IRL 2022 Mid-Year Update

Marine Resources Council

Indian River Lagoon 2022 Mid-Year Update

Leesa Souto, PhD, Executive Director

By Executive Director Leesa Souto, PhD

Dear Lagoon Lover:

People love east-central Florida and its Indian River Lagoon (IRL). That’s why the mission of Marine Resources Council (MRC) is to restore balance to the 150-mile-long lagoon, greatly benefitting its coastal community environment and economy. In this mid-year letter, you will read highlights of what we are doing in that regard and why.

MRC Is Committed to Kids! Perhaps there is a child who means the world to you. Perhaps you just care about kids. We do. That’s why MRC kicked off its Kids for Conservation initiative this summer. MRC is a growing family, in which one generation cares about and nurtures the next. Everyone is welcome to join our family, so invite your family, friends, and those you know.

MRC Kids for Conservation Campaign Underway

This summer, MRC environmental education staff, interns, and volunteers are guiding 160 children ages 8–13 as they discover why restoring balance to coastal communities matters. They travel the Lagoon together, exploring its treasures, as campers discover how they can help overcome its struggles. STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math) drives camp curriculum, disguised as fun adventures that pique imaginations. Thanks to Northrop Grumman for its summer camp STEM funding.

Kids and STEM at MRC

Your Growing Support Makes It Possible

Our small yet mighty MRC education team develops curriculum throughout the year, presents to students in schools, and conducts field trips for home-schooled students, as well as children with a wide variety of special interests and needs. We partner with schools, families, churches, clubs, non-profit organizations, and others to arrange volunteer opportunities and experiential programs for kids as well as adults.

Special thanks to Ron Jon, the first MRC Kids for Conservation sponsor. Intercoastal Brewing Company promoted our campaign kickoff, a virtual 5K run. Thank you to our runners.

IRL Report Card Is Our Most Powerful Tool

Are investments in programs and projects underway to help restore balance to the east-central Florida Indian River Lagoon coastal community helping? The answer is yes! In short, together we are reducing harmful algal blooms and improving water clarity, as outlined in the most recent IRL Report Card, grading water quality and habitat health. The annual report card is a powerful tool that is widely used and referenced locally and worldwide. It provides an overview of what’s already happening, what more needs to be done, and what everyone needs to do to help, and provides facts.

IRL Report Card Presentation

Review and Share the Report Card

Review the report card and donate to support its publication and distribution via SaveTheIRL.org. Call MRC to arrange a report card presentation or request copies. Donations of any amount may be designated to support the report card. Those giving $1,000+ to support the report card receive special recognition as annual MRC Friends of the IRL members.

Click here and donate now to the report card.

We Need to Know What’s in Our Water

Seagrass is dying and current water testing provided by state agencies does not reveal why. So, MRC is taking action by expanding its LagoonWatch citizen science water sampling program with a new 1,000 Points of Life initiative. Trained volunteers will gather water samples from tributaries that feed the IRL. Samples will be delivered to a certified laboratory and tested for herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals, not currently done by state agencies. MRC will report the results. If you wish to learn more about water sampling training, reach out to Kara Woods via kara@mrcirl.org.

Support 1,000 Points of Life

MRC is asking state leaders to broaden water quality testing; please do the same, so that we can know what’s in our water. In the meanwhile, MRC is calling on the community to provide support. Inaugural testing from the St. Sebastian River will be made possible through a legacy donation from the estate of Allan Moen, a generous MRC supporter who lived in Melbourne. Funds for a second and subsequent IRL tributary testing are being gathered now; please donate if you are able, and note that you wish to support 1,000 Points of Life. Currently, $10,000 funds a tributary testing for one year.

Testing Lagoon Water

Meet the First Legends of the IRL on Nov. 4

The first 12 Legends of the Indian River Lagoon, a new IRL Hall of Fame, will be honored and inducted at the annual Love Our Lagoon Celebration, Fri., Nov. 4, 5:00–8:00 p.m., at the Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront. Click here to register now for the fun and festive event. Enjoy sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and beverages, an IRL adventure auction, along with Legends of the IRL honors and the annual MRC awards, in a theatre-style presentation. The event will conclude with a dessert bon voyage toast.

Master LID Tools at Oct. 20–21 MRC Conference

We heard you! At last year’s wildly successful Low Impact Development (LID) conference, over 200 regional elected officials, planners, engineers, and stormwater managers heard from experts the advantages to implementing Low Impact Development for flood control and pollution prevention. The audience’s overwhelming response was “We are ready! Where do we start?” This year’s LID conference, scheduled for October 20–21, 2022, will pick up there, demonstrating how to retool comprehensive plans, zoning processes, codes, and ordinances to meet the pollution-reducing, common-sense stormwater needs of the 21st Century. Renowned expert Dr. Eban Bean, University of Florida, and the LID ordinance audit tool his team is developing will be featured at the 2022 MRC LID conference.  Last year’s LID conference was a sell-out, so register soon and learn about sponsor opportunities. The conference once again will be held at the Center for Collaboration in Rockledge.

Restore IRL Shores

MRC is building, deploying, and testing oyster volcanoes and a variety of other eco-friendly concrete products to anchor and restore living shorelines and nurture vulnerable marine life, such as seagrass, mangroves, oysters and clams, shrimp, fish, manatees, and many others. MRC assists communities and individuals to establish natural, more beautiful, resilient, and abundant living shorelines. Volunteers are welcome to assist.

