Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Update from the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative

Pathway to
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative
Newsletter - January 2021
The ABSI mission: to gain insight into the root causes of decline of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem with a focus on oyster reefs, and ultimately, with guidance from the Community Advisory Board and input from stakeholders and the public, to develop science-informed restoration and ecosystem-based management plans focused on the recovery of oyster reefs and the health of Apalachicola Bay.
News from the Community Advisory Board
Hello 2021! A new year brings new progress for the ABSI Community Advisory Board (CAB).

The CAB met on January 13th and received briefings from Dr. Sandra Brooke (FSU) who gave an ABSI research and data collection update (see Science Update below), Jim Estes (FWC) on the Apalachicola Bay wild oyster closure, and Dr. Ray Grizzle (Univ. of New Hampshire and the ABSI Science Advisory Board) who provided an overview of the Apalachicola Bay mapping project. Copies of the presentations can be found here on the website.

The Strategies Worksheet reviewed by the CAB, a primary focus for each meeting, is in its final stages. This worksheet lays out strategy recommendations across a suite of goals and objectives, including ecological and socio-economic. At the next meeting, the CAB will begin reviewing and prioritizing the strategies. The public will be asked for feedback on these strategies that will be incorporated where appropriate before the CAB finalizes its recommendations.

Much of this meeting was dedicated to discussing estuarine metrics and management and restoration goals. Topics of discussion included important ecosystem services provided by abundant oysters, such as fishery productivity, seafood community health, and habitat for other important species like seatrout. The members also considered locations and types of materials for oyster habitat restoration.

Late last year, the CAB began implementing an outreach and public engagement plan for the ABSI project. Ongoing efforts, in addition to these newsletters, include providing updates to the local city/county commissions, holding virtual presentations, and reaching out to local community groups to discuss the project and restoration plans for the Bay. Additionally, project leaders and CAB members will discuss the project on the local WFSU radio show Perspectives to be aired Thursday, January 28 at 11am on 88.9 FM. Also, on February 25 at 3pm, Dr. Brooke will be the guest speaker on the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve’s monthly Sci-Café series. Go here to sign up for the virtual presentation.

To ensure complete transparency, ABSI presents on the Community Advisory Board's website the entire history of the deliberations following from each meeting, copies of all presentations, and a recording of each meeting since March 2020.

Note: Due to COVID-19, meetings of the CAB have taken place virtually using ZOOM since the May 2020 meeting and will continue to be virtual until further notice. Members of the public are welcome to call in during meetings. Directions for doing so are on the website.

Next meeting of the ABSI CAB: February 24, 2020 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

January 28th at 11 am on 88.9 FM, tune in and listen to host Tom Flanigan talk with members of the ABSI Community Advisory Board about the progress of the board, the status of Apalachicola Bay, and more.
ABSI Science Update
The start of 2021 has proven busy for the ABSI research team! They are continuing their monthly sampling of oyster sites for oyster condition and disease, and have received preliminary water quality data from one of the YSI data loggers deployed at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. ABSI has also been joined by new faculty member, Dr. Josh Breithaupt whose efforts have been focused on collecting subtidal and intertidal sediment samples to begin identifying locations for measurements of bottom-water corrosivity and shell residence times. He is also in the process of acquiring instruments to measure carbon and nutrient levels throughout the Bay.  For a further look into ABSI science, visit here.
The Oyster Life Cycle
Oyster Life Cycle
Oysters, although small, have always been an integral part of the Apalachicola Bay region. In addition to their economic value and importance as a food source for humans, oysters have remarkable ecological value. Learn about the life cycle of an oyster, from its beginnings as an embryo to a full grown adult in our animated
Oyster Life Cycle video.
Miss an issue? Visit the newsletter archive here.
We are always interested in hearing from you so if you have questions or comments, please send them to our email address, fsucml-absi@fsu.edu.
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The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative | Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory |3618 Coastal Highway 98 St. Teresa, FL 32358


Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to extend the county's COVID-19 Leave Policy for county workers through the end of March

 Franklin County Commissioners have agreed to extend the county's COVID-19 Leave Policy for county workers through the end of March.

The county's leave policy was created under a federal rule which mandated and provided tax credits to large employers to provide eligible employees two weeks of emergency paid sick leave due to COVID-19.

The federal rule expired on December 31st but through through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 congress extended the tax credits for private employers who voluntarily provide the leave through March 31st, 2021. 

Even though the county doesn't get tax credits, it did agree to continue providing paid sick leave through March 31st, 2021.

The extension is only for county employees who have not already used all of their two weeks’ leave if they were unable to work, including able to telework, because of COVID.

Any county workers who use the policy will have to fill out an Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form stating that they are missing work because of a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, that they have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19 or because they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis.  


Franklin County is taking steps to restart the Apalachicola Airport Advisory Committee

Franklin County is taking steps to restart the Apalachicola Airport Advisory Committee.

The Airport Advisory committee helps the county oversee activities at the Airport in Apalachicola; it provides recommendations and advice on contracts and work programs at the airport.

