We have another chance to preserve Sanibel's uniqueness, by acquiring a very special parcel of land to protect it against future development.
I say "another" chance because it was only a few years ago that islanders donated funds to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation in a successful effort to acquire the Bailey homestead.
This time, it is another homestead that of the Woodring family which can be similarly preserved. It abuts the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, so it is the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society that is raising the funds to purchase part of the land. The other part is being purchased through Lee County's Conservation 20/20 program.
The historic home on the Woodring property will be preserved. With a life estate arrangement, the Woodring family will continue to live there.
The Woodring homestead consists of 6.56 acres on Woodring Point. As was true with the Bailey homestead, preserving the Woodring homestead property also creates an intact habitat and wildlife corridor. This vital habitat is home and feeding grounds for over 80 land and marine species. Its preservation is critical, according to biologists.
If this land were developed rather than preserved, it could have as many as five homes built upon it. The partnership with Lee County, and a recent anonymous challenge donation, require the raising of $150,000 more at this point. The deadline for fundraising is September 2013.
The members of the board of directors of the Committee of the Islands do not want to see this opportunity missed. So each has made a contribution to the fund to purchase the Woodring homestead, and each encourages you to do the same.
The members of the Committee of the Islands board include Barbara Joy Cooley, president; Mike Gillespie, vice president; Bud Reinhold, treasurer; Martin Packard, secretary; David Bath; Jim Beauchamp; Mike Cuscaden; Phyllis Gresham; Claire Mallon; Wayne Ponader; Larry Schopp; Carolyn Swiney; and Ruth Woodham.
"We urge everyone who wants to preserve Sanibel's sanctuary character to contribute to the funds to purchase this unique property," said Gillespie. "Don't let it get away; do it today!"
Preservation campaign donations payable to "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society can be sent to PO Box 565, Sanibel, FL 33957. For more information about the Preservation Campaign, contact Birgie Vertesch at 239-292-0566.