FWC Backtracks on “Unreasonable Resistance” Comment

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Following our story last week entitled Has The South End of Fort Myers Beach Become Poison? FWC Conservation Biologist Rebecca Schneider now says those comments were not aimed at residents on the south end of Fort Myers Beach. Here’s the latest…

Back in June Marine Resources Task Force Chairman Steve Johnson read an e-mail from Schneider who said FWC has “experienced a lack of understanding and unreasonable resistance from the community.”  The MERTF committee went on to discuss the situation and led people to believe what Schneider was referring to was allegations of bird monitors being yelled at and signs near the roped off nesting areas being pulled out. Johnson went on to say that the “Southern end of the Island is starting to poison itself against everything conservation oriented and I think that’s a big problem.” He followed it up with, “I don’t know if there’s a way we can help this poison from spreading on the South End of the Island.”

We reached out to FWC several times for clarification on Schneider’s comments before our story ran last week and were ignored.

Following our story, Carlos Pointe Beach Club Board of Directors President Bob Galvanoni wrote to Schneider voicing his disappointment with her comments. “WOW! I thought we had a solid working relationship. It seems I was mistaken. The Carlos Pointe board has repeatedly worked with FWC each year for over 15 years to enable bird nesting and endangered population growth. Our good faith efforts have been damaged by this “poison” movement.”

Schneider did respond to Galvanoni and appears to be backtracking from her original accusations about south end residents. She does not mention or clarify her original “unreasonable resistance” accusations.  Here’s her e-mail back to Galvanoni which she copied to other condo Presidents:

All,

I understand your disappointment and apologize that this has created concerns. My correspondence with the Town’s Marine Resources Task Force was not in relation to your properties nor those surrounding the historical shorebird breeding area; it was in the context of partnering with the Task Force to build cooperative relationships at a community level.

The FWC’s Southwest regional team has been working diligently to educate other beachfront residents as birds are breeding in different areas this season, and we have faced challenges; we’re seeking engagement from the Task Force to support effective communications for the entire community.

Our goal has always been to communicate positively with you and other property owners in Fort Myers Beach. We recognize and value the strength of the partnership we have on the South end of the island and are committed to maintaining that. I welcome and encourage you to contact me by email or phone if you have questions.

Becky

We reached out to FWC again this week to get clarification on Schneider’s “unreasonable resistance” comment because if there is a bird monitor volunteer being harassed, or if signs are being pulled out in the shorebird nesting area, those people should be identified and called out for doing so. FWC has never responded to any of our requests for specifics which will only make people wonder if the claims are true at all.

Watch Kim’s July 9th tour of the shorebird nesting area on the south end of Fort Myers Beach HERE which already has over 12,000 views.

Here’s how to keep local journalism thriving on Fort Myers Beach. Support Kim and Ed and their twice weekly newsletter, Saturday morning show and walkaround, Kim’s Sunday morning bikearound, and their Mondays With the Mayor LIVE Broadcast by buying them a cup of coffee HERE or making a donation to the cause by PayPal HEREZell to 2392473833 or by Venmo at Edward-Ryan-14.

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. It is always easier to be confrontational in a letter or e-mail than it is face -to-face. her lack of contact with the press shows no real backbone, and she may not even be capable of answering direct questions without having time to think about her answer. We love visiting the tranquility of the south end when we visit, and hope it will always be accessible. We even rented in the area for several years. If Rebecca cannot communicate directly with those that live there, or the press, this will just become a toxic situation that will benefit no one, and allow her to justify her job. I think she enjoys the banter as long as she does not have to do it face-to-face.

  2. I vacation on the south end and love that there is a protected area for nesting birds. I have enjoyed chatting with the naturalists I have met and have learned a lot from them. Sometimes it is a challenge to identify the unprotected walk ways through and around those areas. There are those people who will ignore any signage or ropes. I do not believe they are owners. Resorts and home owners who rent to the general public must continue to educate the renters about why we must protect these fragile habitats.

  3. Regarding this comment from FWC Conservation Biologist Rebecca Schneider:
    “we’re seeking engagement from the Task Force to support effective communications for the entire community … Our goal has always been to communicate positively with you and other property owners in Fort Myers Beach.”

    If this is truly FWC’s goal I don’t believe the most effective manner to achieve those goals is to have MERTF Chairperson Steve Johnson to then refer to a specific group of people using the word “poison”. Johnson’s quote: “Southern end of the Island is starting to poison itself against everything conservation oriented and I think that’s a big problem.” and following up with, “I don’t know if there’s a way we can help this poison from spreading on the South End of the Island.”

    Perhaps a better plan would be to employ the MERTF pop-up tent and have their helpful, friendly volunteers communicate with the locals. It seems that a sincere apology from Committee Chairman Johnson would be appropriate.

  4. Ed, most people don’t report harassment. It makes them uncomfortable. I don’t think you are fairly representing that.

    • You say, “I don’t doubt that bird monitors have been harassed.” Not a single person has been able to provide any proof that it’s happening. There is no police report. There are no pictures. There is no video. If it is happening, it needs to be documented and addressed so it can be stopped. Nobody should be harassing bird monitors, pulling up ropes, or accusing anyone of being poison.

  5. I think you are showing a bias in the way you present this issue. I don’t doubt that bird monitors have been harassed. I live at the south end of the beach and take beach walks in the bird sanctuary. I have approached people with dogs there and said; “Excuse me, but this is a bird sanctuary and no dogs are allowed. You can walk your dog north of the Wyndham.” Some people (not all) have not responded to this well and expressed anger. I have heard grumbling this year from fellow islanders about different nesting areas being roped off. Well, the birds have lost part of their habitat also after Ian. It would be nice if we could control where birds decide to nest. But “wild” is part of what we appreciate about living here.

    • What’s the bias Kathy?
      If FWC answered a few – or maybe one – question everything could be cleared up. They just refuse to answer any questions or back up their accusations. But, do feel free to explain what the bias is.
      If someone is being harassed that should be on the record and recorded with LCSO. Period.

    • Dogs are allowed on a leash at the south end of the beach. Signs saying so are posted. There is video evidence of these signs during the walk around video.

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