Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project: Latest Developments
(Historical Perspective: 22 Feb 2000 - present)
|27 August 2010||
We did it. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage is now complete! The last bit of construction equipment left the site today. After a decade of sustained effort by the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance, under the direction of Dr. Matthew Aresco, the dream has been realized. It's been a tumultuous ride over the past 10 years, exacerbated by the negative publicity garnered in the 11th hour by the misinformation that was distributed by those against stimulus funds. Despite all of the hurdles, the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance and its 13.4 million supporters have prevailed. We wish to offer a hearty thanks to the Florida Department of Transportation, the Capital Regional Transportation Planning Agency, the Leon County Commission, and the countless other government agencies, conservation groups, and concerned citizens that helped us design, fund, and complete the ecopassage. We especially want to thank the many supporters for the letters they wrote and the financial donations they provided that allowed us to transform the world's deadliest turtle highway into the world's safest wildlife crossing.
Despite the completion of the ecopassage, the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance will continue to monitor and maintain the ecopassage structure for the next 100 years. Your donations will help the alliance ensure that the ecopassage does what it was designed to do - save and protect Lake Jackson's wildlife.
|08 February 2010||
New Mailing Address
Effective immediately, the new mailing address for The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance, Inc, PO Box 935, Freeport, FL, 32439
|21 September 2009||Construction begins with anticipated completion date of July 2010|
|05 September 2009||FDOT issues Notice to Proceed|
|31 August 2009||
Construction contract executed between FDOT and M of Tallahassee, Inc.
|18 August 2009||Project awarded to low bidder - M of Tallahassee, Inc. Low bid for construction was $2,572,874.00|
|29 July 2009||Letting Date for Construction Bids (ARRA funds)|
|24 June 2009||
Dr. Aresco Featured on CNN
Dr. Aresco appeared on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 last night. He was attempting to correct the misinformation that has been portrayed about the ecopassage by Senator Coburn and the media, who have repeated his inaccuracies without fact-checking. We hope the American public will eventually learn what the project really entails instead of relying on the misinformation that has been released. The piece on CNN was the first step in this process. We have worked for almost a decade to justify the construction of the ecopassage. The facts speak for themselves. And we thank our 13 million + supporters who have helped us get to where we are today.
|23 June 2009||
#28 Is Saved ... Again ... By A Concerned Citizen
Over 9 years ago, Dr. Aresco saved a female Florida softshell turtle that was heavily injured after trying to cross US 27 at the proposed ecopassage site. He tagged the turtle #28 and released her to safety on the opposite side of the highway. She was then rescued again on June 15, 2001 when she decided to migrate back to the side she originally came from. At that time, her wounds were starting to heal. Today, over 8 years later, we received great news that a good samaritan rescued #28 from the roadway. Upon seeing #28 heading out on to the road, she successfully turned the softshell around and saved it from almost certain death. I think she'll be surprised to hear that #28 was first rescued over 9 years ago. Florida softshell turtles can live over 50 years. Let's hope she stays off the road for good. Once the ecopassage is built, we'll be able to ensure she doesn't need to be rescued again - three times is enough!
FDOT includes Lake Jackson Ecopassage on its list of priority Transportation Enhancement Fund projects to receive Federal Stimulus funds under ARRA
|18 November 2008||
CRTPA Unanimously Votes To Support The Ecopassage
Ecopassage supporters flooded the CRTPA Board with emails and showed up en masse at yesterday's CRTPA monthly meeting. The Board unanimously voted to reprioritize the Lake Jackson Ecopassage as the highest ranking priority, making it eligible for Transportation Enhancement funds. The Alliance thanks all of those supporters that sent emails to the CRTPA Board. Because of your strong support, we are inching closer to the actual construction of an ecopassage. In the meantime, Dr. Aresco spent the day mending the temporary fence, where a vehicle had driven off the road and into it. As we have done for the past 8.5 years, the Alliance has relied upon volunteers to mend the fence on a weekly basis.
|17 November 2008||
CRTPA Votes to Re-priortize the Ecopassage
In an important vote Monday, the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency will vote to amend the Enhancement Priority Project List to include the Lake Jackson Ecopassage as the highest ranking priority.
|03 September 2008||
Lake Rises Another 5 Feet
Tropical Storm Fay has caused Lake Jackson to rise 5 feet since August 22nd. Dr. Aresco spent today mending portions of the temporary fence that were damaged from the storm. We have plotted the water level variation from 1999 to present.
|27 August 2008||
Tropical Storm Fay Drops Nearly 17 Inches of Rain
Tropical Storm Fay dropped 16.8 inches of rain on Lake Jackson over a 4 day period (8-22 to 8-25). The lake level has risen dramatically this week. As expected, there was moderate to heavy damage to the fences along the highway and 6 turtles and several frogs and snakes were found road killed. Alliance volunteers Bob Walker and Mike Brezin quickly repaired the damage when the rains stopped to prevent further road mortality.
|07 August 2008||
Snapping Turtle Killed
Dr. Aresco sadly reports that, yet another, snapping turtle has died as a result of having climbed over the temporary fence. Unfortunately, without 24-hr vigilance; animals continue to be killed as they climb over or go around the temporary fences. Issues like this would be solved immediately if a permanent ecopassage was built. We have now waited for over 8 1/2 years for public officials to take action - as of today, no permanent ecopassage has been built.
|01 June 2008||
1842 Article Discovered
The Alliance was recently informed of an article written in 1842 that describes the drying down of Lake Jackson in 1840. The article appeared in a New York periodical known as the Knickerbocker. You can read the article here.
|22 February 2008||
Eight Years and Counting...
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage project has now reached the 8-year milestone. As we enter the 9th year since Dr. Aresco first discovered the mass mortality of wildlife along US 27 in Tallahassee, Florida; turtles and other wildlife continue to die. A solution is still years away as we plod along at a turtle's pace. The Alliance continues to pressure public officials to fund a solution. As the years advance, our determination only grows. We know that some day the Lake Jackson Ecopassage will be a reality and the world's worst turtle-killing highway will be no more. We encourage you to write to the officials indicated on our main page. Please join the 13 million + people that have voiced their enthusiastic support over the past 8 years. It is only through public pressure that governments will act to do something and right the wrong that was committed so many years ago. Thank you for your support!
Fence Being Replaced...Yet Again
2000 feet of fencing was replaced with 3-feet tall UV-resistant silt fencing. The Alliance plans to replace the remaining fencing in spring 2008.
|08 September 2007||
Good News & Bad News
The Ecopassage Alliance continued with the fence replacement this week. So far, about 1/2 of the Lake Jackson side has been replaced. The work is back-breaking and draining for the crews involved.
