THE FIRST CLEANUP
On May 10, 2008, Treasure Island ’s Beach Stewardship Committee and volunteers from www.naturematters.us, the Admirial Farragut Academy and residents of Treasure Island embarked on the first step in the cleanup of a mangrove key in John’s Pass.
About 30 volunteers stood in a line for almost four hours as a daisy-chain of old lumber was passed hand-to-hand to an awaiting barge for disposal. The tides were fairly low that day and the weather not too hot. Actually, once inside the mangrove key, it's a pretty shady area and not too buggy. Lots of crabs underfoot and, of course, the perpetually soggy ground.
LOTS OF WOOD
The amount of lumber trapped in the mangroves is stunning, overwhelming and daunting. Once it gets piled up, though, it is surprising how fast even a small group of volunteers can restore an acre to its natural beauty.
The wood found on Elnor is old, perhaps washed in 25 to 30 years ago. Exposed to the elements that long, the wood weathers beautifully into a one-of-a-kind local artifact that would be a nifty decoration in your home or on your porch or deck. Florists pay a bundle for this kind of wood for their arrangements and here we have 15 acres of it, practically in our backyard. You can have whatever you collect but you have to help us clean the island in the process.
AGE BEFORE BEAUTY
The oldest volunteer is 80; the youngest, 14, proving age is no obstacle in making a green difference.
BRINGING BACK THE BIRDS
Local TI residents Bob Dowling and TI Beach Stewardship Chair Dennis Velasco made trips out to the island subsequent to the cleanup to set rat traps and rather quickly nailed a few 2-footers. Those are big rats and they're the major problem in preventing nesting birds returning to the island. Bob did mention that just a few hours after the cleanup he spotted about 20 ibis feeding in the freshly cleaned area. So, it doesn't take long for the birds to know a good restaurant when they see one. Next: convincing the birds it's a safe neighborhood to raise a family. That means trapping a lot more rats.
We assure you, we saw no live rats the day of the cleanup. As of June 4th, though, Bob has managed to trap and kill 14 rats. The next phase of the "Rat Patrol" requires professional extermination services. The City of Treasure Island is exploring the distinct possibility of using grant money available for habitat restoration.
ABOUT THE ELNOR ISLAND CLEANUP Elnor Island, a 15-acre natural island situated at the east end of John’s Pass between Treasure Island and Madeira Beach, is home to a number of native plant species, some invasive species and quite a collection of marine debris washed in by the John’s Pass tides.
Already, the City of Treasure Island has instituted an annual spraying program to kill off invasive plant species such as Brazilian Pepper.
Inspections of the island earlier this year by Treasure Island Commissioner Bob Minning indicate the debris consists mainly of dock lumber, all sorts of plastic containers and materials, glass and aluminum.
UPDATE - DECEMBER 2, 2008 - from Sherry McDaniel
Ii participated in the three Elnor Island clean-up adventures and, since that time, have been quite emotionally attached to that wonderful little sanctuary. Weather permitting I often kayak out to John's Pass and around the spoils. Last week's venture almost brought me to tears when I paddled into Elnor Island and was surrounded by numerous different species of birds. I observed flocks of different types of herons, egrets, osprey, ibis, and a roseate spoonbill graced me with a flight overhead. I did not linger as to not upset them. Our hard work has certainly been rewarded with a revitalized estuary.
