Friends of St. Sebastian River Newsletter

  March 2018

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Please visit this page for more information about delivery options.

Microplastics are a Growing Concern in our World's Oceans and Coasts

Microplastics, as well as all other types of plastic, are a growing concern for the health of our oceans and coastal waterways. Leslie Nicole Munroe, Environmental Horticulture Agent with the University of Florida’s IFAS/Extension Services office in Indian River County, will help us understand what microplastics are, describe their impact and actions we can take to help prevent them from getting into the environment.

Ms. Munroe’s presentation will also include a short National Geographic excerpt of the award-winning documentary “A Plastic Ocean” ( that dramatically documents this accumulating world-wide threat. For more information about the topic, please visit the UF/IFAS “Florida Microplastic Awareness Project” website at

The meeting is Tuesday, March 27th, 6pm at the North Indian River County Library, 1001 Sebastian Blvd. and everyone is welcome to attend.

Microplastics from the ocean; photo: Sea Education Association

Additionally you may be interested in this BBC short video as an introduction to the overall issue of ocean plastics -

FSSR 2018 Board of Directors

Friends members voted for this year’s Board of Directors, at our annual meeting in January. All persons on this year’s slate were incumbents and were elected for another two-year term. Congratulations to Tom Bauer, Mark Bondy, Jane Schnee and Lynn Stieglitz on their re-election to our Board. And per our Bylaws, Officers were chosen at our February Board meeting, with no change in those positions.

Our Bylaws allow for additional Board members, so if anyone is interested in getting more involved, please let us know. We also always have the need for more volunteer help and you will find a brief listing of some of the issues we can use assistance with, on the “Contact Info/Volunteer” page of our website. Thanks to everyone for your help and participation.

New Florida Citizen Science Project

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites Florida residents and visitors to take an active role in conservation by reporting fish and wildlife observations with the new FWC Reporter app.

From fish kills to exotic species, to trapped or injured wildlife, FWC Reporter connects citizens to FWC experts directly from their Apple or Android devices.

“This app strengthens our relationship with the public by engaging people and streamlining communication with our staff,” said Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “This is a great opportunity to incorporate citizen participation into our research and management efforts.”

The FWC often relies on reports from citizens to protect and manage Florida’s diverse fish and wildlife. To make a report, users select a category from the menu, provide relevant information, and submit photos if available. Download the FWC Reporter app and become a partner in conservation.

You can download the free FWC Reporter app on Apple or Android smartphones or tablets from the App Store and Google Play.

Watch for Manatees While Boating

Chances of close encounters between Florida manatees and boaters increase in the spring.

For manatees, it is the season when they leave their winter refuges and travel along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and through inland waters. For boaters, it is a critical time to be on the lookout for manatees to avoid colliding with these large aquatic mammals.

“Spring is a great time to go boating in Florida, but manatees are out there too. Please watch out for them,” said Ron Mezich, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manatee management program.

From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees from being struck by motorboats or personal watercrafts.

More information on how to observe manatees safely and legally in Florida can be found on the FWC website at, and manatee speed zone maps can be found at Additionally, information on waterway signs and the “Boater’s Guide to Living with Florida Manatees” can be found at

The Save the Manatee Club staff produced a short video for paddlecraft users around the state of Florida, to help you learn to maneuver safely and responsibly around manatees. Knowing that a picture is worth a thousand words, the video differentiates between paddlers operating properly and improperly in the vicinity of manatees. The video can be viewed online at

The Save the Manatee Club has additional information and resources for boaters on their website at, including dock signs for shoreline property owners that caution boaters to the presence of manatees.

Residential dock sign, photo: Save the Manatee Club

Spring also begins the season when many other wildlife begin their nesting and breeding seasons. Our local beaches begin to host sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, as well as shorebirds nesting along our coasts. Here are a couple of downloadable flyers with lots of great information: “Share the Beach With Beach-Nesting Birds” at, and “Be a Beach Hero! Help keep Florida beaches healthy and safe for people, wildlife and plants” at

Spring Planting

We imagine some of you may be taking advantage of our lovely springtime weather to add some plants to your yard. We often mention and encourage you to plant native plants for their many benefits, not the least of which is that they require virtually no maintenance and fertilizers, once established! There are many great resources online for learning about and choosing the right plant for the right place, but it may be hard to locate native plants in our local area for purchase. Some of the “usual” nurseries and garden centers may have a few natives, but you should always check for the Latin names on the label, to make sure it is the correct plant.

