Report on Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle Sanctuary Steering Committee
On the afternoon of May 1, Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis met with members of the the group, including Doug Young (President of South Florida Audubon and chair), Dean Piper (PP Planning & Zoning, for Sharon Williams), Beverly Gallagher (School Board Member, Dist. 2), Victor Suarez (Flyway Cities Coalition), Brian Mealey, Kelly Smith, Barry Heimlich (of Audubon), Ken Schneider, and Al Griffin (veteran nest watcher and new member).
Mayor Ortis reiterated his support for protecting the local eagle nest. The Steering Committee presented the City with draft language for official designation of the sanctuary, as well as a model ordinance that would amend the planning and zoning permit process to assure that any proposed disturbances near the nest complies with Florida FWC Bald Eagle Management Guidelines.
The group decided to prioritize the sanctuary's needs, among which are a permanent security fence, adequate and safe visitor parking, a semi-permanent observation area, an information kiosk and/or shelter, the need to preserve roosting trees, for raptor deterrents on the power poles, a source of volunteer interpreters, and placement of an “eagle cam.” Since the City controls only the land inside the fence line, the observation area would need to be placed on State DOT property. Approval for an eagle cam could take up to a year. Any structure may raise zoning as well as liability issues.
Contacts are already underway with FPL and Florida DOT, as well as South Florida Water management District, which owns all the land to the south and west of the "eagle forest." Subsequent meetings will involve these groups.
All in all, we are very encouraged about the City's support. I feel that one thing that must be preserved is the grass-roots involvement of local eagle watchers. I pointed out that there have been over 37,000 visits to this FORUM, which does not even count all the e-mails that go out to participants to keep them abreast of events at the nest. This is merely an index of the degree of local interest in the protection of this magnificent bird.
Although the Bald Eagle is holding its own statewide in Florida, the threat of local extinction of new urban eagle families is ever present.
I will strive to keep everyone informed and really thank you all for your offers to help out in any way!
Miramar, Florida & North Aurora, Illinois
Re: Report on Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle Sanctuary Steering Committee
Good Morning Ken,
That is great news! I know things don't happen over night however it sounds like the right direction. Thank you to all of you that have worked on this and shared your love and knowledge of these great birds with us.
Melissa and Randy