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Bunche Beach


Carl Melamet - carlme@lee.k12.fl.us
Bunche Beach (canoe site)


FORT MYERS, Fla. (August 14, 2001) - The Board of Lee County Commissioners today unanimously approved the $6.38-million purchase of Bunche Beach, one of the most important native, natural, and pristine coastland areas in the county that potentially could have been developed.

The 720-acre parcel near the Sanibel Causeway is located south of Summerlin Road and east and west of John Morris Road running to Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Closing of the sale, from Summerlin Sands Limited Partnership, is expected on or before September 7.

The property is being purchased through the county's Conservation 2020 program, with a temporary loan of $3 million from the county's general fund until the program receives in more tax revenues next fiscal year. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to reimburse half of the cost of the purchase.

Upon closing, the county will have purchased nearly 7,000 acres through the Conservation 2020 program and set it aside for long-term conservation.

This will be the third largest tract purchased through the program. In December, the county bought a 1,115-acre tract located on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River just east and west of Interstate 75 that has 3.5 miles of river frontage. And in April, the county purchased a 2,388-acre parcel of environmentally sensitive land in North Fort Myers that is the largest parcel ever bought through thee five-year-old Conservation 2020 program. That tract, costing $6.35 million, is located just west of Interstate 75 from the Charlotte County line to Del Prado Extension.

Lee County voters approved Conservation 2020 in November 1996 through a referendum that increased property taxes for seven years by 50 cents for every $1,000 of taxable property value. The increase raises about $12 million a year to buy environmentally sensitive lands. In addition, 10 percent of the funds collected are set aside for land stewardship activities such as exotic pest plant control and provision of passive recreation facilities.

The Board of Lee County Commissioners appointed a 15-member citizen advisory committee - the Lee County Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) - to recommend appropriate properties to be pursued for purchase.