SCCF meets goals in 2015, sets new path for 2016
There was plenty of positive news coming out of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation 2015 end-of-the-year meeting Tuesday, Dec. 15, as initiatives were reached and goals were set for the upcoming year.
There were four main goals from the 2015 strategic plan reached by the SCCF, which will help nurture the foundation’s future, said Executive Director Erick Lindblad.
“We are tapped on a very regular basis by the community, regulatory committees, legislators and from people on the island, and this staff we have here, they do their job well,” Lindblad said.
The four initiatives which were set at the beginning of 2015 were all reached.
The first was the transfer of the SCCF nursery from the Nature Center to the Bailey Homestead, which is located off of Periwinkle Way.
“The Native Landscape and Garden Center at the Bailey Homestead is a great location, we now share nine acres with the wildlife, while the wildlife gets to use the rest of the 19 acres,” Lindblad added.
The new marine lab facility (with the Florida Fish and Wildlife as a partner) at Tarpon Bay also is nearing completion, as Lindblad noted hopefully by next year at this time, they will be giving tours of the open lab.
SCCF also added a Public Outreach position, which was filled by Alexis Horn. She paid off dividends instantly, after raising the necessary $42,000 through social networking and media in five days to replace a marine unit in the Caloosahatchee River, which was damaged after a lightning strike.
The fourth initiative met was adding housing for interns and visiting scientists on the island. Kim Miller and her sister, Sally, paid for the cottage, which was refurbished.
“It will be a great asset,” Lindblad added.
Lindblad also applauded SCCF staff who worked hard on the oyster restoration project, which has been going on in San Carlos Bay, Tarpon Bay and Pine Island Sound. Over 200,000 pounds of fill has been laid to promote oyster growth in those areas within the last six weeks.
Aiding SCCF through the year have been over 40 organizations, including important partnerships with “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge and the City of Sanibel.
“There are no fences between our properties, it’s been a great partnership with both,” Lindblad said.
Treasurer Don Rice gave the financial report and announced the SCCF endowment has now reached $4.5 million.
“We also took in $2.4 million this past year and we pretty much spent $2.4 million, as well,” Rice said.
Rice also explained the challenges which lie ahead with the Florida legislation, and the fight for water quality and eco system support.
The 2015 Legacy Society inductees were also announced. They included Charlotte Baker (posthumously), Malcolm Beattie (posthumously), Roni Jo Freer (posthumously, accepted by relatives Kim and Joyce Ross), John Schork (posthumously, accepted by granddaughter Jennifer Logan), Gwenda and Len Clements and Bill and Ruth Brooks.
Artist and retired teacher Jaye Boswell was announced as the winner of the first SCCF “Ding” Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program Award.
She plans to donate the $1,000 cash prize to help plant trees on the island.
Three Board of Trustees nominations were made, as well, and they include Claude Crawford, Paul Roth and Diane Neitzel. All were approved.
New officers coming in include Ran Niehoff (secretary), Ron Gibson (President), Gwen Hiett-Clements (Vice President) and Doug Ryckman (Treasurer).
“We stand on some great shoulders and this was one of the greatest boards I served on,” said outgoing President Linda Uhler.
Certificates of appreciation were given to Dr. Ed Wheeler (former SCCF President), Rice (outgoing Treasurer) and Ruth Duber, who is a long-time supporter of SCCF.
Lindblad also noted the SCCF is preparing a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to challenge its permitting process, regarding the destruction of mangroves on the island.
The DEP has permitted removing mangroves on Pine Island and the Roosevelt Channel for purposes such as installing pools and docks.
Lindblad went over the SCCF mission statement, which “is the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and the surrounding watersheds.”
“Our mission statement is what guides us every day and it sets our benchmark,” Lindblad said. “That’s our daily goal and this staff works very hard to accomplish that.”