Earth Day weekend update

This weekend has been busy for all of our teams throughout Florida. Melbourne, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Orlando, Pinecrest and this weekend IOF teams will be in Maitland and St. Lucie  We are looking for more volunteers in towns and cities all over Florida. If you are interested in educating people of all ages about Florida’s wildlife, clean water and natural resources click the contact icon and let us know how you would like to help.

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Earth Day and the FWC

As we celebrated Earth Day and the recent win for the bears, please take a moment to contact the FWC commissioners. Thank them for the 2 year break from bear hunting. Thank them for stepping back and looking at science. Kindness matters. Respect gains respect. Remember, they’re receiving tons of negative responses from the people they angered with their decision.

Thank you all for helping spread a little kindness this Earth Day.…/fwc-staff/senior-staff/commissioners/

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—–NO BEAR HUNT 2017—-

In an unexpected move the commission voted against a 2017 bear hunt. Let’s keep up the hard work on education and advocating for bear ordinances and preventing attractants. Please contact our FWC commissioners and express your thoughts. One email goes to all of the commissioners here.

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Important Environmental Bills in Committee

The environmental Preservation and Conservation committee will hold it’s last session meeting April 19,2017.

SB 1228 would add additional penalties for anyone possessing marine turtles, hatchlings, eggs, parts of nests, etc.

SB 1304 would take multiple measures to reduce human-bear conflicts and would focus on regulating bear habitat.…/PDF

SB 1278 would allow state funds to be allotted to petroleum storage facilities who claim damages due to biodiesel or ethanol.

SB 1748 would require on site sewage treatment and disposal systems to be inspected prior to the property being sold. This bill would protect soil quality and water sources.

We encourage you to contact the committee members to let then know how you feel about these issues. A list of committee members with links to contact them can be found here.

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The EPA is Seeking Important Input

The EPA has regulating air and water quality since December 2, 1970. Since then they have provided information to the public regarding the air and water quality in their area. They conduct research, regulate chemicals and their disposal, and take legal action to protect the health of the citizens and the environment. Here in Florida they have been tracking sea level rise. They have provided students with scholarships in STEM fields. They have monitored phosphorus levels in the Everglades. In 2015 they helped to charge two individuals with who poisoned wildlife and hunting dogs. This is only a snapshot of what the EPA does.

The EPA is now seeking public input on regulations that threaten to loosen regulations that keep our state safe. One regulation even involves, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, directs the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan, related rules and the NSPS for Oil and Gas, and all agencies to review existing regulations, orders, guidance documents and policies that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.”

This is counter productive to the goal of the EPA and it’s intended purpose. Please, send your comments to and share how much you appreciate the hard work the EPA has done. You can also make public comments at this link.…

For more information can be found at the link below.

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Our Bears Need Us Again

—Our Bears Need Us Again——

With Bears on the agenda at the upcoming FWC meeting, NOW is the time to raise your voice about a potential Bear Hunt. The following article will help you do just that. There is a special section for speaking at the FWC meeting.
Do what you can:
Attend the meeting and bring your friends and family.
Email and ask your friends and families to do the same. We all care about our bears.…/fwc-staff/senior-staff/commissioners/
Call and let the commissioners know how you feel about Bear Hunting: 850-488-4676
Now is not the time to remain silent. Our bears are counting on YOU.

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Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve update

—–Florida Department of Environmental Protection—-

NAPLES, Fla. – Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has unveiled a new, 180-gallon marine life exhibit at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. More than a dozen species of marine animals are now on display and available for guests of all ages to discover during regular visiting hours.

“The opportunity to observe and interact with a pygmy sea cucumber, horseshoe crab or lightning whelk provides guests with an intimate connection to our natural environment,” said Keith Laakkonen, Reserve director. “This hands-on, interpretive tank will provide an immersive experience for thousands of students and visitors.”

The new exhibit features a partitioned, state-of-the-art flow-through system, which improves water quality and enables visitors to interact with animals throughout the day. The imaginative, Florida west coast-themed tank includes live sand on the bottom and view-through windows along the side, adding opportunities for guests to observe the diversity of species in the exhibit from different angles.

