News Releases

FWC requests public input at Critical Wildlife Area workshops

News Release

Monday, July 11, 2016

Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459; Gary Morse, 863-227-3830

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: External Website

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding public workshops to share information about and solicit comments on the proposal to designate new Critical Wildlife Areas and modify five existing CWAs throughout the state. The proposed designations are part of a statewide initiative to conserve some of Florida’s most vulnerable wildlife.

CWAs are established by the FWC under a Florida Administrative Code rule to protect important wildlife concentrations from human disturbance during critical periods of their life cycles, such as breeding, feeding or migration.

In the Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor areas the FWC is considering designating two new CWAs: Roberts Bay Islands and Dot-Dash-Dit Islands. The FWC is also considering modifications to the Alafia Banks and Myakka River CWAs.

Here is a schedule for the Tampa Bay area workshops:

  • Alafia Banks  -  6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, July 18 at the Gardenville Recreation Center in Hillsborough County, 6215 Symmes Road, Gibsonton.  
  • Myakka River -  5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19 at the North Port Public Library, 13800 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port.
  • Roberts Bay Islands - 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 at the Sarasota Audubon Nature Center, Celery Fields 999 Center Road, Sarasota.
  • Dot-Dash-Dit Islands - 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 21 at the Manatee County Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. Highway 301 N., Ellenton.

“This initiative to create more CWAs throughout the state is not just for bird watchers and wildlife aficionados,” said FWC Commission Chairman Brian Yablonski. “This is something for everyone, and we want everyone to have an opportunity to be a part of the process.”

The FWC will use the feedback received at these meetings to help develop the recommendations for each of the CWA designations and modifications. These recommendations will be presented at the FWC’s September meeting.

“Florida is renowned for its wealth of charismatic waterbirds, but they have fewer and fewer safe places to nest and rest,” said Julie Wraithmell, Deputy Executive Director for Audubon Florida. “FWC’s leadership on this effort will help ensure these places thrive for future generations of birds and people alike.”

The Alafia Banks CWA in Hillsborough County, which includes Bird Island, is currently closed seasonally. The FWC and Audubon Florida are proposing a year-round closure, adding Sunken Island to the CWA, and adding a buffer around both islands. Each year thousands of nests are documented on these islands. Sixteen different species including reddish egret and American oystercatcher nest here.

Myakka River CWA was established in 1987 with a seasonal closure to protect nesting wood storks, egrets and herons. Biologists are proposing re-establishing the CWA with a buffer and a year-round closure since birds are now nesting throughout the year.

Roberts Bay in Sarasota County consists of three small islands and a breakwater. The islands are important for a variety of wading birds and shorebirds, including pelicans, egrets, herons, spoonbills and American oystercatchers. Nests or young birds are present every month of the year. Audubon Florida is recommending a year-round closure and a buffer to provide separation from boat traffic, bird watchers and photographers. 

Dot-Dash-Dit consists of three mangrove islands at the mouth of the Braden River in Manatee County. Several hundred wading birds nest on the islands, and it contains the only coastal colony of wood storks in the Tampa Bay area. Audubon Florida is proposing a year-round closure with a buffer for all three islands.  

Visit and click on “CWA public workshops” to see the complete list of CWA public workshops.

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