Saturday, January 29, 2022


~10-year management plan approved during public hearing and council meeting~

The Acquisition and Restoration Council today approved the 10-yearmanagement plan for Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve located in Lee County and encompassing 11,000 acres of exceptionally beautiful sovereign submerged lands.

The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve Management Plan, which was last updated in 2004, characterizes each of its issues and delineates unique goals, objectives and strategies that set the framework for meeting the challenges presented by the issues. Objectives include the continuation of habitat management initiatives, such as the “No Internal Combustion Motor Zones” for passive seagrass bed restoration; “Critical Wildlife Area” designations for protection of rookery islands; the Asian green mussel eradication program; and the creation of oyster reef habitat, among others.

As the public continues to enjoy this important natural resource, smart growth initiatives, science-based sustainable land-use strategies and low-impact recreational opportunities will be employed along with continued education and outreach efforts to visitors of the preserve.

“The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve is one of the local community’s most appreciated and frequently enjoyed natural resources,” said Cheryl Clark, manager of Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. “Striving to keep this area pristine is the primary goal of this management plan.”

Some of the goals outlined in the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve Management Plan include the following:

Advance understanding of Estero Bay’s health in relation to its water quality and submerged resources;

  • Reduce potential threats to the aquatic preserve from point and non-point sources of pollution;
  • Protect and improve the ecological integrity of the aquatic preserve and its submerged resources;
  • Preserve and protect wading and diving bird colonies and wading bird nesting islands; and
  • Assist federal, state and local agencies and organizations in managing public use and access while protecting natural resources.

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, originally established as an Offshore Preserve in 1966, is Florida’s first aquatic preserve. To date, 10 natural communities have been identified within the bay. Of the natural communities found within the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, six communities — algal bed, blackwater stream, beach dune, coastal berm, seagrass bed and sponge bed — are listed as imperiled in Florida.

DEP’s Florida Coastal Office manages Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve along with 40 other aquatic preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Florida Coastal Office’s programs and activities are designed to help Floridians better understand and conserve the state’s resources through research, education and conservation.

For more information about the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve and DEP’s Florida Coastal Office, click HERE.

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