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Commissioner Manning proposes renaming Galt Preserve on Pine Island after Phil Buchanan

By Staff | Aug 23, 2016

At last Tuesday’s Board of Lee County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner John Manning proposed renaming Pine Island’s Galt Preserve “Dr. Phillip G. Buchanan Preserve.”

“I would like to open for discussion the possibility of renaming Galt Preserve in the memory of Phil Buchanan,” Manning said. “I asked the appropriate staff to do some research because we initially believed that Galt Preserve was named after a family when, in fact, it was not named after a family. It was a scriveners error for ‘goat.’ I ask this board to help me bring back an agenda item to rename Galt Preserve after Phil Buchanan. Or, there are very important internal walking trails that could be named in his honor. So I will bring back two different ways to give Phil Buchanan the recognition he deserves.”

Galt Preserve is a 265-acre nature preserve located about 7 miles south of Pine Island Center on Stringfellow Road slightly north of York Road. Buchanan was instrumental in the initial effort to preserve the land.

The initial acquisition came from the Galt Island Avenue Property Rights Group, a homeowners association of residents on Galt Island Avenue.

“The builder originally planned to build houses on the property that is the Galt Preserve today,” Phil Buchanan said in a Pine Island Eagle article from June 25, 2014. “But we brokered a deal where the land was purchased with funds from the homeowners and the Calusa Land Trust. That was the start of the Preserve.”

In June 2014, the preserve received an “extreme makeover.” Renovations included expanding the car and RV parking facilities; adding restrooms, a new pavilion, canoe and kayak drop off and pick-up locations; new and improved pedestrian trails; picnic areas; and a wildlife observation area. On Dec. 11, 2014, about 200 people gathered at Galt Preserve to celebrate the grand opening with a ribbon-cutting. Commissioners John Manning and Brian Hamman spoke as well as Buchanan.

Today the Galt Preserve consists of three separate Conservation 20/20 acquisitions; two parcels in 2002 and a third purchase in 2007. The total purchase price was $4.415 million. The preserve is bordered by a Lee County Mosquito Control District helicopter pad along with Stringfellow, Galt Island and York Road to the east and south, a palm nursery to the north, and Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

Inside the preserve, visitors will find 12 plant communities that include mangrove swamps and mesic flatwoods. The preserve is also home to a variety of animal species including brown pelicans, frigate birds, great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, tricolored herons, reddish egrets, black-crowned night herons, osprey, short tailed hawks, hairy woodpeckers, American alligators and a few years ago, a pair of bald eagles built a nest on the preserve.

Upon hearing the news of Manning’s proposal Roger Wood, president of Greater Pine Island Civic Association commented, “I’m greatly disappointed that the County Commissioners are wafting on renaming the Galt Island Preserve to the Phil Buchanan Preserve,” Wood said “A huge number of people on Pine Island support this proposal, and although most are on vacation during this traditional month of escape, they will return in force and make their views known to the commissioners in the late fall. Naming a trail at the Preserve after Phil is like leaving a twenty two cent tip after super-service and a great meal.”

“I am not sure about the history in the naming of Galt Preserve but, it would be a wonderful tribute to Phil Buchanan,” former County Commissioner Ray Judah said. “Phil Buchanan was largely responsible for critical land preservation and responsible land use planning on Pine Island.”

“As a point of clarification, I do want the preserve named after Phil,” Manning said. “But whenever I suggest a discussion I always offer options to be considered. You can rest assured that when the time comes I will be leading the charge to name Galt Preserve Dr. Phil Buchanan Preserve.”

According to Manning, the discussion may be opened as early as the BOCC meeting of Sept. 6.