From Media Announcement posted on the Alabama Coastal Foundation’s website, www.joinacf.org/share-the-beach:
The Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (FBSNWR) and the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF) are delighted to announce a new arrangement for Share the Beach, Alabama’s sea turtle conservation program. Last year, the Friends group approached the Alabama Coastal Foundation asking if that organization would be interested in being the new home for Share the Beach. As of this month, Share the Beach is now an ACF program which continues being led by Mike Reynolds.
The main reason for the program transfer was that the geographic scope of Share the Beach grew much broader than the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge. Starting in 2018, Share the Beach volunteers will monitor Alabama’s nearly 50 miles of coastline and the Alabama Coastal Foundation is starting to raise the funds to conduct that work. The nesting/hatching season typically takes place from May 1st to October 31st each year.
FBSNWR Board President Lloyd Culp said, “When we were thinking of a new fiscal agent for Share the Beach, the Friends group knew that Alabama Coastal Foundation would be the perfect fit because of their mission of improving and protecting Alabama’s coastal environment. That new home will be good for Share the Beach. Also, we can expand our focus and attention to supporting the amazing Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in addition to our new role with the Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.”
“ACF is honored to add Share the Beach to the suite of our other programs,” said Mark Berte, the Alabama Coastal Foundation’s Executive Director. He continued, “Share the Beach is made up of dedicated and passionate volunteers and ACF is committed to support their important efforts. This is a very special year in particular to integrate this program at ACF because 2018 is our 25th Anniversary.”
A celebration will be held later this spring both 1) to thank the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and past Share the Beach volunteers and 2) to educate the public about the 2018 nesting season. Anyone interested in learning more about that event should send an email to info@joinACF.org.
Over 400 volunteers participate in STB each year to monitor the nests. That program follows protocols set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the federal endangered species recovery permit and Mike Reynolds has been the “Turtle Czar” since its inception. Mike states, “Since 2003, more than 55,000 hatchlings have safely made it into the Gulf of Mexico due to the efforts of our volunteers. I am thrilled to make this announcement today and am excited about teaming up with ACF to connect even more people to our important work.”
About the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF): The Alabama Coastal Foundation pursues practical solutions to conservation challenges in a non-partisan manner. To learn more about our programs, become a member, donate or volunteer, please visit: www.joinACF.org.
About the Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (FBSNWR): The Friends of Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1996 to support the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in protecting one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the Alabama Gulf Coast. In 2017, the FBSNWR expanded its role in supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System by agreeing to sponsor the Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex which includes the 20,000 acre Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR and the 10,000 acre Grand Bay NWR. To learn more, visit: www.bonsecourfriends.org.
About the Share the Beach (STB): Share the Beach is a volunteer program that has been assisting with the nesting and hatching of sea turtles on the Alabama coast since 2003. Over 400 volunteers monitor the 50 miles of sea turtle nesting habitat in Alabama looking for evidence of sea turtle activity during the nesting season. To learn more, visit: www.alabamaseaturtles.com.