Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, the Fort Myers Beach area offers its own great beaches as well as being surrounded by barrier and coastal islands to explore. The Working Waterfront Tour is a must do when visiting Southwest Florida. The shrimp fleet of San Carlos Island offloads more Florida pinks than anywhere else in Florida, says a 1999 study by the University of Florida.
Pink Shrimp to Fort Myers Beach is like Alaska King Crab to Alaska. While you won't find Shrimp Boats in the Deadliest Catch you can get up close and personal to our local Shrimping Industry with the Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center's Working Waterfront Three-Hour Guided Tour. Offered every Wednesday from 9 a.m. until noon, weather permitting beginning October 2nd.
The Ostego Bay Foundation has earned the 2019 Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence from the many accolades of the Working Waterfront Tour. The cost for the Tour is only $20.00 per adult and $10.00 for children over 6 years of age. You'll learn about Florida's "Pink Gold" the oldest and largest pink shrimp fishing fleet in Florida. The tour includes a 1 1/2 hour guided visit at the Marine Science Center Museum which contains numerous hands-on exhibits, touch tank, beach exhibit and estuarine aquariums.
The Tour continues with a walking tour of the commercial fishing industry working waterfront, including Erickson & Jensen Supply House, net shop and Trico Shrimp Boat loading dock. See how the boats are unloaded, the trawl doors are built, the shrimp nets are hand-sewn, the seafood is off-loaded, and other important factors used in this unique multi-million dollar industry; a memorable experience! Bring your camera.
The mission of the Ostego Bay Foundation, Inc. is to promote the understanding, preservation and enhancement of our unique marine environment through education, research and community involvement. The Foundation provides interactive educational experiences to encourage stewardship of our natural resources.
Last Saturday, the Florida Springs Institute (FSI) and Kings of the Springs (KOTS) environmental non-profits came together to host a Springs Outing on the Chassahowitzka River in southern Citrus County. Chassahowitzka springs are christened with names like Seven Sisters, Crab Creek, Potter, the Crack, Betteejay, and more. The “Chaz”, as regulars and locals call it, is a little-known but locally popular hangout on hot summer days. With its rope swings, wildlife, and swim-through caves it’s no wonder this spring system has become such a beloved hangout spot, for locals and visitors alike.
Our group was led by Tom Morris, springs biologist and cave diver, featured in the PBS documentary series Water’s Journey, and by Tessa Skiles, daughter of the legendary Wes Skiles who conceived and produced the four Water’s Journey films and created dozens of other important educational resources about the caves and narrow passages that comprise the Floridan Aquifer and its springs. Tessa is the Outreach Director of the Florida Springs Institute and is a passionate outdoors woman and photo/videographer in her own right. She shares her father’s passion for protecting the aquifer, springs, and rivers of Florida. Brent Fannin and David Cobiella, founders of KOTS, and many of their supporters rounded out our group of close to 30 paddleboarders, kayakers, and canoeists.
Our group ranged in age from a 15-year old high school junior, through young professionals, and a few older folks approaching retirement. Most were new to the Chassahowitzka and witnessing their enthusiasm and passion was an invigorating experience for me. Their smiles, laughter, and physical prowess above, on, and under the water warmed my jaded heart.
Although I started the day bemoaning the sad condition of our beloved springs, I was re-infected by their deep passion for what is left to save and cherish. Where I was contemplating writing another springs opinion piece about what we have already lost, my spirits were uplifted and refocused on the unfinished job ahead.
Added to this heartwarming display of humanity’s best instincts, was a story relayed to me by one of the paddlers. This friend had recently been backpacking in the North Carolina Smokey Mountains, and on a remote mountain-top bald, was engaged by a group of Florida day hikers who commented on his Ichetucknee Springs Alliance hat. Queried by the strangers about the condition of the Ichetucknee and other Florida springs, my friend answered the group’s questions by describing the good and the bad. Their conversation eventually turned to the role of politics in springs protection, and one of the strangers identified himself as the former speaker of the Florida house and a Republican. This former legislator assured my friend that the current pro-business-at-any-cost Florida government would eventually come back around to supporting the irreplaceable jewels of our state - healthy springs, rivers, and estuaries.
My morning depression was in part due to a first-hand account I had received about Fanning and Manatee Springs. At Manatee Springs and Catfish Hotel, experienced divers found turbidity so extreme that visibility was reduced to less than six feet and the water emitting from the spring was described as “murky”. Compared to the crystalline clear blue, lushly vegetated Manatee Springs I have known in years past, this spring is best described as dying or dead.
At Fanning Springs, they found blue, clear water and a sandy bottom. Unlike the lost clarity at Manatee Springs, the high nitrate nitrogen levels polluting Fanning Springs are invisible.
Although Fanning has filamentous algae and has lost its former submerged aquatic plants, recent high rainfall has recharged local aquifer levels enough to create a higher flow of clear water.
My friends had Fanning Springs to themselves and thoroughly enjoyed their snorkeling experience in this equally-impaired water body.
Such was the case this past Saturday for our entourage who visited the Chaz. The various springs did not appear healthy, yet they continue to be a magnet for thousands of people who cherish time outdoors. My fellow springs hoppers and I took home memories we will share with our friends and cherish into the future. We all experienced the Real Florida® that we want to preserve for our kids and grandkids. I just hope that all springs visitors realize, as I do, that our responsibility as Florida citizens and thoughtful voters is to insure a bright future for our natural environment.
of the Howard T. Odum
Florida Springs Institute
in High Springs.
The Florida Department of Agriculture expects to receive 8,000 applications by December and issue 3,000 cultivation permits early next year when the state rolls out its new industrial hemp program.
