Lee County Conservation 20/20 opens Wild Turkey Strand Preserve
FORT MYERS — A new Conservation 20/20 preserve between Fort Myers and
Lehigh Acres has opened. Wild Turkey Strand Preserve, a 3,000-plus-acre site, sits along State
Road 82 west of the Hendry County line, providing wildlife habitat as well as offering Lee
County’s nature enthusiasts, photographers and picnickers a historic Florida oasis.
The preserve sits atop portions of the former Buckingham Army Airfield, the state’s largest airfield
training base during World War II (1942-1945). In October, the preserve will feature historic
interpretative panels of the field’s use during WWII where gunnery training took place.
Other amenities include a picnic area and a 1.8-mile nature trail, where wildlife lovers may be
able catch glimpses of deer, birds and panthers. Two wetland observation decks also exist on
site. Primitive portions of the nature trail are seasonally wet, so visitors should wear appropriate
The site is Lee County’s first large-scale application of Flexi-Pave, a pavement made up of
shredded tires and stone. Flexi-Pave’s porous surface allows rainfall to percolate through it,
forming good bacteria that filter clean water into the groundwater table. This is significant
because one of Wild Turkey Strand Preserve’s purposes is groundwater recharge. The county
welcomes builders interested in sustainable products to visit the preserve.
Wild Turkey Strand Preserve’s acquisition process happened from 2001 to 2008 and cost $18
million. Conservation 20/20 management funds were supplemented by grants from the Florida
Communities Trust, the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Charlotte Harbor National
Estuary Program. The public facilities and other amenities were purchased and built using $1
million from the Florida Communities Trust grant.
Lee County voters in 1996 approved Conservation 20/20, a program designed to acquire
properties of environmental significance, restore those lands to their natural state and condition,
manage them in an environmentally acceptable manner and provide public recreational
opportunities that are compatible with protecting the natural resources.
The program has protected nearly 25,000 acres for future generations to enjoy. Wild Turkey
Strand Preserve comprises 3,137 acres and is open sunrise to sunset daily at 11901 Rod & Gun
Club Road, Fort Myers, FL 33913.
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