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Next Meeting of the FSSR

Our meetings are bi-monthly on the fourth Tuesday of the odd numbered months (except July) .

January 26, 2021, 7pm - canceled, next meeting will be March 23, 2021

At our November meeting, we presented the video Bringing Nature Home, an episode from the TV show "Growing a Greener World" with Dr. Doug Tallamy, Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware. Dr. Tallamy describes the importance of native plants in our environment to support the food web and habitat for birds and other animals. If you were unable to join us, you may watch the video on the Growing a Greener World website here - www.growingagreenerworld.com/bringing-nature-home-doug-tallemy.

For our September 2020 meeting, we had an online presentation by Roxanne Groover, Executive Director of the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association, on residential septic system designs, new technology and new state legislation this year affecting homeowners, and perhaps providing financial assistance for upgrading your system. The presentation was recorded and you may watch it here - https://youtu.be/GKOF-5warQo.

The presentation at our meeting in March 2018 was about microplastics in our oceans and waterways. Speaker Nikki Munroe showed an extended trailer of the documentary "Plastic Oceans," demonstrating the magnitude of the problem. This trailer is displayed below and may be viewed by clicking on the image. Ms. Munroe works for the UFL/IFAS Extension Service in Indian River County and much of the information she presented at our meeting was developed by the University, and is available online at www.plasticaware.org. The "Plastic Aware" campaign is designed to help educate everyone about the scope of the microplastics issue and includes a citizen-science project, allowing anyone to contribute to greater understanding and finding a solution to this problem. The Plastic Aware website also includes a link to their "Take the Pledge" survey which Ms. Munroe handed out at the end of our meeting.

The PBS NewsHour has run a special segment on "Plastic Pollution" in late September 2018 on the issue of microplastics and plastic polluting our oceans. Click here to view their news segments on this issue.

Landscape Architect, Robin Pelensky gave a presentation to the Friends in November 2017 on rain gardens. Many of the online resources she mentioned are avaiable from the University of Florida/IFAS here.


Marine Resources Council

Lagoon House, 3275 Dixie Hwy NE (US 1), Palm Bay

Lunch and Learn Presentation

First Tuesday of the month at noon. For more information, visit the MRC website here.

December 1 - North Atlantic Right Whale Program Update

If you missed the October presentation on horseshow crabs, you may watch it online at https://savetheirl.org/whats-new/oct-6-webinar-horseshoe-crab-watch.

Indian River Lagoon Health Report Card #3 - join the MRC for an online presentation of their third annaul IRL Report Card Update report. The presentation is being offered at 12pm on December 8, or 6:30pm on December 10. Registration for this event is required. Please visit https://savetheirl.org/irl-health-update/urgent-lagoon-health-update for more information.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

5600 US 1 North, Ft. Pierce, Florida

Ocean Science Lecture Series

This season's Ocean Science Lecture Series will be held online/virtually. For more information and to register (required), please visit http://fau.edu/hboi/community/osls.php or call 772-242-2400.

December 2, 2020 - IRLON 2.0: Addressing Emerging Environmental Issues in the Indian River Lagoon, Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D., FAU Harbor Branch

Annual Scrub-Jay Festival

January 2021

Only one bird species, the Florida scrub-jay, makes its home exclusively in the Sunshine State. This songbird, with its bright blue headdress, wings and tail and bold, curious behavior depends on scrub habitat for survival. The Florida Scrub-Jay Festival celebrates the only bird species unique to Florida as well as the scrub-jay’s unique and interesting habitat. The Florida scrub-jay currently is federally listed as a threatened species. Scrub-jays are bold, curious, charismatic and true Florida natives.

The free festival includes guided hikes and eco-buggy tours, a Scrub-Jay Q&A with experts, a keynote presentation, prescribed fire demonstrations, kids’ activities, exhibits and entertainment. For more information about the festival, visit the FL Scrub-Jay Festival facebook page. For more information about the Florida scrub-jay, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

Click here to view online photos of scrub-jays taken by the FWC.

Everglades Birding Festival

January 2021
Davie, Florida

Journey through south Florida searching for beautiful and rare birds in ancient moss-covered cypress swamps, everglades prairies that join the sky and brilliant marshes that sparkle with flashes of roseate wings.

