From eagles and owls to Live Oaks, manatees and monarchs, Skidaway Island is an oasis of environmental treasures, with scores of volunteers working hard to keep it that way.
Caryl Warner is one of the many Skidaway Audubon volunteers making a difference with literal “boots on the ground”. For the past 15 years, Warner has headed the Bottle Brigade, a dedicated group whose mission is to help reduce non-point pollution (the roadside trash that washes into waterways and threatens aquatic life), with organized litter patrols.
The Bottle Brigade was formed in 1988 by the late Herb Brown. Caryl and Carol Warner joined the group in 2004, and Caryl became Chair in 2006. This past January, Caryl retired as Chair, but continues to patrol his route, which includes portions of Landings Way North and Tidewater Way.
Each member has an assigned route to patrol at least weekly, by golf cart, on foot, or bicycle for the more adventurous. Volunteers recycle as much of the items collected as possible, at the Chatham County recycling facility on Eisenhower Drive.
Observant residents may have noticed that there is less litter than in previous months. This is because in the last half of 2020, the Bottle Brigade has increased its membership from 45 to 60. One of the newer members, Marshall Case, helped by recruiting newer residents. Other caring residents have joined as well.
As a result, for the first tine in several years, the Bottle Brigade is able to cover all of The Landings’ primary and secondary roads and cart paths on a regular schedule, plus select areas outside the gates where TVs, furniture, tires, and the usual cans, bottles, and trash are deposited.
“As the members clean their areas, ‘thank yous’ are often heard from passing cars and golf carts,” said Warner. “These thanks are greatly appreciated and go a long way to keep these volunteers going, especially on hot or uncomfortable days.”
Where does the litter come from? Warner says sources of litter are contractor trucks, residents’ golf carts, teenagers partying, drivers and passengers throwing litter from windows, dog walkers, and circulars from mailboxes and tubes. He estimates that probably 97 percent of residents and contractors do not litter, and that it is the other three percent that cause the problem.
The Bottle Brigade always welcomes new members. Several members are moving in the spring, requiring route adjustments unless they can be replaced. If you are interested in joining the team, contact Chair Lew Perdue (email@example.com
Another long-time Landings resident who exemplifies environmental stewardship is Carolyn McInerney, founder of Skidaway Audubon’s Diamondback Turtle Rescue Project. For seven years, McInerney was the sole resident rescuing turtle eggs from the golf courses’ sand traps and hatching them in flowerpots on her porch. Then in 2010, Audubon adopted the program, more volunteers came aboard, and protected hatchery boxes were built. To date, more than 15,000 baby turtles have been successfully released into the marshes.
McInerney has served as Skidaway Audubon president for the past four years and this year turned the reins over to Dawn Cordo. McInerney will continue to work with the turtles as she has for the past 19 years and will co-chair a new Audubon project, Nature Notices. This initiative focuses on increasing habitat for butterflies and other pollinators and encouraging native plant groupings in residential areas to keep Skidaway green and reduce water and pesticide use.
Funding is needed to create butterfly gardens in common areas and carry out Audubon’s objectives, and four residents have stepped up to the challenge. Bonnie Kelly, Larry Batanian, and Eddie and Caroline Ambrose will co-chair Skidaway Audubon’s golf tournament to be held May 23 at The Landings Club. The annual tournament, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, is Audubon’s primary funding source.
By planting pollinator gardens in common areas and along the golf courses and by encouraging residents to similarly “nature-scape” their own properties, The Landings will be part of a nationwide initiative to aid in the survival of the monarchs and other pollinators whose numbers have been declining significantly.
“We’re very thankful for our long-time volunteers and our newcomers, and we especially appreciate our supporters who come out to our tournaments to support our work,” said Cordo. “Together, we all can make a difference.”
Registration for the fundraiser/golf tournament will open later this spring. Details will be available at skidawayaudubon.org. General questions or corporate sponsorship inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org