Unfortunately, while the crews were erecting fencing, a motorist stopped and stole 8 rolls of fencing right off the trailer in broad daylight. It is very frustrating for all involved to work so hard on this project and then to have some thoughtless criminal steal over 600 feet of fencing that was bought with donations provided by Ecopassage supporters. The crew, under the direction of Matt Aresco, was very upset over this event.
|03 September 2007||
Fence Being Replaced...Again
For the third time in seven years, the Ecopassage Alliance is replacing the entire fence with new fencing to maintain this temporary barrier. Over the next month, we will replace all of the fencing (1.5 miles) with a taller material that will be more difficult for turtles to climb. The Alliance would like to thank all of the ecopassage supporters for their financial contributions, which have allowed the Ecopassage Alliance to purchase this newer fencing material at a cost of $4,000.00. The Alliance also wishes to recognize the donation of use of a bush hog, tractor, and ditch digger for installation of the new fence, by a private individual.
|31 August 2007||
Sadly, a large female Florida softshell turtle (#135) that was familiar to us was found killed on the highway today. She was first found at the east fence in September 2004 leaving Lake Jackson and then found again in April 2005 at the west fence moving back to Lake Jackson. This time she was able to climb over the fence before we could find her and was hit by a vehicle. This incident illustrates how often individual turtles attempt to cross the highway and why the temporary fence system does not always work, stressing the need for the Ecopassage.
|11 May 2007||
Lake Dries Again
Lake Jackson drained down Porter Sink overnight. We are expecting another mass movement of turtles. Here we go again...
|17 April 2007||
Design Study Awarded
The Florida Department of Transportation announced today that E.C. Driver and Associates, Inc. have been awarded the $436,000 design study. This phase of the project will enable a design to be created. Funding for the ecopassage to be built is still needed after the design phase.
|28 February 2007||
Endangered Turtle Being Slaughtered on Alabama Highways
Dr. Aresco gave a talk today at the 2007 Southeast Working Group of the Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Annual Meeting. His talk was entitled "Why has nothing been done to solve the road mortality problem of the Federally Endangered Alabama red-bellied turtle?". You can learn more about this emerging turtle crisis in Alabama at the web site that has been established for this new cause.
|22 February 2007||
CRTPA Accepts PD&E Study
|18 January 2007||
Engineering Design Phase in FDOT Work Program
The Engineering Design phase of the Ecopassage is now in the Florida Department of Transportation Work Program for Leon County and will be begin in 2007. The FDOT Central Environmental Management Office allocated $436,000 for this phase of the project.
|07 December 2006||
Vehicle Traffic Up 9.3% In One Year
The Florida Department of Transportation indicates that 23,500 vehicles per day travel along the Lake Jackson Ecopassage corridor each day. This number is up by 9.3% from the previous year. You can see the numbers on our new graphs on the traffic mortality page. A turtle now has a 98.86% chance of dying if it crawls out on to US Highway 27. In other words, any turtle that tries to cross US 27 has virtually no chance of surviving.
|06 December 2006||
Public Meeting Announced
A public meeting will take place at City of Tallahassee Commission Chambers (2nd Floor, City Hall, 300 S Adams St, Tallahassee) on December 12th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This meeting provides an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the Project Development & Environment report that has been prepared by Kimley-Horn & Associates in preparation for the design phase of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage.
|29 November 2006||
County Lobbyist Seek Funding
Lobbyists working for Leon County have been directed to seek $4.5 million in funding for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project. See the article published in the Tallahassee Democrat for more details.
|18 September 2006||
Temporary Fence Breaks
Three turtles were killed on the highway when two breaks in the fence occurred as result of a heavy rainstorm. A gravid female chicken turtle, a male slider, and a male musk turtle were all crushed by vehicles. This incident demonstrates the need for a more permanent solution to the problem than silt fencing.
|13 Jun 2006||
New Sinkhole Opens
Lake Jackson is once
again drying down due to drought conditions in northwest Florida.
Over the weekend, the main sinkhole drained the central basin of the lake.
Luckily, the area of the northwestern part of the lake along US Highway 27
is controlled by a different sinkhole that holds water during the early
stages of drought and, at this time, we have not yet seen a mass migration
of turtles attempting to cross the highway.
|27 Feb 2006||
Rescued Animals Now Tops 11,000
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco has released the new total for animals rescued. A total of 11,130 animals (representing 61 species) have attempted to cross Highway 27. Due to Dr. Aresco's efforts, most of those animals have survived. If it were not for his daily monitoring and maintenance of the temporary fence, most of these animals would be killed the moment they entered the roadway. We now begin the 7th year of monitoring and we still do not have a permanent solution. Keep writing your letters!
|15 Feb 2006||
PD&E Consent Item Passes
Consent Item #6 passed unanimously that approved the Agreement and Scope of Services with Kimley-Horn and Associates for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study, and authorizes the Chairman to execute the Agreement. The completion of the PD&E Study will allow staff to pursue Federal funding for future phases of this project. The Notice to Proceed will be issued with a start date of March 1st.
|14 Feb 2006||
County Commission To Vote on Scope of Services for Ecopassage PD&E
This item seeks Board approval of Agreement and Scope of Services (SOS) with Kimley-Horn and Associates (KHA), for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project Development and Environment Study (PD&E) (Attachments #1 and #2).
|13 Dec 2005||
County Commission Votes To Approve PD&E
|08 Sep 2005||
Ecopassage Receives Award
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage was honored today by the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study earned a Merit Award and was presented to Kimley-Horn and Dr. Matt Aresco at the annual conference in St. Petersburg, FL. More details to follow.
|31 Aug 2005||
Ecopassage Escapes Hurricane Katrina
Lake Jackson Ecopassage lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco reports that the temporary fencing was unaffected by Hurricane Katrina. Most of the damage and life-threatening winds occurred to the west of the Tallahassee area. Even without hurricane damage, Dr. Aresco continues to repair and maintain the fences on a daily basis. It is an ongoing process that he has been engaged in (as a volunteer) for over 5 years. There is still no permanent solution and his efforts must continue indefinitely.
|30 Aug 2005||
Leon County Gives Nod To PD&E Study
|08 Aug 2005||
Lake Jackson Reaches Highest Water Level in 6½ Years
Following the rains of early August, Lake Jackson recorded a water level of 82.16' NGVD on August 8, 2005. The last time Lake Jackson had a recorded water level over 82 feet NGVD was on April 8, 1999.
|16 July 2005||
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Loses A Friend
John Donald Willis, 47,
died Wednesday, July 13, 2005. A private family memorial service is
planned. Family will receive friends from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT Sunday at
Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, Riggins Road Chapel (850- 877-8191).
