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.
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.
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.
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.