Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands Invites Beachgoers to Protect Natural Resources
“Nesting instinct” draws wildlife; enthusiasts can combine vacation with education about shorebirds, sea turtles, and more
Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, Fla. (July 15, 2009) – This summer, it’s time to make a difference. The Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau invites visitors to discover the quieter side of Florida on its uncrowded, unspoiled beaches, where the wildlife often outnumbers the humans. Summer is the nesting season for spectacular shorebirds and endangered sea turtles, and tourists can safely share the beaches and even become volunteer stewards of nature in protecting these threatened species.
For those who want to help increase populations of shorebirds and sea turtles, the Charlotte County Natural Resources Division (CCNRD) offers volunteer programs that take place on some of the area’s most delightful, secluded beaches, including Stump Pass State Park, Palm Island and Don Pedro Island State Park.
“The focus here is on education and enlightenment of Charlotte Harbor’s natural side,” says Missy Christie, Environmental Specialist with the CCNRD. “Protection of our many threatened and endangered species is one of our main priorities, and many hands are needed. We offer plenty of opportunities for individuals and groups to take part in our conservation programs.”
Visitors here can spread their own wings by enjoying the warm gulf waters and participating in hands-on activities such as bird counts and protection of nesting habitats. One good example is the CCNRD’s “Shorebird Steward Nesting” program in which participants learn about habitat loss, nest site disturbance by dogs and humans, and loss of suitable migratory stopovers and resting areas. Located on the North American Migration Flyway and the Great Florida Birding Trail (www.FloridaBirdingTrail.com), Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands’ miles of undeveloped and protected beaches provide a vital nesting ground for a variety of shorebirds including the endangered snowy plover. There are only 45 nesting pairs of snowy plover left on the
southwest gulf coast of Florida, and the beaches of Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands serve as a home for six of these pairs. Personal volunteering experiences and outings are available by contacting the CCNRD at (941) 764-4392. For more information on the CCNRD’s efforts, visit http://www.charlottecountyfl.com/EnvironmentalServices/NaturalResources
For both migratory and year-round birding, both amateur and professional ornithologists can spot common species like gulls, herons, egrets, but especially the more uncommon birds like the exotic Roseate Spoonbill, the curiously beautiful Wood Stork, the Least Tern, the Crested Caracara, and many varieties of warblers.
Also through the CCNRD, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers personal educational outreach programs on the ancient and enduring sea turtle, a species that comes to nest on the secluded barrier islands. Sea turtles return year after year to nest on the same beach where they were hatched, but there has been an alarming decline in activity. Sea turtle conservation volunteer programs offer guidance for safety measures that all citizens can take to produce safe beaches for these ancient goliaths of the sea to come “home” to, including measures to curtail artificial lighting, keeping beaches free of debris for plenty of open spaces, and teaching dog owners the dangers their pets present to nesting females and hatchlings.
Known as one of Florida’s top eco-tourism destinations, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is making good on its “ECO” premise by making traveling not only eco-friendly, but also ECOnomically savvy. Charlotte Harbor is offering an assortment of savings, packages, bonuses and giveaways to suit any visitor’s interests. Guests that book a three-night stay before Sept. 30, 2009 will receive the third night free. Participating hotels include the Palm Island Resort, the newly opened Wyvern Hotel and Four Points by Sheraton in Punta Gorda, Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Sleep Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express & Suites. To book this special call a participating hotel and request the Summer Escape Third Night Free Discount. To learn more about the beaches of Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, and the specials and packages, visit www.charlotteharbortravel.com. In addition, the area offers a Risk-Free Vacation Guarantee program that provides protection against storm related cancellations. For full details, go to http://tinyurl.com/riskfreevacation (or http://www.charlotteharbortravel.com/cms/index.php?id=366)
Volunteer eco-vacations, economical savings packages and a risk-free vacation guarantee are just three of the ways Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands make it easy for visitors to “Take Advantage of Our Good Nature.”
Because 84 percent of its 219 miles of shoreline is protected preserve, wildlife naturally gravitates to the nature preserves and barrier island beaches of Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands. The Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau has teamed with the Charlotte County Natural Resources Division to help vacationers learn how to peacefully co-exist with threatened and endangered birds and sea turtles. They offer these tips for protecting wildlife during your next trip to the beach:
About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands offers a pristine unspoiled beauty that has served as the backdrop for seven major feature films as well as countless memorable vacations. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands was named to SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” The city of Punta Gorda was named as one of “Top Ten Places to Retire Healthy” by U.S. News & World Report. Englewood, Fla. was just named as No. 2 of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com.
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