The list below highlights some of the reasons for educating the public about the urban-wildlife interface:
  1. Habitat destruction has forced many alligators to adjust to living in a world surrounded by man.
  2. When people feed alligators, they lose their fear of humans and begin to relate man with food.
  3. Once alligators become a “nuisance” or even life-threatening, personnel are called in to evaluate the situation and remove the alligator if necessary.
    • Alligators that are “removed” are typically killed and processed for their meat and hide. Occasionally they are sold to an alligator farm, exhibit or zoo.
  4. State law makes it illegal to feed alligators; it doesn’t matter if it’s chicken or marshmallows, all of it is against the law. This law was put in place in an effort to prevent alligators from becoming a pest and thus further being killed.
As Auxiliary Ranger, Larry Harter put it, “People think that feeding alligators is being kind to them but it upsets the balance of nature and causes them to them to lose their natural fear of humans.”

The lesson here is that alligators are native and wild animals that are best if left alone. Mid-April through May is mating season for the alligators, making both males and females more aggressive. Avoid becoming gator bait; read the signs and follow the law.

For more information on the American Alligator, please visit the sources below:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Residents’ online values survey

Pinellas County residents are invited to help set the strategic direction for Pinellas County by taking an online survey. Posted on the county’s website for five days, the survey offers an opportunity for residents to share their views about Pinellas County, the values that they want reflected in their community and their vision for the future.

The brief survey can be taken from 8 a.m. on Monday, April 23, to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 27. Click on the Your Voice Our Future button (top of Pinellas County web page ). 

While the survey is part of this year’s budget outreach, it goes beyond the development of the budget of this fiscal year and builds on the strategic direction sessions in which the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners participated.

"This online survey is about setting a direction for all of us as we continue to redefine the services provided by county government," said County Administrator Bob LaSala, county administrator. "We are encouraging everyone to take a couple of minutes to fill out the survey so that they can be a part of this very important process."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day Every Day!

by Libby Carnahan, Sea Grant Agent
Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent

This weekend, Earth Day celebrates its 42nd birthday! Let’s reflect on how we can help make this earth a better place for our families, and our neighbors.

So far, Americans have pledged 987,885,315 acts of green to help our Earth. You too can visit the Earth Day Network website and pledge your acts of green. Americans just like you have vowed to ride their bikes to work, plant a vegetable garden, or lower the setting on their thermostat. Below are some additional suggestions. For more tips, visit the University of Florida’s Living Green website.

5 Things you can do for $5 or less

Install a Low Flow Kitchen Sink Aerator ($5). Available at local home improvement stores, faucet aerators still deliver a strong spray, but can reduce water consumption by as much as 50%.

Buy and use a Reusable Grocery Bag ($2). We suggest keeping the bags in the trunk of your car, or by the front door so you remember to bring them to the store. Some stores will provide discounts for bringing your own bags!

Install Weather Stripping ($5) at your front and back doors. Most experts agree that installing weather stripping will pay for itself in less than one year.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs (compact florescent lightbulbs) ($5). Overall, CFLs use approximately 25% the energy of a traditional incandescent lightbulb.

Inflate vehicle tires to proper air pressure ($1). You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.


Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Building Education Program

Remodel Green & Profit

April 12, 2012   
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.   
Pinellas County Extension 
12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, FL 33774-3602

Participants will:
  • Learn to select fixtures/appliances that are cost-efficient and to understand the importance of such appliances with regard to Florida's water and energy resources
  • Gain knowledge to construct better, more water and mold resistant homes suitable for Florida's hot-humid climate
  • Discover how to address lead when remodeling and the tools and supplies needed for proper removal and disposal.

Program total of 8 CEH's
  • CILB 0008174-2 CEH's

  • CILB 0001756-2 CEH's

  • CILB 0009802 -2 CEH's

  • CILB0007368-2 CEH's

  • AR 9877293 - 2 CEH's

  • AR 9876873-2 CEH's

  • AR 9876675-2 CEH's

  • AR 9876676-2 CEH's

  • FBPE exp 4028 - 8 PDHs

Register Online

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring into Snorkeling

Libby Carnahan
Sea Grant Marine Agent 

Spring is in the air, and under the water. As the temperatures warm this season, consider strapping on some snorkeling gear, cooling off and exploring the underwater world in our backyard. Snorkeling is a relaxing and gratifying activity that can be fun whether it is your first time or your five hundredth time in the water.

Whether you are floating above the seagrass flats spying on seahorses, or exploring an artificial reef, the key to a great snorkeling experience is good preparation. If you are a non-swimmer, contact a local dive shop or fitness center for swimming classes to help increase your comfort level in the water. You may also choose to rent gear or purchase your own. Staff at local outdoor stores or dive shops can advise you, help you try on the gear before purchase, and ensure you have proper fitting gear.

It is always safest and more fun to snorkel with a dive buddy. When snorkeling from a boat, regulations require a dive flag displayed on your boat and when snorkeling from shore, you must keep a floating dive flag with you . Boaters should recognize your dive flag and its meaning, however always err on the side of caution and pay close attention to boat traffic in your vicinity.

It is important to check real-time and predicted marine weather and the tides as calm to light winds are best for snorkeling. Heavy winds will cause rough waters and decrease underwater visibility. Likewise, tides can affect the speed of local water movement, the turbidity of the water, and of course, the depth of the water.

Freshwater springs offer crystal clear water and a confined environment that provide a high level of comfort. Marine habitats including seagrass beds, sponge flats, hardbottom habitats, coral reefs, and artificial reefs provide opportunities to view a diversity of fish and marine invertebrates! So, grab your gear, explore Florida’s underwater worlds and have fun!

Equipment (*Essential, †Recommended)
*Dive Mask (with Tempered Glass)
†Snorkel vest
†Exposure protection (rash guard, dive skin, dive hood or cap, wetsuit)
†Safety Sausage
*Dive Flag
†Underwater Wildlife Identification Cards

Salt Water Tide Predictions

Marine Weather Forecast

Real-Time Tide Levels, NOAA Tides and Currents

Real-Time Wind Conditions