Nature and the great outdoors. It's what makes Amelia Island the special place that folks return to year after year. Just like the sea turtles that come here every May through October to lay eggs on our beaches. Or, the Roseate Spoonbills that are often seen wading by the marsh in the spring. Or, the northern right whales that pass by our coast each November.
Whether it's spending time at the beach, hiking the trails of the greenway, playing a round of golf amongst great live oaks, or kayaking the saltwater creeks and estuaries that surround our island, the natural habitat that makes up this special place all have to be cared for and loved - just like family. There are a host of local organizations dedicated to keeping our island in check with the environment. Here's a sampling of who helps put Mother Earth first on Amelia Island. The whole list can be found here
A big part of what makes Amelia Island so beautiful - and what literally helps preserve it - are the lush trees that comprise the maritime forest canopy made up of Live Oak, Palm, Hickory, Southern Magnolia, Red Cedar and Pine with an understory that includes Wax Myrtle, a variety of Holly, Sparkeberry and Beautyberry. All together they create a microclimate that is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and also work to temper the effects of wind and water on the island's dunes and beaches. The Amelia Tree Conservancy "is dedicated to preserving our maritime forest canopy through education and serving as a resource, promoting public engagement in conservation, and contributing to the reforestation of the Island."
Even though they only come ashore every May through October to lay eggs, we like to think of the sea turtle as our little island mascot. Enter Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch. This group of volunteers are dedicated to preserving and protecting the endangered sea turtles that are a valuable part of the natural heritage of Amelia Island. Once a nest is found and marked (wherever you see yellow tape), they monitor it until after the baby turtles have emerged from the nest and then do a follow-up nest excavation.
Keep Nassau Beautiful is a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. They were formed in 1991 by a group of local citizens interested in improving Nassau county and keeping it looking it's best. They do this through education, beautification, community service, litter cleanup, adopt-a-highway programs, household hazardous waste collection events, and much more! Their mission is to help citizens keep Nassau County clean and green. NOTE: Join us for Earth Day Beach Cleanup at Main Beach Park (32 N Fletcher Ave) on April 23 from 9am - 10am. Let's welcome our nesting sea turtles to a clean beach!
Right whales are made up of three species of large baleen whales: North Pacific, Southern, and North Atlantic and they are the rarest and most endangered of all the whales. Called right whales because they were the "right whales to hunt" has left this particular whale nearing extinction. The Right Whale Festival, held each November, celebrates the annual return of the North Atlantic right whales to our warm coastal waters and raises awareness of the threats to them and how we can all help in their recovery. The festival is great fun for the whole family with ocean-themed activities and exhibits that emphasize education.
The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 by John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, and glaciologist. It is a world-renowned environmental club with chapters in all 50 states. Sierra Club, Nassau County's mission is "to enjoy and protect the natural places of Nassau County Florida, to teach others to understand and respect the fragile environment in which we live, and to practice and promote the responsible use of our local ecosystems and resources."
Water is the lifeblood of planetary health and human civilization. "The St. Marys River is 130-miles long, winding through four counties in Florida and Georgia. That includes more than 60,000 residents who depend on the health of the river for tourism, recreation, commercial fishing, and safe drinking water. Wildlife and plant ecosystems rely on the continued cleanliness of the watershed, including 3,000 miles of streams and tributaries." The mission of the St. Mary's Riverkeeper is to make sure that this river remains as a swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water source for those that live within her watershed. NOTE: On Sat, April 23, St. Marys Riverkeeper, Keep Nassau Beautiful, and Partners are leading a four county watershed wide cleanup of the St. Marys River and its tributaries. Click here to see how you can get involved!
Wild Amelia is a group of volunteers who's main goal is to protect the natural habitat remaining on Amelia Island and its surrounding areas. They are a dedicated group of nature-minded citizens that tirelessly work to educate residents and visitors alike about our bioregion. They do this through events and programs designed to educate and entertain, while promoting a conservation ethic. Each year the Wild Amelia group selects a native animal as the Critter-of-the-Year
, to highlight and bring awareness to. The most recent "selected critter" is the Black Skimmer, a sea bird that inhabits coastal areas in Florida such as estuaries, beaches, and sandbars. Be on the lookout for this lovely bird with its large red and black bill!