Land Protected for Rookery Bay Research Reserve

March 13, 2012

A key 4.6 acre property on Keewaydin Island has been purchased and will be permanently protected as part of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, The Trust for Public Land announced today.

The $583,000 cost of the project was met through federal funding provided by the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP). The program is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is designed to protect coastal lands with significant ecological, historical and recreational value. With CELCP funds in place, the state of Florida was able to purchase the Keewaydin property for inclusion in the research reserve.

Keewaydin Island is one of southwest Florida's largest unbridged barrier islands and beginning in 1980, the state has acquired more than 85% of it for conservation. "This was a key addition to the Reserve and we're happy that we've been able to make it possible," said Becky Nielsen, The Trust for Public Land project manager. "The island has key nesting ground for least Terns and loggerhead turtles on its pristine beaches, but it is also an excellent spot for fishermen."

The Rookery Bay Research Reserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"The recent land acquisition on Keewaydin Island, with the assistance of CELCP funding, was a rare opportunity to preserve an important Southwest Florida barrier island ecosystem. It also helps protect the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which encompasses one of the largest and most pristine subtropical mangrove estuaries in the world. We are pleased to assist the state of Florida in protecting this land for generations to come," said Donna Wieting, Acting Director, NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

The Trust for Public Land protects land for people to enjoy as parks, playgrounds, outdoor space and recreation areas. The Trust for Public Land is the nation's leader in creating local funds for conservation and is the only national conservation organization working to build parks in cities across the country.