Erica Fish, Marketing Communications Specialist
Over the years, Barron Collier Companies (BCC) has grown from a landholding company to one of the largest diversified organizations in Southwest Florida, and from early on, the company’s success has come with an abiding sense of responsibility for Florida conservation projects, including:
- Pioneering the Rural Land Stewardship Program
- Florida Panther Protection Program
- 729,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve
- Collier Seminole State Park
- 150,000-acre Habitat Conservation Plan
Founded in 2002, the Rural Land Stewardship (or RSLA) was adopted to create a land-use plan to protect agricultural areas, natural habitats, wetlands and flow ways, while directing growth to more sustainable mixed-use patterns from these areas. Since the stewardship’s implementation more than 50,000 acres of Florida habitat has been preserved. BCC’s master-planned community, Ave Maria, was the first town developed under the Rural Land Stewardship Area program, setting aside 17,050 acres for conservation.
A collaborative achievement between BCC, leading conservation organizations and eastern Collier County farmers and ranchers, the Florida Panther Protection Program is committed to setting the endangered Florida panther population on the path to recovery, safeguarding an upwards of 2.5M acres in public and private lands for big cat habitat. Additionally, the program established the Paul J. Marinelli Panther Protection Fund, a source of private funds from well-planned, sustainable real estate developments, like BCC’s eastern Collier town development Ave Maria, making conservation funding available.
Established in 1974, on land conveyed by the Barron Collier family, Big Cypress National Preserve was the United States’ first national preserve. Protecting 729,000 acres of wetlands that flow clean water across the Greater Everglades ecosystem into Everglades National Park and then reaching the southern west coast’s estuaries, this vast swamp remains the permanent home to a vital mixture of tropical and temperate vegetation, diverse wildlife and the endangered Florida panther.
The Collier Seminole State Park was created on land originally owned by Barron Gift Collier and covers what is historically known as Royal Palm Hammock. The park was donated by the Collier family to Collier County in 1947 as a memorial for the Seminole Indian Wars. Visitors can see the last existing Bay City Walking Dredge, built in 1924, which was used to build the Tamiami Trail Highway (U.S. 41) through the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, connecting the west and east coasts of the state. This 7,271-acre state park extends further south to the Ten Thousand Islands, encompassing mangrove river estuaries and salt marsh preserves.
Permanently preserving an approximate 150,000 acres in Eastern Collier County, the Habitat Conservation Plan ensures the restorative protection of true Florida habitat, panther populations and rehabilitation of 19 other threatened state and federally listed species.
For more information about Barron Collier Companies’ conservation efforts and land restoration projects, please visit barroncollier.com.