January 22 Meeting and Issues
Report by Ted Raia, MAG Director
The January 22 MAG Meeting - Adam DiNuovo
The Mangrove Action Group met on January 22 at the Community Center and President Peter Duggan introduced Adam DiNuovo to a standing room only crowd to listen to his presentation on our common Black Skimmer Birds.
Little did we know that this bird has put Clam Pass and Marco Island on the national bird map, as this is the largest black skimmer population east of the Mississippi. It was fascinating to learn the details of the life of the Skimmers from chicks to adults, their mating habits and why the lower bill is much longer than the upper bill, a feeding adaptation unique to this bird. Occasionally we drifted off the subject to learn that a bird from Alaska migrates to New Zealand nonstop by turning off its digestive system and flies and sleeps with one side of its brain on and one off.
What a wonderful way to learn things you will never forget from someone as knowledgeable as Adam. He is a member of the National Audubon Society and has been assigned here to study our shore birds.
We hope to bring him back again to enlighten us on our feathery friends. Like many of our visiting birds it is important that they budget flying, feeding, nesting and resting.
The latter is very important and that is what we see them doing as they congregate on the beach. Please don’t disturb them. The Foundation is trying to make the public aware of this, but it is difficult to teach common sense. Help us to nicely spread the word.
February 19 MAG Speaker
On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 1:30 PM, the Mangrove Action Group will host a presentation by Dr. Greg Tolley. He is Professor of Marine Science and Executive Director of The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University. The title of his presentation will be “The Water School at FGCU”. He will provide an in-depth overview of the structure and the current and planned activities of the school’s various departments. The Water School was established to address water issues facing our community and the State of Florida. Dr. Tolley will also discuss past and present research, ecosystem management and restoration studies conducted in SW Florida estuaries such as Estero Bay and Rookery Bay.
He earned his doctoral degree in Marine Science at the University of South Florida and is the author of publications on marine and estuarine ecology and on novel approaches in science education. Dr. Tolley has worked for over two decades in Southwest Florida focusing university research on coastal environments and the conservation of aquatic resources. He has held several leadership positions at FGCU, including Chair of the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Coastal Watershed Institute and currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Fish Florida and of the Friends of Rookery Bay.
The Lands of Eastern Collier County
Peter, Tom Sabourin and I attended the Rural Lands Stewardship Area (RSLA) workshop of the Collier County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday morning, January 21. As a reminder, the RLSA comprises 195,845 acres of which 182,334 acres are privately owned. It is zoned for 0ne unit per five acres regardless if it is a swamp or natural wildlife habitat. This would allow for 36,466 units and 72,932 cars.
This would be bad enough considering that Immokalee Road is the only east-west road to accommodate this is plan. However, by the use of transfer of credits (land in collier County has 8 layers of credit values - Residential Land Uses, General Conditional Uses, Earth Mining and Processing Uses, Recreational Uses, Agriculture - Group 1 Agriculture - Support Uses, Agriculture - Group 2 and Conservation, Restoration, Natural Resources) one may develop a unit for each layer or two credits you give up.
So, in the proposed development of 45,000 acres it comes to four units per acre for a total of 180,000 units and 360,000 automobiles. This miraculous system of planning allows you get more from less. To buffer this self-created problem, the long-range plan is to give these lucky buyers a second road to travel by extending Vanderbilt Beach Road further east to intersect a new north-south road.
Hello, the BCC is already dealing with a proposed traffic problem with a development at the west end of Vanderbilt Beach Road called One Naples. April Olson of the Conservancy of SWFL and local resident, Dianne Flagg made presentations revealing the flaws in the development. In fact, when originally planned the cluster development was to be 16,800 acres with 67,200 units and 134,400 cars.
This morphed into 45,000 acres when finally presented.
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, was also critical of the project.
Certainly, growth and development will continue, but should do so in a smart, sustainable manner and include who is going to pay for the roads and services.
The Commissioners are faced with a very complex set of issues as they decide on the county’s long-term plans for the eastern lands. After listening to Drs. Michael Saverese’s and Julia Nesheiwat’s January 27 discussion on the effect of rising tides, planning for the RLSA must include this preparation.
The real problem started decades ago when the Colliers sold all the coastal property leaving no public areas and then left no east west corridors for future development east. The only county beach was the one-hundred-foot width of Vanderbilt Beach Road. Pelican Bay widened the beach to three hundred feet and donated Clam Pass Park.
Our District 2 Commissioner, Andy Solis supports the RLSA plan. District 5 Commissioner William L. McDaniel, Jr., where the RLSA is located, also supports it but he should recuse himself since he is a land owner. District 3 Commissioner, Burt L. Saunders voted no, District 1 Commissioner, Donna Fia did not attend the meeting and is vacating her seat this year. District 4 Commissioner Penny Taylor voted no. RLSA proposal was approved.
Commissioner's seats up for re-election are: Fiala, Saunders and McDaniel. We should pay close attention to this election and be ready to support what makes sense.
The future of Collier County’s water, wildlife, tax base and traffic are at stake.