Marcophiles: A lively nature festival helps us humans celebrate wildlife

CHRIS CURLE
This eye-opening canoe view of the natural wonderland that surrounds us here is typical of the many field trips available at the Southwest Florida Nature Festival that runs this Friday through Sunday, Jan. 13-15. Submitted

This eye-opening canoe view of the natural wonderland that surrounds us here is typical of the many field trips available at the Southwest Florida Nature Festival that runs this Friday through Sunday, Jan. 13-15. Submitted

Where's the rest of this bird? It's a snowy egret in one of the many wildlife refuges and habitats around Southwest Florida that will be celebrated in the coming days.You can get up close at the Nature Festival, Jan. 13-15. Michael Male / Submitted

Where's the rest of this bird? It's a snowy egret in one of the many wildlife refuges and habitats around Southwest Florida that will be celebrated in the coming days.You can get up close at the Nature Festival, Jan. 13-15. Michael Male / Submitted

The upcoming Southwest Florida Nature Festival is shaping up to be a celebration of our environment, eye-opening closeup looks at the critters we love to see, a weekend full of fun in nature’s playground and a chance to get a real, no-homework education about how vital our wildlife is to our lives on this planet.

All that’s a tall order for one three-day event, Jan. 13-15, but there is something satisfying scheduled for kids, grownups, experts, beginners and everyone else.

This eighth annual Nature Festival is anchored at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve off North Collier Boulevard near the Comcast building. But its tentacles extend into Marco Island and up and down much of our coastline.

A few examples:

- “Beach Birding for Beginners” at the Tigertail Beach/Sand Dollar Lagoon area.

- “Up a Creek Kayak,” a Goodland 12-island tour.

Dozens of other field trips for birding walks, canoe and kayak trips in areas such as Big Cypress Panther Refuge, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and more.

Swamp buggy and boat tours, featured speakers such as Marco’s own Nancy Richie on our beloved burrowing owls, pelican expert Ted Below of Rookery Bay and nationally known award-winning filmmakers Michael Male and Judy Fieth.

A lot of out-of-towners are expected for the weekend. And that reminds us that sometimes non-residents of Greater Marco have a better appreciation of our wildlife than we do.

We get used to being awed by it all. And collectively we get a huge economic benefit from all those visitors.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says bird watchers and wildlife viewers spend more than $3.1 billion a year in Florida and support 30,000 or so jobs, maybe more.

If you want to join the fun this weekend at the Nature Festival, you can get more information from this web site: www.rookerybay.org/ or call (239) 417-6310, ext. 401.

Letting resting birds rest and restless kids behave

We salute Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee for taking steps to reduce the abuse of our critters and their habitat on Marco’s fabulous beach.

The idea of volunteer beach patrols to enlighten visitors and locals alike about the do’s and don’ts of beach behavior.

That includes laws against keeping live shell creatures, sand dollars, starfish and others. And it includes persuading adult beachgoers to stop letting their kids run and romp through flocks of resting shore birds.

It’s not the kids’ fault. The wee ones don’t know that the birds need to rest hassle-free, gaining strength and body fat for their long migratory flights. If they can’t do that, many won’t make it alive to their destinations.

Obviously the beach patrol volunteers won’t be able to slap the cuffs on adults who continue to violate rules and regs. But the good guys can tell the scofflaws what city environmentalist Nancy Richie told us: “Chasing or feeding wild birds is considered harassment and is prohibited under the city’s Protective Species Ordinance, which adopts all relevant federal, state and county rules.”

So it’s clear: Running through the birds’ nesting and resting space is as traumatic to them as it would be to humans if Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank stomped through our bedrooms at 3 a.m.

One-time Reagan insider to speak to Marco GOP Club

Our friend Karna Small Bodman will be sharing her unique insights on the political scene tomorrow here on Marco Island.

Karna, a part-time Naples resident, will speak at a meeting of the Caxambas Republican Club, 5 p.m., Jan. 11 at the Rose Auditorium.

She was a high-ranking official in the Reagan Administration and also a successful TV news anchor and author of political thrillers. We’re guessing she’ll have some fascinating comments on the current political season. For more information check her web site, www.karnabodman.com.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail chris@chriscurle.com.

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: don@donfarmer.com.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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