The Audubon Observer, March 2021
MANY VOICES FOR CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Continuing our series focusing on the contributions of historically under-recognized groups to conservation and environmental sciences, this month we are featuring James A. Richardson, II, who is the Program Administrator for the City of Jacksonville’s Environmental Protection Board (JEPB). Richardson has held the position for nearly nine years where he manages the day-to-day administration of the nine-member board, which has regulatory responsibility for issues associated with air and water pollution as well as odor and noise in Duval County. He also coordinates all public education and community outreach programs for the JEPB.
Richardson is a proud native of Jacksonville and has a long history of engagement with the local community. Before he joined the City, he worked with the United Way of Northeast Florida and JEA. He was the first African American to become the Chair of the Board for the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, which serves more than 19,000 members in 35 counties across North Florida. He also served as the Founding Board Chair for Groundwork Jacksonville, the organization working to establish the Emerald Trail to connect Jacksonville’s urban core neighborhoods. Richardson has also served as a member of the board of trustees for Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History (MOSH) and board of directors for the Northeast Florida Region of the U.S. Green Building Council, an organization that offers education and certification programs to encourage environmentally friendly building practices. He currently serves on the board of trustees for the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, board of directors of the Timucuan Parks Foundation and the North Florida Clean Fuels Coalition and is Vice-President of the board of Florida Local Environmental Resource Agencies (FLERA), a statewide organization representing all of the local government environmental programs.
One of Richardson’s major responsibilities with the JEPB is spearheading the annual Environmental Symposium, which is presented in conjunction with the University of North Florida Environmental Center. The symposium, which brings together residents, business, government agencies, utilities and innovators in a forum designed to foster an atmosphere of cooperation in environmental achievement, is one of the largest environmental conferences in the state. Each year the symposium presents a unique opportunity for members of the community to interact with the regulatory agencies responsible for developing and implementing environmental policy. Attendees have an opportunity to better understand environmental goals for our community. The symposium provides valuable opportunities for communication and helps to further the goal of protecting our limited natural resources and improving the quality of life in Northeast Florida.
We are grateful for his many years of dedication to the Jacksonville community and for his commitment to protecting and preserving the environment in Northeast Florida.
~ Carol Bailey-White, President
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR LIGHTS OUT NORTHEAST FLORIDA
Central to the Lights Out Northeast Florida (LONF) initiative is the need to know how many birds are being killed or injured in the downtown Jacksonville area during migration. And here is where our team of volunteers will play such an important role. The LONF initiative needs volunteers to walk downtown areas during spring and fall migration and count birds who have been either killed or injured by building/window strikes. Specific routes and buildings will be assigned in order to identify potential problem areas. With sufficient data about bird fatalities, we will be able to have informed discussions with building managers and civic leaders. The goal is to reduce nighttime lighting during peak migration months between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
At this time, we are looking for volunteers to help. Monitoring will occur during the spring and fall migration months (March 15-May 31 and September 15-November 15), and will involve walking an assigned route in downtown Jacksonville once a week in search of dead or injured birds. The walk will start at sunrise and go until the route is complete (about 1½ hours). Dead birds will be reported and photographed; additional details will be provided at the training session.
Training will be conducted and all materials needed for the monitoring routes will be provided. However, volunteers will need to use their own cell phone to upload photos as needed to the reporting website.
Volunteers are asked to commit to a training session (virtual), do one walk per week for the 8 weeks of migration, and to submit their data. All volunteers must be 18 or older and sign a release of liability.
Please complete the online application form if you are interested in helping with the data collection effort. We hope you will join us in helping to save the lives of migratory birds!
~ Carolyn Antman, Conservation Director & LONF Volunteer Coordinator
BIRDING NASSAU COUNTY
Nassau County ranks in the middle of all counties in Florida for the number of bird species recorded (303) on eBird.org, an online database of bird observations hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Nassau County Bird Club, aka the Amelia Island Bird Club, conducts at least 10 field trips per year with half of them in Nassau County. Here are some great birding sites in Nassau County, courtesy of Bill George, field trip leader for the Nassau County/Amelia Island Bird Club:
Fort Clinch State Park is located on the St. Mary’s River and the Atlantic Ocean and ranks 41st (with 246 species) of the top 100 eBird hotspots in Florida. Fort Clinch offers a diverse habitat of woods, ocean and river beaches, marsh, and fields. During the month of March, bird species transition from winter to spring migration. Early in March wintering gulls, shorebirds and terns can be observed. By the end of March spring migrants such as Acadian Flycatchers and Great Crested Flycatchers arrive. Both Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will’s widow can be heard calling in the early morning. Warbler migration is evident at Fort Clinch by the third and fourth week of April. The park is a good migrant trap being a great stopping point along the Atlantic Flyway.
In the same area as Fort Clinch two other birding spots should be checked: Main Beach Park and Egans Creek Greenway. Main Beach is strictly beach and ocean surf but in early March scoters, loons, Black Skimmers and gulls are seen. Egans Creek Greenway has diverse habitats of marsh, woods and creek. By the end of March spring migrants such as Painted Buntings, Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Buntings begin to arrive.
A site with totally different habitats than those discussed above is Ralph E. Simmons State Forest located on the St. Mary’s River at the Florida-Georgia border. With sandhills, slope woods and river, the area supports species such as Bobwhite, Wild Turkeys and various sparrow species. On one of our field trips in March we experienced several Bachman Sparrows singing. By late March both Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will’s-widows can be heard calling.
A recent site for birding is Crane Island Park. Start at the Bailey Road soccer fields where Loggerhead Shrikes and Killdeer are seen. Continue along the back of the airport and adjacent fields to see Indigo Buntings, Bobolinks, Orchard Orioles and Blue Grosbeaks. The path continues into a wooded area with a boardwalk that extends onto a marsh on the Amelia River. Look behind after getting on the boardwalk to see an active Bald Eagle nest.
~ Bill George, Nassau County Bird Club field trip leader
If you haven't filed your 2020 IRS tax return yet, it may be helpful to note that last year's Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed last spring, contains a provision allowing cash donations of up to $300 made before December 31, 2020 to be deducted when you file your taxes in 2021, even if you don't itemize.
We are NOT tax experts by any stretch, and we're not certain whether this provision will apply to your 2021 taxes for next year's filing, but if you donated to charitable organizations last year, you should be able to deduct up to $300 on your 2020 federal income tax return. More information about this special deduction can be found here.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we appreciate all who support us, whether it be through membership, donations, volunteering, or all three! Thank you!
Here’s what’s happening in March:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sometimes details of our events may have changed after this newsletter is distributed. An event could potentially have to be cancelled or the location changed. If you plan on attending one of our events, ALWAYS check our Calendar of Events, our Duval Audubon Society Meetup group, or our Facebook page the night before for any updates.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.