save the wildlife on Pelican golf course, Belleair FL

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This petition/ open letter is addressed to Mr.Doyle who is buying the Pelican golf course from the town of Belleair, FL.,and to Mr. Murphy, the Belleair Town Manager.

Belleair June 2017

 Dear Mr. Doyle,   

I am a Belleair resident and my property borders on the Belleview Biltmore (Pelican) golf course. I have been to several Town Hall meetings regarding the sale of the course, including the one where your golf course designer Shane Robichaud presented the new plans.

The plans look beautiful and we are all happy the course will be preserved as a green space. Thank you for that!

There are however a few things I am concerned about; wildlife, trees, shrubs, pesticides and herbicides.

I talked to Shane Robichaud at the Town Hall meeting, and have had some correspondence with him. He did say that you will try to leave the periphery of the course as undisturbed as possible. And he said there are many great organic fertilizers for golf courses now and that he will encourage the superintendent to use those as much as possible. This is excellent and I truly hope the superintendent will honor Shane’s recommendations.

However, when I asked Shane about plans for the wildlife, he said there were no plans. I have asked the Town Manager as well, but received no clear or specific answers.

There are otters, raccoons, possums, rabbits, coyotes, turtles, fish, ospreys and many other species living on the golf course. I have seen them with my own eyes and don’t want them to get injured or killed when demolition and construction start.

I read that 863 trees will be cut down, with only 418 of them being mitigated in some form. I hope you will only take diseased or invasive trees. The trees provide habitat for wildlife, they clean the air and are needed for a healthy environment. How and when will the 418 trees be mitigated?

The President of Audubon was talking at one of the Town Hall meetings, and he also asked that you leave trees and bushes in the periphery so that wildlife has a place to escape to. Please be sure you leave as many wooded areas as you can, not only in the periphery but throughout the course.

I want to quote Craig Huegel, certified wildlife biologist who teaches at the St Pete College. He worked for Pinellas County Environmental Lands Division for 12 years.

He says: “The mature pines and oaks on this golf course provide a significant habitat for the wildlife present on the course. They also have historic value given their age. Removing any of them should be carefully weighed against their value and removed only if there is no alternative.”

He adds: “Golf courses can be managed in a way that reduces their impact on the environment. The best courses are managed using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices as developed by University of Florida. IPM reduces the need for pesticides to a level that fits better into Florida’s environmental needs.”  

Above all, I ask you to make a workable plan for the wildlife, as the periphery will not be big enough or safe enough for them to escape into. Especially the otters and raccoons – they should be trapped and relocated to a safe place before construction begins. And it should be done at a time when they don’t have babies who can’t survive by themselves.

Be very careful with the ponds! Don’t throw anything in them that can harm the turtles, fish, and otters. Save a pond that stays safe and clean place for them.

Around the ponds are large areas of shrubbery where rabbits live. Please relocate the rabbits or save the shrubbery so they can stay where they are.

Then herbicides and pesticides. Many families who live around the course have dogs and toddlers who run around in the grass bordering on the course. Conventional pesticides are harmful to wildlife, dogs, cats and toddlers. Some adults are chemically sensitive and also get sick from them. Even if they are EPA approved they are not necessarily safe. So I ask you to please use only natural, non-toxic pesticides and herbicides.

There are many neighbors and residents in Belleair and Pinellas County who feel just like I do and have a lot of attention on what happens on the golf course.

To summarize:

Please leave as many trees and shrubs as you possibly can.

Please make a plan for the wildlife and have at least otters, raccoons and turtles relocated.

Solve the wildlife problem before demolition and construction start.

Please use only non-toxic herbicides and pesticides.

I am sending a copy of this to the Town of Belleair, hoping they will support me and the many other concerned residents.

Kind regards,

Rebecca Weiss Sjouwerman

Belleair



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