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Land Trust officials supply update

January 23, 2013
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Pine Island Eagle

The 37th Annual Calusa Land Trust meeting was held at Fritt's Park Sunday afternoon to provide an overview of what the organization did in 2012.

Treasurer Joan Rosenberg began the meeting by sharing the amount of money that was collected through the organization's fund-raisers. She said she wanted to give the organization kudos for its fund-raising efforts because they raised $41,000 last year through the Duck Race, Poker Run, as well as other efforts that were held.

"Fund-raising this last year has been a really good year," Vice President Ron Wesorick said.

Article Photos

Brian Cotterill, Calusa Land Trust President

He said the Duck Race alone raised $34,000 last year.

This year the Great Calusa Rubber Duck Race will be held Saturday, March 2, at Woody's Waterside in St. James City. Wesorick said Ken Pleat is running the show this year.

He said his wife, Pink, had asked that someone take over the Poker Race and Duck Race and Pleat called and said he would run the both of them.

Wesorick said the event will have a Duck Race and an auction.

"Max Marine is donating an offshore fishing trip," he said, which they did last year as well. "Last year the American Legion bought the winning ticket; they sold that ticket and then took the money and gave it to the Wounded Warrior program."

Wesorick said, as in years past, their large money maker for the event is the auction.

"We are always looking for donations," he said. "Anyone who is crafty or knows people who are, get the word out."

The other large fund-raising event the Calusa Land Trust held was the Poker Run, which Wesorick said made $3,200.

"It worked out great and everyone had a lot of fun," he said.

Ed Chapin, Calusa Land Trust member, also shared information regarding the organization's Rummage Sale, which will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. He said individuals can drop off good quality items for the sale on Friday starting at noon.

Wesorick said the Great Auto Race, another fund-raising event, will be held Feb. 2. Tickets are $15.

"It is a super show," he said, because Jeff Mahl tells his great grandfather's story through pictures, memoirs and discussions. "Everyone who went to his first show a couple of years ago has already bought tickets."

Wesorick finished his presentation by thanking the community for all of its support.

"This has really been a good year, looking forward to another one," he said.

Merchandise is also a large part of the organization's fund-raising efforts.

Gloria Andrews, a member who is in charge of merchandise, said this year they decided to add canvas bags to the merchandise, which are being sewn from scratch.

Phil Rosenberg, a board member who decided not to run again because his wife's on the board, provided an update of the members. He said there are currently 601 members who made a contribution in the last year and another 1,000 or so that have not made a donation in the last 12 months.

"There are almost 1,700 members of the Land Trust," Phil said.

The capitalized land purchases amounted to $105,440 during 2012. Joan said the Calusa Land Trust spent $20,000 to go towards Conservation 20/20 for Pine Island Creek.

"We were able to really purchase land this year," she said. "A lot of members gave us money and we were able to find land to buy."

Joan said the organization's property fund is now worth more than $1.8 million. She said that amount includes the fair market value of the land that is given to the Calusa Land Trust plus the cost of land that they purchased.

"You should all be congratulated, we are doing a great job," Joan said.

Board member Harold Bruner provided a land acquisition report during the meeting as well. He said how they were able to round up $105,000 still amazes him.

"The last two years have been great for us because finally the real estate market caught up to our ability to buy," Bruner said.

He said they were able to purchase an acre of land for plus or minus $1,000.

"If you want to control it, you better own it," Bruner said.

A lot of the land that was purchased last year was mangrove wetlands.

"We really have put a high priority on the high wetlands of Pine Island," he said.

The Calusa Land Trust closed on the first of four Coker properties in March, which are mostly mangroves. Bruner said the property that was purchased is continuous to existing preserves the Calusa Land Trust has already purchased.

"So much more important than the same size property that is isolated or surrounded by private land," he said.

The 40 acres that was purchased brings the total land up to 525 acres that is located from Stringfellow Road east to Matlacha Pass.

The Calusa Land Trust was also able to purchase Inman, Slagle, which is 20 acres in September. The land wetlands in the Smokehouse Bay area northeast of Bokeelia.

Thirty-eight acres of wetland were also purchased for the Coker properties, which is west of the 20/20 Pine Island Flatwoods parking lot on the south end of the island.

The county also purchased 218 acres east of the four-way stop and south of Pine Island Road adjoining Little Pine Island through the Lee County Conservation 20/20 program.

Unfortunately, Bruner, said if they had the opportunity to purchase land, they do not currently have the funds to do so.

During 2012, he said one of the biggest contributions came from a first time out of state grant that they received, which was designated for land acquisitions.

The meeting ended with President Brian Cotterill sharing who the two new board members are Pat Rooney and Jerry Butters.

Chapin, Cathy House, Sonny Koutsoutis, Judy Ott, Joan and Wesorick were also re-elected for this year.



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