The Florida Association of Native Nurseries website can help locate sources of native plants - In addition, you will find more information on their “Plant Real Florida” website at, where you may subscribe to their annual publication, the “Guide for Real Florida Gardeners.” The flyer has information on retail locations for native plants and we hope to have copies available at our upcoming meeting, and various other events, such as Earth Day. A few very good sources for buying native plants locally are Native Butterfly Flowers ( at the Saturday morning farmers’ market at Humiston Park in Vero Beach, and Maple Street Natives ( in West Melbourne.

Speaking of Earth Day, please plan to join us and the many other folks celebrating this annual event, at the City of Sebastian’s Earth Day and Arbor Day Celebration (, at Riverview Park in Sebastian, on Saturday, April 21st. As usual, we are looking for volunteers to help assist us with our display at this event. If you are interested in helping, please contact Buzz Herrmann at 772-589-9811.

New Boating Access at the Fellsmere Water Management Area

Good news for boaters and anglers anxious for fully developed boating access to Fellsmere Water Management Area (FWMA) in Indian River County. The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board this month approved an agreement with Fellsmere Joint Ventures that will allow for construction of a boat ramp and other amenities at the northeast corner of the 10,000-acre reservoir.

FWMA is a multi-function reservoir that serves water supply and flood control purposes, and helps improve the water quality of agricultural and surface water drainage (especially to the St. Sebastian River –ed.). Additionally, the reservoir offers opportunities for public recreation. Already kayakers are taking advantage of the north reservoir, and because of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) habitat improvement work, the FWMA has become a destination for anglers.

Source: St. Johns River Water Management District’s “Water News,” March 16, 2018

Celebrate Gopher Tortoise Day – April 10th

April 10th was officially adopted by the Gopher Tortoise Council as Gopher Tortoise Day! In Florida, gopher tortoises are found in parts of all 67 counties and are frequently encountered in neighborhoods, along roadways, and in many of Florida’s public parks and forests. The goal of Gopher Tortoise Day is to increase awareness and appreciation for these long lived, gentle reptiles.

Gopher tortoises are considered a keystone species because they dig burrows that provide shelter for 360 other species of wildlife, called “commensals.” These commensal species include the gopher frog, Florida mouse, eastern indigo snake, and hundreds of invertebrates like beetles and crickets. Without the gopher tortoise, many of these species would not exist.

Visit the “Florida Gopher Tortoise Day” website at to learn more and download educational brochures, and even a gopher tortoise coloring book. “There’s an app for that” too! Download the gopher tortoise app at and you can help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission understand gopher tortoise populations in Florida, by reporting sightings and locations of the tortoise.

Calendar of Events

Please visit the Meeting Info/Events page of our website for a listing of more events!

Wednesday, March 21, 6pm
History of Jungle Trail
Ruth Stanbridge, IR County Historian
Sebastian Area Hisotrical Society
North IRC Library
1001 Sebasian Blvd., Sebastian

Saturday, March 24, 9am to 3pm
Florida Wildflower Festival
Downtown Deland

Tuesday, March 27, 6pm
Ocean Plastics
Leslie Nicole Munroe, UF/IFAS IR County Extension
North IRC Library
1001 Sebastian Blvd., Sebastian
info: or 772-202-0501

Wednesday, March 28, 4pm
New Technologies in Harmful Algal Bloom (Red Tide) Research and Management
Don Anderson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Harbor Branch Oceangraphic Institute
5600 US 1 North, Ft. Pierce

Monday, April 9, 6pm
Shorebirds of Florida
Michael Brothers, Marine Science Center
Pelican Island Audubon Society
North IRC Library
1001 Sebastian Blvd., Sebastian
info: or 772-567-3520

Saturday, April 21, 9am to 4pm
City of Sebastian Earth Day & Arbor Day Celebration
Riverview Park, US 1, Sebastian

Welcome New Members

Mark & Susan Loyacano

Corporate Sponsors

About Storage
Roseland Community Association
Sedor Quality Consulting, Inc.
Tropical Kayak Tours

2018 Officers & Directors

Tim Glover, President
Buzz Herrmann, Vice President
Mark Bondy, Secretary
Bill Brennan, Treasurer

Tom Bauer, Director
Judy Grabenbauer, Director
Lee Ann Kluepfel, Director
Jane Schnee, Director
Bob Stephen, Director
Lynn Stieglitz, Director
Bruce Zingman, Director

The Friends of St. Sebastian River newsletter is published bi-monthly, five times per year, starting in January, except July. A subscription is included with membership. Delivery by email is a benefit of membership, and encouraged, as it saves time, money and paper, and increases your support! If you would prefer to receive our newsletter by email only, please email us at Please contact us to notify of change of address or email, as well.

The Friends of St. Sebastian River is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
For membership information, visit

Banner photo courtesy of Kristen Hanson

Friends of St. Sebastian River
P.O. Box 284
Roseland, FL 32957-0284