Florida Phosphate Operations
Mosaic is committed to wildlife stewardship and protection, both on our property and throughout central and southwest Florida. We have taken a leadership role in pioneering wildlife relocation techniques, in creating prime habitats, and in providing continued financial support for wildlife rehabilitation and education.
Onsite Wildlife is Protected
Mosaic works to protect the environment's most sensitive habitats and the species they contain. Before any mining begins, the property is surveyed by independent consultants multiple times, and we work closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that all wildlife on our property are monitored and managed properly.
From indigo snakes and gopher tortoises to burrowing owls, special care is given to onsite wildlife before, during and after mining.
Successfully Relocating Wildlife
Working with wildlife agencies, Mosaic successfully translocates species that are endangered, threatened or "of special concern" from mining areas to both unmined and reclaimed lands -- many of which are designated as perpetual conservation easements.
For example, the sandy soils, short trees and sparse vegetation of reclaimed "scrub" habitats make them particularly hospitable to burrowing animals like the gopher tortoise and burrowing owl. Florida's phosphate industry has successfully relocated more than 10,000 gopher tortoises to reclaimed areas - and their "burrow buddies" like Florida mice, lizards, gopher frogs, gopher scarab beetles, gopher crickets and gopher moths come along too.
Burrowing Owl Translocation Project
Mosaic ecologists have been conducting burrowing owl translocations since 2006, when they successfully completed the first burrowing owl translocation project in the state of Florida. Take a look at a video from December 2011 that shows several Mosaic ecologists working with local wildlife experts to relocate four burrowing owls. The owls have since been released into their new habitat following a 30-day stay in a temporary enclosure to help them acclimate to their new environment. The most recent annual report counted 21 owls at the recipient site: 4 breeding pairs produced 9 juveniles in 2015. These translocations have shown that the population and reclaimed habitat is not only sustainable, it has attracted additional owls unassociated with the relocation.
Scrub Jay Translocation Project
Mosaic has developed the largest scrub-jay population in Southwest Florida through a series of successful translocations and partnerships that began in 2003. The habitat includes Mosaic property on an un-mined conservation area, as well as adjacent land owned by Manatee County - the Duette Preserve - and land owned by the Southwest Water Management District (SWFWMD). In 2015, 26 family groups fledging a total of 25 juveniles were counted within these areas. This intensively managed high quality scrub habitat has enticed scrub-jays to immigrate on their own as well, for the companionship of other jays.
Attracting Wildlife Naturally
Studies show that reclaimed habitat has a high capacity to attract and retain wildlife. While Mosaic does relocate some species, many species colonize naturally on reclaimed land. A 2008 study from the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute (FIPR) found that almost 300 species of vertebrates (including birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish) utilized reclaimed lands in Florida. Also noteworthy is a previous FIPR study showing that invertebrate communities of reclaimed wetlands became very similar to natural wetlands within only three years.
Leadership in Wildlife Education
At Mosaic's Coastal Education Center in Riverview, Hillsborough and Manatee County fourth graders get hands-on experience with land and sea creatures through nature walks and wading trips. Since its inception, it has received several local and national awards, including "Conservation Educator of the Year" by the Florida Wildlife Federation in 2007.
Support of Wildlife Sanctuary & Rehabilitation
In Hillsborough Bay, Mosaic owns two islands that comprise the Richard T. Paul Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary. The islands are home to as many as 18,000 pairs of native water birds. Mosaic has a longstanding partnership with Audubon of Florida in maintaining the islands and boardwalk, which have been named "globally significant" by the Bird Life International wildlife protection organization. The designation is based on the large populations of nesting birds there, including the laughing gull, roseate spoonbill, white ibis and glossy ibis. Watch a two-minute video about the partnership.