Rich Blonna Supports Conservation Collier

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Written By Rich Blonna

October 1, 2020

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I, Rich Blonna, want to go on record as being the first Candidate for Marco Island City Council that endorses the November 3rd Ballot Question that re-authorizes the funding for Conservation Collier.

If this is reauthorized, I will seek their funding to help us acquire undeveloped lots and sensitive habitat on Marco Island that houses our burrowing owls, gopher tortoises, and other creatures while adding to our arsenal of tools to manage surface and drinking water resources.

I urge all Marco Island and Collier County residents to VOTE YES on this important question.

Here is how it is presented on the ballot:

Ballot Language:

REESTABLISH FUNDING FOR CONSERVATION COLLIER TO PROTECT WATER QUALITY, WATER RESOURCES, AND WILDLIFE HABITAT

QUESTION: 

SHALL COLLIER COUNTY REESTABLISH THE LEVY OF A .25 MIL AD VALOREM TAX FOR 10 YEARS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONTINUING TO ACQUIRE, PRESERVE AND MANAGE ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE LANDS, AND PROVIDE COMPATIBLE PUBLIC ACCESS WHEREVER APPLICABLE TO SUCH LANDS, FOR THE PROTECTION OF WATER QUALITY, WATER RESOURCES, WILDLIFE HABITAT, AND PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IN PERPETUITY?

_____YES
_____NO

Conservation Collier was created in 2003, after a November 2002 voter referendum in which voters approved creating a taxpayer-funded conservation land acquisition program. To pay for the program, taxpayers agreed to a property tax increase of up to .25 mills for up to ten (10) years and bonding for up to $75 million. Between 2003 and 2013, the property tax was collected.

In order for funding to continue for another 10 years the voters have to approve it on November 3rd.

While much of eastern and southern Collier County are protected by Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Florida Panther and 10,000 Island National Wildlife Refuges, and Everglades National Park, the need to protect western portions of the county between Immokalee and the coastal areas including Marco Island still exists.

So far, funds collected from 2004 – 2013 have been used to acquire and manage 4,345 acres of preserve land in 21 different locations throughout Collier County. Approximately 20% of the taxes collected were put into a fund for management of existing preserve lands in perpetuity so that no additional tax collections would be required for the management of these existing preserves.

Conservation Collier is a willing seller program. In other words, they seek out property that is environmentally sensitive and offer the owners a fair market value price for their land. Priorities for acquisition include factors such as protection of Collier County’s surface and drinking water resources, protection of wildlife habitat, flood protection, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

We are blessed to already have one piece of our island protected through this program. Otter Mound Preserve , on the southern end of Marco Island offers a mulched walking trail (ADA portion), parking (ADA), bird watching, and is dogs-friendly as long as they are kept on a leash.

It is my hope that we can work with the group to acquire additional parcels

I invite you to learn more about the lands that you own by following this link: Preservation Collier Preserves  

Please support me on election day by voting YES for Rich Blonna for Marco Island City Council and YES for funding Conservation Collier.

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This is a letter I sent to the Marco Island Planning Board regarding their decision to overturn a variance denial by the City.

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