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Supporters celebrate dedication of SCCF’s Bob Wigley Preserve

By Staff | Jan 28, 2009

More than 200 people attended the dedication of SCCF’s Bob Wigley Preserve and its three tracts – The John and Mary Jo Boler Family Tract, the Pete and Pat Allen Family Tract, and the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Tract – celebrating the restoration of the 27-acre site.

At the dedication ceremony held last week, SCCF Executive Director Erick Lindblad noted that when SCCF incorporated in 1967, one major goal was to protect the interior freshwater portion of the island. As it turned out, the process was accomplished from west to east.

“If you started walking now at a normal pace, it would take you about two-and-a-half to three hours to get to the western end,” explained Lindblad. “Along your way, you would go back through the 41-year history of SCCF and observe the beneficiaries of this effort: the hawks, owls, osprey, bobcats, marsh rabbits, great egrets, white Ibis, kingfishers, tricolor herons, alligator, turtles, bass, night herons… and the list goes on.”

During opening remarks, SCCF Board President Bill Fenniman thanked past Board President Paul Roth, who was president during the fundraising campaign, for his help with the purchase.

Lindblad also explained that early in the campaign, it was decided to honor Bob Wigley with this project, “not only for the tremendous support he has given SCCF in this and other land campaigns but also for his work with the other non-profits on the islands.”

Sanibel Mayor Mick Denham presented a proclamation to Bob Wigley that had been issued by the City of Sanibel as part of the fundraising effort.

Restoration of the Bob Wigley Preserve included the removal of non-native vegetation, the creation of littoral feeding areas for wading birds and opening up sites for nesting along the river. A wide variety of native ground cover, shrubs and trees have also been planted.

In addition, Lindblad thanked SCCF’s Wildlife Habitat Management staff, with assistance from conservation partners at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge through grant support and the City of Sanibel through the use of equipment.

The dedication ceremony itself was observed by two nesting osprey, an anhinga and a soaring bald eagle. Lindblad presented miniature preserve signs to John and Mary Jo Boler as well as to Pete and Pat Allen. The Andrea Waitt Carlton family was unable to attend the dedication.

The 27-acre Bob Wigley Preserve includes 1,475 feet of Sanibel River frontage and 1,100 feet of frontage on Casa Ybel Road.

The dedication ceremony concluded with a butterfly release. Guests were then invited to chow down at Bob’s Barbecue, where a giant cake with a map of the preserve and free Queenie’s Ice Cream capped a barbecue buffet lunch.

Afterwards, guests were free to explore a trail to the gazebo and interpretive site on the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Tract, and lift rides were available on the Allen Tract for a birds’ eye view of the riverside preserve.