Memorial contributions may be made to the Florida State University
Foundation, 225 University Center, Building C, Suite 3100, Tallahassee, FL
32306, or the Lake Jackson EcoPassage Alliance,
P.O. Box 180891, Tallahassee, FL 32318. John was born in Iowa City, Iowa,
and moved to Tallahassee in 1973, where he graduated from Leon High
School. He graduated with honors from Florida State University with a
degree in geology and received his master's degree from the University of
South Carolina in geology/chemistry. John was employed with the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection. He was a senior geologist and
branch manager of Woodward-Clyde in Tallahassee. He is survived by his
loving family, which includes two sons, John Michael Willis and Matthew
Willis, both of Tallahassee; his children's mother, Cindy Phipps of
Tallahassee; his mother, Elizabeth "Bib" Willis of Tallahassee; his
father, Dr. Paul D. Willis (and wife Mary Ellen) of Sarasota; a brother,
Daniel Willis (and wife Sandy and their children, Ian, Kendall, Harrison
and Bailey); two sisters, Catherine Willis (and her children, Rick and
Jordan) and Beth Tedio (and husband Fred, and their children, Sean Paul
and Nicholas); an uncle, Ira Farnum Willard (and wife Betty); an aunt,
Patricia Price Willard; and a cousin, Matthew Willard.
|14 July 2005||
New Numbers Released
Dr. Aresco reports that as of today 10,946 animals have attempted to cross US Highway 27 at Lake Jackson. Over 8,500 of these animals include turtles that would have been killed were it not for the daily monitoring and maintenance of the temporary fences by Dr. Aresco and the rest of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance.
|12 July 2005||
Hurricane Dennis Dumps 8.75 Inches on Lake Jackson
Lake Jackson Ecopassage lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco reports significant damage from Hurricane Dennis. With close to 9 inches of rain, many portions of the temporary fences had to be repaired. A 6.5 foot alligator was killed today after being struck by a car. Observations from today again reinforce that the temporary fences need daily maintenance and animals continue to get killed. After 5.5 years, we are still seeking a permanent solution. Please continue to write to the government officials on our main web page. Hats off to Dr. Aresco - who continues to check and maintain the temporary fences twice per day (as he has done for over 5 years).
|23 May 2005||
PD&E Study Finally Approved
The Alliance is pleased to report that the Lake Jackson Ecopassage PD&E Study was finally approved by the CRTPA after a 2-month delay.
At the March 2005 CRTPA meeting, members delayed a vote approving the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study and the continuation of using Kimley-Horn and Associates (KHA) for the Study. Members had questions regarding the use of Environmental Mitigation Funds that staff researched and provided answers to. Additionally, KHA has completed the Final Report (Appendix A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J) and presented this information to the CRTPA.
The Alliance appreciates the unanimous support of the CRTPA and thanks the hundreds of members of the public that turned out in support of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. Mayor Marks commented on the fact that he had never seen so many people attend a CRTPA meeting before.
Members Present: Crumpler, DePuy, Gillum, Lamb, Langston, Lightsey, Madison, Marks, Mustian, Proctor, Rackleff, Sauls, Thaell, Winchester
|14 March 2005||
Vote on Ecopassage Delayed Because of Political Grandstanding
At the November 2004 Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA) meeting, members approved the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Preferred Alternative. This alternative included the construction of a “wildlife wall” and culverts to assist in directing wildlife movement between Lake Jackson and Little Lake Jackson. While the project was determined to be feasible, the receipt of Federal funds for the project requires that there be documentation in the form of an abbreviated Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study. CRTPA staff has pursued and received additional funds for this project through FDOT. Staff is seeking approval of the Scope-of-Services and to continue with Kimley-Horn and Associates as the consultant through a supplemental contract.
Rather than rubber stamping the use of FDOT funds (earmarked especially for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage PD&E study), the CRTPA chose to delay approval until information can be gathered regarding the Environmental Mitigation Fund and what projects these funds can be used for. Without approval, these funds would go back to the FDOT Environmental Mitigation Fund. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is very disappointed with the CRTPA and their lack of action on an item that should have been approved with unanimous consent.
Members Present: Crumpler, DePuy, Gillum, Grippa, Lamb, Langston, Lightsey, Madison, Marks, Mustian, Proctor, Rackleff, Sauls, Taylor, Thaell
|15 November 2004||
CRTPA Approves Recommended Design Alternative
The Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (includes County and City Commissioners) voted unanimously to approve the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study: Existing Conditions Technical Memorandum, the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study: Alternatives Considered and Preferred Alternative Technical Memorandum, and Alternative 7 – Additional Passageway with the construction of a wildlife wall as the preferred alternative. This alternative includes replacement of the existing culvert and installation of 3-4 additional large culverts (each at least 12 feet wide) for wildlife passage along with the construction of a five-foot high wildlife wall along 4000 feet of both sides of US 27.
|22 October 2004||
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Meeting
The Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency in conjunction with Kimley-Horn and Associates invite you to provide input or ask questions on the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study preferred alternative. When: Thursday, October 28, 2004 6:00-8:00 PM; Where: Lake Jackson Boat Landing on North Monroe (under the tent). How Do I Get There?: On US27, N. Monroe past Clara Kee Blvd. across from the Lakeside Subdivision. Free BBQ Dinner for Participants.
|22 October 2004||
Advisory Group Meets
The Advisory Group met with Kimley-Horn today to discuss the draft Existing Conditions portion of the Feasibility Study and the design alternatives for the ecopassage that will be presented to the Metropolitan Planning Organization by Kimley-Horn on November 15th. The Final Feasibility Study Report will be completed in December 2004.
|19 October 2004||
Aresco Named 2004 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
The Florida Wildlife Federation has named Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance Dr. Matt Aresco the 2004 Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. Honorees are selected for their dedicated efforts on behalf of Florida's fish and wildlife resources. To read the press release.
|23 September 2004||
Blue Ribbon Panel Meets
A meeting was held by Kimley-Horn to determine the best design options for the ecopassage based on the biological data collected at US27/Lake Jackson over the last 5 years. Participants included several experts on reptiles and amphibians in the southeastern U.S, including Dr. Dale Jackson (Florida Natural Areas Inventory), Dr. Whit Gibbons (Savannah River Ecology Laboratory), Dr. Matt Aresco (Florida State University), Ray Ashton (Ashton Biodiversity Research & Preservation Institute, Inc), Dr. Bruce Means (Coastal Plains Institute), as well as Jon Sewell (Kimley-Horn), Allison Connell (Kimley-Horn), Clay Carithers (Leon County Environmental Permitting) and Jack Kostrzewa (Metropolitan Planning Organization).
|18 August 2004||
Advisory Group Meets With Kimley-Horn
The Advisory Group met with Kimley-Horn to discuss the progress on the data collection for the Feasibility Study. There was a short presentation on the proposed Greenway and Trail system planned by Leon County for the Lake Jackson area and how this would affect the ecopassage. Several members of the group went on a field trip after the meeting to examine the condition of the existing culvert at US 27.
|18 August 2004||
Public Meeting Held
The first Public Meeting was held by Kimley-Horn at 6 pm at the Fringe Benefits Management Company. Jon Sewell of Kimley-Horn gave a short presentation on the road mortality problem at Lake Jackson and the goals of the Feasibility Study. The public provided comments on the list of several the draft design alternatives for the ecopassage.
|30 June 2004||
Second auto accident in South Florida cause by motorist avoiding a turtle
The Alliance has been informed that a young woman was fatally injured in an auto accident in Marin Co., Florida when she quickly swerved her car to avoid a turtle in the highway. Again, this tragic incident shows clearly that turtles and other wildlife crossing roads may cause significant risks to motorists. The construction of an ecopassage at Lake Jackson may prevent this type of accident from occurring in this area. Click here for the full story.
