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FWF policy positions about important issues around the state.

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Creature Feature: Purple bankclimber
Creature Feature: Purple bankclimber
Creature Feature: Purple bankclimber Not all of our Florida natives are photogenic. The purple bankclimber, a rare freshwater mussel, is an unglamorous inhabitant of only two river systems in Florida: the Apalachicola and the Ochlockonee, both in the Panhandle. It is a “bivalve” meaning it has two hard shell coverings with a soft interior and a hinge to open and close the shells. Dark colored on the outside and growing up to five inches in length, this species is white and purplish on the inside of the shell. It “filter feeds” by syphoning in food such as algae and plankton as water passes through their opened shells. Adults live on the bottom of the rivers, and they prefer a sandy or muddy bottom with a moderate current. Interestingly, bankclimbers have three teeth-like structures inside their shells. Bankclimbers and all other mollusks (e.g., clams, oysters) play an important role in aquatic ecology by their filtering activity as up to 10 gallons of water may pass through a single mollusk. To keep the purple bankclimber and similar aquatic organisms, we need clean and abundant water ...
Nature at Home: Longleaf pine
Nature at Home: Longleaf pine
Nature at Home: Longleaf pine  Longleaf pine was once the dominate tree in the Southeast. It is estimated that it occupied 90 million acres. Now due to harvesting, conversion of much of this land to other uses, and the restriction of wildfires, it only occupies 3 percent of its original range.  Fortunately, the winds of economics now favor reestablishment of this great tree along with preserving the whole longleaf wire-grass ecosystem. Watch Stan Rosenthal with the Florida Wildlife Federation show you how it is done on private land. A case study with more details of this project can be found here.    
Chronology of longleaf pine restoration on a North Florida site
Chronology of longleaf pine restoration on a North Florida site
Chronology of longleaf pine restoration on a North Florida site Land owned by St. Joe Paper Company (St. Joe Company, until 1966) was planted in slash pine.   2014 Current landowner purchases 249.11- acre property located in North Florida. Approximately 150 acres of North Florida property clear-cut. Landowner purchases additional property in North Florida. 30.1 acres of this additional property receives simultaneous clearcutting, cost shares, site preparations and longleaf pine planting as described below.   2015 Landowner meets on site in North Florida with UF/Forestry Extension Agent. At this meeting, landowner and Forestry Agent discussed how best to manage property for timber and wildlife. Original sandhill plant community ground cover still in fair condition. A description of this plant and animal community is described in the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) "Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida.” This publication can be found here. Landowner very interested in preserving this ground cover. Forestry Agent writes management plan for landowner (attached).    2016 Cost shares with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) were applied for and approved.   2017 Site preparations are begun to prepare the site - 135 acres in North Florida for planting of longleaf pine tublings. April, North ...
Creature Feature: Gulf Sturgeon
Creature Feature: Gulf Sturgeon
Creature Feature: Gulf Sturgeon A threatened species, the Gulf sturgeon is an ancient fish that grows up to eight feet long and weighs up to 300 pounds! Once living with the dinosaurs, these aquatic creatures have scutes (large protective plates) on their backs like an alligator. Possessing no teeth, they swim along the bottom vacuuming up food consisting of crabs, grass shrimp and marine worms. Sturgeons inhabit river systems in the Panhandle east to and including the Suwannee River. Boaters need to be on the look-out for them, especially during spring and summer, as they can leap up to nine feet into the air. Able to live more than 40 years, these fish do not produce eggs until approximately eight years of age. They live part time in the salty Gulf of Mexico, then swim to freshwater rivers to lay eggs. Dams on some rivers have stopped the sturgeons being able to get where they want to go and dredging of rivers can take away their food supply. Thanks for caring about Florida’s wildlife!  Photo by Noel Burkhead/USGS
Nature at Home: Backyard Birdbaths
Nature at Home: Backyard Birdbaths
Nature at Home: Backyard Birdbaths Photo by Barry Fraser Water is an essential part of healthy wildlife habitats, including our gardens, yards and neighborhoods. When creating a backyard habitat it’s important to provide water along with food and cover. Many of us, while at home, have spent more time watching birds, planting native plants for food, maybe putting up bird feeders to provide an extra snack. Providing a birdbath brings even more birdwatching opportunities. Birds need clean water for drinking and bathing; this is especially important in times of decreased rainfall. There are many options for birdbaths to add to your garden. Most of us have seen the concrete, stone or even metal baths available at home stores, hardware stores and nurseries. They come in a variety of styles and prices, and generally are sturdy and easy to clean.  Photo by Camille Coffman Pictured below is a simple “do it yourself” birdbath made by turning over a Christmas tree stand, adding rocks and a bubbler. Moving water helps attract birds so adding a bubbler, mister or dripper can help draw in the birds. You can ...