The festival includes keynote speakers, workshops, and field tours. Registration is required as space is limited and activities fill up quickly, so be sure and register early. For more information, visit the Everglades Birding Festival website.

Arbor Day in Florida

January 2021

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. As a formal holiday, it was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska.

For many years, Arbor Day was celebrated on April 22, J. Sterling Morton’s birthday. Today, National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

Florida has celebrated Arbor Day since 1886 and has one of the first Arbor Day celebrations in the nation, on the third Friday in January. Due to Florida's warmer climate, it is convenient, and even advantageous to plant trees at this early date in the season. Over 200 communities in Florida celebrate Arbor Day, either as a stand-alone event or in conjunction with some other occasion. Sebastian celebrates National Arbor Day though closer to the April 22nd date, in conjunction with its annual Earth Day celebration.

For more information about Arbor Day, visit the Arbor Day Foundation, or for more information about Arbor Day celebrations in Florida, visit the University of Florida's "Arbor Day in Florida" page.

Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival

January 2021
Eastern Florida State College, Titusville

22nd year in Titusville and the Space Coast. More than 200 activities, led by leading authorities. Considered by many to be the #1 wildlife festival in America.

For more information, please visit their website at www.spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org.

Harmony Dark Sky Festival

January 2021
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida

Discover Bok Tower Gardens by the light of the Milky Way at the HARMONY Dark Sky Festival & Star Party in February. The evening event includes learning about the night sky with leading astronomers, nocturnal animal encounters, night hikes, and a special astronomy-inspired carillon concert.

Learn about the night sky with astronomers, meet animals who survive in the dark, and enjoy a special astronomy-inspired carillon concert. Darkness not only adds to the aesthetic qualities of the wildness, but is important to the health of wildlife. As most of the world is faced with the effects of artificial light pollution, the Dark Sky Festival aims to educate citizens about the importance and magic of natural darkness. Learn how you can make the darkness enjoyable and safe for all Earth’s inhabitants.

For more information, visit the Bok Tower Gardens website.

World Wetlands Day

February 2, 2021

2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Each year since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

On 27 January 1998, the then Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Mr. Delmar Blasco, signed the first partnership agreement between a global environmental convention and the private sector with Mr. Franck Riboud, CEO of the Danone Group, Yves Buchsenschutz, Director General of the Evian Water Company, France, part of the Danone Group, and Mrs. Dominique Voynet, French Minister for the Environment. The Danone–Evian Fund for Water was born. Its mission is to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public at large of the importance of water resources through a portfolio of projects and educational products.

For more information and downloadable resource materials, visit www.worldwetlandsday.org.

Orlando Wetlands Festival

February 2021
Fort Christmas Historical Park, Christmas

The City of Orlando, Orange Audubon Society, Orange County Parks & Recreation Department and Atkins Global invite you to come out to the Orlando Wetlands Festival at Fort Christmas Historical Park. Celebrate the City’s 1,650 acre wetland oasis with guided birdwatching excursions, guided photo hikes, hay rides, bus tours, wildlife shows and fun activities just for the kids. Enjoy live music and food which will be available for purchase. Admission is free and door prizes will be given out. For more information, visit the Friends of the Orlando Wetlands Facebook page.

National Wildlife Day

February 22 and September 4, 2021

National Wildlife Day (Feb. 22nd & September 4th) founded in 2005 by animal behaviorist and philanthropist Colleen Paige, serves to bring awareness of endangered animals nationally as well as globally, that need to be preserved and rescued from their demise each year, but also to acknowledge zoos and outstanding animal sanctuaries globally for everything they do to help preserve this planet's animals and educate the public about conservation - especially to children....our animal's future caretakers and conservationists.

Visit www.nationalwildlifeday.com to learn more.

Environmental Learning Center's EcoFest

March 2021
255 Live Oak Drive, Vero Beach

"An afternoon of outdoor fun and our BIGGEST event of the year! Join us for an environmental festival to celebrate how our planet is connected to our health."

For all the details, visit the ELC website.

World Wildlife Day

March 3, 2021

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. Countries around the world are encouraged to highlight species of wild animals and plants from their own countries.

For more information and events around the world, visit www.wildlifeday.org.

World Water Day

March 2021

International World Water Day is held annually in March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

For more information, visit the World Water Day website.