The 180-gallon display is designed to look and feel like Rookery Bay Reserve’s natural environment with detailed rock formations and a mangrove-themed overflow box. In addition to self-guided engagement with these animals, docent-led programs will also be scheduled throughout the day.

“As we celebrate 40 years of coastal conservation we remain committed to bringing new and improved opportunities to build local knowledge and respect for our beaches, mangrove forests and estuarine waters. The more engaged our community members and visitors are, the more likely we are to appreciate, enjoy and protect this remarkable ecosystem for future generations,” said Laakkonen.

The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is also open on Saturdays through the end of April. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youth 6 to 12 and free for Friends of Rookery Bay members and children under 6. The Environmental Learning Center is located at 300 Tower Road, off Collier Boulevard between Naples and Marco Island.

About Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters and is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Office in partnership with NOAA. Its mission is to provide a basis for informed stewardship of estuaries in Southwest Florida through research and education. For more information, visit, or…/bulletins/18fad06…/bulletins/18fad06

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IOF south central team has made IOF official in Highlands County

Imagine Our Florida, Inc. is proud to present our library display at Lake Placid Public Library in Highlands county. Be sure to stop by and learn about our bears and how they will regulate their own population as long as humans let them. Thank you Donnalee Hilden for creating this incredible teaching display!
Lake Placid Public Library
205 W Interlake Blvd
Lake Placid, Florida

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Gopherus polyphemus

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an amazing resident of the state of Florida. Considered a Keystone species, over 400 species use the gopher tortoise burrows. They are a terrestrial (land dwelling) species, occupying dry, well draining land in various habitats. It takes 18-25 years for gopher tortoises to become sexually mature and they can live for more than 60 years. If you find a gopher tortoise crossing the road, it is ok to stop and assist them. Place them off the side of the road in the direction they were traveling. DO NOT RELOCATE A TORTOISE! They have a very strong homing instinct and will wander to find their home range. The survival rate of tortoises relocated is very low. Gopher tortoises also have an amazing ability to heal themselves so if you find an injured tortoise, often the best thing to do is place them near their burrow so they can return home and heal. Keep an eye out or more detailed information on this iconic Florida species in the upcoming months!

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Just another reason IOF educates at events of all kinds

What a beautiful day to connect with the children of Wekiva and show them how they can coexist with our bears! Every single adult was horrified to learn there may be another bear hunt. Be sure to talk to your friends and family about what they can do. Come to the FWC meeting and make your voice heard. (Event in the comments) Can’t make it? As a concerned citizen, let FWC know how you feel about our black bears and black bear hunts. Call 850-488-4676 Be sure to follow up with an email to the commissioners:…/fwc-staff/senior-staff/commissioners/

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The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to be good for you

Science proves again why humans need forests. When was the last time you connected with our wild spaces?…/the-japanese-practice-of-forest-b…

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Climate Change and The Florida Panther

– Laura Betts B.E.A.R. Monitor Guest Columnist

2016 was the 40th consecutive year with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. Over 97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening, and caused by human activities primarily burning fossil fuels. Threats to Florida include increased hurricane intensity, a temperature increase of nearly 3°F and sea level rise of 1 to 4 feet by 2100.

Florida is home to 50 endangered species. Scientists predict the Florida panther may go extinct because of loss of habitat due to sea level rise if rapid conservation actions are not taken to establish populations to the north. Planning should include wildlife corridors that link wildlife populations throughout Florida and educate people how to live safely with wildlife if we plan on saving our endangered species.

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Imagine Our Florida, Inc. has reached Silver Level with GuideStar

Imagine Our Florida, Inc. received the GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Silver level logo, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of information on nonprofits. The logo demonstrates Imagine Our Florida’s deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

In order to be awarded the Silver logo, Imagine Our Florida, Inc. had to fill out every required field of our nonprofit profile on for that level of participation.

We hope you will check us out and tell us what you think: Imagine Our Florida’s GuideStar Profile

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