20 June 2004
Next Lake Jackson Ecopassage Advisory Group Meeting is Scheduled
The next planned Lake Jackson Ecopassage Advisory Group Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 21, 2004 from 12 to 1 pm in the Tallahassee Room at City Hall. The purpose of the meeting will be to report on the data collection activities and results, and to provide an update on the progress of the Feasibility Study. The meeting will also be an opportunity to discuss the agenda, strategy, format, and goals for the public meeting/ Focus Workshop planned for the first week of August. The Goals and Objectives discussed at the first Committee meeting have been finalized and approved by the MPO. We are currently finalizing the first of two newsletters prepared to inform the public about the Project. A copy of the newsletter should be available shortly. A website for the project is currently in the works, as well.
Please contact Allison Connell, firstname.lastname@example.org, (772) 794-4078, if you have any questions regarding the upcoming Advisory Committee Meeting.
|13 May 2004||
Turtle causes auto accident on Interstate 95 in Indian River County, Florida
The Alliance has learned that a Florida redbelly turtle attempting to cross busy Interstate 95 was the cause of an automobile accident. This turtle was hit by a truck which propelled the turtle through the windshield of another vehicle. Luckily the passenger seat of the van where the turtle landed was empty and the driver of the van could safely stop his vehicle. Both the turtle and the driver of the van were unharmed. This incident demonstrates that wildlife attempting to cross roads can be dangerous to motorists. Click here for the full story.
25 April 2004
Tallahassee Wildlife Festival
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance participated in the first Tallahassee Wildlife Festival at Chez Pierre Restaurant in Tallahassee, sponsored by St. Francis Wildlife. The highlight of the day was the turtle conservation lecture given by Jim Fowler with assistance, and live turtles, provided by the Alliance and Bruce Means of the Coastal Plains Institute. Members of the Alliance manned our information booth and met with hundreds of members of the public as they visited our display. You can see photos from the event on Tallahassee Wildlife Festival page.
|16 April 2004||
Kimley Horn officially begins Lake Jackson Ecopassage Design Feasibility Study
Kimley Horn consulting firm is given official notice to proceed with the design feasibility study for the Lake Jackson ecopassage. Estimated completion date of this study is Spring 2005.
The Ecopassage Alliance mourns the loss of one of its international supporters, Russian mathematician Olga Ladyzhenskaya, who died January 12, 2004. In her obituary by Max Gunzburger in the April issue of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Newsletter, Olga is pictured visiting with Alliance members and an alligator.
|24 February 2004||
Design Feasibility Study Approved by Leon Co. Commission
At the meeting of the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the contract and hourly rate schedule with Kimley-Horn and Associates for the Lake Jackson Feasibility Study and approved the joint project agreement (JPA) with the Florida Department of Transportation. View details of this contract here. This was the final step required for the feasibility study to begin. Kimley-Horn and Associates will now commence the project, with an anticipated completion date of Dec 2004. This decision was made just over four years after Dr. Matt Aresco first identified the wildlife road mortality problem at Lake Jackson.
|06 February 2004||
Ecopassage Featured in Discover Magazine
|24 January 2004||
Aresco awarded the 2004 Walter Turken Award
The Humane Society of Collier County has named Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matthew Aresco the recipient of the 2004 Walter Turken Award. This award is presented annually "in recognition of contributions to the advancement of animal welfare". Dr. Aresco was named for the award at the Royal Pet Lovers Ball. Photo1 Photo2
|24 November 2003||
Alliance Joins Adopt-A-Highway Program
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has partnered with the Tallahassee - Leon County MPO to keep US Highway 27 free of litter along the proposed ecopassage route. The Alliance will contact members for litter cleanup days. Photo of sign
Alliance Joins Adopt-A-Park Program
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has assumed the role of litter cleanup at the Leon County US Highway 27 Boat Ramp park. The Alliance is committed to keeping the area free of litter so that wildlife are protected. Photo of sign
|16 November 2003||
Aresco Awarded Sierra Club's Cypress Award
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matthew Aresco has been named the 2003 winner of the prestigious Sierra Club of Florida's Cypress Award. Matt was recognized for his contribution to the public's environmental awareness about wildlife mortality along US 27 at Lake Jackson and the numerous other activities he engages in to educate the public about reptiles and amphibians (especially turtles!). Congratulations Matt. Photo of Matt accepting award.
|04 September 2003||
Aresco Awarded Humane Society's Purple Paw Award
Amid hundreds of supporters attending the Leon County Humane Society's annual Fur Ball at the University Center Club, Dr. Matthew J. Aresco was awarded the 2003 Purple Paw Award. The award was presented by WCTV's morning personality Jamie Praechter who gave a short speech, complete with color slides, outlining Dr. Aresco's accomplishments. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance applauds our lead biologist for receiving this honor.
|30 September 2003||
Aresco Recognized By Humane Society
|24 September 2003||
Feasibility Study Moves Ahead
The Leon County Commission voted unanimously to negotiate a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates to conduct the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study, to execute a Joint Project Agreement between Leon County and the Florida Department of Transportation, and to amend the County budget to include funds allocated by FDOT for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project. For further information, please refer to the agenda item.
|12 September 2003||
New Numbers Are In
The new turtle numbers are in. As the end of our 4th season of rescuing wildlife nears its conclusion, Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco has released the new numbers of turtles rescued and killed along US highway 27. To date, the Alliance has rescued 8,129 turtles attempting to cross the highway and found 705 killed on the road.
|10 September 2003||
House Votes to Restore Transportation Enhancements Program
On September 4th, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to restore the Transportation Enhancements program and overturn a House Appropriations Committee proposal to terminate this set-aside program for the upcoming federal fiscal year. The House approved the Petri/Olver amendment by a whopping 327-90 margin, an action that strongly affirmed the value of and strong support for the Transportation Enhancements program.
|09 September 2003||
Alliance Makes Plea For Vehicle
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is in desperate need of a vehicle. Volunteers use vehicles to monitor the temporary fences at least twice daily. The Alliance must also transport fence repair materials and rescued wildlife (turtles, alligators) very frequently. Vehicles are also used for public outreach (information booths, school visits). So far the Alliance has relied upon volunteers to use their personal vehicles. After 4 years of daily monitoring it is getting too much to ask volunteers to keep using their own vehicles. We often must transport tools that are covered in mud, tubs that are full of water when transporting turtles, and large alligators that are being moved away from the highway. The Alliance is hoping that someone (an individual or organization) will come forward and be willing to donate a vehicle to this important conservation crisis. Suitable vehicles include pickup trucks or SUVs (cars are not large enough). We expect to use the vehicle for the 1 or 2 years it will take to get the permanent ecopassage built.
|29 August 2003||
Aresco Appears on Fox Report
The lead biologist for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project, Dr. Matt Aresco, was featured on the Fox Report with Shepard Smith last night. The story focused on the International Conference on Ecology & Transportation that Dr. Aresco is attending in Lake Placid, NY. Dr. Aresco is presenting the findings of his 4-year study of the world's most dangerous turtle-killing highway.
