At EAI, we are continuously providing innovative environmental management and monitoring solutions to private and public sector clients in Florida and beyond. Visit our website often for current updates on EAI projects, publications, presentations, awards, and other relevant news.

Environmental Permitting Summer School

Senior EAI staff attended the 31st Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School in Fort Lauderdale from July 18-21, 2017. The conference covered a variety of topics related to environmental policy and permitting. The EAI team divided and conquered, attending courses on:

  • Environmental policy
  • Energy policy and renewable energy expansion
  • Environmental resources planning, permitting, and conservation in coastal marine habitats
  • Mitigation assessments, banking, and policy updates for protected habitats and the species that rely on those systems
  • Wetland and stormwater management issues, innovations, and policy updates

Sea Turtle Nesting Season

The 2017 sea turtle nesting season has been very successful with EAI documenting over 9,475 loggerhead, 3,200 green turtle, and 176 leatherback nests within its survey areas in Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties. As peak hatching season approaches, please remember that hatchlings can become disoriented and crawl toward artificial light sources. Please ensure that no sources of light from your property are visible from or illuminate the beach at night. Problem fixtures can be shielded, redirected, modified, or turned off so that light sources and reflective surfaces are not visible from the beach. Additionally, close blinds or curtains at sunset and move lamps away from windows so that interior lights are not visible from the beach.

Click here to see what you can do to help sea turtles. For more information, assistance, free educational material, or a copy of your County’s lighting ordinance, please contact us.

Bathtub Beach Renourishment Project

Martin County recently completed a project to replace sand on Bathtub Beach on the east coast of Florida. Beach renourishment includes the dumping or pumping of sand from elsewhere (i.e., sand borrow sites) onto an eroding beach often to widen the existing beach and protect public and private property. This beach renourishment operation included the dredging of flood shoal and navigation channel sand borrow areas and the placement of sand along a one-mile stretch of beach just north of the St. Lucie Inlet.

Because the beach renourishment process may affect wildlife, monitoring is required to ensure that protected plants and animals are not harmed during the construction process and that their habitat is not severely affected with the beach alterations. For this project, EAI continuously monitored the beach for sea turtles at night to ensure no impacts to nesting. In addition, EAI performed turbidity monitoring of the borrow area and beach sites during construction. During beach nourishment operations, the suspension of disturbed sediments increases temporary and localized turbidity which can affect the behavior and physiological functions of fishes and invertebrates.

Conference Happenings

EAI has presented at two conferences in 2017. In February, EAI presented at the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association’s Technical Conference in Stuart, FL and in April the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Las Vegas, NV.

EAI Biologist Joe Scarola presented his innovative nighttime lighting survey process that helps local jurisdictions ensure their shorelines are compliant with adopted codes. The survey technique employs the use of a sub-meter accurate GPS unit fitted with a camera and laser rangefinder to precisely locate and photograph non-compliant light sources. The collected data is processed to generate interactive maps viewable in Google Earth.

Also at the International Sea Turtle Symposium was a poster prepared by Amber Stevenson and titled “Quantifying the Effects of Rock Armoring on Sea Turtle Nesting Success in New Smyrna Beach, FL (USA).” This study provides additional information to coastal managers for the evaluation of coastal armoring projects. We thank Joe and Amber for contributing to sea turtle research and management and for making EAI proud!

Habitat for Humanity Gopher Tortoise Relocation

In December 2016, managers of a St. Lucie County Habitat for Humanity project found that, while construction was halted for the holidays, some gopher tortoises took up residence on the construction site. EAI volunteered to help.

Our biologists discovered four gopher tortoise burrows during an initial survey of the construction site. Given the time of year and the minimum temperatures required to relocate, the excavations were delayed. However, by the first week of February, temperatures were just right and the four burrows were excavated utilizing a small backhoe. The three gopher tortoises were found and relocated nearby.