Last Thursday, Governor Charlie Crist extended the state of emergency regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to include Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Monroe, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The beaches and shorelines of Sanibel remain in pristine condition with no impact or imminent threat from the oil spill, say city officials. At this time, there is no smell or presence of oil on our local beaches. City staff continues to closely monitor the situation and coordinate planning efforts with local, state and federal partners. The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) has been working on several fronts in preparation for the possibility of oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig landing on the islands.
• SCCF is registered with the St. Petersburg Unified Command Center as an affiliated volunteer organization.
• In terms of wildlife impacts, since oil or tarballs are considered a hazardous material, SCCF is keeping tabs on when and where training certification opportunities, accepted by the coast guard and BP, will be offered.
• SCCF is working closely with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission on sea turtle and shorebird protocols involving nesting females, nest protection and hatchling survival. They have tasked the foundation with protocols or the potential of oil or tarballs on our beaches.
• SCCF has worked with the City of Sanibel, the J.N.”Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Captiva Erosion Prevention District and the Captiva Community Panel to supply data and revise geographic response maps and area contingency plans in order to provide
the St. Petersburg Unified Command Center with up to date resource information for protection efforts.
“The level of involvement by local volunteers should the oil reach us is still being clarified but we are keeping a list of people who have called in to volunteer,”
said Erick Lindblad, executive director. To be added to that list, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Realistically, the threat from this incident will probably remain a concern through the summer and into the fall. One major unknown is the possible role of hurricanes,” said Lindblad. “All forecasters acknowledge that a major storm in the gulf could greatly impact how and where the oil or tarballs spread. As we learn more, we will keep you posted.”