LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to name the nearly 4,000-acre Conservation 20/20 preserve in south Lee County the Larry Kiker Preserve in honor of the District 3 Commissioner who passed away in April.
Lee County closed on the $42.4 million purchase on Dec. 4, 2017.
Upon completion of the purchase, Commissioner Kiker said “Lee County citizens have been very consistent with their direction to Lee County: Purchase properties for preservation and conservation. As a result of this strategic purchase, future generations will enjoy and benefit from this historic accomplishment, a legacy for Lee County to be proud of.”
The land, often referred to as Edison Farms, is the largest parcel purchased by the Board since the Bob Janes Preserve, which is 5,620 acres. That preserve was named for the District 1 Commissioner who passed away while in office in 2010.
County commissioners made acquiring Larry Kiker Preserve a top legislative priority for two years before voting unanimously for the purchase, saying it is an example of the type of environmentally critical land that the Conservation 20/20 program was created to protect and that voters overwhelmingly endorsed with an 84% majority in 2016.
The preserve is adjacent to Hidden Cypress Preserve, a Conservation 20/20 preserve, and lands maintained by the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. The land includes habitat for listed species such as the Florida panther and the woodstork.
As a Conservation 20/20 property, the Larry Kiker Preserve will:
· Protect a significant, diverse population of wildlife and plant communities.
· Assist with the distribution of freshwater flows in a natural wetland slough system and adjacent uplands that are part of the headwaters to Estero Bay, the state’s first aquatic preserve.
· Help sustain the region’s groundwater levels, a vital component to the area’s drinking water supply.
· Facilitate the restoration of historic flow-ways in the region, providing flood relief to those impacted from the existing altered system.
· Provide opportunities for nature-based recreation in the southern part of Lee County.