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Conservation 20/20 hits 30,000-acres-acquired mark

By Staff | Mar 4, 2020

When the Conservation 20/20 land preservation program was approved by voters in 1996, its purpose was to acquire and protect environmentally sensitive properties in Lee County.

If taxpayer satisfaction is a yardstick of success, the program has been a remarkable achievement.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the continuation of the program in 2016, and this month the county will celebrate a big benchmark: the acquisition of 30,000 total acres over 49 preserves, most open to the public for passive recreation.

The county will celebrate throughout March with dozens of events highlighting the Conservation 20/20 program, including a talk at the North Fort Myers Library and a ribbon-cutting event with guided hikes at Prairie Pines Preserve.

The celebration technically kicked off Tuesday with formal recognition of the milestone at the Lee County Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at Prairie Pines Preserve, 18400 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers, will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 10.

Elise Flanjack, of Lee County Parks and Recreation, said she expects most of the commissioners to be there.

“We’re going to have some vendors from our departments with display tables from our departments such as natural resources which will show us some of our projects,” Flanjack said.

For the guided walks, attendees are encouraged to arrive beginning at 9:30 a.m. to reserve a spot.

Two walks will be offered: a 45-minute walk on the quarter-mile loop trail, and a 90-minute, 2-mile hike on the Yellow Trail to explore further into the preserve.

Both walks will begin following the ceremony at about 10:30 a.m. Registration is required in advance for the longer walk. To reserve a spot, contact Conservation 20/20 Coordinator Jason Boeckman at 204-1125.

“The program has helped restore some of the natural waterways for the plants and the wildlife,” Flanjack said. “We’ve also added educational programs and recreational opportunities so people can enjoy the preserves.”

Before that, this Thursday, Lee County will present “The Water Connection: Exploring the Partnership Between Lee County Natural Resources and Conservation 20/20” at 2 p.m. at the North Fort Myers Public Library. A Natural Resources representative will discuss the success of restoration projects at Conservation 20/20 preserves that have improved water quality.

For more information, on Conservation 20/20 events and programs visit www.leegov.com/2020celebration/events.

For additional information, on the Conservation 20/20 program visit www.conservation2020.org.