Water-Related News

Joint project helps tortoises on Conservation 20/20 preserve

Fort Myers – Conservation 20/20 is partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a habitat-improvement project for protected gopher tortoises on a portion of Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve.

The project – set to begin this spring – will affect 85 acres of the site, which is about five miles south of Pine Island’s center and has hiking trails and nature-watching opportunities. The jointly funded state-local project is estimated to cost $6,500. Conservation 20/20 falls under the umbrella of Lee County Parks & Recreation.

Staff will reduce the saw palmetto and other shrub height and density, providing for increased plant diversity that will allow the tortoises better opportunities to forage. This project also will reduce the risk of wildfires and provide for safer prescribed-burning conditions. Fire is a necessary part of the habitat management for gopher tortoises.

Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve nearly spans the width of the island at 920 total acres. The preserve contains upland plant communities such as mesic pine flatwoods that are important wildlife habitat. In addition to gopher tortoises, many other species of wildlife call the preserve home.

Visit www.Conservation2020.org for more site information. For tortoise information, visit www.MyFWC.com. Project-related questions can be directed to Jeff Anderson, Conservation 20/20 land stewardship coordinator, at (239) 707-8251.