|Published:||Jul 27, 2011 10:37 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 27, 2011 9:52 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A local conservation group is in a race against time to save hundreds of acres of Pine Island land from development.
The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has been working to raise money to do that but is still thousands of dollars short, with a purchase deadline coming up in two weeks.
The 190 acres of property is off of Stringfellow Road, and the foundation says it's a haven for Florida wildlife.
"There's threatened and endangered animal life here, and it's a juvenile habitat for snook and tarpon as well," says Marjorie Floyd, Director of Financial Projects.
Floyd says they have an agreement with Lee County's Conservation 20/20, which will foot the bill for the property, if the foundation pays to remove the invasive plants. The property was appraised at $5 million, but Floyd says the county was able to negotiate the price down to $2 million.
The group started an online campaign called SavePineIsland.org to raise the $229,000 for the plant-removal project.
They've had some success, but still need $124,000 by the August 11 purchase date.
"People have been very generous, but the clock is ticking," says Floyd.
The foundation's staff biologist Lee Amos says the draw of the land isn't just the views, but the creatures that thrive on it and the tourists who come to watch them.
"If we want them to continue to come, we have to protect land like this," says Amos.
If the group doesn't make its goal in time, another option is to borrow the money -- in which case, Floyd says they would still need to fundraise in order to pay it back.
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