top of page

President's Letter - April 2024

Updated: Mar 20


For the January Avocet newsletter, I listed the work that Tampa Audubon does in Hillsborough County - work that fulfills our mission “to conserve and restore our ecosystems, focusing on birds, wildlife, and their habitats, through education, advocacy, and community involvement."


In the February Avocet, I outlined the role of the National Audubon Society, working across the United States and our hemisphere, to protect birds and habitats with resultant benefits for humans – cleaner air and water, open space and biodiversity.

 

Now, I’d like to take some time to share information about the work of our state Audubon staff, working as Audubon Florida. In 1999, the Florida Audubon and National Audubon unified their efforts in Florida, becoming the stronger, more effective Audubon Florida, with 40,000 members in 45 community-based chapters throughout the state.

 

When you became a member of the Tampa Audubon Society, you also became a member of the National Audubon Society and Audubon Florida, which is what we call the National Audubon Society work and staff in Florida.

 

Think of it this way – we are all part of the same organization, with local (Tampa Audubon), state-wide (Audubon Florida), and national responsibilities (National Audubon Society).

 

I worked for the National Audubon Society as staff of Audubon Florida for 29 years. I was a biologist for the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries, officed in Tampa, but responsible for protecting bird colonies from Citrus County to north Charlotte Harbor. Some were on islands owned or leased by the National Audubon Society or Florida Audubon Society. Some islands our staff managed through cooperative agreements. Other sites we just monitored and worked with agency managers or private landowners to improve nesting habitat and hopefully bird nesting success. It was a wonderful job, and from my experience I can tell you a lot about Audubon Florida.

 

1.     The staff is incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable. Many work their whole careers for this conservation "company." Every year at the Audubon Assembly, the state-wide get-together of staff and chapter members, long-term staff members are acknowledged. For example, Charles Lee began working for Audubon as a teenager, to protect the Florida Everglades from the Jetport being sited mid-swamp. He's still working and is Audubon’s longest serving staff member, at 55+ years of service.


2.     The effectiveness of this group is astounding. For example, our Everglades staff provides key science and political leadership for the restoration of our nation’s largest wetland. At the July 17 joint meeting of the Tampa Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and Native Plant Society, Dr. Paul Gray is our speaker. He will talk about the Everglades Restoration efforts, what’s happened, what’s happening, and what’s planned, and why we care.


3.     Hundreds of conservation leaders, Audubon members, and Audubon staff collaborate each fall at the Audubon Assembly to set Audubon Florida’s 2024 Conservation Action Agenda. Twelve resolutions – seven regional and five statewide – provide guidance on priority issues and conservation efforts and summary statements of our policy and conservation positions. The Audubon Florida priority issues integrate with National Audubon Society’s strategic plan.


You can read the Conservation Agenda for 2024 here to find out what your state organization plans to work on this year.


4.     We have offices across the state and important centers and sanctuaries. If you have never been to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, you should plan a trip there immediately – tomorrow would be good. Owned by the National Audubon Society and managed by Audubon Florida, the sanctuary has the last old-growth, never been timbered cypress swamp in the United States. It’s huge, 13,000 acres of mostly wetlands, managed properly and with education of the public foremost. See https://corkscrew.audubon.org/about/sanctuary for more information about this truly significant national treasure.


5.     Or visit our Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, where the rescue, medical treatment, rehabilitation, and release of Florida’s raptors is the focus of the work. Since 1979, our team has released over 600 rehabilitated Bald Eagles back into the wild, and Bald Eagle conservation and leadership through the Eagle Watch program has been important in restoring healthier numbers of nesting eagles in Florida and the Southeastern United States. See https://cbop.audubon.org/conservation/about-eaglewatch-program for information about how you can help monitor eagles right here in Hillsborough County!

6.     Audubon's Everglades Science Center was established in the Florida Keys in 1939 by National Audubon Society's first Director of Research, Robert Porter Allen. His work continues with in-depth interpretation of Florida Bay and southern Everglades habitats as evidenced by the behavior of the resident birds, especially Roseate Spoonbills and Reddish Egrets. This work is guiding restoration of the Everglades – see https://fl.audubon.org/chapters-centers/audubons-everglades-science-center.


7.     Coastal bird conservation, so important for our beach-nesting species, is led by Audubon Florida staff working in Duval County and all along the Gulf Coast, including the Panhandle. Learn more about that at the April 4 Tampa Audubon meeting when Holley Short, Audubon Florida Shorebird Program Manager, is our speaker!


8.     Our Policy Offices in Tallahassee and Miami follow the State Legislative actions and the Everglades and South Florida politics, guiding measures, offering direction, and providing leadership to improve bird and wildlife policies in Florida. See https://fl.audubon.org/news for Audubon Florida initiatives.


9.     Audubon Florida also owns and manages over 50 properties across the state, some just an acre or two, some an island, or a mangrove swamp, some much larger. These are often managed in conjunction with a local chapter, or a variety of agencies, such as Water Management Districts, cities, or counties. Even if Audubon Florida decides to sell a property, it often retains the conservation easement, and therefore control of how that land can be used, further protecting habitats around the state.


Plus, our fellow chapters work together through Audubon Florida’s Regional Conservation Committees. If you would like to attend a RCC meeting, let me know!

 

It’s a big state - and bird-wise, one of America’s most important. And protecting it is a big job. Audubon Florida is making a difference. We can all be proud to be part of this work.

 

Thanks for being a member – of Tampa Audubon, the National Audubon Society, and Audubon Florida! GO TEAM!

Kommentare


bottom of page