Health Advisory: Fort De Soto’s North Beach

The Department of Health in Pinellas County (DOH-Pinellas) has issued an advisory for the waters at Fort De Soto’s North Beach based on the marine water bacterial indicator recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This area should be considered a potential health risk to swimmers.

DOH-Pinellas conducts saltwater beach testing through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program. Water samples are analyzed for enteric bacteria (enterococci) that normally inhabit the intestinal tracts of humans and animals which may cause human disease, infections or rashes.

The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water run-off, pets, wildlife and sewage. The purpose of the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program is to determine whether Florida has significant beach water quality problems.

Weather permitting, the next sampling will be conducted on June 12.

Water quality classifications are based upon the EPA’s recommended standard for enterococci of no more than 70 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of marine water. More information about the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program is available online.

Information courtesy of Pinellas County. For information about DOH-Pinellas, go to www.PinellasHealth.com.

Cover Story: For the LOVE of Tampa Bay

In April 2010 the Gulf of Mexico experienced what is now considered to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats, fishing and tourism industries.

Rudy Consoni, President of Resort Realty/ Resort Rentals has been operating a real estate company specializing in managing vacation properties and renting to visitors from all over the world for 20 years. While some in his industry have had complaints from clients and customers, his company has maintained an A+ rating with the better business bureau. He knows the BP oil spill and the media frenzy that went on for weeks affected his business to some extent, but it bounced back and the tourism business has been great since.

Rudy said his company filed a ‘BP claim’ in 2012 and received a settlement in October 2016. Rudy says “their award was generous, and we are determined to give it back to Mother Nature and to help restore our beautiful environment. We have been corporate members of Tampa Bay Watch for a number of years and have seen the wonderful way they operate.”

Resort Realty/Resort Rentals generously donated $25,000 from their BP settlement and has also committed to donate $10 from every booking that they make over the next year to reach a total donation goal of $50,000 in 2017.  “We’ve already reached $35,000 Rudy says proudly.”

Of the 6,521 Pinellas County claims currently filed with the BP Deep water Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP), 760 have been paid to date for a total of $83,000,000, with an average claim value of $109,000. “Tampa Bay Watch is extremely grateful to receive this generous support from Resort Realty / Resort Rentals,” says Peter Clark, Tampa Bay Watch President,  “These funds will significantly contribute to our ability to restore and protect our Bay waters.”  Of all the places we could donate, why did we choose Tampa Bay Watch?,” Rudy asks.

Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands-on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.

“Our tourism industry is based on visitors coming here to enjoy the beaches, the weather, fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and windsurfing” says Rudy. “The quality of the water is a huge part of that. Tampa Bay Watch has been a growing presence here for decades now. Engaging families as volunteers and contributors, they have been planting seagrasses and building oyster beds. They have also been educating school children and visitors through partners like the TradeWinds Resort. They actively monitor the health of Tampa Bay counting scallops, rounding up tarpon, they take part in our communities’ activities and address our water-related challenges. Water is the gold of the future. What could be more important.”

Rudy hopes his donation will set an example for other business people who will be receiving BP settlement checks in coming months. “Assuming all 6,521 claims are paid, Pinellas businesses will receive $711,000,000 over the next two years. Tampa Bay Watch has done so much with so little for so long, imagine what they could accomplish if they had even a tithing of what Pinellas companies receive from BP in the coming couple of years.”

Tampa Bay Watch is proud of its diverse Board of Directors:

  • Kevin Kelso, the Vice President/Regional Manager – Portfolio Management of Hancock Bank as Chairman,
  • Doug Sokolowski, a member of Great Bay Distributors ownership as Vice-Chairman,
  • Mary Ann Renfrow, an owner of the Alden Suites Resort as Treasurer and
  • Mark Chmielewski, Managing Director of United Capital of Tampa Bay as Secretary.

“I am very proud and excited about our new board officers. They are a professional and diverse group of individuals that contribute personally and professionally to support the many existing and new programs,” states Peter Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch.

“Just think how much bay restoration we could achieve if 10% of the $83,000,000 that has already been received in BP settlements was donated to Tampa Bay Watch”.  “As you may know a clean bay contributes approximately $22 billion to the region’s economy”, said Jamie Serino, Tampa Bay Watch Director of Development.

