Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sanibel Captiva Foundation Conservation Celebrating Their 50th

Protecting nature and wildlife is a mission of the Sanibel Island community and city leaders. Part of the City of Sanibel’s mission statement describes Sanibel as the community’s sanctuary, “one in which a diverse population lives in harmony with the island’s wildlife and natural habitats.” Furthermore, the City strives to “be vigilant in the protection and enhancement of its sanctuary characteristics.”

Sanibel preserves its wildlife by resisting “pressures to accommodate increased development and redevelopment.” In fact, the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge , located on Sanibel Island, is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US. This wildlife refuge is known throughout the world for its migratory bird populations.

The mastermind behind preserving Sanibel’s wildlife is the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF).  The foundation conserves the coastal habitats and aquatic resources across 1300 acres of Sanibel and Captiva Island, and also owns an additional 500 acres on nearby Pine Island.

SCCF was founded on October 31, 1967 with a sole mission to protect natural resources and wildlife. Over time, they have acquired approximately 1,860 acres for preservation. They have also played an integral role in fighting for water quality by doing ongoing studies of mangroves, oysters, blue crabs sea grasses, algal blooms and sea trout and they have been involved in ecological and wildlife studies. SCCF also provides daily education programs for the public at their education center and the Bailey Homestead.

Last year, SCCF formed a special 50th anniversary committee in an effort to begin planning celebrations which kicked off in  November 2016 and are ongoing in 2017.

One of the things Linda Uhler, chairman of SCCF's 50th Anniversary Committee, plans to do is make existing programs even more special.

"What we did was challenged the staff and the committee to make programs and events that we're already doing more special for our 50th year. We coined a word 'anniversarize.' We wanted to bump those (programs) up and not add a lot of programs or events but just make them more special instead," Uhler said.

For example, SCCF "anniversarized" their annual "Ding" Darling Brush of Excellence Environmental Art Program Award by crowning renowned photographer Clyde Butcher as the winner.

For its 50th anniversary, SCCF  kicked  off Evenings at the Homestead. And Butcher returned to help launch it December 14.  At the end of February, SCCF  showed the film "Sonic Sea" as part of its new Evenings at the Homestead program.

The third program they're introducing is a farm-to-table dinner fundraiser March 31 for their native garden center.

On the day of its 50th anniversary, SCCF will hold open houses at all its facilities. And, on  November 11 they will hold a 50th anniversary party at the Bailey Homestead Preserve. More details on the events will be released in the coming months.

On going activities at SCCF include the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation where visitors can enjoy an observation tower that overlooks four miles of wooded hiking trails, exotic exhibits, an aquatic touch tank, a colorful butterfly house and a souvenir nature shop. The onsite Native Plant Nursery  has a wide selection of native plants for sale. If you have no landscaping experience, you’re in luck. Ask nursery plant experts for landscaping tips and available educational services before you leave! 

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