An important part of our Restoring the Gold Coast (RGC) program is working with a wide range of collaborators and partners including local schools.
We will be working with Atlantic Community High School students (77% of which are Title 1 students) to restore portions of the municipal beach in Delray Beach. We would like to run three field trips for these students where they spend a morning on the beach getting their hands dirty while they learn about conservation through exotic removal, native planting, and data collection.
We will also be working with Boca Community High School's AICE Environmental Management class to restore portions of coastal habitat in Boca Raton. We plan on running two field trips focused on native planting and data collection.
In order to run each field trip, we need to raise $600 per field trip to cover the cost of transporting the students by bus from the school to the beach and back. Please consider donating towards this transportation cost! Simply donate online or mail us a check and make a note that the donation for student transportation!
Field Biologist Michelle Smith attended the 2019 Everglades Invasive Species Summit hosted by Friends of Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ECISMA). A consortium of agencies, nonprofits, and educational institutions, ECISMA works to conduct research on, monitor, trap, and treat invasive animals and plants in and around the Greater Everglades. Presentations at the Summit included topics on nonnative fish, python removal, green iguana control, tegu trapping, biological control, postfire Melaleuca challenges, invasive plant management, and a review of nonnative plant species in Broward County.
University of Miami student, Leila Thompson, who is studying Ecosystem Science & Policy and Anthropology, recently came to IRC Headquarters in Delray Beach to interview IRC Executive Director, George Gann. Leila is making a documentary about pine rocklands and is interviewing many friends and colleagues involved with pine rockland conservation and restoration. Screenings are expected later this summer.
In June, George Gann participated in two important meetings of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The first was the annual meeting of the IUCN United States National Committee, which brought together representatives from many of the more than 100 nonprofit and government members across the country. The second comprised the North American Regional Consultation for the IUCN 2021-2024 Programme in anticipation of the next World Conservation Congress in 2020 in Marseille, France. The IUCN Programme is a critical centerpiece of the international conservation agenda.
From left: George Gann; Angela Andrade, Chair, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem M anagement; Jim Hallett, Chair of the Board, Society for Ecological Restoration. George represented both the Society for Ecological Restoration and IRC at two recent IUCN meetings.
While we have been communicating with many partners about our Restoring the Gold Coast Program, we wanted to take this opportunity to give a special shout out to the Town of Ocean Ridge community. On June 3rd, we conducted a rapid assessment of the dunesupported by the Town and resident Kimberlee Duke Pompeo, followed by a luncheon with community leaders on June 20th. In attendance were representatives of the Town, Florida Coalition for Preservation, Biodiverse beach managed by the Ocean Ridge Ocean Ridge Garden Club, and Surfrider Foundation. On Monday, July 1st, George Gann presented a project overview and results of the rapid assessment to the Town Commission and residents.
Join us in welcoming our new Pine Rocklands Initiative Program intern, Isabel Marzullo, to the IRC team this summer!
Isabel is currently enrolled as a senior at Florida International University, pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with emphasis on the natural resources component. She has volunteered in Costa Rica with La Tortuga Feliz, a sea turtle conservation program, and was a student in Dr. Hong Liu’s restoration ecology class which completed a pine rockland workday with IRC in the spring.
We are excited to have her work with our field crew this summer to restore imperiled pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade County!
IRC Field Biologist, Michelle Smith, and volunteer, Kim Gabel, are monitoring Croton linearis for signs of herbivory from Bartram's scrub-hairstreak butterflies on Big Pine Key!
Our crew member, Louis Castillo (Left), has moved onto a new opportunity with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Division of Plant Industry and our crew member, Benjamin Durrington (Right), is returning home to Fort Worth, Texas.
Everyone at IRC is grateful for their hard work and dedication and wish them both the best in all future endeavors.
At the May 16th ceremony, The Institute for Regional Conservation signed an agreement with Impact 100 Palm Beach County to fund our Restoring the Gold Coast program. We can't wait to put this $100,000 to good use restoring native coastal biodiversity while building a community of environmental advocates! Impact 100 PBC is a women's charitable organization funding local nonprofit initiatives in southern Palm Beach County.
