What is the best defense against a raging hurricane? In addition to a superb team of first responders, smart infrastructure and advance planning, the answer, in part, is preserving natural systems. The extensive mangrove forests of Southwest Florida were essential in protecting portions of the coast from more extensive storm damage by holding back water and absorbing the sheer force of the wind and surge of the ocean. In addition, wetlands, when healthy and intact, can store up to 1.5 million gallons of water – per acre. Not only do wetlands store water, but equally important is that they treat water by cleaning it before it flows into other bodies of water.
So, in the midst of the post-Irma recovery, the news that the Lee County Board of County Commissioners are finalizing a deal for the purchase of Edison Farms is great news for all of us. The public acquisition of the almost 4,000 acres of primary wetlands that comprise Edison Farms is a historic milestone in efforts to preserve the remaining core ecological assets in our region; assets that are necessary not just for nature and its inhabitants, such as the endangered Florida Panther, wood storks and other magnificent wading birds, but for people and our quality of life.
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