Sea Turtle Protection Project
In 2018, the Town began implementing steps to protect sea turtles. Phase I has been implemented and 6 turtle friendly lights were installed at locations that ranked highest for hatching misorientations. Although the new street lights were changed to provide more protection to sea turtles, they have not resolved issues with misorientations of sea turtles. Before the Town proceeds to Phase II, the issue with the Phase I lights has to be resolved. Phase II includes installing an additional 6 turtle friendly lights.
Staff is conducting research to see if a lower lumen light can be used or dimmable lights. The Town also acquired a $50,000 grant to address the rest of the street lights along the beachfront.
Staff are also contacting homeowners with homes that have unshielded visible lights in parking areas or on walkways. The Town has ordered magnets to be distributed to educate the public regarding sea turtle protection.
Patrick Brown, Project Manager
Dominion installed the sample turtle friendly fixtures on June 15, 2020. They are being evaluated to see if they cause negative impacts to nesting or hatching sea turtles.
The Town is working with Dominion to have several different samples of lights installed to determine which will provide the best protection against sea turtle misorientations before replacing a majority of the lights. COVID 19 has delayed the implementation of this process.
Mr. Garvin, the lighting services manager for Dominion, attended the Council retreat on February 26, 2020 to discuss their role in turtle friendly street lighting. Last year, the Town installed 6 turtle friendly light fixtures that did not perform as intended.
Mr. Garvin, presented several street lighting fixture options to the Town ranging from Shepard's Crook styles, shielded, louvered and dimmable. The consensus was Dominion would obtain samples of different types of fixtures. These fixtures should be installed prior to turtle season so the Town, with input from the Turtle Patrol, can determine which lighting option functions best.
Dominion had crews on the beach to repair or replace the turtle friendly lights at beach access 1A and beach access 3. Both lights were repaired (wires had been cut) and since they were turtle friendly amber colored lights yet still caused misorientations, the lights were moved to other locations and replaced with the old hubble shielded high pressure sodium lights while decisions are made on how to proceed with making Palmetto Boulevard lighting turtle friendly.
Discussions involved lowering the lights, replacing lights with lower wattage lights, using dimmable features, shielding the newer turtle friendly lights, etc. The decision was made to use the old style lights while the Town works with Dominion to implement dimmable lights.
Dominon also worked on other streetlights while in the area.
Councilman Kizer, Ms. Hill, and Ms. Viars met with Robert Garvin of Dominion to discuss the issues that the Town had with the sea turtle safe lights at Beach access 3 and 129 Palmetto. Work is ongoing to resolve this issue.
Staff met with representatives from Dominion to discuss the 6 turtle friendly street lights that were previously installed and the issues with misorientations that have been reported. Specifically, misorientations occured at the street lights located at beach access 3 and 129 Palmetto. Dominion plans to inspect these lights to ensure they are, in fact, amber turtle friendly lights. The Town does not want to continue installing these specific lights, if they are not solving the issues with misorientation of sea turtles.
In addition, discussions included shielding the lights already installed (there is no shield for the 6 street lights installed and if the town did fabricate and install shields it would invalidate the warranty), changing to a lower lumen light (the new lights appear brighter than the current street lights), converting to dimmable lights, or using a different type of lumineer altogether.