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Trio honored for service for local wildlife

By Staff | Mar 1, 2018

It all started on a park bench at Jaycee Park, with a handful of people talking about how they would get started.

On Saturday, the Friends of Cape Coral Wildlife honored those who started their movement at the Burrowing Owl Festival at Rotary Park.

Carl Eason, Beverly Saltonstall and Carol Kiefer were given awards for their immense contributions to the “Friends” movement, which has culminated in the festival to honor the official bird of Cape Coral.

Eason brought his own bit of color to the event by wearing the original hat and festival T-shirt the group made when they formed.

Kiefer said it all began when there was an owl burrow across the street that kept getting mowed by the city and was not being taken care of.

“I called the city and Sue Scott, who had just gotten started there, invited us to help the city get that done,” Kiefer said. “They didn’t realize they were doing it because the burrows blended in so well.”

The movement evolved to include a festival, which started in 2003 with one tent and about 300 people attending.

The Friends of Wildlife wasn’t even in the tent.

That handful of people has no swelled to more than 100 volunteers who do a myriad of things, including count the number of burrows and owls, which currently number more than 3,000.

Kiefer said she was surprised she was being honored, since it wasn’t just her who made it happen, though one of the enduring comments during the ceremony was “The Power of One,” spoken by Pascha Donaldson, who is now president of Friends of Cape Coral Wildlife.

“It took a group. Not just one or two people. It takes someone to initiate it,” Kiefer said.

Saltonstall moved to Florida from New Jersey. She said she was driving around early one morning when she saw a strange sight.

“Three days later was an ad where the city was looking for volunteers to the burrowing owls. I figured out what they are and went to the meeting,” Saltonstall said. “That’s how I got involved.”

Saltonstall was also surprised even after putting in 16 years to the club.

“I love working with the owls and this was just icing on the cake,” Saltonstall said.