Florida Wildflower & Garden Festival

March 2021
Downtown Deland

In addition to wildflower & gardening education, the festival features vendors who provide information, wildflower and gardening-themed products, and arts and crafts related to general gardening, native plant gardening, gardening for birds, butterflies and wildlife, habitat creation, home improvement, environmental conservation, recycling and "Green" living.

For more information, visit the Florida Wildflower Festival website.

Earth Hour

March 27, 2021

On Saturday March 28th at 8:30pm, millions of people across the world are switching off lights for one hour - to celebrate their commitment to the planet. This year, you can do more. For more information, visit www.earthhour.org.

Florida Wildflower Symposium

April 2021
Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, Gainesville, FL

The Florida Wildflower Symposium is the only educational gathering of its kind, focusing exclusively on Florida’s native wildflowers and the wildlife that depends on them.

The tenth annual symposium will offer field trips to local natural areas, hands-on workshops, and educational presentations by experts on planting and growing native wildflowers, creating habitat for pollinators, and much more. For more information, visit the Florida Wildflower Foundation website.

Viera Wetlands Nature Festival

April 2021
3658 Charlie Corbeil Way, Viera, FL

The event includes an art exhibit, tours, kids' activities, nature exhibitis, birding and photography workshops. For more information visit http://vieracommunityinstitute.com/viera-wetlands-nature-festival.

Gopher Tortoise Day

April 10, 2021

April 10th was officially adopted by the Gopher Tortoise Council as Gopher Tortoise Day! In Florida, gopher tortoises are found in parts of all 67 counties and are frequently encountered in neighborhoods, along roadways, and in many of Florida’s public parks and forests. The goal of Gopher Tortoise Day is to increase awareness and appreciation for these long lived, gentle reptiles. For more information, visit the Gopher Tortoise Day website.

National Bat Appreciation Day

April 17, 2021

National Bat Appreciation Day occurs annually on April 17th. National Bat Appreciation Day is an excellent time to learn about the role bats play in nature. One important reason to celebrate bats is that they are considered to be an “insectivorous” creature because they rid our world of many bothersome insects. Visit www.nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-bat-appreciation-day-april-17 to learn more fun bat facts!

National Park Week

April 17-25, 2021

Each year in April America celebrates National Park Week –– a chance to hike, learn, share, and give back in the nation’s 391 national parks. Take this time to celebrate what we all have inherited as Americans – 84 million acres of the world’s most spectacular scenery, historic landmarks and cultural treasures.

Whether it is your first trip, or the latest of many memorable park experiences, National Park Week is a chance for all Americans to get active while experiencing the amazing places that make up the national park system for FREE. Visit any of America’s national parks and enjoy free admission all week long!

Visit www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm for more information.

City of Sebastian Earth Day & Arbor Day Celebration

Saturday, April 24, 2021, 9am to 4pm
Riverview Park, Sebastian

Sebastian's Earth Day Festival & Arbor Day Observance will provide an opportunity for people to mingle with earth-friendly organizations and learn about various ways to protect our planet and enjoy nature. There will be entertainment and fun events as well.

This free family event with free parking is sponsored by the City of Sebastian's Natural Resources Board (check in at their booth to receive your free raffle tickets for door prizes). For more information, visit the Natural Resources Board website.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

May 2021

Participate in events across the nation to raise awareness and identify solutions to invasive species issues at local, state, tribal, regional, international and national scales. Locate an invasive species event in your state or county. For more information, visit the NISAW website.

National Trails Day

June 2021

American Hiking Society's National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America's magnificent Trail System, occurring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more. For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.

For more information, visit www.nationaltrailsday.org.

National Rivers Month

June 1st marks the start of National Rivers Month, a thirty day tribute and celebration of America’s most treasured rivers. Take a moment this month to think about your favorite waterway and how it connects to habitat, drinking water, recreation, energy, and life. What can you do to ensure that these waterways remain clean and viable for generations to come?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has some online educational resources available for kids of all ages, to teach them more about rivers and our important water resources. Visit their website at http://sciencenetlinks.com/daily-content/06/09/.

In addition, American Rivers and the Arbor Day Foundation have information about celebrating and protecting rivers at https://www.americanrivers.org/2017/06/need-healthy-rivers and http://arbordayblog.org/national-forests/happy-national-rivers-water-month.

