Cape Coral city officials, environmentalists and developers got together recently to discuss how to better protect burrowing owls and gopher tortoises. Local animal advocates don’t think current state laws do enough. They say the animals are disappearing as development increases in the Cape.
Cape Coral’s community development director, Vince Cautero, said the goal of these new stakeholder meetings is to make a protection plan everyone can agree on.
"What we're gonna try to do is pinpoint three or four major issues to discuss that will then hopefully lead us into a document that everyone can support and reach consensus," said Cautero.
He said environmentalists want the city to enforce protections on burrowing owls and gopher tortoises. And developers want to make sure those protections are fair to them—cost-wise.
Cautero said once they all agree, they’ll have to present the plan to the city council. He predicts that could happen sometime after January. This was the first of possibly four meetings. The next stakeholder meeting will be held in mid-September.