You can get involved with Tampa Bay Watch too!

Volunteer to help with Native Plantings in Safety Harbor on Sat. Feb 25th from 9 – noon. In partnership with the City of Safety Harbor and Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting 150 volunteers for a native planting in Safety Harbor on the morning of Saturday, February 25 from 9am-noon. The address of the meeting location is 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695.

This project is family-friendly and open to all ages. Tampa Bay Watch in partnership with the City of Safety Harbor and Tampa Bay Estuary Program is recruiting 150 volunteers for a native planting in Safety Harbor on the morning of Saturday, February 25 from 9am – noon. The address of the meeting location is 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor, FL 34695. This project is family-friendly and open to all ages. 

You can also attend the Bay Life Art Exhibit: Feb. 25, 10 am – 2pm Meet Wildlife Artists at the 4th Annual Event The collaborative art exhibit and sale at the Tampa Bay Watch Marine and Education Center is free.  Meet the artists and enjoy a live informational pastel demonstration by one of the Bay Life artists plus kids’ activities. There’s a benefit cocktail reception Feb. 24 5-9 pm; Contact Tampa Baywatch by February 17 to RSVP.(727) 867-8166 x 231 or rzafar@tampabaywatch.org.

For More info call:
Peter Clark, President, www.TampaBayWatch.org
Rachel Arndt, Communications Manager
Jamie Serino, Director of Development
Tampa Bay Watch, 3000 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, FL 33715
(727) 867-8166 x 233 Fax: (727) 867-8188

Rudy Consoni, President
Resort Realty Vacation Rentals (727) 363-3336
8010 Blind Pass Rd., St Pete Beach, FL 33706-1625

Story by Peter Roos
Photos courtesy of Tampa Bay Watch

Volunteer with Tampa Bay Watch in 2017

Help Story 2D Island in February

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to install an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of 2D Island on February 23 & 24. The project involves shoveling fossilized shell into mesh bags, transporting the bags via boat and placing oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. It is pretty physical labor with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, therefore the miminum age to participate is 15 years old. The meeting location for is Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41, Riverview, FL 33578. The boat ramp is on the west side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) where US 41 and the north side of the Alafia River intersect. Click on date to register for this project: Thursday, February 23 & Friday, February 24.

Make Waves in 2017

Suncoast Surfrider Foundation proudly Presents Make Waves, a 2017 community kick off party on Sunday, January 22 from 6-10pm. Discover and engage with your local Tampa Bay community to understand the ways in which you can make waves this year. Jannus Live has graciously donated their epic music venue for this annual party featuring some of the best local music talent the Tampa Bay area has to offer including Jah Movement Reggae Band, Oceanstone, The Rosewoods, Mammoth Moon and more. Live art brought to you by Derek Donnelly & the Donnelly Cove. Over a dozen local non profits and ocean frendly businesses will be on display, as well as a plethora of epic raffle prizes throughout the evening. Click here for more information on the Surfrider Foundation.

Build Oyster Domes

Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting 10-20 hard-working volunteers to help build oyster domes at our Marine Center, 3000 Pinellas Bayway South in Tierra Verde. The project takes place on specified weekday mornings from 9 am until noon. The minimum age to participate in this project is 16 years old. The project involves pouring marine-friendly concrete into fiberglass molds to create oyster domes and taking apart the molds that were previously poured. 

Oysters need to attach to a hard structure to grow into adults and the rough texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow. Oyster communities help stabilize shorelines, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. Learn more about the oyster dome program here.

 Click one of the dates below to register: Monday, January 16Wednesday, January 18Friday, January 20, or Thursday, January 26.

Get your tickets to the Lightning game on February 23 & support Tampa Bay Watch at the same time!  