To learn about Restoring the Gold Coast, check out our new webpage for the program.
IRC's Field Biologist, Michelle Smith, participated in the volunteer workday at Rockdale Pineland Preserve in southern Miami-Dade County. Staff from the Miami-Dade Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program and Natural Areas Management (NAM), and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden led several groups to plant endangered and common pine rockland species throughout the preserve.
One of the key assets of IRC are our many Associates, many who have worked as staff for IRC in the past. These Research and Conservation Associates possess tremendous skill sets, experience, dedication, and enthusiasm for conservation and ecological restoration. We are excited to announce that butterfly and wildlife expert Mary Truglio Fesmire has joined our team as a Research and Conservation Associate.
In April, George Gann represented the Society for Ecological Restoration and IRC at a meeting convened by the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management. The purpose of this meeting was to conduct a North American regional review of the concept of Rewilding, an idea with origins in North America but now receiving significant support in Europe and elsewhere as a conservation strategy. This meeting contributes to a larger effort to develop a set of principles and guidelines for rewilding that can be applied at the global scale. An important topic being addressed is the relationship of rewilding to ecological restoration and other restorative practices.
Participants at rewilding meeting at White Oak conservation center outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the United States were represented.
IRC was honored to participate in the Great American Cleanup by holding a restoration event sponsored by Erin Deady Law and New York Life at Atlantic Dunes Park. Volunteers helped IRC restore this beautiful park through several activities including removing invasive species, planting sea oats and picking up trash. Some of the invasive species removed included Brazilian pepper, Beach naupaka, Bowstring-hemp, Oysterplant, Australian umbrellatree, Carrotwood, Tropical-almond and Chineseviolet.
We’d like to thank The City of Delray Beach, Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, and Comcast Cares for supporting this event. We would also like to thank JetBlue, Clarkson Alumni and Beach Property Owners Association for volunteering! IRC has been working at Atlantic Dunes Park for four years now and we can really see the difference these events are having! For more pictures from the event, click here.
IRC recently held a restoration volunteer day at QuailRoost Pineland Preserve, which is a Miami-Dade Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) site. IRC Field Biologist, Michelle Smith, and Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cara Abbott started the morning with a tour of the pine rockland. Everyone from the group was able to share fun facts on pine rocklands plant species and insects we encountered! As a team, we cleared a patch of Tuberous sword fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia), Shrubverbena (Lantana camara), Brazilian-pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), and Rose natalgrass (Melinis repens) on the site!
We’d like to give a special thank you to Tiffany Melvin from Miami-Dade EEL, IRC’s board member, Patty Phares, and the excellent group of volunteers for coming out and being part of IRC’s event! For more pictures from the event, click here.
George presented at a meeting of the to Naples Chapter of Florida Native Plant Societ on March 26th. The topic was The Future of Native Plant Conservation in South Florida: History and Adaptation in the Age of Rapid Change.
George discussed native plant conservation from both global and local perspectives, including examples from Collier County. Focusing on the entire native flora of nearly 1,500 species, he also went on to describe what we know, what we have accomplished over the last 50 years, and how we might move forward into the future with native plant conservation in South Florida. For link to powerpoint, click here.
IRC's Chief Conservation Strategist George Gann was an instructor at two 1-day workshops at the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve in Staatsburg, New York. The workshop was provided by our partner, the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) and introduced ecological restoration practitioners and managers to a consistent and comprehensive approach to ecologicalrestoration based on SER's International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration, of which George is second author.
IRC is honored to announce that we have been chosen as the winner for an Impact 100 Palm Beach County $100,000 grant for our Restoring the Gold Coast program in the Environment category! We would like to thank the influential women of Impact 100 PBC for giving us this opportunity to present our program and aiding us in spearheading this exciting project.
