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The equivalent of Piping Plover royalty were spotted wintering in Florida this year! In 2017, for the first time in 60 years, two pairs of Piping Plovers nested in Pennsylvania on the shores of Lake Erie.
Just like Floridians, Florida’s coastal birds demonstrated perseverance and persistence last year. Audubon support and stewardship gave the birds a fighting chance despite extreme weather, disappearing habitat, and crowded beaches.
Despite broad opposition from the conservation community, Senate Bill 1402 (2018) passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. This bad bill was a top priority for Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as legislative leadership.
While bills in the House and the Senate that proposed future funding for Florida Forever failed to pass, the most important thing—funding in the upcoming year—was in the final budget. When the dust cleared, the Legislature appropriated $100.8 million for the constellation of programs that comprise Florida Forever. This is an important increase from last year’s meager land conservation appropriation.
In February, the Maitland-based Audubon Center for Birds of Prey hosted its annual Wind Beneath our Wings event benefitting Audubon’s efforts to research, rescue, rehabilitate, and release birds of prey. The event previewed the new “Restore the Nest” campaign - an effort to raise $165,000 for repairs and weaknesses discovered after Hurricane Irma.
Enthusiasm for using native plants in Florida landscapes is spreading among Audubon’s 45 local chapters in Florida! Twenty of Florida’s Audubon chapters serve as local native plant resources and are encouraging their communities and neighbors to use native landscaping.
Shorebird populations have declined over the past few decades from many pressures along coasts. Habitats are lost to development, shrunk from sea level rise, and impacted by human disturbance.