Linda turned the mike over to speaker Randy McCormick, Environmental Manager of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Reserve. Randy spoke about the delicate balance of our eco-system and how interdependent it is and closed with one of his favorite stories about creating a garden. First you must have the vision of the garden, then you must plant your garden and tend your garden before you can enjoy the rewards of the garden.
Marco Eagle Sanctuary PAC President also serving as the MESF Foundation Vice-Chair, Dr. Gerry Swiacki spoke about how the 11.6 acre Tract K parcel was considered as a dump for dredging sludge, then for solar panels and a school. “We are hoping to get the 1200 + signatures needed to bring it to a vote to keep it as it is!”
Carl H. Way, Founder & Chairman of the MESF, revealed that he had just moved here from Washington, DC and hadn’t unpacked boxes before he was asked to get involved. He indicated MESF was working with the City of Marco Island Environmentalist Nancy Richie, as well as City Planner Kris Van Lengen, on a site plan. “We’d like to include rope fencing so visitors to the site would keep the required 300’ distance from the nest.”
Legal costs associated with the preparation of documentation required to place a petition for a referendum before the election board have been approximately $18,000. Additional costs will accrue when the petition and signatures are presented to the election board for validation and certification.
“Our short term goal is to control the site. Our long term goal is to gather community support. Our thirdand most important goal is to SAVE THE EAGLES ON THE PROPERTY!” In mid-July a group of the original concerned citizens met with the City Council but were told the property did not belong to the City.
They met with then Collier County Superintendent , Dr. Dennis Thompson. Those discussions started the process to form a foundation. Further talks with the school board were fruitful and the Marco Eagle Sanctuary PAC now leases the property from the school board. The $30,000 lease covers 10 years with an option to buy. The only way the school district can break the lease is to sell the property to a 501C organization that maintains it as an eagle sanctuary. Carl commented, “We are a 501C(3) organization.”
The mission statement from the MESF states, “Our primary objective is the preservation of the American Bald Eagles and their habitats on Marco Island, Florida.” Linda Boston closed out the evening thanking photographer Dennis Goodman for donating five beautiful photographs of the eagles taken at the sanctuary. Five lucky winners of the prints were to be drawn from a hat containing the names of all the founding members. MESF is a 100% volunteer organization with all of its members, including officers, giving their time to preserving the Eagle Sanctuary.
Katrina Canady, Director of Community Relations and Educational Liaison, is working with Tommie Barfield and Charter Middle Schools on a contest to name the parent eagles residing at the sanctuary. The winners will be recognized at an upcoming event and the prize, requested by the students, will be books for their school library. MESF will donate $1,000 to purchase the books and a plaque commemorating the event will be placed on the sanctuary site.
Linda Boston thanked the founding members, the speakers and the Nest Fest committee organizers including Madeline Moore, Margaret Grass, Donna Anthus, Linda Colombo, Frances Diebler, Donna Kahn, John Parravani, Judy Sacher and Sue Wine. “We look forward to the Second Annual Nest Fest!”