Some officials estimate the crop could eventually spawn a $30 billion annual industry in the Sunshine State but, as the Senate Agriculture Committee learned Tuesday, the rosy prospectus comes with thorns.
While 37 states have authorized industrial hemp programs in the two years since the crop was legalized under the federal 2018 Farm Bill, all await approval and guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Yet, according to HempBenchmarks.com, there are already more than 400,000 acres producing hemp in 34 states under the 2014 Farm Bill’s pilot program, outpacing processing capacity and market development. As a result, the new domestic commodity’s price has been falling since May.
Nevertheless, State Director of Cannabis Holly Bell told lawmakers, “homegrown” hemp will be a “several million dollar industry that will become hundreds of millions in the next two years.”
Bell said Colorado, Vermont, New York, Kentucky and Tennessee are among states that have given farmers the green light to grow hemp after submitting plans to the USDA months ago without any federal interference.
Florida will do as well in early 2020, Bell said, although she expects USDA guidance before year’s end.
“Everybody else is doing it,” she said. The USDA has “not intervened and stopped any state. By December, if everything goes well, our team is ready to issue permits.”
Bell, hired in February by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried as the state’s first cannabis czar after helping Tennessee establish its hemp industry during two decades of developing marijuana industries, said Florida’s program will include a workforce component and an automated permit process.
Without the USDA’s approval of the state’s program, however, Agriculture Committee Chairman Sen. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, a Central Florida farmer, said many farmers who may be interested in adding hemp to their crop mix, – like himself – will be hesitant to do so until the feds sign off.
Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, said hemp could be help the Panhandle recover from 2018’s Hurricane Michael.
In a February hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Senate Bill 1020 – the 2019 bill lawmakers approved to create the state’s hemp program – University of Florida North Florida Research & Education Center Director Glen Aiken recommended hemp and hops as alternative crops for Panhandle farmers recovering from October’s Category 5 storm.
Aiken said there is increasing demand for hemp, which can be used for high-quality fibers and ropes, clothing, even as food.
“I know of an entrepreneur in Kentucky that processes hemp sausage,” he said. “It’s hemp and pork combined. I had some. It’s not the best sausage I’ve ever ate, but it wasn’t too bad either.”
During Tuesday’s pre-session committee primer, agricultural scientists from the University of Florida and FAMU gave presentations of hemp’s prospects in the Sunshine State.
UF Director Dr. Robert Gilbert feared growers could “get ahead of the science” on hemp and said there will be an “emerging crops” summit sometime soon.
Creating a state industrial hemp program has been a priority for Fried since she assumed office in January after being the only Democrat elected to a statewide office in November.
“It’s going to cause an industrial revolution in our state and across the country,” she said in support of SB 1020, noting hemp has as many as 35,000 different uses and its market as a cash crop is only getting brighter as it is considered as a biodegradable replacement for Styrofoam, plastic and paper.
SB 1020, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, was adopted by the House in a 112-1 vote and by the Senate in a 39-0 tally.
The Center Square
"This month, It's was 18th anniversary of 9/11, and every 9/11, someone says 'we will never forget.'
These words...... like the words “unicorn” or “free health care” or “Islamophobia,” are nonsense words: Words that describe things ..... that simply don't exist.
We always forget; we have to forget. It's the way societies move forward, and it's the way they die, and these things have to be. It's God's will.
Here are some of the things we learned on 9/11 that we've forgotten:
Multiculturalism is crap.
There are better cultures, bad cultures, and even worse cultures.
Ours is better not because we're better people, but because we've inherited better ideas like individual freedom and equality before the law.
Those are better ideas than government by Allah, and dressing up women like the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come so they can't fully participate in life.
Better ideas make better cultures, and better cultures must be defended by both wisdom and force of arms — or worse cultures will conquer and destroy them.
On 9/11, we also remembered briefly that men must be men.
The policemen and firemen who charged into the burning buildings to try to save people were essential men, necessary men — men worthy of our honor and respect because they lived up to the responsibility of their manhood, which reminds us of another inescapable truth....
There is only one necessary task of human life, and that is to make and nurture more human life. This is a task that nature has assigned to women. It is in order to protect and preserve that task, and the women who do it, that men must be men. Brave, protective, supportive, and dispassionately wise.
When societies feel rich and safe and prosperous, they put such truths out of their minds and they turn to fluffy nonsense like “irony” or “pumpkin latte” or “redefining marriage” or letting boys dress up as girls or promising everybody everything for free.
The essential divide between conservatives and leftists is that conservatives want society to always live under the restraints of the essential truths.
Leftists want to take advantage of history's little holidays when some nation like ours becomes strong enough and rich enough to make everyone feel like it's safe to forget the rules and party.
There's some wisdom on both sides.
If your society is so powerful it can spare a few men to do inessential tasks like writing books or musical comedies, that's better than everyone having to man the front lines.
If you can allow some women to leave off baby-making and child-rearing, maybe some of them will enjoy doing something else more.
That's fine. It's tolerant and kind to accept gay relationships if you're living in inessential times, so why not do it.
But the gods of the copy-book headings, the gods of the essential truths, are always waiting to return with terror and slaughter as they did [on] this day 18 years ago.
And when you denounce motherhood or manhood, when you squander your resources and disrespect your traditions, those gods start sharpening their swords.
This is a very sad world, and one of the saddest things about this world is also one of the most comical: People lie.
Everyone lies, everyone lies to himself and to everyone else.
We say things that are absurd and ridiculous and then we insist that they're true.
People lie when they can, and only face the truth when they must.
On 9/11, we were forced to face the truth — a lot of truths — and now, by the necessity of human nature, we have forgotten.
We always do.
Enjoy your pumpkin Latte"