What is Restoring the Gold Coast? This two-pronged project will mobilize our partnerships within the community to teach children and adults about environmental advocacy as they also learn about the importance of protecting our coastal dunes and work toward restoring the damage done. Our project will help correct the current lack of biodiversity, providing participants with rich opportunities to learn how biodiversity keeps our Earth healthy and ultimately keeps us healthy too. Participants will enjoy hands-on restoration activities throughout southern Palm Beach County as we help restore native coastal ecosystems from Boca Raton to Lake Worth.
We can't wait to get started and hope everyone is excited as we are! Be on the lookout for Restoring the Gold Coast events as we work with our amazing sponsors, collaborators, and the community to set them up.
We would also like to spotlight Wisetribe's Junior Wisetribers program, which was awarded $8,600 in the Environment category. Jacqueline Botting and her team are making positive, sustainable changes in our community with their innovative programs. If you haven't heard of Wisetribe, check them out and get involved!
IRC would like to thank all who have supported us throughout this process of applying for and winning this amazing award!
In particular, we would like to acknowledge those organizations who gave us official endorsements or wrote letters of support for our grant proposal: Beach Property Owners' Association, City of Boca Raton, City of Delray Beach, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Gulf Stream School, Florida Coalition for Preservation, Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, Ocean Ridge Garden Club, Palm Beach County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and Town of Briny Breezes. We also look forward to partnering with Bound for College, Florida Atlantic University's Environmental Sciences Program, and many others. We send a special thanks to Jerry Lower of The Coastal Star, and IRC volunteer and supporter Bill Petry, for helping us with outreach in the community. Thank you to IRC board members John Campanola, Robert Heinzman, and Allison Turner, and our public relations specialist Tina Pugliese, for invaluable assistance. Finally, we can't say enough about Kirsten Stevens and Ann Paton of Kannico Agency, whose wisdom kept us on track. We couldn't have done this without you all!
We are thrilled to announce that IRC is one of two finalists in the Environment category for a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Palm Beach County! If we are awarded this grant, the funds will go towards our "Restoring the Gold Coast" program to restore native biodiversity in coastal habitats in southern Palm Beach County and to cultivate a community of environmental advocates. This dynamic program provides forward- thinking education with on-the-ground restoration and conservation advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels. It is rare that these elements can be combined in a positive, productive fashion. Similar to earlier efforts that protected species such as sea oats and sea turtles, the outcomes will forge positive change in the way the community views coastal biodiversity.
Impact 100 PBC is a women’s charitable organization funding local nonprofit initiatives in Southern Palm Beach County. On April 17th, the members of Impact 100 PBC will hold their 8th Annual Grand Awards Celebration where they will vote to select the recipients of five high impact $100,000 grants in arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness categories.
IRC is honored to be a finalist alongside our friends at WiseTribe in the Environment category. We would also like to give a shout-out to the other environment semi-finalists, Fishing for Families in Need and JARC (Jewish Association for Residential Care), who are also doing some amazing work in this area.
IRC is excited to be participating in this years' Great Give Palm Beach & Martin Counties giving event on Wednesday, April 24th! This is a 24 hour online giving event led by the United Way of Palm Beach County and United Way of Martin County. For more information, click here.
Take part in this community-wide event by supporting IRC's mission to the protect and restore the biodiversity of our beautiful beaches and green spaces with a tax-deductible donation. All donations will go towards our Restoring the Gold Coast Program and Green Delray Program. Follow us on Facebook to see more information and how to donate for this event when the day comes!
IRC will be hosting a few volunteer events this spring and will need volunteers to come out and help!
April 20th: IRC is hosting a volunteer day at Quail Roost Pineland Preserve in Miami-Dade County, one of our pine rockland sites we have been working on, from 9:00am to 12:00pm. For more information, click here.
April 27th: IRC is taking part in the Great American Cleanup day by hosting a volunteer day at Atlantic Dunes Park as part of our Green Delray Program! We will be hosting this day in partnership with Erin L. Deady, P.A., Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, Inc., and the City of Delray Beach. For more information, click here.
May 4th: IRC is hosting a volunteer day at Pine Shore Pineland in Miami-Dade County, another one of our pine rockland sites we have been working on, from 9:00am to 12:00pm. For more information, click here.
