All waters that affect the estuarine and coastal waters of our six county areas are of major concern to us because they are the lifeline to a healthy environment. The major inputting fresh water rivers include the Apalachicola River, Ocklockonee River, Wakulla/St. Marks Rivers, Steinhatchee River and the Suwannee River.
The minor water bodies that affect this area include Sopchoppy, Spring Creek, Pinhook, Aucilla, Econfina, and Spring Warrior. The Fenholloway River and contributing discharges into the gulf are of special concern.
Stewards of these rivers (as well as adjoining coastal systems) are sought to assist with pro-active conservation measures that will be paramount to protecting our coastal zones. The Apalachicola River has stewardship via the Apalachicola Riverkeeper group and the Suwannee River has recently been adopted by a Suwannee Riverkeeper. The Big Bend Coastal Conservancy is seeking people and businesses to be advocates for their rivers and streams, as well as their coastal community, to assist in our coastal and marine initiatives. This advocacy is to adopt a specific water body such as a major or minor river; a beach or coastal area of your local community; or a nearshore or offshore regional area that you frequent on a regular basis and can assist to be the eyes and ears – and advocate -in/on/under the water for our environment.
Advocacy, support and involvement can be accomplished via a wide variety of ways.
First , obtain and share your observations, concerns and points of interest.
- Positive observations such as: this is the biggest school of mullet that I have seen in years; there was a pod of whales 40 miles south of my beach; this is the most productive year for gag grouper that we have seen in 20 years; we have abundant large red snapper, etc.
- Neutral observations (that are important to baseline data): the coastal nearshore waters are full of cannonball jellyfish; the blue water loop current has moved in substantially.
- Negative observations: the coastal waters had a strange color to it today, maybe this is an algae bloom; noted in the tide line dead fish of all the same type and size spread out over 10 miles at a low density of 1 fish per 100 feet.
Second, help to determine the top major coastal programs/outreach events and issues that are important to your immediate local community and assist us in coordinating a proactive coastal approach to address this. Coordinate with us on your programs so that we can support your community from a wider focus.
Third, adopt a specific area. We need stewards and coordinators to advocate for our environmental areas through actions like:
1) obtaining weekly or bimonthly water samples on the coast for a red tide monitoring or nutrient monitoring program;
2) giving detailed site reviews to us of near-shore areas such as seagrass beds, shoal areas, aquaculture facilities, local areas of importance and interest; we recognize and highly value local knowledge of specific areas; the coastal variation and navigation issues from St. Joe Bay, through Apalachicola Bay, and through Apalachee Bay down to the Suwannee vary greatly and all have unique characteristics.
3) letting us know what can be done from your or your business’ perspective to promote conservation- based programs to preserve our resources that are specifically important to you and your area.
4) Coordinating with us to deploy and retrieve baitfish/crab traps for a general species survey.
5) Coordinating with us for Federal and State Grant applications for coastal conservation issues.
If your home and/or business is related to the health of our coastal ecosystem, your support is important. For people and businesses that frequent our waters professionally and on a daily/regular basis, your insight, observations and suggestions/direction are the most important aspect of all.
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