The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has installed in-water signs marking the boundaries of the Port Orange Critical Wildlife Area in Volusia County.
Port Orange CWA, a small island also known as Port Orange Rookery, provides shelter for hundreds of brown pelicans during the nesting season. Though less than 2 acres, the CWA is currently one of the largest breeding sites for brown pelicans along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Here, pelicans gather in January to begin courtships and nest building, before settling onto nests in March.
Tricolored herons and American oystercatchers, state-listed threatened species, also breed and shelter on this CWA, along with great egrets,snowy egrets, double-crested cormorants and great blue herons.
“President Teddy Roosevelt in 1903 established what became the first national wildlife refuge, Pelican Island in Florida. The FWC is continuing that great tradition of conservation with the Port Orange Critical Wildlife Area in Volusia County, where hundreds of brown pelicans and other waterbirds now can safely nest,” said FWC Commissioner Sonya Rood.
Port Orange CWA is closed to public access from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31 to help conserve nesting birds. The new in-water signs alert boaters and others enjoying area waterways about the CWA boundaries. They must stay outside of the protected water buffer around the CWA – which varies anywhere from 10 to 150 feet – during the closed dates.
Financial support for the CWA signs was provided by the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida through the Conserve Wildlife Tag grant program. Proceeds from the Conserve Wildlife license plate benefit the conservation of Florida’s endangered species and other nongame animals. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida grants more than $1 million a year for conservation and outdoor education programs thanks to this and other specialty plates.
In November 2016, the FWC significantly increased the number and range of Florida’s Critical Wildlife Areas, created by the agency to protect critical wildlife in its most vulnerable stages from human disturbance. At that time, 13 new CWAs were added, and five existing CWAs were expanded. Later, the Port Orange CWA was approved for establishment at the December 2017 Commission meeting. Currently, there are 32 CWAs throughout the state, which are managed for nesting and wintering shorebirds, wading birds, gopher tortoises and bats.
To learn more about Florida’s CWAs, visit MyFWC.com/CWA.
To learn more about Conserve Wildlife vehicle license plates, visit FishWildlifeFlorida.org.
Contacts: Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130; Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459