The Lee Board of County Commissioners today (September 19, 2017) voted unanimously to purchase about 4,000 acres in southeast Lee County – commonly known as Edison Farms – as a Conservation 20/20 preservation site.
County 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.
The $42.4 million purchase ranks as the largest single parcel approved by the Board since the purchase of Bob Janes Preserve, which is 5,620 acres.
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 would:
- 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.
- Provide flood relief by facilitating the restoration of historic flow-ways in the region.
- Provide opportunities for nature-based recreation in the southern part of Lee County.
The Edison Farms purchase is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.
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.