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WHAT'S HOT


   In the last issue of our newsletter, we mentioned that we are awaiting the ruling of the state's Administrative Hearing Officer on the DEP's
TMDL/"Impaired Waters" rule. We had hoped to be able to report the ruling in this issue of the newsletter, but as of press time, there is still no word. The "proposed final orders" and their responses were filed in late January and February. Therefore we are expecting the ruling very soon.
   We expect to be starting our new
boat speed monitoring program on the St. Sebastian River with the Indian River County Sheriff's Department in April. We have met with the Sheriff's Dept. and have worked out the details of how the program will work. We also have a few members who have volunteered to help out and we would welcome any others who are interested. If you are, you can contact Tim Glover at 772-589-0636 for more information.
   Last month at the Marine Resources Council sponsored workshop in Vero Beach, Ralph Brown of the St. Johns River Water Management District gave an overview of how the
muck dredging project for the St. Sebastian River and Sebastian Inlet is expected to be conducted.
   The dredging at the inlet will be to create a channel from the inlet to the Inter Coastal Waterway, thereby hopefully better protecting the surrounding seagrasses. Because this is fairly salty water, extra precautions have been taken to prevent salt from leaking into the ground water at the site where the material will be deposited.
   As we have previously mentioned, George Koraly and Gordon Maltby are two of our members who have put a great deal of effort into promoting this project. Mr. and Mrs. Maltby have recently moved away from our area. Mr. Maltby has had some health problems and they have moved to the Tampa area to be closer to family and medical facilities. We hear that he is doing better and we wish them well.
   Additionally we would like to thank Congressman Dave Weldon for his assistance in relaying some of our concerns and obtaining information from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the dredging project.
   Also last month the FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held a workshop in Indian River County to explain their
proposed rule changes to manatee protection regulations in the county. Their proposal consists of restricting access to a portion of a canal adjacent to the power plant in Vero Beach, and implementing a year-round slow speed zone in a portion of the "Jungle Trail Narrows". The "Narrows" is an area of the Indian River Lagoon south of Wabasso that the Inter Coastal Waterway passes through.
   The FWC is accepting public comments on their proposal, which will be finalized in May, therefore any comments need to be submitted soon. Comments can be submitted to, or more information obtained from:
     FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bureau of Protected Species (OES-BPS)
     Attn: Scott Calleson, Environmental Specialist
     620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399
     850-922-4330, or see their website at: www.floridaconservation.org
   There is currently legislation that has been proposed in Florida that has been characterized as pro boaters and anti manatee protection. The pro-boating lobbyists have been promoting this legislation based upon their opinion that manatee populations have recovered and that they should be de-listed as an endangered species. This position is apparently based on the annual manatee count that was conducted last year. The count was the highest on record because of the conditions on the day the count was conducted. The Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI) that conducts the count stated that they had virtually perfect conditions.
   This year's count has recently been conducted and the FMRI released the details on March 6. Prior to the count they indicated that they expected it to be lower this year because of the relatively warmer winter we've had. In fact the weather conditions on the day of the count were not favorable and therefore the count was dramatically lower - approximately 1800 manatees.
   This once again serves to demonstrate how variable the count can be, and how fickle and ridiculous it is to base any changes in the protection of manatees solely upon these numbers. According to the Save the Manatee Club, manatee deaths from boats since the first of this year are more than double that for the same time period as last year. Certainly there are more boaters in our state each year causing greater exposure. We can only hope that there may be more manatees too.
   For more information on manatees, you can go to the FMRI website at: www.floridamarine.org, the FWC website stated above, or the Save the Manatee Club website at: www.savethemanatee.org

MORE ON THE "URBAN FORESTER" AND TREE PROTECTION


   In our January newsletter we had an article about the interest in, and need for an Urban Forester in Indian River County. The county has been reviewing the current tree ordinance, and the IR County Commission was scheduled to consider the proposed changes to the ordinance at their regular meeting on March 12. The county's Environmental Planning Department staff has