Conservation Collier Provides Valuable Habitat for Florida Panthers
Long ago Florida panthers could be found throughout the Gulf Coast states and Arkansas. A sub-species of mountain lion (a.k.a cougar or puma), human activities over the decades have decimated the big cat population. Now the large felines can only be found in southern Florida, hiding in natural areas as development encroaches on their last stronghold. Fortunately, a county-based conservation program in Florida, Conservation Collier, has helped preserve important habitat for panthers and other wildlife in an increasingly fragmented region.
Conservation Collier in Collier County, FL, was first approved in 2002 to acquire and protect environmentally-sensitive habitats throughout the county as development increases. Thousands of acres have been acquired so far, but supporters hope to raise additional funds for land purchases through voter approval on the ballot this fall. The program has already proven its worth.
Providing Space for Panthers and Other Wildlife
More widely known for its boutique shops in Naples and miles of sandy beaches, Collier County in Florida also includes some of the last remaining “primary habitat” for the endangered Florida panther. Black bears and threatened wood storks can also be found in the county. Conservation Collier identifies rare or sensitive habitats for land purchases and manages them to ensure that native wildlife and plants have a place to survive, if not thrive. More than 4,300 acres of natural habitat have been purchased so far to help these species and other wildlife.
Protecting Water Supply and Quality
As development increases in the area, there will be increased pressure on the county’s freshwater supply. There is also likelihood for more polluted runoff to contaminate the same supply. Many of the twenty-one preserves that Conservation Collier has established provide a natural way to filter pollutants, like fertilizer, from stormwater before they reach the sea—protecting our County’s coastlines from Harmful Algae Blooms and the health of both residents and wildlife.
Providing Green Space to Residents
This year many people have found the value in escaping outdoors to unwind or exercise. Twelve of the nature preserves managed by Conservation Collier, such as Freedom Park or the seasonal Pepper Ranch Preserve, are also accessible for public recreation. Observe, hike, bike, horseback ride, fish and more—these preserves cater to many outdoor interests. ADA compliant trails are also offered!
Say YES to Preserving More Habitat in Collier County
Conservation Collier has acquired fragile habitats around Collier County for nearly twenty years, and successfully preserved them for wildlife and residents. This program was funded by taxpayers until 2013 until the tax expired, but more funding is necessary to purchase additional habitats that could be at risk.
The proposed .25 mil ad valorem tax currently on this year’s ballot could raise the necessary funds to continue these conservation efforts for the next ten years. Property owners would be looking at a $75 tax for homes valued at $300,000.
Our state affiliate, the Florida Wildlife Federation, and their partners are asking for your support this election to acquire additional nature areas in Collier County by voting “YES!” to Conservation Collier.