The Osprey-based Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has announced the permanent protection of 10 acres within a high-priority wildlife corridor in northern Collier County. Located near the Lee County line at the southwest corner of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) preservation area, this newly protected land serves as primary habitat for the endangered Florida panther. The protection was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the property’s owners, Dr. and Mrs. Ambrose D. Pare. It was completed on March 28.
The property’s proximity to the CREW preservation area, managed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), allows Conservation Foundation to work with Collier County and SFWMD to protect adjoining lands and strengthen the existing wildlife corridor. With habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation among the top threats to the Florida panther, linkages such as this are critical to the survival of the species. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, only 120 to 230 adults currently remain in the wild.
Beyond the Florida panther, the wildlife corridor supports other species of greatest conservation need including the wood stork, the Big Cypress fox squirrel, and the Florida black bear. The newly protected land is also near the Imperial River, which flows into the southern part of Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, a major conservation target in Southwest Florida. In addition to donating the 10-acre easement, the Pares contributed to Conservation Foundation’s stewardship endowment fund which provides dedicated resources for the ongoing stewardship of the land.