Tickets are $37 or $40. Each option includes a $20 donation to Tampa Bay Watch. Click here to select your seats. Use Promo Code: BAY

‘Legends of Tierra Verde’ Mural

An historic mural salvaged from the Port-of-Call Resort featuring the ‘Legends of Tierra Verde’ from the years 1300 – 1981, was installed in the Island Grille & Raw Bar which recently opened on the site of the old resort.  Unveiled September 29th, 2016 with great fanfare. Connie Langhorst, President and Founder of the  “Friends of Tierra Verde” thanks Donna Mason; Arthur Zelenak, Sr; Timothy & Pamela Landt, Bob & Colleen Mueller and Paul Cozzie, Director of Pinellas Parks & Conservation Resources for their help in the effort. Mural Artist Carolyn Jackson Gruber.

the-legends-of-the-tierra-verde-mural

Photo compliments of Connie Langhorst (carolynjacksongruber@centurylink.net)

Legend of Tierra Verde Mural Returns to it’s Ancestral Home – Almost

The Island Grille & Raw Bar plans to  unveil the LEGEND OF TIERRA VERDE MURAL at the restaurant’s soon-to-be-opened new location at 210 Madonna Blvd. in Tierra Verde, FL 33715.  The event is scheduled to take place in mid-September 2016.

The event will also feature original musical recordings from the Port-O-Call, where the mural was on display for many years since the 1960’s.  TV monitors throughout the reception area will feature the original Route 66 television episode that was filmed in Tierra Verde.

Honored guests will include local, county and state officials. Carolyn Jackson Gruber, the artist who created the 10’ x 4’ mural in August 1981, will be on hand to discuss the artwork and participate in the unveiling ceremony. She will autograph commemorative copies in miniature of the mural, which will be available for sale in the restaurant’s retail area.

The mural, depicting historical scenes from Tierra Verde and the surrounding area, was on display at the (former) Tierra Verde Resort, where the (now deceased) legendary bandleader,  Guy Lombardo, regularly performed at Le Club.

Special thanks to Donna Mason; Arthur Zelenak, Sr; Timothy L. & Pamela Landt, Bob & Colleen Mueller and The Island Grille & Raw Bar and Paul Cozzie, the Director of Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources.

Unveiling ceremony – Space limited. Reservations recommended,  Connie Langhorst – 727-480-5954 or by email at ThinkConnieL@gmail.com.

Reservations – The Island Grille & Raw Bar – 727-865-7670.

Artwork (credit): Artwork courtesy of Friends of Tierra Verde www.FriendsofTierraVerde.com

Photo (credit): Courtesy  Connie Langhorst.

Build Oyster Domes at Tampa Bay Watch

oyster-domesTampa Bay Watch is recruiting 10-20 hard-working volunteers to help build oyster domes at our Marine Center, 3000 Pinellas Bayway South in Tierra Verde. The project takes place on specified weekday mornings from 9 am until noon. The minimum age to participate in this project is 16 years old. The project involves pouring marine-friendly concrete into fiberglass molds to create oyster domes and taking apart the molds that were previously poured.

Oysters need to attach to a hard structure to grow into adults and the rough texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow. Oyster communities help stabilize shorelines, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. Learn more about the oyster dome program here.

Click on project date to register to volunteer:

Wednesday, Sept 21

Monday, Sept 26

Monday, Oct 3

Wednesday, Oct 5

Friday, Oct 7

Monday, Oct 10

Wednesday, Oct 19

Friday, Oct 21

St. Petersburg Audubon NEEDS for Bird Stewards

bird-stewardsFort De Soto Park & Indian Shores: We are passing along this urgent appeal from Audubon Bird Steward Dylan Kahn.

This is Dylan Kahn, and I am the anchor steward for both the sanctuary area atFort De Soto and for theIndian Shores black skimmer colony. I am writing you all today because I really need your help out there on the beaches. We are getting into our very busy summer season now, and we have chicks and eggs that need protecting at both locations. I’ve been out at both Fort De Soto and Indian Shores working very hard, and I have a great group of committed volunteers also working hard to protect the birds. But the beaches are getting more and more crowded with each passing weekend (and therefore a higher rate of intrusions/disturbances), and we are starting to see more eggs and more chicks. 

Please, I need your help in protecting these birds. We really need more coverage at both spots, and we need determined and diligent volunteers to get the job done. Volunteer stewardship makes all the difference in terms of ensuring that these birds have a successful nesting season. Without our help, almost all of these colonial and solitary nesting sites will fail.