Treasure Coast Lionfish Safari

June 2021
Ft. Pierce, Florida

The Treasure Coast Lionfish Safari is our area’s tournament aimed at reducing the number of invasive lionfish in our coastal waters. This event will succeed in gathering research information for local scientists, reduce the numbers of this invasive species, and encourage sportsmen to take an active hand in protecting the unique and diverse ecosystem we have right at our doorstep. For more information visit the Treasure Coast Lionfish Safari website.

World Oceans Day

June 8, annualy

On World Oceans Day people around the planet celebrate and honor the body of water which links us all, for what it provides humans and what it represents. There are several events around Florida celebrating the day and the closest will be at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. The SMS event will be held from 10 AM to 3 PM. Please visit their website at www.marinelife.org for information about all the activities for this event.

For more information about World Oceans Day, please visit www.worldoceansday.org.

Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup

July 2021
Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties

Boaters and citizens along the Indian River Lagoon will be cleaning up 125 miles of waterways in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties. Everyone is invited to participate and will receive a free event t-shirt. Boaters will also receive commemorative burgee flag, and everyone will be invited to a barbecue lunch at a future date. For more information and to register, please visit the event webiste at www.tcwaterwaycleanup.com.

US EPA SepticSmart Week

September 2021

Each year, EPA holds SepticSmart Week with outreach activities to encourage homeowners and communities to care for and maintain their septic systems.

During SepticSmart Week, EPA seeks to inform homeowners on proper septic system care and maintenance, assist local agencies in promoting homeowner education and awareness, and educate local decision makers about infrastructure options to improve and sustain their communities.

For more information, visit the EPA's SepticSmart website.

National Estuaries Week

September 19-25, 2021

National Estuaries Week is the annual celebration of the vibrant and essential coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. Culminating with the National Estuaries Day celebration held on the last Saturday of September each year, it's a terrific opportunity to learn more about estuaries and the perfect excuse to spend a day on your local bay. You can take advantage of volunteer opportunities and hands-on restoration in your nearby bay or estuary, participate in a guided walk or boat tour, or simply explore your estuary with family and friends. Every year, Restore America's Estuaries and its 11 national member organizations across the country organize special National Estuaries Day events--beach clean-ups, hikes, canoe and kayak trips, cruises, workshops, and more!

For more information about National Estuaries Week and other events around the country, please visit them at www.estuaries.org/national-estuaries-week.

National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September 25, 2021

National Public Lands Day (NPLD), sponsored by Toyota Motor North America, is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. Through NPLD, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) works to connect people to public lands in their community, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health.

To encourage people to join in and visit their public lands, NPLD is a fee-free day for all federal public lands and many state parks. Whether you volunteer on NPLD, enjoy some boating, hiking, fishing, or camping, or simply learn more about your public lands and the plants and wildlife that live there, we invite you to take this day to enjoy the great outdoors and celebrate the lands that give us so much.

For more information, visit the National Public Lands Day website.

A Day in the Life of Indian River Lagoon

October 2021

The "A Day in the Life" program is an experiential science research program designed to help students (grades 2-12+) develop an appreciation for and knowledge of the ecosystems being studied, to collect useful scientific data in regard to the ecosystem’s environmental health, and to allow students to become stewards of the ecosystem’s water quality and natural resources.

On a single day each Fall, environmental experts, students, and teachers participating in "A Day in the Life of the Indian River Lagoon" simultaneously collect scientific data at sites all along the 156-mile stretch of the Indian River Lagoon.

For more information, visit the A Day in the Life of the IRL website.

Indian River Lagoon Science Festival

October 2021
Veterans Memorial Park, 600 N. Indian River Dr., Ft. Pierce

The free family-friendly festival is a celebration of science and aims to show that science is not only meanignful and relevant, but also fun! Exhibitors will have hands-on activities and demonstrations exploring different areas of science, such as agriculture, health science, entomology, ecology, marine science, stage performance, the procession of the species, and more! To learn more, visit the IRL Science Festival website.

Florida Wildlife Festival

October 2021
Umatilla, Florida

Come and experience the “Real” Florida at the original “wildlife focused” festival.

The purpose of the Florida Wildlife Festival is to increase awareness and promote the safe coexistence of humans and wildlife by fostering community appreciation of the Florida black bear and other native wildlife species, as well as Florida’s unique ecosystems that serve as wildlife habitat.

