SCCF official speaks at Lions Club meeting
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Chief Executive Officer Ryan Orgera addressed the Sanibel Captiva Lions Club at its meeting on Oct. 16 at The Community House on Sanibel.
He opened by highlighting the efforts that the SCCF has made toward the conservation of land. Fundraising campaigns have helped to acquire 2,330 acres of land on Sanibel, Captiva and Pine Island. Of that total, the SCCF directly manages 1,860 acres. The conservation land provides protection for native wildlife, plus protection and mitigation for some of the water issues Southwest Florida is facing.
The SCCF is known for the sea turtle and snowy plover monitoring on the islands’ beaches. It also monitors a number of other species, including gopher tortoises, Sanibel rice rat, bald eagles, alligators and coyotes. By monitoring the species, the SCCF provides had evidence about the number and health of the populations. Orgera discussed the disorientation that is caused by light pollution on the survival rate of sea turtle hatchlings. He noted that Sanibel, through its dark skies ordinance, has done a good job of reducing the disorientation; however, the impact of “sky glow” from the lights of surrounding communities is an increasing problem.
The club also was informed about the role that the SCCF plays in trying to improve the environment. Through its River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network (RECON) program and recently completed marine research laboratory, it is able to provide quantifiable measures of the water quality in the local area. Oyster bed restoration provides one approach to improving water quality since oysters filter and remove nutrients and other pollution elements. The SCCF also is one of the lead organizations to raise awareness and lobby for improvement in water quality.
Orgera noted that 40 percent of Lee County is wetlands and much is inland, not just adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico or Pine Island Sound. The importance of the fact is wetlands act as a natural sponge, soaking up floodwaters and reducing flood heights. It also slowly releases the water back into the water system and filters some pollutants. The club learned that 30 percent of local critical services, such as schools, hospitals, police stations, fire stations and hurricane shelters, are in the floodplain. Destruction of wetlands can hamper the ability to respond in an emergency and slow the subsequent recovery.
The club holds dinner meetings on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Visiting Lions or other interested people are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Membership Chair Lion Steven Schulz at 239-233-6261 or P.O. Box 391, Sanibel, FL 33957, or visit www.sanibelcaptivalionsclub.org.