Lee Board of County Commissioners has completed the purchase of about 4,000 acres in southern Lee County – commonly known as Edison Farms – as a Conservation 20/20 preservation site.
The $42.4 million purchase ranks as the second-largest single parcel purchased by the Board since the Bob Janes Preserve, which is 5,620 acres.
County commissioners have made preserving Edison Farms a top legislative priority for the past two years and voted unanimously for the purchase on Sept. 19.
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 Hidden Cypress Preserve, a Conservation 20/20 preserve, and lands maintained by the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The land includes habitat for listed species such as the Florida panther and the woodstork.
The acquisition of the Edison Farms parcel will:
- Protect a significant, diverse population of wildlife and plant communities.
- Assist with the distribution of freshwater flows in a natural wetland slough system and adjacent uplands that are part of the headwaters to Estero Bay, the state’s first aquatic preserve.
- Help sustain the region’s groundwater levels, a vital component to the area’s drinking water supply.
- Facilitate the restoration of historic flow-ways in the region, providing flood relief to those impacted from the existing altered system.
- Provide opportunities for nature-based recreation in the southern part of Lee County.
Next steps include an inventory and assessment of the land for restoration options and public access options. The Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC), which was a valuable partner in the acquisition process, will continue to provide input on management of the site.