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What people in the region can do to help the Indian River Lagoon
Those who live in or visit the Indian River Lagoon region can join with government and stakeholder groups to effect positive changes within the lagoon. Here are simple actions that can be taken in the lagoon region.
- Fertilize wisely. Spreading excess fertilizer on lawns wastes money and can contribute to algal blooms in the lagoon. If fertilizing is necessary, use slow release fertilizers, use only when nutrient deficiencies are evident and use sparingly. It is important to keep in mind that all fertilizer, even slow release, is capable of being leached from the soil and into the lagoon if excess irrigation is applied or when heavy rains occur. Remember to water wisely to keep the fertilizer in the root zone of your landscape plants and away from the lagoon. A single pound of fertilizer can grow more than 500 pounds of algae in the lagoon. Algal blooms block sunlight to seagrasses, the lagoon’s most important fish habitat. These blooms also rob the water of oxygen, causing fish kills.
- Send only rain down the storm drain. Storm drains are designed to carry rainwater to the Indian River Lagoon. In reality, storm drains carry grass clippings, yard wastes, oils, trash and other assorted pollutants to the estuary. Keeping pollutants away from storm drains directly impacts the water quality in the lagoon.
- Pick up after pets. Pet waste left on paved surfaces, lawns or around storm drains and water bodies will eventually reach lagoon or other surface waters after rainstorms. Pet waste can be a significant source of nutrients and fecal coliform, bacteria that can potentially harm the lagoon’s shellfish by making them unsafe to eat.
- Use native and Florida-friendly plants. Native and Florida-friendly plants are adapted to Florida’s growing conditions. They need less water and fertilizer to thrive and they provide wildlife habitat and support biodiversity. While many nonnative plants are relatively benign, others are characterized as invasive because they thrive in their new environment, growing and spreading rapidly or uncontrollably. This rapid growth can have consequences for the health and biodiversity of the Indian River Lagoon, often resulting in invaders overwhelming native species and causing the loss of or degradation of valuable habitats or the displacement or loss of animal species.
- Leave only footprints. Whatever garbage is accumulated during a lagoon visit (wrappers, bottles cans, monofilament fishing line) needs to be disposed of properly. Also, whatever is found (except for trash) should be left where it’s found. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as they’re found.
- Report sick, dead or injured wildlife. Sick or dead birds or other wildlife should not be handled. Instead, report them by calling the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or visiting the FWC website. Entangled, injured or dead manatees can be reported by sending a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.
Updated on 4-15-2013