|22 August 2003||
Consulting Firm Selected For Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study
At the end of July the Leon County Consultant Selection Committee short listed the five proposals to four presentations from:
The presentations were made to the Consultant Selection Committee on August 21, 2003 with the following ranking:
Leon County Staff will be taking an item to the September 23, 2003 Leon County Board of County Commissioners meeting to recommend the above order and to begin negotiations with Kimley-Horn. If all goes smoothly, Leon County expects to have the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study executed and underway in late 2003/early 2004. However, given the recent vote by the House Appropriations Committee to cut all federal funding for wildlife crossings (see below), the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance will be working with Leon County to find other sources of support so that a permanent solution can be built. If you have ideas or know of potential funding sources, you are encouraged to contact the Alliance.
|2 July 2003||
Selection Committee Being Formed
As of close yesterday, 5 proposals were received from consulting firms interested in winning the contract to perform the Lake Jackson Ecopassage feasibility study, funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage project manager Jack Kostrzewa is currently assembling a selection committee to review the proposals. For more information, please consult the Leon County Purchasing web site.
|1 July 2003||
Final Day To Submit Bids for the Feasibility Study
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study bidding process closes today. Interested consulting firms can find out more information at http://www.co.leon.fl.us/purchasing/Bid.asp
|30 June 2003||
Aresco Featured By National Wildlife Federation
Dr. Matt Aresco, lead biologist for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance, is currently being featured on the National Wildlife Federation's web site because of his pioneering work with the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project. He is also currently being featured in NWF's newsletter, EnviroAction. The National Wildlife Federation is the largest member-supported conservation organization in the United States with over 4.5 million members.
|09 June 2003||
Feasibility Study Out For Bid
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study was formally put out to bid by Leon County today. More information can be found at http://www.co.leon.fl.us/purchasing/Bid.asp
Scope of Work:
"To address the wildlife mortality,
habitat fragmentation, and traffic safety concerns, the Florida Department
of Transportation (FDOT) has provided the funding to prepare a Lake
Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study (hereafter known as Feasibility
Study) to lay the groundwork (including conceptual plans) for the
development of an ecopassage where North Monroe Street (US 27) crosses the
Lake Jackson basin.
Bidding closes on July 1st, 2003
|28 May 2003||
Credit Card Donations Now Accepted
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has partnered with to allow credit card donations through our web site. We also continue to accept checks. Your donations do make a difference and allow us to work towards a permanent solution to the mortality that is occurring along the world's most deadliest turtle-killing highway.
|21 May 2003||
New Animated Gifs Available
Please link to our web page using one of our new animated gifs.
|20 May 2003||
Press Release Issued by Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance
A press release was issued by the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance announcing the unanimous approval of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Scope of Services by the Tallahassee-Leon County Metropolitan Planning Organizations. For more information, please refer to the press release
|19 May 2003||
MPO Approves Study
The Tallahassee - Leon County Metropolitan Planning Organization unanimously approved the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Scope of Services. The MPO will advertise for a consultant in June and hopes to have a consultant selection ready by September. Click here to read agenda item.
|08 May 2003||
TPAC Approves Study
The Transportation Planning Advisory Committee (MPO) unanimously approved the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Scope of Services.
|06 May 2003||
TTC and BPAC Approve Study
The Transportation Technical Coordinating Committee and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (MPO) both unanimously approved the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Scope of Services.
|22 April 2003||
County Commissioners Vote to Endorse Ecopassage Study
Leon County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the proposed Lake Jackson Ecopassage Feasibility Study Scope-of-Services that will be brought to the Metropolitan Planning Organization on 19 May 2003.
|15 April 2003||
Alliance Has New Name
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is now formally known as The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance, Inc.
|18 March 2003||
Fences Vandalized For Second Day In A Row
Once again, a vandal plowed right through the temporary fences with an all terrain vehicle some time during the late afternoon today. The culprit compromised the fence in three separate locations. A turtle was found heading right for the hole in the fence when Dr. Matt Aresco discovered the problem. Dr. Aresco reports that the fence is so badly damaged that he will have to replace an entire 100' section that was only installed over the weekend. Law Enforcement officials and Leon County have been notified. We are hoping the problem will not continue.
|17 March 2003||
Fences Vandalized Again
An ATV ran right through and destroyed a section of new fence that was erected over the weekend. During his daily fence patrols today, Dr. Matt Aresco found a large female Florida cooter about to enter the roadway through the hole that was created by the vandals. Dr. Aresco had to spend several hours trying to repair the fence - all because of a senseless act of vandalism and disregard for the hard work of volunteers over the weekend.
|16 March 2003||
Fences Ready For 2003 Turtle Season
After a second day of fence repair and construction, the temporary turtle fences at Lake Jackson are ready for another turtle season. Volunteers from the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance met for the second day in a row to complete the repair and construction of temporary fences along the Little Lake Jackson side of US Highway 27. Over the weekend, the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance erected over 2,400' of new fencing and repaired thousands of feet of existing fencing. The temporary turtle fences now cover over 7,000' of roadway. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance wishes to thank all of the volunteers for the overwhelming success of the past two days. The project will be featured on an upcoming news broadcast of WCTV Channel 6 Tallahassee, as volunteers were filmed working on the fences today. You can see photos from the event on the Work Days page.
|15 March 2003||
First Day A Huge Success
Over 20 members of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance met at Lake Jackson to help repair and replace sections of the temporary turtle fence. Members were assigned to several teams that included: operation of the gas-powered trencher, brush-clearing, ground preparation, fence removal, fence erection, and fence repair. Overall, the Alliance managed to erect and repair close to 3000' of fence along the Lake Jackson side of US Highway 27. Tomorrow, Alliance members will focus their attention on the Little Lake Jackson side of the highway. Lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco was ecstatic with the progress that was made. "It exceeded all of my expectations....we got more done in one day than I thought we would accomplish the entire weekend...these people were amazing", said Dr. Aresco. Up until today, most of the work on the existing 5000' of temporary fencing had been undertaken by Dr. Aresco alone. Most importantly, Dr. Aresco is pleased that the fences are back in working order for the start of the 4th season of turtle rescue. He will voluntarily be patrolling these fences for 4-8 hours per day, as he has done for the past 3 years. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is hopeful that a permanent solution can soon be reached. You can see photos from the event on the Work Days page.
|10 March 2003||
Press Release Issued by Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance
|10 March 2003||
Red Hills Horse Trials
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance had a very successful weekend at the Red Hills Horse Trials. This World Cup qualifying event brought international exposure to the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance. Members of the Alliance attended our information booth and met with thousands of members of the public as they visited our display. The highlight, of course, was the 50 lb alligator snapping turtle that was rescued from a drainage pond in Crawfordville on Thursday. A special thank you to Jeff Phipps who donated a fence sponsorship on behalf of the Alliance. You can see photos from the event on Red Hills Horse Trials page.
|03 March 2003||
Volunteers Needed - Red Hills Horse Trials Display
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is looking for volunteers to help Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco man our information booth at the Red Hills Horse Trials on March 7th, 8th, and 9th. We will have a poster and brochures describing the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project, along with a few rescued turtles. Over 25,000 spectators are expected to attend this event so it is a good opportunity for the Alliance to raise awareness about the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. If interested, please contact Margaret Gunzburger at 536-0286.
