FGCU, ECA Launch Cocohatchee River Guardian Initiative Thursday
FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University and the Estuary Conservation Association invite the public and media representatives to the ceremonial launch of the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian initiative, noon to 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Pelican Isle Yacht Club in North Naples.
The event introduces Geoff Burgerhoff, an FGCU environmental science graduate student, as the first Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian. The ECA and FGCU jointly selected Burgerhoff and provided a graduate fellowship in support of his work.
During the event, the ECA and FGCU christen the project's research vessel Guardian. Short demonstration boat trips illustrate the kinds of observations and data collecting procedures that the initiative will utilize for research.
"This project is the culmination of a dream to develop useful scientific information to better conserve a beautiful river and estuary locally while helping to empower local community conservation efforts and providing wonderful environmental training and experience for graduate students," said John H. Fitch, associate professor of Environmental Studies and a member of the ECA board of directors.
"Holding this ceremony at the Pelican Isle Yacht Club facility is significant because its marina has recently been designated as a 'Clean Marina' by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection."
The marina at Pelican Isle is providing dock and office space for the initiative. In addition, an ECA board member donated a 14-foot Boston Whaler and the ECA is purchasing an outboard engine.
The Guardian initiative is a joint effort between the ECA and FGCU to assure the environmental health, boating and fishing opportunities, and quality eco-tourism potential of the Cocohatchee watershed. The local endeavor complements regional and state plans. The first year of the position if supported by the ECA and FGCU through Sustaining Tomorrow Today, a project funded by the Lynne Carr Foundation.
As the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian, Burgerhoff's responsibilities involve environmental monitoring and reporting water quality and other data, monitoring and reporting sensitive areas, researching special projects, observing and reporting issues to be addressed, conducting outreach education, training and mobilizing volunteers, and preparing an annual State of the Cocohatchee Estuary Report.
Speakers during the ceremonial launch include representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Agency, the ECA and FGCU.
The Cocohatchee River and Estuary flows to the Gulf of Mexico between Bonita Springs and Naples.
For more information, media representatives should contact Fitch at (239) 590-7170.