Water-Related News

Lee County pursues Edison Farms land for Conservation 20/20

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FORT MYERS – The Lee Board of County Commissioners today agreed to offer $42.4 million for the purchase of 3,900 acres in southeast Lee County – commonly known as Edison Farms – for a Conservation 20/20 preservation site.

If the county closes on the property, it would rank as the second-largest acquisition approved by the Board since the purchase of Bob Janes Preserve, which is 5,620 acres. In January, commissioners directed staff to solicit three appraisals on the property and to do fact-finding related to the parcel. Commissioners have made preserving Edison Farms a top legislative priority for the past two years. It is an example of the type of environmentally critical land that the Conservation 20/20 program was created to protect and that voters overwhelmingly endorsed with an 84 percent majority late last year.

Edison Farms is adjacent to other county conservation land -- Hidden Cypress Preserve and Flint Pen Strand Preserve – and to land maintained by the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The site contains significant natural flow-ways, given its location at the confluence of Estero River, Halfway Creek and Imperial River. Restoration through site improvements could provide enhanced water quality, flood attenuation and aquifer recharge as well as protect a significant, diverse population of wildlife and plant communities. It also would provide opportunities for nature-based recreation in the southern part of Lee County.

Conservation 20/20, which has preserved more than 25,000 acres since its inception, is Lee County’s environmental acquisition and management program. Preservation lands help the county protect drinking water, provide nature-based recreational opportunities, protect areas from flooding and provide wildlife habitat. About $86 million is set aside in the program’s acquisition fund.