IRC's field biologist, Michelle Smith, and crew leader, Hans van der Heiden, recently led a group of FIU students on a tour and workday at Sunny Palms Pineland Preserves. Students learned about pine rocklands, conservation issues, habitat restoration, rare plants, and invasive plants and helped remove Lacy bracken fern (Pteridium caudatum).
IRC's Samantha Gabriel attended the 14th Annual Lake Worth Festival of Trees and discussed our Green Delray and Restoring the Gold Coast programs, as well as our Natives for Your Neighborhood website.
Restoring the Gold Coast program is a two-pronged project that mobilizes partnerships in theSouth Florida community to teach children and adults about environmental advocacy and the importance of biodiverse coastal uplands, while participating in hands-on restoration activities. By then end of the 1970s almost the entire dune from Key Biscayne to West Palm Beach had eroded into the sea, and along with it most of the coastal biodiversity of southeastern Florida. While sandy beaches have been re-nourished, sea-oats have been planted and turtle nests protected, the vast diversity of coastal uplands has remained in a depleted state. Restoring theGold Coast seeks to restore much of that lost diversity, through a cooperative effort with stakeholders, volunteers, and restoration experts. Ultimately, this project will take place in the historic Gold Coast barrier islands in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Over the past few months, IRC has worked to develop the conceptual framework for this initiative and prepare a $100,000 proposal to Palm Beach County Impact 100, in hopes of gaining critical financial support for this project in southern Palm Beach County. We are grateful for the interest and letters of support from the community, including the Beach Property Owners' Association, City of Boca Raton, City of Delray Beach, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Gulfstream School, Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, and Town of Briny Breezes. We also thank Jerry Lower of the Coastal Star, Bill Petry, and Kimberlee Duke Marshall of the Ocean Ridge Garden Club for helping us drum up interest and support. Please consider making a contribution to support this important effort, and wish us luck with our proposal to Impact 100!
IRC's field biologist, Michelle Smith, and crew member, Louis Castillo, attended the 20th Annual Everglades Day at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and discussed our work on pine rockland habitats and the importance of restoration of upland habitats in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.
IRC Research Associate and entomologist, Sandy Koi, attended the "Doing Good Together" program at Miami Lakes Elementary School. "Doing Good Together" is a Minnesota-based program that brings children together to do fun projects that help the local community. This is the second year IRC has participated; this year Sandy (who also does art work) provided two paper projects about conservation for the children to take home. One project depicted a tree and the animals who use the tree for food and shelter, and the other entailed the children drawing "Blessing Flags" for the things that the Earth provides for us. Similar to Tibetan "prayer flags", these biodegradable paper flags are meant to be hung in one's back yard to let the wind carry the blessings around the world.
IRC's Chief Conservation Strategist, George Gann, presented to the Silver Palm Garden Club and the Royal Poinciana Garden Club on January 23rd about 'Going Native'.
George discussed the history of IRC's work on the Floristic Inventory of South Florida, Natives For Your Neighborhood, and our other free resources available on our website! He also went on to describe what is considered native and how anyone can 'Go Native'. To see the full powerpoint presentation, click here.
IRC's Chief Conservation Strategist, George Gann, presented to the Seranoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and the Marie Shelby Botanical Garden on January 21st about 'The Promise (and some perils) of Ecological Restoration.
George discussed the history of efforts towards restoration, what ecological restoration really is and how it effects biodiversity and ecosystems both globally and within Florida. To see the full powerpoint presentation, click here.
Recently, IRC has brought on three new field crew members onto the team, Louis Castillo (Left), Sarah Solomon (Center), and Benjamin Durrington (Right)!
Louis has a degree in Environmental Science from FSU and has experience with restoration work, native plants, and managing gardens. Sarah has a degree in Environmental Engineering from FIU, has experience with native plants, and has participated in past volunteer days with IRC. Benjamin has a Master's degree in Ecology from Sorbonne Universite in Paris, France, has a love for plant macrophotography, and has experience with plant identification.