Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival "Gives Back" to Conservation

Indian River Lagoon Spoil Island Enhancement Project

The Indian River Lagoon Spoil Island Enhancement Project is a partnership of state, local, and federal agencies with organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Audubon Society, Brevard Zoo, county School Boards, universities, fishing/boating clubs, and many others. The goal of the project is to enhance the 137 spoil islands found within the 155-mile Indian River Lagoon for the benefit of fish, birds, wildlife, and (where appropriate) public use. The islands represent roughly 700 acres of habitat of previously submerged lands which became islands as a result of the dredging of the Intra-Coastal Waterway during the early to mid-1900s. They are managed according to features such as native species and bird nesting/roosting as recreation, conservation, and education islands. Past enhancement projects include removing exotic vegetation, planting native plants, conducting surveys of birds and wildlife, installing camping amenities (eg, picnic tables, grills), and educating visitors through signs and a website www.spoilislandproject.org. The islands are especially important for shore and wading birds, including nesting areas, and as stop-over points for migrating song birds.

Along with the island enhancement projects, the area provides numerous educational groups, throughout the region, with hands on learning experiences. The groups come out and perform cleanups, remove exotic vegetation, plant native plants and we conduct onsite educational activities such as seining and plant identification, lagoon ecology, etc. Through the spoil island enhancement programs we install amenities for public use on the islands and have partnered with Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to address the problem of human waste left on the islands by campers and day users.

The islands are managed in partnership with Florida Department of Environmental Protection-FDEP (lead agency representing the Governor and Cabinet), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-FWC, and Florida Inland Navigation District-FIND. FDEP created a Citizen Support Organization entitled Friends of the Spoil Islands (FOSI) to facilitate enhancement projects and to involve the regional community with the efforts.

Anglers for Conservations

Anglers for Conservations mission it to inspire new generations of marine stewards through education, conservation, and community outreach. AFC is a grassroots 501c3 non-profit organization founded by Capt Rodney Smith and wife, Karen. Over the last ten years, the organization has reached thousands of children and their families through the Hook Kids On Fishing program. In 2017 alone, AFC reached over 2300 kids and more than 1800 of them received a free fishing rod thanks to the Fish Florida grants. The organization is also involved with many local and state organization and runs multiple programs for the community at no cost. Fishing is a big part of Florida's economy and without great anglers, there is less environmental awareness. Our fisheries must be respected and protected for future generations to enjoy as much as past generations have. For more information about Anglers for Conservation, log on to anglersforconservation.org, check it out on Facebook or contact Executive Director, Mike Conneen at mike@anglersforconservation.org.

Sponsored in part by the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners through the Brevard Cultural Alliance and the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

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