Eco Voice

 

LEE 20/20 PROGRAM BUYS 428 ACRES IN DRGR

LEE COUNTY CONSERVATION 20/20 PROGRAM BUYS 428 ACRES IN THE DENSITY REDUCTION/GROUNDWATER RESOURCE AREA

By Lynda Thompson


 
Today, the Lee County Conservation 20/20 Program acquired 428 acres in the Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource Area (DR/GR), the area from which the County collects the majority of its drinking water from underground aquifers.  Keeping this land as open space protects a groundwater recharge area, maintains natural flood protection for a significant upstream drainage area, and preserves a natural wetland system that purifies surface waters.  It creates the opportunity to reconnect to Spring Creek, which was cut off in the 70ís by the construction of I-75.   The reconnection would allow water from eastern Bonita to be routed through this site into Spring Creek. This would reduce the potential flooding of Lightner Creek and the Imperial River while simultaneously improving water quality being discharged from eastern Bonita.  These waters would also increase groundwater recharge, rehydrate the onsite wetlands and restore the water flow of Spring Creek.
In public ownership, this site will likely become a popular bird and wildlife viewing area for tourists and residents alike.  Exotic birds such as woodstorks and roseate spoonbills forage in the vast wetlands. The property has a variety of scenic plant communities to hike through, including pine flatwoods, live oak hammocks; freshwater marshes, and cypress and other wetland forests.  The large size and diversity of habitats is very beneficial to wildlife, including wide ranging species such as the black bear and panther.
The property is located in the City of Bonita Springs just east of I-75 and north of Liberty Youth Ranch.  The owners wanted $17,138,000 ($40,000 per acre), but the Division of County Lands, the County Office which negotiates land purchases for the County, was able to acquire the property for $6,500,000 ($15,171 per acre).
The Conservation 20/20 program buys environmentally important lands for preservation. It is funded by a property tax, which was approved by referendum in 1996.  It is 50 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property value. Since the first purchase in 1997, the Countyís Conservation 20/20 program has made 103 land purchases, and the land inventory now stands at 22,820 acres.
 
Lynda Thompson
Conservation 20/20 Program Coordinator
Lee County Division of County Lands
P.O. Box 398, Fort Myers, FL 33902
Phone: (239) 533-8505
Email: lthompson@leegov.com
Web: www.conservation2020.org