Volunteers Needed - Fence Repair and Maintenance Day
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is looking for volunteers to help Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco repair and replace sections of the temporary turtle fence along US Highway 27 on March 15th and 16th. The fences need to be in good shape for the start of Matt's fourth season of turtle rescue. If you can help out, please contact Matt at 562-3093 or by email.
|25 February 2003||
First Turtle of 2003 Rescued
Today marked the start of the 4th year of turtle rescue along US Highway 27. Shortly after 1:00pm local time, Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco found an adult male Florida cooter, the first turtle of the year, attempting to cross the highway. After logging over 5,000 volunteer hours over the past 3 years, Dr. Aresco is hoping a permanent solution can be reached soon. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance feels strongly that the State of Florida and Leon County should take immediate responsibility for the wildlife mortality that continues to occur along US Highway 27. It is unreasonable to expect the Alliance to continue to voluntarily put in thousands of hours each year maintaining and monitoring the temporary fences.
|22 February 2003||
Three Year Anniversary
Today marks the three year anniversary of the day Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco documented the extensive wildlife mortality occurring along US Highway 27. On this day in 2000, Dr. Aresco found the remains of over 90 dead turtles. Unfortunately, no permanent solution has been reached. The Alliance continues to work with government agencies to build a permanent ecopassage.
|20 February 2003||
Aresco Fully Recovered
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco was given the "green light" by doctors to continue with his rescue efforts. After being in a cast for the past 4 weeks, Dr. Aresco is looking forward to getting all of the temporary fences ready for the spring movements of turtles. He will be looking for volunteers in the next few weeks to help replace and repair sections of temporary fence. He estimates that over 1,000 feet of fence will need to be replaced. Volunteers should contact the Alliance if they would like to assist in this effort.
|18 February 2003||
Web Page Summary Created
We have summarized all of the web pages and photos that can be found on this web site. If you are interested, please click on the following link. Go to summary of web pages and photos.
|17 February 2003||
Matthew Campbell of Chicago, Illinois has donated a flatbed scanner to the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance. We are very grateful for his generosity. Other equipment that we still need includes a computer, fax machine, and digital camera.
|16 February 2003||
Lake Jackson received over 2 inches of rain today so the sink hole has slowed its draining of the lake.
|15 February 2003||
More Wildlife Saved
|14 February 2003||
Lake Jackson Drains For the 2nd Time In As Many Months
As of 11:39am, Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco reports that the Porter Hole sink has almost completely drained. Many turtles and fish are swirling about the open sinkhole. So far today he has managed to capture 9 turtles and 2 sirens that were in immediate danger of being sucked down the sinkhole. Many other species of fish are also in jeopardy as the lake continues to drain. Because so many turtles have been killed on the highway over the years, it is especially important to save every adult turtle possible so that the population can begin to recover from all of the mortality that has decimated Lake Jackson's turtle populations. If you can help with the rescue, please contact the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance immediately. Dr. Aresco can be reached at the sink hole at (850) 559-0483. Other photos of the lake draining: photo at 9:00 am photo at 10:00 am
Red Hills Horse Trials Sponsorship
An anonymous supporter of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has sponsored a cross country fence at the Red Hills Horse Trials on behalf of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance. The Red Hills Horse Trials are a World Cup qualifying event and more than 25,000 spectators are expected. The Alliance is very grateful for the international exposure this sponsorship will bring to the Lake Jackson Ecopassage.
|12 February 2003||
Annie's Homegrown Donation
Because of a recent story about the Lake Jackson Ecopassage in the Boston Globe, Annie's Homegrown of Wakefield, Massachusetts has sent a case of their organic pasta to the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance. This corporate donation is much appreciated and will go a long way in keeping volunteers fed while they spend the many hours maintaining and repairing the temporary fences.
|11 February 2003||
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project Advisory Group Meets With Florida Department of Transportation
The Advisory Group met with officials from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The FDOT would like an expeditious solution to the wildlife mortality along US Highway 27. They wanted to make sure that Leon County and the Advisory Group understood the urgency of the situation. It was also indicated to the group that any solution must encompass all types of wildlife meaning that the proposed ecopassage should not target any specific taxonomic groups. Members of the Advisory Group concurred with this mandate and assured the FDOT that any proposed design would need to account for all wildlife that are impacted by highway 27 where it bisects Lake Jackson. Leon County was directed to move forward with plans to use the $100,000 USD that has been earmarked by the FDOT for a feasibility study. The Advisory Group will be providing recommendations to the project manager, Jack Kostrzewa.
|7 February 2003||
Bumper Stickers Available
|1 February 2003||
BBC Wildlife Magazine Reports on Lake Jackson Ecopassage
The February issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine features a story by Jakob Dulisse on the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project. This award-winning magazine is based out of England and has an extensive international audience in excess of 600,000 subscribers from over 80 countries. The Alliance is encouraged by the international attention.
|27 January 2003||
Senator Lawson Responds To Letters
Senator Al Lawson has sent a letter to the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance to express his concern for the safety of motorists and wildlife crossing US 27 at Lake Jackson. He is in full support of the construction of an ecopassage to mitigate the extraordinary loss of wildlife along this deadly stretch of highway. Click here to view his letter.
|20 January 2003||
Aresco Breaks Hand
During his daily maintenance of the temporary fence at Lake Jackson, Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco accidentally struck his hand with a sledge hammer. His hand will be in a cast for 4-6 weeks, meaning that he will be unable to make fence repairs without assistance from other members of the Alliance during this period.
Ecopassage Receives National Exposure
The Boston Globe featured an article by Debra Weyermann on page 2 today about the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project and biologist Dr. Matt Aresco's efforts to save turtles. With a circulation of 470,000 subscribers, the Alliance is hoping for even greater national exposure towards the world's worst turtle-killing highway.
Sample Letter Reworded
To better reflect the progress that the Florida Department of Transportation and other agencies have made towards the construction of an ecopassage at Lake Jackson, the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has decided to reword the sample letter that is being sent to politicians and agency heads by the public. This is a "good faith" gesture on behalf of the Alliance to acknowledge the effort that the Florida Department of Transportation has exhibited by allocating funding for an ecopassage development study on Lake Jackson.
|10 January 2003||
The Planning Process Begins
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco met with several members of the Leon County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) transportation planning staff to discuss the direction of the ecopassage project. In October, the Florida Department of Transportation had authorized $100,000 USD from their Discretionary Environmental Mitigation funds for a “feasibility study”. These funds will now be used by Leon County-MPO to do a feasibility study that will include some design-cost components and permitting considerations. The Florida Department of Transportation (District 3) and Leon County will execute a Joint Participation Agreement (JPA) so that Leon County-MPO will manage this phase of the project.
