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Some facts on Conservation 20/20

July 17, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

In his recent letter to the editor, Sal Grosso writes that the public should receive additional facts about Conservation 20/20. Unfortunately he did not include any facts to give a balanced picture of this successful program that protects and preserves open space.

The letter implies that there is enough government-owned land in Lee County.

FACT: Lee County trails its neighboring counties-Collier and Charlotte-in preserved land by a wide margin, both as a percentage of protected lands and in actual acres.

FACT: Some of the most active opponents of purchasing more open space are developers who do not like to bid against the county when they seek land for their projects.

The letter laments the amount of money spent to maintain the county's Conservation 20/20 lands.

FACT: As the writer knows, the expense of maintaining undeveloped land in a natural state is a fraction of the cost of maintaining developed land with its requirement for roads, water and sewer lines, police protection, fire protection, schools and more.

FACT: The little maintenance these properties do require provides good local jobs for county residents.

FACT: The burden on Lee County taxpayers when land is developed was recently dramatically increased when impact fees developers are charged were slashed.

FACT: The more land we preserve now the more we REDUCE the need for future county expenditures. It is much cheaper to preserve the environment than it is to restore it.

Amazingly, the letter makes no mention of the many benefits of Conservation 20/20.

FACT: This program protects our coastline and wetlands from storm surges and water runoff, lowering insurance rates for county residents.

FACT: Conservation 20/20 lands purify our water and air, and provide residents and visitors with opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, photography, fishing, kayaking and more.

Now is not the time to curtail this successful program or divert its funds to make up budget shortfalls in other areas.

If you want to see what happens when citizens and their government don't work together to preserve and protect open space, take a drive over to Miami-Dade County where they paved paradise years ago.

Janet Bunch

North Fort Myers



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