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Cove property owner proposes sale to 20/20

By Staff | Nov 7, 2019

Land Cape Coral residents have fought to preserve has been submitted to the Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee for review to purchase as part of Conservation 20/20.

Earlier this week, Ripple Lake, LLC, owner of five parcels of land better known as 4 Mile Cove, submitted the application to the county in hopes it will purchase the 193.87 acres Cape residents have been working to preserve.

“Everyone’s ecstatic about this very positive development,” said Jason Pim, a Cape Coral resident and part of Citizens for the Preservation of 4 Mile Cove. “We’re incredibly grateful that the owner has submitted the property for consideration.”

According to the Conservation 20/20 website: “Each property that is submitted will go through a preliminary review process before a Board of County Commissioners appointed citizen advisory committee, known as the Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC), makes any recommendation on which properties may be pursued for acquisition.”

4 Mile Cove is one of the last remaining, large natural landscapes along the Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral, a major factor in locals wanting the land to remain as is.

The preservation group also touts the uniqueness of the site, as well as its biological diversity with uplands and wetlands supporting a myriad of wildlife.

Creatures and critters that call 4 Mile Cove home include manatees, smalltooth sawfish, gopher tortoise, indigo snakes, bald eagles and plants such as leather fern and protected mangroves.

The city of Cape Coral came under fire from the FDEP earlier this year when they were cited for poor environmental practices in the 4 Mile Cove area, that included the over trimming of mangroves.

“The county has a unique opportunity to salvage and save the last remaining natural habitat in Cape Coral that consist of a combination of Wetlands/ Mangrove Forest/ Uplands and Other Surface Water areas while also fronting the Caloosahatchee River providing wildlife access,” wrote Cape Coral resident Joseph Cruz in the application to the county. “These five parcels run adjacent to the Four Mile Cove Ecological Park making for the perfect opportunity to expand and build upon the Eco Park/ potentially creating education and additional recreational opportunities. This area has also been an important nesting area for the American Bald Eagle. Adding this space would allow the City of Cape Coral to fulfill its commitment to the green spaces/conservation initiative while benefitting the watershed and our citizen’s quality of life.”

A major part of preserving the land is the potential to flourish the gopher tortoise population, proponents said.

“The upland portion is special in that it hosts hundreds of gopher tortoise burrows,” the application states. “This land would be ideal for establishing a tortoise mitigation recipient site. Only two such sites currently exist in Lee County. By doing so, the City or County could be earning revenue for receiving displaced tortoises from other areas, as opposed to paying tortoise removal fees during utilities and development projects.”

Other benefits of preserving 4 Mile Cove include: natural watershed that helps maintain water quality functions and filters stormwater runoff, enhancing the value of surrounding real estate, allowance for the county to oversee the restoration of recently disturbed areas and eliminate invasive species and boost the quality of life for citizens of Cape Coral, Lee County and its visitors.

Preservation would also make for an opportunity to expand recreational use in the area and provide public education, said the group.

“This land should be considered invaluable to Lee County and the City of Cape Coral as well as the Caloosahatchee Watershed and therefore should be selected for conservation and considered a Nature Preserve,” wrote Cruz.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj