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Miles family donates Cape Coral land to SCCF

By SCCF - | Jan 6, 2021

SCCF SCCF's new preserve land in Cape Coral.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that thanks to the generosity of the Miles family, it is now the proud owner and steward of 38 acres of mangroves and a creek in Cape Coral.

The new preserve land is at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee, across from Shell Point. A creek runs through the mangroves, while the adjacent property is in state ownership, making it an ideal acquisition for protecting water quality.

“SCCF has a 53-year history of acquiring lands on Sanibel and nearby islands in Pine Island Sound,” Chief Executive Officer Ryan Orgera said. “As our first land acquisition in Cape Coral, the mangrove parcel is a very environmentally significant addition to the 2,000 acres of preserve lands we manage.”

The land was donated by the family of Dr. Franklin Miles, who was the founder of Miles Laboratories, best known for creating Alka-Seltzer, One-a-Day Vitamins and a sedative, Dr. Miles’ Nervine. Through retired Fort Myers attorney Hank Hendry, the Miles family approached SCCF Natural Resources Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel early last year about donating the land.

“I believe Dr. Miles would be pleased some of his land is in the hands of SCCF with its dedication to protect and steward Southwest Florida’s natural resources and promote best management practices,” Wessel, who retired in May, said. “Thanks to Hank Hendry for making this connection.”

SCCF Dr. Franklin Miles

Miles came to Fort Myers in 1904 from Elkhart, Indiana, and bought 16,000 acres on both sides of the Caloosahatchee in the area south of College Parkway to Iona and across the river in the southwest area of today’s Cape Coral. He used the land to pursue his interest in agriculture, experimenting on a variety of crops, fertilizers and plant diseases. Miles was the first to cultivate Irish potatoes and gladiola, as he expanded and shared his knowledge of how to grow a wider variety of vegetables in the region’s soil.

His research led him to encourage local farmers and groves to be less reliant on ready-made commercial fertilizers by creating their own organic plant food. Miles warned that local soils could not be built up with commercial chemical fertilizers because he believed they were too soluble. He also believed they would easily leach out of the soil during heavy rains.

Instead, Miles encouraged the use of vegetable and animal waste used by farmers in the Orient for thousands of years as a more economical, sustainable approach. Longtime residents recall the time when the Iona area and the land where Gulf Harbour is today were all gladiolus fields and the logo of Lee County was a glad.

SCCF’s mission to protect and care for Southwest Florida’s coastal ecosystems through its focus on water quality research, policy and advocacy, sea turtles and shorebirds, native landscaping for wildlife, habitat management, and environmental education.

To support SCCF’s mission, visit sccf.org and click on “Support Us.”

To donate land, contact Development Director Cheryl Giattini at cgiattini@sccf.org.