The board was disbanded by the commission in 2017 – at the time the commission said it wanted to work on changes to the committee membership and meeting schedule.

The new board will likely have 5 members, one from each commission district, and will be required to meet monthly as all other county advisory committees do.

Commissioners discussed whether all of the members should have airport or aviation experience, but in the end decided business owners without airport experience should also be considered for membership because the airport is also important for economic development in the county.

The county will likely seek resume's from people who are interested in serving, but each commissioner will choose a member from his or her own district.

Commissioner Smokey Parrish emphasized that the committee should work in an advisory role only, providing information and suggestions for the county commission to make final decisions on airport issues.

He said when the committee was in effect before, many of the members came to commission meetings and made issues more complicated than they needed to be.

The board has not yet taken any official action on the issue but the county coordinator will begin putting together a list of requirements for potential members that can be advertised in the local newspaper.

The county attorney was also tasked with creating by-laws for the new committee.


Florida DEP permit activity for Franklin, Gulf and Wakulla Counties

DEP Logo


Environmental Protection

Bob Martinez Center
2600 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400

Ron DeSantis


Jeanette Nuñez

Lt. Governor

Noah Valenstein


Permitting Application Subscription Service

Subscriber email address: manager@oysterradio.com

  Profile Name: Oyster Radio

Permit: Waste - Hazardous Waste Operation Permit
Project Name: ST. MARKS POWDER
Location Id: 66244
County: Wakulla
Application Number: 66244-012

For further information, please contact the Tallahassee Headquarters permitting office in Tallahassee at (850) 245-8707
Permit: Water - ERP Noticed General Permit
Project Name: SHULER FENCE
Location Id: 188010
County: Franklin
Application Number: 188010-002

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300
Permit: Water - ERP Exemption Permit
Location Id: 384999
Location Name: FDEP - CAPE SAN BLAS RD
County: Gulf
Application Number: 384999-002

For further information, please contact the Northwest District permitting office in Pensacola at (850) 595-8300


Monday, January 25, 2021

Commercial seafood businesses in the area may be getting a call from NOAA Fisheries in the near future to find out what impact COVID-19 has had on your business

Commercial seafood businesses in the area may be getting a call from NOAA Fisheries in the near future to find out what impact COVID-19 has had on your business.

NOAA Fisheries and the University of Florida, are teaming up on a phone survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on commercial/for-hire fishing operations and on seafood dealers and processors.

The phone survey is a follow-up to an earlier on-line survey conducted in July and August on economic impacts for the first half of 2020.

The upcoming survey will assist us in assessing economic impacts over the entire calendar year.


Survey participants were randomly selected to participate. 

The survey takes less than 10 minutes, and the information is strictly confidential. 

The information will help inform Federal and regional fishery managers about the economic and social impacts that the recent economic downturn has had on the fishing industry.


The Franklin County Health department reported one new COVID-related death and 16 new COVID cases over the weekend

The Franklin County Health department reported one new COVID-related death and 16 new COVID cases over the weekend.

There have now been 10 COVID-related deaths in Franklin County since the pandemic began.

Franklin County has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-related cases and deaths in the past two weeks.

As of Sunday there have been 1189 positive COVID cases in Franklin County since the pandemic began, that includes 28 people from outside the county.

Franklin County's positivity rate on Sunday was above 16 percent.

The median age for the COVID cases in Franklin County is 44 years old.

There have been 1,634 positive COVID cases in Gulf County since the pandemic began, and 32 Covid related deaths.

The Gulf County positivity rate is 17.5 percent.

The median age for the cases in Gulf County is 50 years old.

Wakulla County reported its 2839th case on Thursday and Liberty County reported its 967th case.

There have been 38COVID related deaths in Wakulla County and 14 in Liberty County.


The US NAVY last week held a keel laying ceremony for the USNS Apalachicola

The US NAVY last week held a keel laying ceremony for the USNS Apalachicola.

The laying of the keel is the formal recognition of the start of a ship's construction.

The ceremony was held on January the 21st in Mobile, Alabama and included remarks from Apalachicola Mayor Begos.

The Navy estimates that construction will be complete sometime this fall with a Christening ceremony after the ship is finished.

The construction of the USNS Apalachicola was first announced at the 2019 Apalachicola 4th of July celebration by then Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer

The USNS Apalachicola is the second ship named in honor of the city of Apalachicola: the first was a large harbor tug which served from 1965-2002.

The fast transport ship is designed to be used to transport U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles or can be reconfigured to become a troop transport for an infantry battalion.

It has a flight deck for helicopter operations and an off-load ramp that allows vehicles to quickly drive off the ship.

It will be 338 feet long, powered by four 11,000 horsepower diesel engines that enable a top speed of 43 knots.

The USNS Apalachicola will be the thirteenth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship built for the U.S. Navy and will be operated by the Military Sealift Command.


Franklin County unemployment dropped a little in December

Franklin County unemployment dropped a little in December.

Unemployment fell to 4.7 percent last month, down from 4.9 percent in November.

That means 205 people were out of work out of a workforce of 4,354 people.

