Town denies Mote turtle funds
At the Monday, Sept. 24 regular Commission meeting, commissioners denied Mote Marine Laboratory’s request for an additional $15,000 to continue its sea turtle nesting program.
The commission voted 6-1 with Commissioner Lynn Larson as the only vote in support of the Mote funding. Mote Marine requested the additional $15,000 due to this year’s record number of sea turtle nests, which created a need for increased monitoring. The town currently contributes $23,600 to Mote Marine for sea turtle monitoring.
Mote Marine wrote in their request, “The combination of a nearly 75 percent reduction in Town of Longboat Key (TLBK) annual funding support to Mote Marine Laboratory and a doubling of TLBK sea turtle nesting activity to record levels has led to the inability of Mote to continue its current sea turtle monitoring program on TLBK.”
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and START (Solutions to Avoid Red Tide) were two programs already cut out of the town of Longboat Key’s budget this year.
Commissioner Lynn Larson wrote in an email following the Monday commission meeting that no turtle supporters attended, and that if they had, perhaps the other commissioners would have voted for the funding.
“I was more surprised that no turtle supporters showed up. I believe that if the public turtle supporters had shown up for the meeting, the money would have been budgeted. The majority of the group would not have gone against the turtle support group, especially in an election year,” wrote Larsen.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa issued a memo to Town Manager David Bullock and commissioners explaining that the North End beach renourishment, completed in June 2011, requires turtle monitoring for the initial nesting season (2011) and for a minimum of three additional seasons (2012-2014).
“This monitoring area includes the sandy beach of Greer Island beginning at the Longboat Pass Bridge to approximately Gulfside Road for a length of approximately 1.5 miles. Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) is contracted by the Town to perform this work. In 2012 the Town paid MML $23,600,” wrote Florensa.
Florensa also explained that in previous years the entire 11-mile town shoreline was required to be monitored by permit conditions at a cost of approximately $86,700. According to Florensa, those permit requirements have expired and so the town is only required to monitor a section at the North End.
Mote has taken on the remainder of the beach shoreline monitoring at its own expense, and the town currently contributes $23,600.