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The Launch to raise funds for island conservation initiatives

By Staff | Nov 13, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Coastal Watch will host its third The Launch on Nov. 16 at The Community House on Sanibel.

Tickets are on sale for the annual fundraiser hosted by the recently renamed Coastal Watch.

The Launch – the third event – will take place on Nov. 16 from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. Hosted by the former Coastal Keepers, it will feature dinner, drinks, live and silent auctions, 50/50 raffle and more, with the proceeds to help implement programs for the community.

“It is a fundraising event for Coastal Watch, and it is in support of local conservation initiatives,” Coastal Watch Conservation Initiative Coordinator Sam Lucas said.

An autonomous branch of the Sanibel Sea School, Coastal Watch aims to help locals become more effective stewards of the ocean resources that support the community. It executes small local initiatives that it hopes will have large impacts and improve the future of marine resources to maintain the coastal heritage. All of the monies raised by Coastal Watch are used toward projects for Southwest Florida.

For example, it continues to oversee the highly successful, reusable bag initiative, Bring Your Own Bag. With help from businesses and organizations, Coastal Watch distributes free, reusable canvas bags at events and stores around the islands. As of recently, more than 19,000 bags had been given away.

PHOTO PROVIDED A live acrylic painting by artist Monika Urbanska will be up for grabs in the live auction.

Its Strawless on Sanibel initiative helped encourage the city to ban single-use plastic straws.

“We’re going to be announcing two new initiatives at the event,” she said.

One is called Bin it, Don’t Bag It. Lucas explained that the program will focus on educating the community on the best practices for disposing of recycling and yard waste. The idea for it stemmed from what was being observed on the islands with homeowners putting the items in plastic bags.

“We realized some education might need to happen,” she said, adding that recycling and yard waste placed in plastic bags only ends up in one place – the trash. “They actually can’t recycle that.”

The second initiative the event will support is one Coastal Watch added over the past year.

“Mangrove restoration,” Lucas said.

Mangroves are an integral part of the environment and provide several benefits, such as erosion control, water quality management and ecosystem services that have trickle-down effects. They also create complex natural habitats for terrestrial and marine species.

“This is a really great way to directly benefit our islands, especially with erosion control,” she said. “It will help provide habitat for wildlife, and as mangroves grow they are actually great storm buffers.”

Red mangrove propagules have been collected, sprouted and transplanted to pots on the Sanibel Sea School’s property. They will grow until they can be transplanted into the natural environment as part of a living shoreline restoration project. Coastal Watch is collaborating with the city to pick the planting sites.

“The city has identified a few areas,” Lucas said.

Sam Lucas

She noted that Woodring Point is first on the list.

“Woodring Point has the most need right now,” Lucas said. “There’s a lot of erosion.”

As for the fundraiser, the tickets are $100 per person and include an annual membership. The Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s will serve up dinner and dessert, along with beer, wine and such.

Attendees also will receive a reusable canvas bag, T-shirt and sticker.

The event will entail a brief video presentation, plus Sanibel and environmental trivia.

“If you answer it right, you get a prize,” she said.

The following items will be up for grabs in the live auction:

– Live acrylic painting by Monika Urbanska

– Two days of fly fishing on Sanibel

– Stay at the South Seas Island Resort and a boat trip, with the option to pick the activities

– Guided birding tour of Southwest Florida

– Boat trip with Billy Kirkland on his private vessel

– Movie passes for two to the Island Cinema

– Caloosahatchee cruise aboard The Ripple Effect, the Sanibel Sea School’s vessel

– Two tickets to the performance of “Hamilton” on Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW; seats are Orchestra Left, Row G

As for the silent auction, several prizes will be available.

“We should have about 20,” Lucas said.

Some of the items include two pieces by photographer Charlie McCullough, standup paddleboard or kayak excursion, charter to go shelling, wildlife sightseeing or fishing, golf package for four, one-hour massage, hair salon service and shopping, beach gift basket with goodies, craft beer basket and more.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to get their tickets.

“It’s a fun relaxed evening, and it’s in support of conservation initiatives that will directly benefit the local coastal ecosystem,” she said.

For more information or tickets, visit sancapcoastalwatch.org/the-launch.

People also can contact 239-472-8585 or coastalwatch@sanibelseaschool.org.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.