Lee County residents overwhelmingly voted to continue the Conservation 20/20 program on Election Day. That sets aside tax dollars to purchase and manage environmentally sensitive land.
Lee County owns about 25,000 acres of preserved property through the program. And now more than 80 percent of voters said “yes” to continuing the project.
Barbara Manzo is with the political action committee "Yes on 20/20." She was also deputy director of Lee’s parks and recreation when this initiative started 20 years ago. Manzo said conserving local lands is more important now than ever because Lee County’s population is expanding and so is development.
"The county may very well end up at a point where there is no more land to buy," said Manzo. "At the rate that the county is growing, it's imperative to continue to conserve and preserve so that a larger percentage of our land is in the public hands so that we can preserve it."
She said the natural properties are critical because they store and filter water. And she said they’re also habitats for wildlife like threatened gopher tortoises and endangered Florida panthers. Manzo said the county has been eyeing certain parcels of land for years, and there’s still more work to be done.