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Horse enthusiasts to celebrate preserve with ride

By Staff | Dec 23, 2008

The Lee County Prairie Pine Preserve area is a quiet, serene piece of Conservation 20/20 land in North Fort Myers swathed with 30 miles of trails.
Used primarily by horseback riders, the land has been eyed for more than three years as a possible interchange for Interstate 75, which would connect the Del Prado Boulevard extension to the interstate.
During those three years, horse enthusiasts Lark Campisano and Ray Simpson have held annual Trail Ride events to bring awareness to the community of the long gestating road project.
This year is no different as the trail ride and barbecue return for 2009.
“Nobody wants it to happen, but we’re told that’s the way it is,” Campisano said. “It was already decided.”
According to Campisano, her “little neighborhood” is located just east of I-75 and the preserve to the west.
If the extension is built, Campisano said the entire neighborhood would become an “island” between the interstate and proposed interchange.
“Why they would want to put a road through a conservation area I don’t know,” she said.
About 30 people took part in last year’s Trail Ride, coming from Naples and Charlotte County, and more are expected this year.
Campisano said people come from all over the region to utilize the trails for horseback riding, making the preserve one of the more popular spots in Lee County.
She compared the interior of the the preserve to the Everglades, with swamp and alligators at home along with flatwoods and prairie hammocks.
“I know we don’t want that to happen, and I feel like if the people of Lee County knew when they gave their tax money for conservation a road would be built through there, they might vote differently,” she said.
Attendees must bring their own horse to participate in the ride, which kicks off promptly at 9 a.m.
The three-hour ride culminates in a barbecue lunch and live entertainment by bluegrass band Larry Wilson and Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Both the ride and lunch are free, but RSVPs are requested for those who are looking to dine.
The ride takes place Jan. 11 at Endless Trails, 19201 Matt Road, North Fort Myers. For more information, call 731-3265.