For more information, visit the festival website at http://floridawildlifefestival.org.

The Big Sit!

October 2021

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club. Every team that observes the year’s “Golden Bird” has a chance to win $500. Every year, bird watchers from around the globe unite on this special day by participating in this free event, open to any person and club in any country!

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you may observe.

To learn more and to register, visit the The Big Sit! website.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

October 2021

In October the public will have the opportunity to dispose of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Properly disposing of unwanted medications helps keep them out of our water, and ultimately our waterways. Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Last October, Americans turned in 456 tons (over 912,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall since 2010 the DEA and its partners have taken in over 9 million pounds of pills.

For more information, and to locate a take-back location near you, visit the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day website.

October is Native Plant Month in Florida

The Florida Native Plant Society celebrates native plants with a month-long celebration in October each year. Events across the state help to remind everyone of the importance of planting, and converting your yards, to native plants for wildlife diversity, lower maintenance, and need for fertilizers and pesticides! Since native plants are adapted to our climate, there is something that will always be in blossom at various times throughout the year. To learn more about this annual event, and more resources for native plants, visit the FNPS at https://fnps.org/news/plantmonth.

Florida Bat Festival

October 2021
Gainesville, Florida

This unique event will provide a rare opportunity for the general public and wildlife lovers to visit a working research center and to see the bats face-to-face. This is the only day of the year when the center is open to the public.

The festival will be held on the grounds of the Lubee Bat Conservancy, a 110-acre ranch, located at 1309 NW 192nd Avenue in Gainesville, FL. This free festival offers exciting opportunities for the whole family. Whether you are viewing live fruit bats, sitting in on an education presentation, or visiting a vendor’s booth, the festival offers relaxation and recreation.

Each year this event features free activities, including bat-themed crafts and games for kids, educational exhibits, presentations by bat experts, and the unique opportunity to see live fruit bats with 5 ft wingspans on exhibit in our Bat Zone. Local vendors will be spread across the beautiful grounds of the conservancy selling food and beverages, providing local environmental education information, and selling batty merchandise.

For more information visit the Lubee Bat Conservancy website.

October is Greenways and Trails Month

In celebration of Florida Greenways and Trails Month, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks invites Florida residents and visitors to explore the amazing greenways and trails found throughout the Sunshine State. The network of trails in Florida provides opportunities for a variety of activities for the whole family, including walking, running, riding bicycles, paddling or pushing a stroller. The benefits of outdoor recreation include lower blood pressure, improved fitness, improved mood, lower stress levels and more. To learn more and access an online trails guide, visit the DEP's Greenways and Trails Month website.

Florida Panther Festival

November 2021
Naples Zoo, Naples, Florida

Make plans to attend this family-friendly event to celebrate the local wildlife of Collier County, including the endangered Florida panther. Along with all regular zoo activities including see a living Florida panther, guests will enjoy outdoor exhibits by area conservation partners, fun activities for kids, and practical talks about living with wildlife presented by experts.

For more information, visit the Florida Panther Festival website.

The Native Plant Show

November 2021
Mounts Botanical Garden, 559 North Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL

Are you a native plant enthusiast? Are you interested in learning more about adding natives to your landscape? Plan to attend The Native Plant Show, Nov. 7–8, 2019, at Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach. Shop for native plants, learn more about them, find professionals who can help and return home ready to plant.

Florida Wildflower Foundation Program Manager Stacey Matrazzo will lead a class on Florida's native edible plants. This show-and-tell presentation will include opportunities to taste, touch and see many of the plants in a landscape setting.

For more information, please visit The Native Plant Show website.

America Recycles Day

November 15, 2021

Since 1997, communities across the country have come together on November 15 to celebrate America Recycles Day. More than a celebration, America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling in the United States. One day to educate and motivate. One day to get our neighbors, friends and community leaders excited about what can be accomplished when we all work together. One day to make recycling bigger and better 365 days a year.

For more information and to get involved, please visit the America Recycles Day website.

For more information about recycling in Indian River County please visit the Indian River County Solid Waste Department website or call them at 772-770-5112, or visit the Keep Indian River Beautiful website or call KIRB at 772-226-7738. In Brevard County, visit the Brevard County Solid Waste Management website or call them at 321-633-2042, or visit the Keep Brevard Beautiful website or call them at 321-631-0501.

