When being sold ten acres of swamp land is a good thing
Ten acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands in the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed is slated for purchase by Lee County, and despite the parcel’s small size what it does for the environment is huge.
Wetlands trap massive amounts of carbon keeping global warming from being worse. Swales and gullies direct stormwater runoff and control flooding, and grasses and small plants grow in the channels slowing the flow of water and allowing it to percolate into the ground and recharge the Floridian aquifer.
Hammocks can be open for people to camp, hike, and fish. Or the mounds of dry land can be closed off to people so wildlife like wood storks can nest in the trees, or Florida panthers can freely roam the land.
“It's really important for a lot of reasons,” said Keith Laakkonen, the newest director of Audubon Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It’s “not only helping maintain these natural orders, but also for wildlife corridors for a lot of species that really depend on these natural areas of Florida.”
The ten acres are being bought in two, five-acre deals, and will build upon land taxpayers bought in February for the endangered Florida panther and other animals to roam far away from civilization on the Hendrie Ranch in Highlands County.
There, the purchase was a 661-acre conservation easement, which protects the farmland from ever being built upon for homes or businesses. The parcel is along the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which is a 18,000,000-acre network of public and private lands, waterways, and wildlife habitats that stretches from the Everglades in the south to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.
The wildlife corridor provides a vital pathway for the migration of animals, allowing them to move between habitats, find food and water, and search for a mate, which is particularly important for the panther with around 230 left in the wilds of South Florida.
Adding the ten acres to the 60,000 that comprises the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed means the total area will grow by .01667 percent.
But it's akin saving a little bit of money toward retirement on a regular basis, and how that adds up as the years go by.
But on this purchase, when finalized by city and state officials, there is no wait for the dividends to compound: Consistent land purchases of whatever size added to the larger undisturbed watershed further protect the sensitive wetlands, as well as provide more areas away from people for the panther and other at-risk species.
At 13,450 acres, Corkscrew Swamp’s public area features a raised 2.5-mile boardwalk winding through old-growth forest. On any given day visitors can see rare white orchids if they are in bloom, cypress trees many hundreds of years old, and hear birds call and alligator bellow.
Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.
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