If you have any interest at all in stewarding for either of these locations. Please reach out to me at dkahn@audubon.org or (815) 355-8451. We really need you out there for the birds!

“Random Tropical Paradise” Features Fort De Soto Park, TradeWinds Island Resort

Despite a lack of a state film incentive, the St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commission secured a 21-day Hollywood production that begins filming in St. Pete/Clearwater this week.

The comedy “Random Tropical Paradise” starring Joe Pantoliano (pictured right) of “Sopranos” fame and Vine superstar Brittany Furlan (pictured left) is being directed by Sanjeev Sirpal.

fort-desoto

“We can’t sit back and wish there were state funds to bring films to St. Pete/Clearwater,” St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commissioner Tony Armer said. “Thankfully we’ve got some resources to help these projects spend three weeks in production all over Pinellas County.”

The film is receiving support through the Film Commission’s marketing incentive program and is slated to shoot at TradeWinds Island Resort, Fort De Soto Park and Albert Whitted Airport, among other locations. According to Sirpal, “Random Tropical Paradise” is a screwball comedy in the vein of “The Hangover.”

St. Pete/Clearwater has been featured in a handful of Hollywood blockbusters (see video) recently, including “Dolphin Tale,” “Dolphin Tale 2,” “Magic Mike” and “Spring Breakers.”

Information courtesy of Visit St. Pete/Cleartwater.

Pinellas County to Identify Management Alternatives for Shell Key

pinellascountyPinellas County staff addressed Shell Key stakeholders at Tampa Bay Watch Tuesday night, Oct. 27, to discuss the closure of the north pass into the Shell Key Preserve, which occurred early this year.  

During Tuesday’s meeting, Tierra Verde residents voiced their concerns that the closure will degrade the overall environmental quality of the water and seagrass meadows in the preserve’s back bay region. Some stakeholders attribute the closure to sand moving south from years of beach nourishment projects north of Shell Key. The residents expressed needs for the county, state, and federal authorities to restore circulation to the preserve by dredging a new north passage and using the sand for nearby beach nourishment projects.  

Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources staff explained their land management priorities for the preserve, which the county has managed for the state since 2000. Through a series of historical aerial photos, Dr. Ping Wang of University of South Florida’s School of Geosciences discussed the dynamic nature of the Shell Key coastal region since the 1940s. He described the abundance of nearshore sand available in the area and illustrated the migration, changing coastline and extremely rapid growth of Shell Key since the early 1970s. County staff and Dr. Wang emphasized the importance of obtaining an understanding of the controlling factors of sand movement in the Shell Key coastal system prior to making any decisions about dredging.  

In order to make informed science-based decisions, the county will initiate a dual inlet study directed by Dr. Wang encompassing the Shell Key coastal region from the Pass-a-Grille Channel to Bunces Pass. The study is expected to begin this winter and provide staff with a better understanding of sand migration patterns and land form changes as well as identify sustainable alternatives to reopening the north passage. The study is expected to be completed in mid to late 2017, and staff is evaluating opportunities to accelerate its conculsion. In the meantime, county staff will continue periodic seagrass surveys and initiate a new monitoring program to assess water quality in the preserve.  

The Pinellas County “Doing Things for You” app is available for residents to report issues and access useful resources. Pinellas County can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. More information is available on the county website, www.pinellascounty.org, which features LiveChat for assistance. Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Water Tribe Everglades Challenge Start from Fort DeSoto

It was a cold and blustery on Fort Desoto’s East Beach on Saturday, March 7, 2015 for the launch of the 2015 Water Tribe Trek to Key Largo. The Water Tribe Everglades Challenge is an unsupported, expedition style adventure race for kayaks, canoes, and small boats. The distance is roughly 300 nautical miles depending on your course selection. There is a time limit of 8 days or less. he photo was taken this morning by Kathy Finnerty. More pictures have been shared on our Facebook here.

Find out more about The Everglades Challenge at http://www.watertribe.com/events/evergladeschallenge/The images are available for purchase from Kathy Finnerty here. You can see a youtube video of the launch here.

watertribe-5 watertribe-9 watertribe-2