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The Bob Janes Preserve – A piece of paradise preserved forever

By Staff | Sep 10, 2009

I am honored and humbled that the former Babcock Ranch Preserve is now named the Bob Janes Preserve.

Lee County citizens are so very lucky that this beautiful slice of old Florida is forever preserved under our wonderful Conservation 20/20 program.

I remember when the Babcock family began to truly and seriously talk about selling their land in 2003-2004. These 4,562 acres had been in the family for many generations and had welcomed Florida politicians (including governors), old Florida families and celebrities to hunt and enjoy the property. When the sale talk began, I immediately realized its environmental potential and wanted to get intimately involved in the acquisition process. As the Lee County Board of County Commissioner’s representative on this project, I jumped on the chance for acquisition and became active in the process, knowing that it would be a boon for Lee County citizens.

It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of the county-wide acquisition team of non-profits, planners, environmentalists and business people; and the outcome is and now will remain a very valuable green corridor for Lee County.

I also am truly appreciative and honored to accept the $82,301.86, which was provided to the Board of County Commissioners from the Babcock Preservation Partnership. I am deeply grateful to the non-profit environmental groups such as the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, other grassroots citizen’s groups and individuals, who gathered numerous signatures and sold T-shirts to help acquire the land. Charlotte County Commissioner Adam Cummings should be commended for sharing our vision and the late Regional Planning Council Director David Burr also should be recognized for being instrumental in the process.

Our volunteers on the 20/20 Committee made the acquisition a major priority, and County Lands and County Parks and Recreation staff, especially Cathy Olson, worked diligently to move this sale forward providing support throughout the process.

In appreciation to all of these folks, a plaque will be dedicated to the site for everyone who played a part in acquiring this land and everyone who spoke in favor of this tract of priceless property.

For all those who have yet to make the trek out the northeast Lee County to visit the land, Bob Janes Preserve is very beautiful and reminds visitors of old-time Florida. The trees are old oaks, pines and cypress. I’ve seen alligators and fox squirrels out there and all kinds of wading birds. I’ve heard song birds singing in the trees and frogs calling from the swamps. It truly is what people used to think of as beautiful

natural Southwest Florida and was the historic first sign to travelers that they were moving into the one-of-a-kind Big Cypress Swamp and Everglades ecosystems.

Lee County Parks and Recreation will provide trails for hiking and equestrian riding to the site when financially feasible. We can also hope that all of our Lee County preserves will invite eco-tourism to our area to reinvigorate our economy and provide additional recreation to our visitors.

Truly I am grateful. We all should be very happy to have this piece of Florida forever preserved.