In becoming a Florida Master Naturalist and producing the WGCU Public Media documentary “Preserving Our Waters: 50 Years of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve”, I have learned that to have healthy waters, you need a healthy watershed upstream. On June 20th, the Lee County Commissioners will discuss purchasing Edison Farms, a critical native environment in the Estero Bay watershed. For years, land owners have tried to develop the critically sensitive lands but are now willing sell and the Lee County Commissioners, through Conservation 20/20, have a chance to purchase the more than 3,500 areas of wetlands, aquifer recharge areas and vital panther habitat. This would add to the existing Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed and put this sensitive natural environment in conservation forever.
Voice your support of the purchase of this entire Edison Farms property by contacting the Lee County Commissioners or attending the Board of County Commissioners meeting at the Lee County Courthouse at 9:30am on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. Click here for more information about Edison Farms.
Whether in a boat flying the drone or in a LightHawk donated airplane, Pelican Media took flight across the region gathering aerial video for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Estuaries Report Card. The report card is a visual way to see the status of our region’s water quality and pinpoints areas where improvement is needed. From the Venice area south to Ten Thousand Islands, we worked to capture video that would showcase the 10 different watersheds represented in the report card, plus a few additional areas of special interest.
I got out today to shoot some video of the Calusa Waterkeeper Rangers Jim and Ruth Watkins while they were checking water quality in Hendry Creek. Every couple of weeks, the Rangers are out monitoring the waters, checking water quality and keeping an eye on the health of one of the major feeding tributaries of Estero Bay. The data they collect help shape the activities to improve our water quality in Southwest Florida. To learn more about the Calusa Waterkeepers, checkout calusawaterkeeper.org. #lovefl
Tonight is the broadcast airing of “Preserving Our Waters: 50 Years of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve” on WGCU Public Media. It is the culmination of months of work by some very dedicated and passionate people to tell the story of a group of local citizens concerned by the unchecked development in the Florida. They knew that if the estuaries where not protected form the removing of mangroves and dredging and filling areas to create new waterfront property the pristine waters and fish populations would be ruined.
Bill Mellor was the president of the Lee County Conservation Association which lead the charge in protecting Estero Bay. Through several years of battles with developers, they created what would become the first aquatic preserve in Florida and created the blueprint for the Aquatic Preserve Act of 1975 and the aquatic preserves system which now encompasses 41 aquatic preserves and over 2.2 million acres of submerged lands in Florida.
Those fisherman of the LCCA knew the importance of preserving Estero Bay, but the productivity of these waters can be seen as far back as the Calusa Indians that thrived in Southwest Florida for centuries. But it is because of people who care about Estero Bay that we can enjoy these waters today.
There are many issues that threaten our waters and a lot of work needs to be done to keep Estero Bay a productive estuary. But the efforts of the past are influencing people today to make sure the watershed of Estero Bay not only survives but thrives in the future.
Watch WGCU Public Media tonight at 8pm to support “Preserving Our Waters”. To find ways you can help protect the watershed go to wgcu.org/waters.
Garbage In-Garbage Out. That works for watersheds as well. The storm drain markers are a friendly reminder to residents that what you put in your neighborhood drain, makes it’s way to the bay. The storm drains are not connected to treatment centers so the household chemicals, fertilizer and motor oil and even lawn clippings, waters bottles and pet waste collect in feeder creeks, rivers and ultimately Estero Bay. Lee County’s Natural Resources Division and Keep Lee County Beautiful are working with communities in the watershed to install these reminders across Lee County. They can provide the materials and equipment to help communicate this important message to your community. For more information and to get involved in your community, go to Keep Lee County Beautiful at www.klcb.org/storm-drain-marking.html or Lee County Natural Resources at www.leegov.com/naturalresources.
If you use the resource, It’s nice to give something back. That was the mission for a group of fly fishermen on Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. Members of the Backcountry Fly Fishers set out early in kayaks and skiffs to work the shoreline and clear monofilament fishing line and trash from the mangroves. Before venturing out on the cleanup, they checked with the aquatic preserve office to identify islands in need and that were inactive for rookery nesting. The data collected my the group – shoreline covered and materials collected – helps the aquatic preserve staff with rookery monitoring efforts.
With his skiff and kayak in tow, I ventured out on Estero Bay with fisherman Alan Kuhre to shoot a segment for the upcoming documentary “Preserving Our Waters” for WGCU Public Media. Fifty years ago a group of concerned fisherman created what is now the first aquatic preserve in Florida – Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. The mangrove lined shores and abundant nursery habitat for game fish are the lasting legacy we can enjoy from their efforts.
The Florida DEP Florida Coastal Office has released series of PSA’s designed to educate residents and visitors about the Florida Aquatic Preserves. We were very fortunate to be involved with this project and hope that viewers will develop a lasting respect for our incredible resources. To learn more about the videos and how to enjoy Florida’s Aquatic Preserves, visit https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDEP/bulletins/1513a9c.
To understand Estero Bay today, we must look to the past. The keys to unlock our past are housed in places like the Southwest Florida Museum and Estero Historical Society. So Win and I headed over to chat with Marlene Fernandez at the Estero Historical Society about the history of commercial fisherman on Estero Bay.
To learn more about our past and see some history of Estero, check out their website at http://esterohistoricalsociety.com.
Pelican Media traveled to the Florida Keys to shoot video of the startling clarity of the water that is a stark contrast to the water issues we see in Southwest Florida. We will use the video in an upcoming documentary for WGCU Public Media called Preserving Our Waters. It will help illustrate what Estero Bay might have looked like to Bill Mellor who fished there as a boy growing up in the late 1930’s. Fifty years ago he lead a group of concerned citizens to help protect Estero Bay from over development and in the process created what lead to the first aquatic preserve in Florida.