Ongoing Events

Gopher Tortoise Coalition

Jim Petrone, HometownNews

The Gopher Tortoise Coalition is a group of concerned citizens that was recently formed with the change in the status of the gopher tortoise in Florida, by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The FWC took the action to upgrade the status of the gopher tortoise to "threatened" and just recently has changed the requirements for relocating tortoises out of the way of development.

The gopher tortoise suffers from an "upper respiratory tract" disease and the FWC has always required that tortoises being relocated off-site from areas being developed, to be tested for the disease before they can be relocated. In lieu of that, developers were allowed to apply for an "incidental take permit", which allowed them to pay a mitigation fee and entomb any gopher tortoises on-site as a result of the development work. This has historically been the easiest and most expeditious process for developers. With the recent change of policy by the FWC, tortoises can now be relocated off-site without the testing and many developers seem eager to do that. One logistical problem is having the time and man-power, to actually do the work of relocation. That's where you, the public and the Gopher Tortoise Coalition come in. If you are interested in helping out, please call Ilka Daniel, Director of Outreach Services with the Humane Society at 772-388-3331, ext. 28 or 772-473-6889.

Operation Medicine Cabinet - A Prescription for Safe Kids and a Clean Environment

Operation Medicine Cabinet is a professional, comprehensive, public safety and environmental awareness program designed to prevent the misuse and abuse of unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications, and keep them out of communities' water supplies.

Operation Medicine Cabinet keeps unwanted medications out of the wrong hands. Medicines left unattended or disposed of carelessly are a danger, whether it's accidental ingestion by people or pets, illegal use or theft, or identity theft from discarded containers with patient information.

Operation Medicine Cabinet protects the environment and prevents pollution by helping communities properly dispose of unused medications. Studies show that flushing medications down the toilet or sink drain contaminates water supplies and endangers aquatic life in our rivers and streams; wastewater facilities aren't designed to remove pharmaceutical chemicals.

For information on collection of unwanted medications in Indian River County, please contact the Indian River County Sheriff's Department at 772-569-6700 or visit their website. They will accept old/unwanted medications year-round at the Sheriff's Office, located at 4055 41st Ave., Vero Beach.

For collection information in Brevard County, please contact the Brevard County Sheriff's Department at 321-264-5201. Unwanted medications can be dropped off at the their South Precinct Office located at 1515 Sarno Road, Melbourne.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has additional information on the proper disposal of unused and unwanted medications. While flushing medications down the toilet is the least desirable method of disposal, there are certain medications that this is still the recommended method. The FDA maintains a list of these medications. For more information on disposal of unused medications, environmental concerns and guidelines for disposal, please visit the FDA website.

The American Rivers organization has published a page on their website entitled "Pharmaceuticals in the Water Supply." "In 2008, the Associated Press found an array of pharmaceuticals, from pain killers to antibiotics to mood stabilizers, in the drinking water of 24 major metropolitan water suppliers. Further, 34 of the 62 water suppliers contacted by the AP couldn’t provide results as they had never tested for pharmaceutical compounds." Their website discusses the problems and imapcts to your health and the environment.

You will also find more information on medication safety, environmental impacts and safe disposal on the National Community Pharmacists Assocaiton Dispose My Meds, the Teleosis Institute's Green Pharmacy Program and the Product Stewardship Institute's The Drug Take Back Network websites. Please visit these websites for more information on the safety, and prevention of environmental hazards, in disposing of unused medications. Our local waterways will be better for it!

Winn-Dixie recently announced that its pharmacies will offer specially designed medication disposal envelopes to help its customers safely dispose of unused, outdated or unwanted medications.

The specially designed TakeAway Environmental Return System envelopes, made by Sharps Compliance, offer a convenient, safe and environmentally responsible method to dispose of unused, expired or unwanted noncontrolled prescription or over-the-counter medications, the grocer stated.

"Winn-Dixie is making it easy for our customers to dispose of unwanted medications, preventing potential misuse of these medications and also preventing contamination of our lakes and rivers, many of which serve as community water supplies," stated John Fegan, Winn-Dixie VP pharmacy.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration holds a "National Drug Take-Back Day" each year in September. You will find more information about this event and drug disposal information on their website at http://deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.