2010-2011 Save the Manatee Trust Fund Annual Report
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is pleased to submit this annual report on the expenditures from the Save the Manatee Trust Fund (Trust Fund), per §379.2431(4)(b), Florida Statutes (F.S.). The report covers the period from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. As required by Florida law, the report is provided to the President of the Florida Senate and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives by December 1, each year. The Trust Fund is the primary source of funding for the State's manatee-related research and conservation activities. Revenues for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010-2011 totaled $3,946,789. Appropriations from the Trust Fund for the same period were $4,087,673, with $325,000 provided for manatee research activities at Mote Marine Laboratory and a service charge to General Revenue of $158,281 that most trust funds are required by law to pay. In FY 2010-2011, the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation expended $1,038,220 for conservation activities and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute expended $1,807,245 on research and monitoring. Details of revenues, appropriations, and expenditures are shown in pie charts.
Once again the state experienced a period of extreme cold weather during the 2010-11 winter. Record cold temperatures in December 2010 took a toll on manatees as reflected in elevated mortality and rescues. As in the previous winter, an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) was declared--the cause related to ecological factors. The winter 2010-2011 event lasted approximately 58 days and during that period 202 carcasses (all causes) and 28 rescues were reported. The FWC will rely on data from monitoring programs over the next few years to better understand population level implications of the recent unprecedented number of deaths. Certainly the past two winters have underscored the importance of warm-water habitat to manatees.
Accordingly, a major focus of the FWC Manatee Management Plan is addressing long-term availability of warm-water habitat. Generally, warm-water habitat consists of natural springs and the warm-water effluent produced by power plants. Working with conservation partners, the FWC is focusing on restoration and enhancement projects for Florida springs. Included in this report is an overview of progress towards important spring restoration work that will result in a gain of natural warm-water refuge habitat. An exciting event this year involved the installation of a special gate at Homosassa Springs State Park that allowed containment of captive manatees while providing spring access to wild manatees. The public can view wild manatees in winter from an underwater viewing area. Through partnerships with state and federal agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations and the business community, FWC is working to ensure that manatees will remain a unique and treasured part of Florida.