Creature Feature: River otters
Creature Feature: River otters
Creature Feature: River otters River otters seem to embody playfulness as they roll and chase and even wrestle each other in their aquatic habitats. Weighing between 11 and 30 pounds, otters have been in North America for almost two million years per fossil records. Once widely hunted for its waterproof pelt, the otter now faces habitat destruction and water pollution as its main sources of mortality. Being web-footed mammals, otters are excellent swimmers. They prefer a diet of fish and crustaceans and live up to nine years in the wild. Females give birth to one to three “kits” in a den near water and young otters are ready to swim in about two months, taught solely by their mother. Just as the otters, we need clean and plentiful water to thrive. Photo by Melissa Herrick Photo by Ruth V. Pannunzio  
Nature at Home: Thank a Native Bee
Nature at Home: Thank a Native Bee
Nature at Home: Thank a Native Bee  Photo by Charles Thornton We can thank pollinators for much of the food we eat. In fact, about 80% of our plants and crops are pollinated by insects. We know and love our butterflies and moths as pollinators and often help them by creating welcoming habitats in garden spaces large and small. Did you know that bees and wasps are much more efficient pollinators? They do much of the heavy lifting of pollinating plants, especially food crops. Honeybees get a lot of attention and it’s true they are important for pollination. These non-native bees, brought from Europe, are integral to commercial crop production mostly because they are portable – their hives can be trucked over long distances to work specific crops. And we get delicious honey from these bees. But our native bees are better pollinators and even help control some harmful insects. Florida has over 300 species of native bees! Bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees and others all play a valuable role in the life cycle of plants and crops in local areas. Most ...
Creature Feature: Marbled salamander
Creature Feature: Marbled salamander
Creature Feature: Marbled Salamander One of our most beautiful amphibians, marbled salamanders live in North Florida and only grow to about four inches as adults. Their preferred habitats include damp woods and areas with soft, wet soil. Living mostly in their burrows under downed trees and leaf litter, marbled salamanders mature in only two months from the larval stage and can live up to 10 years. As adults, these black and white secretive creatures feed on many invertebrates, including centipedes, and will also eat worms, snails and slugs. Next time you flip over a log, take a look for these colorful little predators. Then carefully cover them back up.
Nature at Home: Virtual Panther Scavenger Hunt
Nature at Home: Virtual Panther Scavenger Hunt
Nature at Home: Virtual Panther Scavenger Hunt Florida Gulf Coast University's (FGCU) Wings of Hope Panther Posse program invites you and your whole family to participate in an online scavenger hunt! Click HERE to access the fun! Once on the site, hunt to find information about the endangered Florida panther on various websites including the Florida Wildlife Federation's Panther Facts page. The Panther Posse program educates over 5,000 children annually and involves hundreds of University students as mentors and guides. The program allows participants to explore public conservation lands and experience panther habitat first-hand. Ms. Ricky Pires founded this education program at the University in 2000 and has educated thousands of elementary and college-age students about conservation. The Federation is honored to support and be a part of this program! Learn more about the FGCU Wings of Hope Panther Posse program HERE. Photo by Peter R. Gerbert
Creature Feature: A Rare Bee
Creature Feature: A Rare Bee
Creature Feature: A Rare Bee Blue bee, Florida Museum of Natural History, by Chase Kimmel.   Thought by many to be extinct, the Blue Calamintha bee, last sighted in 2016 at Archbold Biological Station near Lake Placid, Florida, has been rediscovered! Believed to be among the most geographically restricted bees in eastern North America, this species was only known to occur in four sites within a 16 square mile area of pine scrub habitat at Central Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge. In spring 2020, a researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History, who is currently studying the blue bee’s status, spotted the bee in the field. The researcher went on to locate the bee in three of its previously known locations and in six new places as far as 50 miles away. This discovery is a major step towards conserving this understudied and exceedingly rare species and shows the importance of conserving habitats.   Meredith Budd, FWF Regional Policy Director.  
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