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March signals spring time in Florida – the longer days and warmer weather can create ideal conditions for fishing, kayaking, boating, or stand up paddle boarding in Florida’s estuaries and other coastal waterways. It is fitting then that March is also Seagrass Awareness Month because seagrass beds are such an important component of our coastal waterways.

According to a recent report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2.2 million acres of seagrasses have been documented in Florida waters, providing ecological services worth $20 billion per year. Ecological services include habitat values that cannot be measured by a traditional economic scale – i.e. the value of providing habitat to juvenile sport fish or food for manatees and sea turtles. Seagrass beds also provide direct economic benefits to Florida through fishing charters and ecotourism businesses.

We all think where things should be located is a pretty simple, logical matter. Not so. Think about your local grocery store. Let’s say you want to buy some meat; most of us would wander over to the meat counter. But, depending on whether the meat was fresh, frozen, canned, or cooked and packaged on request, there might be any number of places you go looking for your next meal.

Location also matters in federal agencies, particular those which evolve. Over time similar agencies develop based on different initial functions. A case in point is the National Weather Service, which is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which itself is housed in the Department of Commerce.

The first in a series of frequently asked questions concerning common coastal issues:

QUESTION: Why do beaches erode?

ANSWER: The simple answer is they do not have enough sand. However, the causes are different in different parts of the country. On the West Coast, beaches are sand starved when river dams block the flow of sand. Eastern beaches often lack sand because inlets or navigation projects interrupt sand’s along-shore movement. All beaches suffer from storms and other natural events that cause erosion. Things as disparate as storm-driven waves or a simple change in an offshore sandbar may cause one coastal area to lose sand while another gains

A sunset safari to the Everglades will take place March 10, and provides an opportunity to visit the most northern remaining wetlands of the River of grass. Tickets are available through March 5. 

The Arthur R. Marshall Foundation is sponsoring this annual sunset safari. It will be held at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge canoe tours, nature walks, state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, music, storytelling, and dinner and cocktails at sunser are featured. It is from approxiametly 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.            

"This is a unique opportunity to engage, experience, explore and enjoy," said nancy Marshall, president of the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation. The wildlife refuge has a boardwalk through a spectacular cypress swamp, a new visitor center, exhibits and trails. The airboat and canoe tours feature knowledgable guides, and each lasts about 30 minutes. (Participants have a choice of airboat or canoe ride on the safari.)    

Tickets are $75 and $125 per person, and include all activities. Proceeds benefit the education programs of the Arthur R, Marshall Foundation. Purchase tickets online at www.artmarshall.org or mail payment to sunset Safari, P.O. Box 2620, Palm Beach, F: 33480. RSVP by March 5.  

Round-trip charter bus transportation is provided from West Palm Beach. The bus will depart from Trump Plaza at 3 p.m. Please arrive by 2:45 at 525 S. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL 33401 (valet parking is free). The bus returns at approxiametly 7 p.m. If driving on your own, plan to arrive at 3:45 p.m. at the Refuge, 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, 33473. (Enter off State Road 7, approxiametly 2 miles south of Boynton Beach Boulevard.)