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Monday, August 19, 2013

It’s Rain Barrel Time Again!

We are often asked, when are you having another rain barrel class? Well, here's your chance! Join our new Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Extension Agent, Brian Niemann, at Weedon Island for this Rainwater Harvesting Workshop on August 31st at 10am.

Register online at

Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion or national origin.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Florida’s Threatened and Endangered Animals

Lara Miller, 
Natural Resources Agent

You may often hear the words “threatened” or “endangered” when naturalists are talking about a particular species. You might even hear “species of special concern” or folks arguing whether it is Federally-listed or State-listed. The good news is, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an updated report (October, 2012) to help clear up any confusion.

FWC is the agency responsible for maintaining the State list of animals. The status of these animals can be classified as Federally-designated Endangered, Federally-designated Threatened, State-designated Threatened or State-designated Species of Special Concern. As of November 2010, all Federally-listed species found in Florida are also included on Florida’s list as one of the Federally-designated assignments above. Species which are not Federally-listed, but are at risk of extinction in Florida are classified on the State list as State-designated Threatened.

All species with a State-designation were recently processed through biological status reviews. These reviews allow FWC to make decisions on the status of the species. Official status changes cannot be made until an updated management plan is approved for the species. In an effort to build consistency among the Federally-listed and State-listed species, the category of State-designated Species of Special Concern will eventually be eliminated. Once current management plans are revised, a decision will be made as to whether the species (currently listed as State-designated Species of Special Concern) will be modified to State-designated Threatened or removed from the list.

Other Federal agencies share the in authority to list species as endangered and threatened. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA-NMFS) assists with the listing of the majority of marine species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the one responsible for administering the Federal list.

For a complete list of the listed animals from FWC, click here.

FWC is currently asking for public input on an Imperiled Species Management Plan for conserving 60 species on Florida’s Engendered and Threatened Species list. Show your environmental stewardship by getting involved and remember…

You can stay up to date on news and information affecting our environment by following your Pinellas County Natural Resource Extension Agent on Twitter or Facebook.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dive into a Popular Florida Pastime!

Libby Carnahan, 
Pinellas County Sea Grant Extension Agent

A visit to Florida’s Nature Coast is like a step back in time to a Florida before high rise buildings, cell phones, and jam packed schedules. Recreational Scallop Season is a great reason for Tampa Bay residents to grab friends and family and head north. At one time scallops ranged abundantly across the state, from Palm Beach on the east coast to Pensacola on the west coast. Today, however, healthy populations can only be found in selected locations along the Gulf coast. The most popular destinations for recreational scallopers are Steinhatchee, Crystal River and Homosassa. The Florida bay scallop, a bivalve mollusk, grows and lives in the shallow (4 to 10 feet deep) seagrass beds that are common to these areas.

Recreational scallop season is open from June 29th-September 24th, 2013. Recreational scallopers between the ages of 16 and 65 must have a current Florida saltwater fishing license to collect scallops. Harvesting is allowed from the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal (in Bay County) to the Pasco-Hernando county line (near Aripeka). The bag limit is 2 gallons of whole scallops (in the shell), or 1 pint of scallop meat per person per day. In addition, no more than 10 gallons of whole scallops or 1/2 gallon of scallop meat may be possessed aboard any vessel at any time. You may harvest scallops only by hand or with a landing or dip net. Scallopers must remain in the legal scalloping area while in possession of scallops on the water, including the point where they return to land.

Be sure to follow safe snorkeling and boating procedures. When snorkeling from a boat, regulations require a dive flag displayed on your boat. 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. A full list of boating regulations can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. Always monitor local weather and tides and be prepared for unexpected summer storms.

For more information, visit the Florida Sea Grant website. To see more scallop photos and to follow up to date marine and coastal news visit the UF IFAS Pinellas County Sea Grant Extension Facebook Page.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Be a Green Business Partner

Mary Campbell, 
Extension Director

Becoming a more environmentally- friendly business is a choice that can reap big rewards. Green Business practices can help save money, attract customers, enhance your reputation and help make a business more efficient. A company policy of environmental stewardship or mission that includes sustainable practices will help create the vision. There are three main areas where a business can become more green and sustainable:
  • Improve energy efficiency and water conservation
  • Changes in work practices 
  • Recycling and waste reduction

Improve Energy Efficiency and Water conservation
There are simple ways to conserve energy and water plus save money at the same time. Implement staff guidelines for turning off computers, peripherals, as well as office and meeting room lights. Water conservation in outdoor landscapes can save thousands of gallons of water each year (see Florida Yards and Neighborhoods ).

Changes in Work Practices
To become a green business, employees need to be a part of the practice changes that will make it successful. Creating a green committee that promotes these new practices will be a good start, as well as educational programs for staff. Discussing green purchasing practices, recycling, energy conservation, double- sided copying, reduction of paper use through electronic sharing and other practices will get the team started. Start small and build on these practice changes gradually until they become habits. Develop a staff pledge program and rewards around the new practices.

Recycling and Waste Reduction
Reducing waste in an office can make a positive impact on the bottom line. Get a waste assessment to determine strategies and options from Pinellas County Utilities Solid Waste.

Develop an Action Plan

  1. Evaluate environmental programs that fit well with your vision and mission. 
  2. Communicate your environmental initiatives to customers and staff. 
  3. Report successes and get feedback.

Join Pinellas County Green Business Partnership