CCFW opposes harvesting saw palmetto berries in 20/20 preserves
To the editor:
The Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife has sent the following letter in opposition to the harvesting of saw palmetto berries in Lee County 20/20 preserves to the county manager, copying all Lee County commissioners:
Dear Mr. Desjarlais,
We write on behalf of over 150 active members of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife (CCFW), and our sister organization Cape Coral Wildlife Trust (CCWT), to express our firm opposition to the harvesting of saw palmetto berries, a critical food source for our local wildlife, in the Pine Island Flatwood Preserve and any other of the Conservation 20/20 preserves in Lee County.
These preserves, established with the overwhelmingly support of Lee County residents and maintained with our hard-earned taxpayer dollars, were established to be a safe haven for our local wildlife and off limits for profiting on behalf of any public or private entity.
The state-threatened gopher tortoises, a keystone species, rely on the berries of the saw palmetto as a food source to survive. Harvesting will irreparably place gopher tortoises under further imperiled circumstances.
Reducing the food source for our wildlife — which is already being done due to development — should never be allowed in county-owned preserves. This recent so-called “experiment” supposes an inexplicable departure and deviation from all previous county decisions to preserve and protect our local wildlife.
Harvesting will also disrupt the habitat of several other species, such as the Florida black bear, the white-tailed deer, the endangered Florida scrub jay, and the highly endangered Florida panther. All these species depend on the saw palmetto not only as a food source, but also as a refuge and den to raise their young.
We respectfully urge you to oppose to the idea of harvesting saw palmetto berries in Conservation 20/20 preserves around Lee County.
Pascha Donaldson -Vice President
Carl Veaux – Past President
Courtney Crowley – Treasurer
Lori Haus-Bulcock – Corresponding Secretary
Michele Mold – Recording Secretary
Cheryl Anderson – Member-at-Large
Alessia Leathers – Member-at-Large