Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170; president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org
Dedicated to the protection of birds, other animals, and their habitats through education and activism

 

 

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Scrub Jay Habitat behind Edgewater YMCA

For the last year we have been working with the City of Edgewater Director of Parks and Recreation, Jack Corder, to get the city to fulfill its responsibilities to preserve the small Scrub Jay habitat there. They agreed to preserve it as part of a mitigation agreement when the YMCA was built but they failed to live up to the agreement. Their neglect and the failure of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Corps of Engineers to enforce the terms of the federal mandate resulted in the deterioration of the habitat and the loss of the Scrub Jays that once lived there.

7.97 acres of scrub jay habitat were mitigated by the City in return for destruction of ~ 1 acre of the habitat. The City took on the contractual responsibility for protection of remaining habitat and annual monitoring. Since then, on-site survey reports 6/01, 6/02 and 10/06 indicate a loss of all three birds initially found on site. The Scrub Jay Habitat Management and Restoration Plan is unsigned and undated, but documents within in indicate the mitigation process began as early as 10/98. The initial biological survey was reported 11/99.

For the whole story, click here.

Restoration

As  everyone knows by now, there is a big (with a capital B) development in the works West of I-95 and North of US 442 in Edgewater called “Restoration”.  It will be on a four mile by five mile tract of land and will contain homes for 15-18000 new residents of Edgewater, doubling its current population in just one development.  This is in addition to the 900 acre development South of US442 called “Reflections” and all the other developments which will be conceived and built during this time. 

During the Audubon Academy in April, there was an opportunity for question and answer with David Andersen.  I wanted to speak about the fact that it seems that AoF is too close to developers.  Not to be.  No presentations allowed.  I questioned David about the fact that AoF was working behind the scenes with developers despite the fact that local organizations might be against the developments.  Lee Bidgood and I had been fighting against the "Restoration" development for two years, but AoF  was working with the developers without involving us.  Until the recent Swallow-tailed Kite survey in Restoration, we were not even aware that there had been previous surveys, let alone being invited to participate.  It seems that West Volusia Audubon was the lead in these surveys despite the fact that the surveys are in our back yard.  David's sole response to me was that "We are not going to stop development."  My only response, under my breath was: "Certainly not with that attitude."  I gave David this letter which would have been my presentation if I had the opportunity to give it.  

The Southeast Volusia Audubon Society has been resisting Restoration for the last two years based on its impacts on the quality of life of current Edgewater residents as well as the wildlife habitat and wetlands loss that will ensue.  However, it is apparent that it will occur. This is our policy statement that will guide our future actions.  Watch this space for future updates.

One of the 'features' of Restoration is that there will be a 'Conservation Village' in the western portion of the development which will be in closest proximity to the major wildlife, like bears.  The developers promise a program  to educate potential residents about living with bears and how to keep their homes bear safe.  Kathy sent a letter to the developers and to the City of Edgewater expressing our concern about the Conservation Village in Phase I and asked that it be removed totally, or at least moved to phase III.  The August 9, 2008 edition of the Daytona News-Journal carries an article about, and picture of a black bear at a deer feeder near I-95 and State Rd 442.   So you don't have to go too far into the woods to find bears.  To read the letter, click here.

new stuffAs noted in the Aug 20 article of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the Edgewater city council unanimously voted to start the process of permitting the Restoration development.  Most people who spoke supported the development for its ability to energize the city and about its new vision.

Kathy and I presented against the development but we were outnumbered. 

Kathy focused on the fact that the wetlands altered by silviculture are already in use by animals such as bears, deer and bobcats by the tracks they saw.  She also reiterated our request that the conservation village be deleted or sent to phase III. I focused on the impacts of the development on the current citizens of Edgewater. 



Dogs at Smyrna Dunes Park

Volusia County decided to remove dogs from the boardwalks of Smyrna Dunes Park and require that they and their owners walk on the trail adjacent to the boardwalk.  This decision was made after reports of dogs off leash and several incidents of dogs on or off leash that nipped or bit other users of the park. 

At a recent NSB city council meeting, County Councilman Jack Hayman presented the decision to the city.  Several dog owners made presentations against the county decision and made several compelling points.  The NSB deputy mayor, Randy Richenberg decided to establish a committee of interested citizens to brainstorm the problem and potential solutions in the hopes of revising the county decision.  Since we have a vested interest in the birds nesting and resting in NS Dunes Park, Nancy White volunteered to be our representative on the committee.  Kathy Booth will back her up as necessary.  If you have any input or suggestion we encourage you to contact them.  If you go to the park, bring a camera to document any infractions against the bird nesting areas including dogs off leash.

After several meetings, there was no concensus between the dog owners and the County.  It was also apparent that we were the only ones who cared about the unleashed dogs harassing the threatened and endagered species in the park.