Mangroves

Partners such as the Space Coast Tourism Development Council, Community Foundation for Brevard, Florida Institute of Technology, Ideas for Us, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Brevard Zoo, and others are helping with various restoration initiatives. Reach out to Caity Savoia via caity@mrcirl.org to learn more.

International Coastal Cleanup Day Is Saturday, Sept. 17

Join in along the causeways of Brevard County as MRC once again partners with the Ocean Conservancy and Keep Brevard Beautiful, mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to tidy up these well-traveled and heavily littered lagoon thoroughfares. Last year volunteers collected 5,000 pounds of litter alongside the roadways that crisscross the IRL and it was a lot of fun. Click here to attend or sponsor the International Coastal Cleanup.

Assembling Our Best and Brightest

For 30 years, MRC action assemblies have attracted the best and brightest delegates of the region to prioritize and publicize actions needed to restore balance to the east-central Florida IRL coastal community. American Assembly actions have led to the designation of the IRL as one of 28 national estuaries of significance; formation of the IRL National Estuary Program (NEP) and the first Comprehensive Management Plan, which drives regional conservation planning; passing key state and national legislation; creation of our most important MRC educational tool, the annual IRL Report Card, grading water quality and habitat health; and much more.

MRC Will Host Its First Seagrass Assembly this Winter

The next MRC assembly will be hosted thanks to initial support from Save the Manatee Club, The Galesi Family Foundation, and the IRL NEP. Seagrass is no longer recovering as algae retreats and water clears, so the region needs to take action to restore it, which is the foundation of the Lagoon marine ecosystem for manatees and a host of other species. Planning and delegate selection are well underway and additional sponsors are welcome. Reach out to me via Leesa@mrcirl.org to learn more.

In 2024, MRC Will Host an IRL Action Assembly

We are assembling delegates representing major regional stakeholders to assess progress and prioritize future actions needed to further restore balance and build a more resilient community, economy, and ecology.

Be the Change You Wish to “SEA”

SEA, Science + Education + Action, continues to drive all that we do. Thanks to strong support, legacy investments, partnerships with other non-profits, governmental organizations, foundations, and others, we have a great deal going on. That includes the popular MRC regional North American Right Whale Conservation Program, which this year has received significant support from Vineyard Vines Retail, LLC, and others.

Visit the Center of the Lagooniverse

Visit the Center of the Lagooniverse

Call MRC at 321.725.7775 to arrange a visit to our 10-acre headquarters campus in Palm Bay overlooking the IRL at Ais Lookout Point Park. Named for the indigenous tribe that used to call the area home, it will become a world-class regional destination for eco-tourists and collaborative center for community eco-developers. Lagooniverse will be featured at the campus as well as virtually online.

Help us as we plan the Lagooniverse

Help Us as We Plan the Lagooniverse

Visitors will learn about all that MRC already has done and be asked to share thoughts about what might make our plans for the future of the campus and virtual experience even better. The campus showcases a restored living shoreline, the Ted Moorhead Lagoon House environmental education center, Low Impact Development (LID) practices, native gardens, bluff trails overlooking the Lagoon, and more. Special thanks to the City of Palm Bay, as well as Florida Inland Navigation District, Brevard County Tourist Development Council, and many others who have contributed to the evolution of our headquarters campus. Also, you’ll learn about our licensed mangrove nursery and conservation center near Sebastian and Vero Beach, and other work.

Thanks to Concerned People, the MRC Family Is Growing

Nearly 1,000 individuals, families, communities, corporations, foundations, non-profit organizations, clubs, schools, and others donate annually to MRC. Donors are MRC annual members, united in restoring balance to the east-central Florida IRL coastal community. Annual donations range from a penny to more than $500,000 and every amount in between.

Please donate as you are able and know that when you do it will be acknowledged, appreciated, and used wisely to advance our mission. Contact us to discuss your donation if you like. For example, Posh Beauty Lounge of Melbourne contacted MRC, and then raised $5,000 with its clientele, joining the MRC family as an annual donor member. Thank you, Posh.

Posh Beauty Lounge of Melbourne

MRC Welcomes Everyone

Here are the ways to get involved:

  • Via ken@mrcirl.org, Ken Parks will gladly assist you in planning or making donations, including annual donations, one-time donations, planned giving that may provide tax advantages, legacy donations made from an estate, or donations to support your vision.
  • Steve Sharkey at sharkeymrc@gmail.com will assist you if you care to explore sponsorship of MRC events, or learn how to conduct an official MRC fundraising event.
  • Anyone may sign up for our monthly newsletter here.
  • Anyone wishing to join our many growing volunteer opportunities must complete a volunteer waiver.
  • Qualified volunteers may become LagoonWatch water quality monitors; we provide the training and tools you need. Reach out to Kara Woods via kara@mrcirl.org if you may be interested.

MRC — We Are Family!

Our concerned and growing multi-generational family is helping restore balance to the Indian River Lagoon coastal community of east-central Florida. Please reach out to MRC staff by calling 321.725.7775 if we may ever assist you. Donate online via SaveTheIRL.org or mail donations to MRC, 3275 Dixie Hwy NE, Palm Bay, FL 32935.

Sincerely, on behalf of the growing MRC family,
Signature
Leesa Souto, PhD
Executive Director

Space Coast Crew


MRC Federal Tax ID#: 59-3030066 (if you wish to remain anonymous, please note that when you donate). A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.