Pond Apple and Shipley trails
To the editor:
Although the upgraded Pond Apple Trail together with the new Shipley Trail extension to the city Roadside Parking lot on Periwinkle has been finished to all weather standard, it has sadly come at a cost. There is no doubt that it offers a wonderful new facility for those wishing a gentle stroll or bike ride, but as far as the Pond Apple Trail is concerned, it is a disappointment. It is also sad to see that it was necessary to destroy much of the vegetation and undergrowth adjacent to these trails which is so important for wildlife.
Although there has been some thoughtful replanting in places, it remains to be seen to what extent this will grow back and whether the wildlife will return. In the past it was always a pleasure to wander slowly along the Pond Apple Trail, wet and muddy though it my have been for much of the year, and to see animal spoor and scat, which gave the rare feel of being in one of the truly unspoilt areas of nature on the island. It is a shame this pleasure is no more.
Another area for concern are the reclaimed freshwater ponds around which the Pond Apple Trail is routed before linking with the Shipley Trail. An unsightly roped barrier which completely spoils the aspect has been erected around the outer perimeter of these ponds, presumably to deter the unwary from straying too close to the water’s edge where resident alligators frequently like to bask in the sunshine. This seems unnecessary and will do little to deter those determined to take risks.
Furthermore, it has obviously made it more difficult to control the vegetation growing on the banks of these ponds, as was done previously, which now also makes it difficult to see (and to leave undisturbed!) any nearby alligators concealed in the undergrowth. Another attraction of the ponds is the wonderful variety of birdlife that usually can be seen on the bunds between the ponds; it would be helpful to place signs across the three entry points to these bunds prohibiting unauthorized entry.
Sanibel has a justifiably enviable reputation for its conservation policies and the protection of wildlife habitat. However, care needs to be exercised to ensure that these very policies do not inadvertently cause damage to the environment that it strives so hard to preserve.
M J F Wardroper