The Leon County-MPO and the Florida Department of Transportation will apparently be first looking to Federal Transportation Enhancement Funds (TEA 21 program) for this project. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance will undoubtedly need help from both state and federal legislators to secure the funding for this project and its prioritization in the statewide transportation work plan.
|2 January 2003||
During Dr. Matt Aresco's daily patrol of the temporary fence he discovered that vandals had destroyed the fence in five different places. They smashed down the stakes that support the fence and ripped the cloth in several locations. The rain gauge along the fence was also destroyed. Dr. Aresco spent most of today trying to repair the fence and replacing sections of the fence where the damage was so bad that the fence could not be repaired.
|31 December 2002||
Lake Returns to October levels
Another 2.4 inches of rain fell on Lake Jackson today. The lake has risen 12.86 feet since December 20th and, thus, has returned to October levels. However, lake levels are still below normal, meaning that mass movements of turtles could still occur again in the spring if drought conditions persist.
|24 December 2002||
Lake Receives Another 2" of Rain
Lake Jackson received two inches of rain today, bringing lake levels up 7.6 feet.
|23-31 December 2002||
Over 5,000 visitors to the web site in the last week of the year
Thanks to the Florida Associated Press picking up Julie Hauserman's story, most newspapers in Florida (including the Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel) ran articles describing the efforts of Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco's efforts to save turtles at Lake Jackson. Articles also appeared in several Indiana newspapers and in the Washington Times. As a result of the media attention, over 5,000 internet users visited the web site in just over a week.
|23 December 2002||
37 Turtles Rescued In Past 3 Days
Four more turtles were rescued today as the lake dried down. This brings the total to 37 turtles rescued in the past 3 days.
|21 December 2002||
Sink Hole Finished Draining
Porter Hole sink has finally drained. All remaining fish and turtles have been lost down the sink hole. Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco spent all of yesterday saving every turtle he could find. Upon return first thing this morning he reports that all of the fish that were left yesterday have been drawn down the sink hole. After searching for several hours he is confident that there are no remaining turtles that might be in jeopardy of being drawn down the sink hole. The rescued turtles were successfully relocated to other parts of the lake.
|20 December 2002||
Aresco Fights To Save Turtles
As of 5:00pm, Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco reports that many turtles and fish are swirling about the open sinkhole. So far today he has managed to capture 27 turtles ( Florida cooters, yellow-bellied sliders, Florida softshells, and musk) that were in immediate danger of being sucked down the sinkhole. Many other species of fish are also in jeopardy as the lake continues to drain. Because so many turtles have been killed on the highway over the years, it is especially important to save every adult turtle possible so that the population can begin to recover from all of the mortality that has decimated Lake Jackson's turtle populations. If you can help with the rescue, please contact the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance.
|19 December 2002||
Lake Jackson Continues To Drain
As of 9:08am,
continues to drain down the sinkhole. Areas of the lake to the northwest
along US Highway 27 continue to hold water
despite the draining of the lake to the south. No turtles have been
recorded moving across the highway this week because of the colder
temperatures. However, a large common snapping turtle was observed
swimming in the vicinity of the sink hole yesterday by Alliance biologist
Dr. Matt Aresco.
Alliance Meets With State Politicians
the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance met with state officials yesterday.
At the Leon County local delegation meeting, Alliance representatives met
with Senators Lawson and Argenziano and Representatives Kilmer,
Richardson, and Ausley. They were briefed about the current status of the
Lake Jackson Ecopassage and they were urged to make this issue a top
priority with the Florida Department of Transportation because of the need
for a swift resolution to the problem.
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Gets National Exposure
Award-winning journalist, Julie Hauserman's article in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times has been picked up by the Associated Press. The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance is excited about the national exposure this story is receiving. Please keep the letters coming in - we feel we are at a crossroads and the extra letters may get this project moving. As of today, there has been no commitment by the State of Florida to do anything about this environmental disaster so public support is desperately needed!
|18 December 2002||
Lake Expected To Drain By This Afternoon
The water level in the Porter Hole Sink pool dropped about one foot overnight. As of 2:23pm, the water level is no longer measurable (<73.6' NGVD) but water is still flowing into the sink hole. There is a small waterfall on one of the streams entering the pool from the north. It appears that the final draining will happen within hours, with the small steams continuing to flow into the open hole for a number of days. For more on the story, please refer to today's Tallahassee Democrat article.
No live turtles were spotted by Dr. Matt Aresco yesterday. However, he did retrieve 2 dead turtles that were killed when struck by boat propellers, probably within the last week. Temperatures are expected to rise today so Dr. Aresco will be patrolling the highway in case any turtles begin to move.
|17 December 2002||
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has been notified that turtles have been seen swimming close to the sink hole. There is a risk that they could be sucked into the sink hole and killed. Alliance turtle biologist Dr. Matt Aresco has been dispatched to the site where he will attempt to capture and relocate the imperiled turtles.
Lowest Lake Level in 52 Years
|16 December 2002||
Lake Jackson Expected To Empty Within 12-24 Hours
Lake levels continue to drop. As of 3:30pm, the lake level was at 76.36' NGVD and the draining has started to accelerate. Sources within the Northwest Florida Water Management District inform the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance that the lake is expected to dry by tomorrow.
|15 December 2002||
Lake Jackson Lake Level Lowering Again
The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance has confirmed that the Lake Jackson lake level has resumed its lowering. As of 5:00pm, the lake has reached a low of 77.01' NGVD, following a 2-day respite when rains temporarily slowed the flow of water out of Porter Sink. No precipitation is expected until at least Friday so it is extremely likely that part of Lake Jackson will be dry by week's end. Alliance biologist Dr. Matt Aresco is extremely worried about potential turtle movements in late winter and early spring if we continue to receive below-average rainfall, causing the larger remaining pools at northwest Lake Jackson to dry. The last time the lake dried it did not refill again for almost 18 months.
|13 December 2002||
Overnight Rainfall Temporarily Delays Lake Drying
Lake Jackson received 0.9" last night so draining of the lake has been temporarily slowed. The current lake level has inched upwards to 77.26' NGVD as of 3:00pm EST. We will post updates as they come in.
|12 December 2002||
Lake Jackson Drying Imminent!!!