21 of Florida's 67 counties had lower unemployment rates than ours in December including Wakulla County which had the lowest unemployment in the state for the third month in a row at 3.6 percent.

Gulf County unemployment also fell last month from 4.8 percent to 4.5 percent with 243 people out of work there.

Liberty County unemployment remained unchanged at 4.8 percent.


St. Joseph Bay Humane Society Pet of the Week

Oliver is the sweetest 3 year old kitty you'll ever meet! He loves affection and will give you a little toe bean tap on the arm when he wants some. He has so much personality you could watch him play all day. Come by the shelter to meet Oliver and all of his friends!

You'll find the Humane Society at 1007 10th street in Port St. Joe

Call: 850-227-1103



Commissioner Nikki Fried Highlights Benefits of Prescribed Fire During Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week

Tallahassee, Fla. – Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service are highlighting prescribed fire and its role in public safety and the health of Florida’s natural and agricultural lands during Florida’s Prescribed Fire Awareness Week, January 24 – 30.

This year, the Forest Service is launching an initiative encouraging Floridians to “let neighbors know” that prescribed fire protects the lands we love and the communities we live in. The project was developed through a public-private partnership with Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, a non-profit organization that has studied prescribed fire and land stewardship for over 60 years.

“Prescribed fire is a safe way to apply a natural process, ensuring the health of our natural habitats and protecting Florida’s residents and visitors by reducing the risk of wildfire,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “Florida’s use of prescribed fire is a national model for successfully managing forests and lands though safe, controlled, carefully managed fire, a scientifically sound practice.”

“Prescribed fire is the most valuable tool we have to manage Florida’s fire-dependent and fire-prone landscapes,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “With a long-term, sustained approach, we can significantly reduce the chances of catastrophic wildfires and maintain the health of our forests. Partnering with Tall Timbers provides new opportunities for collaboration between public and private entities responsible for prescribed fire and further exemplifies our mission to serve and protect Floridians.”

Dr. Bill Palmer, President/CEO of Tall Timbers added, “We are excited to partner with the Florida Forest Service on the new awareness initiative. It takes a team effort to sustain prescribed fire use at a landscape scale with a mix of public and private landowners. Tall Timbers is working as a convener within the national fire community to bring scientists and fire practitioners together to develop the tools and training needed for a resilient and safe future for our natural areas and our communities.”

Visit www.WhyPrescribedFire.org to learn more and let neighbors know about the benefits of prescribed fire.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.



Athena is a 3 yr old Lab mix  She is VERY smart and social.  She loves human contact and learning new things.  She isn't a fan of cats nor does she like all dogs, so we are looking for a home where she will be the only dog with an adopter who enjoys a loving dog who wants to please.  She is a staff and volunteer favorite! 

We are always looking for people willing to bring one of our animals into their home to be fostered for various needs.

Any time you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

Call Karen at 670-8417 for more details or visit the Franklin County Humane Society at 244 State Road 65 in Eastpoint. You may logon to the website at www.forgottenpets.org to see more of our adoptable pets.


A Carrabelle man was arrested Saturday after allegedly shooting into another vehicle in Apalachicola

A Carrabelle man was arrested Saturday after allegedly shooting into another vehicle in Apalachicola.

21 year old Carza Harvey was booked at the Franklin County Jail on charges of Attempted First Degree Murder, shooting into a occupied conveyance and possession of a stolen firearm by a convicted felon.

The sheriff's Department said they received a call at 11:20 Saturday morning from a woman in Apalachicola who said that Carza Harvey shot at her while she was in her vehicle.

The Apalachicola Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff's Office, as well as, the Carrabelle Police Department found the vehicle and confirmed it had in fact been shot.

They also recovered spent casings from a .380 caliber at the scene on 16th St. in Apalachicola.

Local law enforcement said they were familiar with Carza and quickly found him at his home in Carrabelle.

They searched his home and found a .380 caliber pistol which was reported stolen from Lee County Florida.

The sheriff's office said that Harvey confessed to the crime during an interview..


The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is starting a new program to help protect your pets in case of a fire

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office is starting a new program to help protect your pets in case of a fire.

The sheriff's office has a limited number of signs for pet owners who want to alert fire fighters or other emergency personnel of pets in the home.

You put the sign outside of your home and in case of a fire, first responders will then be aware of your pets.

The signs are available on a First come, first served basis – just stop by the Franklin County Sheriff's office Monday-Friday 8-5pm and pick up a free pet sign.


Longtime Weems Board Member Passed


It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that longtime Weems board member and chairman Doug Creamer has died from complications due to COVID-19. Creamer, a local leader, has served on the Weems Board of Directors since 2014. He has served as chairman since 2019.


Funeral Arrangements for Bro. Doug Creamer, will be on Tuesday January 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm at Living Waters Assembly of God in Apalachicola.

The family will be receiving guests from 11:00 am to 12:00 noon at the church prior to the service.


With the recent rise in COVID cases the service will be streamed on the Living Waters Assembly of God Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LivingWatersAG/

for those who would be more comfortable. However, for those wishing to attend in person you may do so.