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Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida Quick Topics

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve Segment - Transcript

Next we stop at Florida's first aquatic preserve – Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve located within Lee County in s outhwest Florida, halfway between Ft. Myers and Naples.

Estero Bay is a long, narrow and very shallow body of water. Managing environmentally sensitive areas takes many committed people working together to enforce the laws that protect these sanctuaries. Vice Mayor Terry Cain of Ft. Myers Beach tells us about her involvement in Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Terry Cain:
Years ago, the community on both sides of the bay had the foresight in 1966 to realize that it was a valuable piece of our environment and they started a grass-roots organization to protect the bay. They were afraid of overdevelopment encroaching on the bay and they wanted to stop it. They knew that the water quality and their quality of life was really important and it all depended on the bay. So a group of people requested from Tallahassee that there be protection on this bay back here and they got it.

Estero River photo by Clyde Butcher

Estero River
Photo: Clyde Butcher

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve establishment resulted from a citizen-based initiative. Even in 1966, there were those who knew that these waters were Florida's lifeblood for the future.

Terry Cain:
That land that they were trying to preserve in 1966 is still preserved today. It's in what we call the boundaries of the aquatic preserve. The county has acquired part of it and then Heather Stafford, who's our aquatic preserve manager would be able to manage what happened around the bay and educate all the communities about how important it was to have a buffer area. Not only was it important for us to have water quality, but what went into the water was just as important. And Heather's been instrumental in forming a boundary that we have and trying to acquire the land around the bay that’s within that boundary. And the more land that we have, the more we can have the runoff from the land purified through natural ways, running through the natural systems of the land before it gets here to the bay.

The flora and fauna of the bay and its watershed are varied and abundant. The area includes many state and federally threatened species. Numerous rookeries and roosting islands are dotted throughout the bay. Thousands of birds such as brown pelicans, frigate birds, herons, egrets, cormorants and ibis nest or roost here.

Terry Cain:
I think anyone that lives here has to realize that the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve is a major asset, maybe one of our most important assets due to the fact that our industry here is a tourist-based industry. Great deal of the tourist industry is now geared towards ecotourism and if you don't keep your natural resources healthy, then they won't take care of you.

With natural beauty all around, there are constant reminders of the water's magnetic appeal. Many dream of their own view of the bay and desire to build along the waterfront. These constant development pressures make bay protection even more important.

Terry Cain:
The aquatic preserve to me means a wonderful area to go and relax, to play in, to enjoy the views, to listen to the birds. Just to sit out there and enjoy yourself is a wonderful thing.









Last updated: December 18, 2015

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