Public comment for the Dot-Dash-Dit Islands to become a critical wildlife area deemed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is set for 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at Manatee County Rocky Bluff Library.
On June 22, FWC staff identified 10 potential new critical wildlife areas, including the Dot-Dash-Dit Islands. This would be a first for Manatee County. The FWC is suggesting a 100-foot buffer zone around the islands to prevent disturbance from humans.
The three mangrove islands, which can be seen at the mouth of the Braden River while driving on State Road 64, are owned by the state and home to the only coastal colony of wood storks in the Tampa Bay area. Other bird species nesting in the islands are roseate spoonbills, herons and ibis.
Ever since Manatee County made improvements to the State Road 64 boat ramp, just south of the islands, Lori Roberts of the Manatee County Audubon Society Board of Directors said the islands have been receiving more boat traffic.
“Birds are freaking out or getting stressed,” Roberts said. “They don’t know that you don’t mean harm.”
She said she has seen private charters and kayakers get too close to the islands, and birds have been avoiding channelside areas of the islands because of it. Roberts said she wants to be able to educate boaters about the birds.
Everyone is invited to the library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton, to comment on the islands potentially becoming a CWA. The FWC said it will use public comment feedback to make recommendations for each CWA to be presented at the FWC’s September meeting.
Public comment for the Dot-Dash-Dit Islands
Who: You and the FWC
What: Public comment for the Dot-Dash-Dit Islands to become a critical wildlife area
Where: Manatee County Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. 301, Ellenton
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. July 21