The purpose of the Calusa Land Trust is to protect the natural diversity and beauty of the Pine Island region by acquiring, managing and preserving in perpetuity environmentally sensitive or historically important land and to foster appreciation for and understanding of the environment and our past.
The Land Trust is a an all-volunteer organization of individuals, families, and businesses who agree that the acquisition and protection of natural land is important if we are to retain the quality of life which makes the Pine Island region so attractive to people and to wildlife. Calusa Land Trust is a local not-for-profit land trust supported by volunteers who donate their time, talent, financial support and even land to protect our irreplaceable natural resources. All fundraising is done by volunteers for the benefit of the Calusa Land Trust.
Since we began in 1976, our membership has grown from the original 4 founders to over 800 members (almost 10% of Pine Island residents). As of April 2018, we have acquired over 2,400 acres of native wetlands, pinelands and uplands. We manage over 67 parcels and help protect over 2/3 of Pine Island’s mangroves - the heart of our fragile subtropical ecosystem. This protects young fish, birds and wildlife, filters water and protects us from storms.
The Land Trust does not engage in political activity or lobbying and takes no position on zoning or regulatory matters. The Calusa Land Trust represents people’s willingness to put their money and time where their hearts are to make a difference.
CALUSA LAND TRUST AND NATURE PRESERVE
What is a Land trust?
The following information is provided by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA).
The Calusa Land Trust is a subscriber to LTA's Standards and Practices.
Land Trusts are nonprofit organizations that work
hand-in-hand with landowners, land trusts use a variety of tools, such as conservation easements that permanently restrict the uses of the land, land donations and purchases and strategic estate planning, to protect America’s open spaces and green places, increasingly threatened by sprawl and development. Local, regional and national lands trusts, often staffed by volunteers or just a few employees, are helping communities save America’s land heritage without relying exclusively on the deep pockets of government.
How can individuals work with land trusts to protect their land?
Land trusts are experts at helping landowners find ways to protect their land in the face of ever-growing development pressure. They may protect land through donation and purchase, by working with landowners who wish to donate or sell conservation easements (permanent deed restrictions that prevent harmful land use), or by devising other plans for preserving open space.
What kind of land do they protect?
Land trusts protect open space of all kinds - wetlands, wildlife habitat, ranches, shorelines, forests, scenic views, farms, watersheds, historic estates, and recreational areas - land of every size and type that has conservation, historic, scenic, or other value as open space.
When did land trusts start?
The first land trust was founded more than 100 years ago in New England, the region that still boasts more than a third of the nation’s land trusts. The first American conservation easement, which permanently limits development of land, was written in the late 1880s to protect parkways in and around Boston and designed by the renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. Conservation easements, now the most popular means to protect land, came into widespread use after the Tax Reform Act of 1976 explicitly recognized them as tax deductible donations.
How many land trusts are there?
There are currently more than 1,700 land trusts in America, 128 percent more than in 1988.
Are land trusts successful?
Absolutely. Local and regional land trusts have protected approximately 4.7 million acres of wetlands, wildlife habitat, ranches and farms, shorelines, forests, recreation land and other property of ecological significance. Indeed, the number of local land trusts has grown phenomenally, from 743 in 1985 to more than 1,700 today. Land trusts operate in every state as well as in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
For further information visit Land Trust Alliance
What we do
The future of Pine Island is being decided right now. We could become another Sanibel (which is reaching "buildout"), or we could become a western extension of Cape Coral. Cape Coral has lots of pleasant neighborhoods, canals, and shopping centers, but it has precious few mangroves, native uplands, natural waterways, wetlands, and other natural habitats. Or—if we do our job right, Pine Island could continue to be the kind of place both people and wildlife find to be very special.
In 1750, the world population stood at about one billion people. The Calusa were gone and Pine Island was essentially uninhabited. It took a full 200 years for the world population to little more than double itself to 2.5 billion in 1950, but only another 48 years to much more than double again to the present 5.8 billion. At the present rate of growth, it will double again in a mere 20 years. The world is extremely crowded, and getting more so by the minute.
The United States alone is growing by an incredible 2.5 million people per year—the highest growth rate of any industrialized nation. Six million acres of farmland have been lost to developments in the last ten years alone.
Places to live, grow food, and get clean water to drink and air to breath are scarce—and getting desperately more so by the day. Over 800 million people worldwide presently suffer from malnutrition, while at the same time, food production in many areas is going down instead of up due to land abuse. One-third of the earth’s forests are gone and carbon dioxide levels have increased by 30 percent. More than half of the original 200 million acres of wetlands in the lower 48 states has already been destroyed. Tropical forests are being depleted so quickly that nearly 20 percent of all wildlife species may disappear in the next twenty years. One-quarter of the bird species are already extinct.
There are no more uninhabited Pine Islands out there to which people can pack up and move. We have no choice but to do the best with what we have. So—how are we doing? Check the following statistics and judge for yourself.
A University of Florida study released on 6 March 1998 listed current Lee county population growth at an astounding 9,169 people per year. That’s about 4,000 houses which must be created each year just to cover the new arrivals. Southwest Florida county governments issue more building permits per resident than any other place in the entire United States.
Estimates vary widely because of lack of base line data, but Florida has probably lost about one-third of its wetlands in the last 50 to 60 years. So many people moved to places like Tampa Bay that their sheer numbers destroyed the habitat that motivated them to move there. Pine Island has thus far been spared that scale of devastation, but our losses have been and continue to be significant.
A bipartisan U.S. Congressional group announced on 1 Feb 98 that the United States is now losing 28,000 acres of coastal wetlands each year. They did not give a more detailed breakdown, but Anna Stober, in The Pine Island Eagle, 18 Feb 98, quoted the Corps of Engineers as saying that they then had pending in their office requests to fill and build on 3,500 acres of wetlands in Lee and Collier Counties alone. That number, they said, exceeded all previously approved wetland building permits for the entire State of Florida, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands combined.
The accuracy of some of these statistics can, of course, be debated. It is clear, though, that the habitat of Southwest Florida, including Pine Island, is under full assault. People are loving it to death.
The Calusa Land Trust endeavors to help address this critical and urgent problem by acquiring and preserving environmentally sensitive habitats in the Pine Island Area.
by dr. phil buchanan