The Northwest Florida Water Management District web site shows the current lake level at 77.12' NGVD at Porter Sink. The previous drying event was precipitated when levels reached 79'. Clearly, we are about to see Lake Jackson dry again for the second time in a little over two years! If we receive unseasonably warm temperatures during this dry down, we could again see a mass migration of turtles. Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance members are advised to be on high alert in case we need to mobilize people on short notice. In the past, upwards of 200-300 turtles per day were attempting to cross the highway when lake levels receded. We will need all of the help we can get if such an occurrence happens again. Please keep your fingers crossed that temperatures will remain normal (i.e. that turtles will be inactive due to cold temperatures) during this dry down event.
|11 December 2002||
Press Release Issued by Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance
|10 December 2002||
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance Holds First Meeting
The inaugural meeting of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance took place. Supporters filled the room and heard from lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco on the current status of the proposed ecopassage. Members of the Alliance discussed ways to help raise public support for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. After a brainstorming session with many great ideas, members broke into groups depending upon their various interests and expertise. Several smaller committees were formed (public outreach, fundraising, fence maintenance) and the Alliance has a renewed mission to make sure the Lake Jackson Ecopassage is built! The Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance plans to meet regularly to keep members informed of progress.
|5 December 2002||
Press Release Issued by Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance
A press release was issued by the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance to publicize the group's inaugural meeting on December 10th, 2002. All are welcome. For more information, please refer to the press release
|21 November 2002||
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project Advisory Groups Meets
The advisory group reached unanimous consensus that an ecopassage needs to be built along US Highway 27 as soon as possible, based upon the 33 months of data that was presented by lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco. The Florida Department of Transportation will work in collaboration with Leon County and the rest of the agencies represented on the advisory group to initiate a design analysis that will examine engineering and biological considerations. The recommendation of the advisory group was to build an ecopassage using the design prototype that was developed for the Paynes Prairie Ecopassage in conjunction with a series of culverts that will need to be installed under US Highway 27. The following groups were represented at the advisory group meeting: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Leon County, Florida State University, Northwest Florida Water Management District, Paynes Prairie Wildlife Coalition, United States Geological Survey (Gainesville), and the Tallahassee Leon County Planning Department.
14 November 2002
Aresco wins award
Lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco named for "We Noticed!" award by Keep Tallahassee-Leon County Beautiful for his efforts to save thousands of turtles by constructing and maintaining his temporary fence over the past 33 months. He was recognized at a press conference sponsored by Home Depot and Keep Tallahassee-Leon County Beautiful. The award recognizes Leon County's environmental heroes that serve as catalysts for positive change in the community.
08 November 2002
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Alliance
Formed - 1st meeting planned
An alliance has been formed as a way for concerned citizens, local conservation groups, and any other interested parties to help lobby for the construction of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. The alliance's first public meeting will be held 10 December at 7:00 pm at the Leon County Cooperative Extension Agency located at 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee. We have received hundreds of letters of support - this is your chance to get involved and help get the Lake Jackson Ecopassage built.
05 November 2002
Voters support construction of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage
Dan Winchester, Leon County Commission Chairman, wins re-election with a crushing defeat of his opponent by an unprecedented margin of victory: 14,548 (76.8%) to 4,405 votes (23.2%). Commissioner Winchester has been a strong supporter of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage. His opponent was against the building of an ecopassage and even went so far as to imply that Florida State University Researcher Dr. Matt Aresco's data had been fabricated. Clearly, the voters of Leon County have shown overwhelming support for construction of an ecopassage on US 27 at Lake Jackson.
04 November 2002
Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project
Advisory Group Formed
An advisory group consisting of biologists and engineers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Leon County, Florida State University, Northwest Florida Water Management District, Paynes Prairie Wildlife Coalition, United States Geological Survey (Gainesville), and the Tallahassee Leon County Planning Department has been formed. The group will have their first meeting on 21 November 2002 to discuss the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project.
20 September 2002
Aresco Speaks With Members of the
House and Senate in Washington, DC.
Dr. Matt Aresco receives phone calls today from Senator Graham's and Representative Boyd's offices to discuss the turtle mortality problem and to make suggestions on funding possibilities.
17 September 2002
Leon County Commission Meeting
The Leon County Board of County Commissioners voted 7-0 to direct Transportation Planning staff to complete an application for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage Project for consideration as part of the transportation enhancement priority list for 2005-2009 fiscal year, bring the application back to the Board for sponsorship to the Metropolitan Planning Organization, and forward the application to the Florida Department of Transportation.
They also directed staff to work with federal and state lobbyists to identify and secure alternative funding for this project at the earliest date possible.
NOTE: This vote does not mean that Leon County is going to fund the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project. Rather, they merely have agreed to look for sources of funding. Supporters of the Lake Jackson Ecopassage must remain vigilant and continue to rally support among members of the public.
10 September 2002
New Web Site Address Registered
In an effort to simplify the web address for the Lake Jackson Ecopassage project, a new domain has been registered. From this date forward the new address will be www.lakejacksonturtles.org
23 August 2002
Web Site Receives Overhaul
In an effort to attract international attention to the unprecedented carnage that is occurring along US Highway 27 at Lake Jackson (Leon County, Florida, USA), lead biologist Dr. Matt Aresco enlists the help of colleagues at Florida State University to develop a more thorough and informative web site.
27 July 2002
Aresco Seeks Additional Support
Florida State University researcher Dr. Matt Aresco has become increasingly frustrated with the inaction of State of Florida government officials. After repeated attempts to convince the Florida Department of Transportation to take action based upon the 2.5 years of data (5000 hours) collected along US Highway 27, Dr. Aresco is reaching out to the public and county governments to help with his cause. Normally scientists are supposed to remain "objective" but Dr. Aresco now feels that he has to become proactive in order for anyone in government to take notice of his research findings. Most notably, he has documented the highest road mortality and attempted crossings by turtles along a stretch of highway of anywhere else in the world.
12 September 2001
Aresco Drafts Report to Florida
Department of Transportation
At the request of the Florida Department of Transportation, Dr. Matt Aresco submits a report entitled "Migration patterns of turtles and other wildlife between Lake Jackson and Little Lake Jackson, Leon County, Florida: Justification for the construction of a permanent wildlife barrier along US Highway 27".
22 August 2001
Aresco Asks Florida Department of
Transportation To Construct A Permanent Solution To Problem
Based upon 17 months of data, Dr. Aresco urges the Florida Department of Transportation to construct a permanent wildlife barrier along US Highway 27 at Lake Jackson.
8 September 2000
Second Temporary Fence Constructed
Because Dr. Aresco notices that hundreds of turtles have started moving from Little Lake Jackson back towards Lake Jackson, he installs a second temporary fence on the west side of US Highway 27. He continues to monitor both fences for 4-8 hours per day.
31 March 2000
Department of Transportation
Provides Material For Temporary Fence
The Florida Department of Transportation provides Dr. Aresco with 20 rolls of construction silt fence to be used to construct a temporary fence along the side of the highway. Dr. Aresco installs the fence over 4 days, without any assistance, along the eastern side of US Highway 27 in order to divert turtles and other wildlife that are moving across the highway from Lake Jackson to Little Lake Jackson. He monitors the fence each day for 4-8 hours.
6 March 2000
Government Representatives Meet With
Representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meet with Dr. Aresco to discuss possible solutions to the turtle mortality problem but no decision is reached.
22 February 2000
The Problem Is Identified
Dr. Matt Aresco of Florida State University is first informed about a potential turtle mortality problem along US Highway 27 at Lake Jackson. In one afternoon, Dr. Aresco finds close to 90 dead turtles along the eastern side of the highway. He sends letters to Leon County and the Florida Department of Transportation asking them to address the problem.
Return to The Lake Jackson Ecopassage main webpage