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Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach Area Features

Preserving Our Good Nature

  By: Kristie Seaman Anders

Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation

The islands’ reputations are known worldwide for shelling, birding, fishing and striking beauty.  Located where the temperate mingles with the tropical climate and fresh water mixes with the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel and Captiva Islands are ideally situated to create unexcelled habitat for aquatic and terrestrial life.

The land and sea are so strikingly beautiful, productive and bounteous, they captured the attention of conservationists long before most of the world became aware natural resources were finite.

In the 1930s the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Conservation Association was founded under the leadership of Jay Norwood Darling. The first formal protection came from the State of Florida in 1939.  In the next few decades under Darling’s urging, the federal government began protecting lands, and the Sanibel refuge was established.

In 1967, the refuge was renamed to honor the memory of its first conservation hero, Mr. Darling. In that same year, the grass roots organizers incorporated as the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), dedicating themselves to the preservation of natural resources and wildlife habitat. Complementing the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s activities, the foundation began preserving precious freshwater wetlands, while the refuge purchased bayside mangrove habitat.

Lot by lot, acre by acre, SCCF has purchased and restored vegetation and habitat that began to disappear under pressure of development on these islands. Skilled habitat managers have studied the land and needs of wildlife, steadily influencing the preserved lands to provide a place for river otters, bobcats, gopher tortoises, great egrets and more.

Marine scientists conduct research and monitor the health of the waters that surround the islands. Educators help residents and visitors explore the islands and learn more about the world around them. A native plant nursery is available for gardeners to learn more about landscaping for wildlife.

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