UPDATE - APRIL 16, 2009 - from Bob Dowling & Kurt Zuelsdorf
As it turned out Kayak Kurt and I did get to visit the island today about 1:30 pm. Kurt brought along his video camera and I brought a Nikon 35mm film camera. We put in at the southern most barge landing site on the eastern most island.. We immediately notice an abundance of new mangrove growth about 4 to 6 inches tall where the majority of old drift lumber was removed from prior clean ups. This in itself was very rewarding... we looked for rat tracks and found none but Kurt did find evidence of a fairly recent rat nest in a upside down open plastic tackle box that had shreds of paper all inside it.. we continued on thru the area taking some picts and video to the hurricane hole where he videoed several white egrets, and 2 ibis. We seperated and circled the hole and I found l set of coon tracks and they were rather large ones.. that is the first evidence of coon presence that I'm aware of.... as we merged on the eastern side of the hurricane hole we split up again in search of any sign of active nesting... We observed that the area was far larger in size than I had thought and it was very thick in growth. After penetrating what I estimated as 1/2 way to the bay waters we both heard some birds " chuckling" to my left... I pursued further North towards the sound and came onto an area of higher ground that had a "springia" type ground cover. Although there was an increase in debris in this area the surrounding growth I deemed too thick to make removal extremely difficult but not impossible. As I continued further North I spoted a Blue Heron flapping it's wings over a large nest. As I approached I could see that there were a pair of adult herons atop the nest watching me quietly.... I tried to get some still camera shots to document it's existence with out disturbing them... Then I tried to find the nearest route to the waters edge and came out, to my surprise, at a location that was right between the Elnor Island and the other island to the North on the Madeira Beach side... Having marked my exit area with an old life jacket that I found I then waded all the way back around West to the cut between the two Elnor Islands and then onto the South back to the pontoon boat.... Excited about my discovery I told Kurt that if he had time that I thought that he should video tape the active nesting site.. and he agreed... In my absence he had returned to the boat and set up 5 rat traps then I set and baited the traps as he videoed. We returned to pontoon boat and circled it around the island and put in where I marked my exit...
Going back in looked completely different that coming out and I over shot the nest... Kurt who was filming well back from me wispered that the nest was by him... as I returned to join him an adult Blue Heron flew over me and away.. Kurt got some good video and I snapped some more picts but to my surprise up from the nest popped a baby chick heron about 12 to 16 inches tall which we photographed and video taped... as we quietly withdrew Kurt spoted another nest and while he was videoing that one another Blue Heron landed beside it... so he got that on video also. He asked me, (he refered to me as Grand Pa) what I was going to name the baby heron and I replied " I going to name her Ellie after Elnor Island. that completed our recon mission.... We did note that the area that had been cleaned was still very clean and that we agreed that no further cleaning attempt should be made until after the chicks have flown off nest and that area.
We both think continued trapping efforts would be good and that live traps for coons should also be tried ASAP. I should add at this point that Kurt is a Fla. State Licensed Trapper and has been very helpful both today and in past clean ups. He will edit his video and get a copy to City of TI in the near future for archives, verifications, grant work and PR etc. We will still have to go back out next week to check traps and recon the Western most Island and we thank you for the opportunity to continue to help with this Island restoration project.
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS
The Elnor Island Cleanup video can been seen on TITV615 in Treasure Island. For the rest of the world not fortunate to be in Treasure Island, click below.
NATURE MATTERS TO OUR VOLUNTEERS
A huge round of applause and a tip of our floppy beach hat goes to Greg McIntosh and Kurt Zuelsdorf of www.naturematters.us, a non-profit organization founded by them in 2007 dedicated to keeping Florida's communities, bays, beaches and island clean and healthy. The project would not have begun with such a soaring start without them and the Nature Matters volunteers. More thanks and the Green Beyond the Call of Duty Award goes to Sid, Agnes and C.C. Rice for dock and dumpster space and the use of C.C. Rice's tugboat, The Resolute, for hauling away the debris. Special recognition for the Treasure Island Public Works Department and to all the wonderful help from volunteers that read about the project on this website and drove to Treasure Island from miles away to help out. For this, you we give our heartfelt thanks.
NEXT ELNOR ISLAND CLEANUP
Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 9am News Release
VOLUNTEERING FOR THE NEXT CLEANUPS
Volunteers should bring their own work gloves, sunscreen and bug repellent and rubber-soled boots or shoes. Volunteers meet at 9am on at the Gator’s Marina docks adjacent to Kingfish Park (just past Gator’s Café & Saloon on Kingfish Drive).
City of Treasure Island barges will haul away all debris removed from the island.
Mariners who wish to provide boat shuttle service should coordinate with Bob Minning at 727-415-8883.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Beach Stewardship Chair Dennis Velasco and his chair
Dennis and Commissioner Bildz and Mayor Maloof. Debris pile in background
Kurt Zuelsdorf of Nature Matters kayaked in from Gulfport
What a clean Elnor Island looks like
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