Under sunny skies and cool breezes, the Calusa Land Trust and Nature Preserve of Pine Island held its 28th annual meeting at Fritts Park Sunday afternoon.
Harold Bruner, president, called the meeting to order and introduced Joan Rosenberg, treasurer, to the crowd of about 100 people to inform them about the trust's financial report.
"Everyone has a copy of the agenda," Rosenberg said. "Two pages in there are of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses. The important thing I want to show you is that we brought in $127,000 in revenues. Fund-raising brought in close to $40,000 and member donations were a little over $90,000. We did a fabulous job this last year. Under expenses was $164,089. That's the amount of money we spent to buy land. Under assets, you can see we now own land a little under $2 million and that is about 2,000 acres. So we're doing fabulous, our volunteers are doing a great job fundraising and our island is really supporting us."
To address the organization's fund-raising, Bruner introduced Ron Wesorick.
"We have a number of major fund-raisers," Wesorick said. "We have the duck race, the poker run, rummage sale, merchandise sales, Plunk-a-Plank and the great race. Last year's duck race raised over $31,000. We've been over $30,000 for years that's our major fund-raiser. The poker run we just completed, we raised $4,300."
He continued, "The duck race is coming up on March 1 at Woody's. We have 3,000 ducks and tomorrow we're going to clean them up and count them so we're looking for volunteers for that job. We're also looking for donations - any business, craftsman or artists. The first 20 ducks to finish win a prize. First prize this year is an offshore fishing trip valued at $1,000. We also have a silent auction and a live auction. Tickets are available at Woody's. That concludes the fund-raising report."
The Membership Report indicated that there were over 1,700 members total with about 600 active members that contribute funds.
"Whenever you hear numbers up here, $1,000, $5,000, here's what you need to think of: $5,000 buys us 5 acres of mangroves," Bruner said. "Water quality is a huge issue for us and mangroves contribute so much to water quality and they are so affordable for us at $1,000 per acre. Now some people say, 'but the government protects mangroves,' but the only effective way to protect them is to own them in perpetuity."
The Land Stewardship Report was presented by Ed Chapin.
"We're getting more and more land," Chapin said. "And more and more responsibilities. I hold 11 'Work Parties' a year. Each Work Party is on the second Saturday of the month. Last week we had 22 people here setting up this park (Fritts Park). In March we'll be working on is Dobbs Preserve near Tropical Point. We are working on a Loop Trail there. In April we'll be at the St. James Creek Preserve which is one of our premier preserves. One more thing was also do is the Peter Ordway Mangrove adventures. These were started by Peter back in the 1990s."
Peter Ordway Mangrove Adventures was started by Ordway, who was director of the Land Trust in the early 1990s. These adventures were a way for him to share his enthusiasm for exploring the mangroves by canoe and kayak. Over the years this has grown into a "paddling" community interested in preserving the beautiful waterfront preserves of Pine Island.
Today Ed Chapin, the Calusa Land Trust's chief ranger, holds six "paddles" each season. These paddles range from very easy to challenging adventures. Chapin said they are accommodating to all. "Sometimes we can even lend someone a canoe to get them started in the great experience of paddling. Donations are not required but very much appreciated," he said.
"On Sunday, Jan. 26, we will be paddling Big Jim Creek" he continued. "This is one of the reasons we purchased Fritts Park because of the drainage ditch here that goes out to our 300 acres preserve that's mostly all mangroves. These mangroves are an important park of our ecosystem here on Pine Island and exploring them is truly an adventure. To get on our mailing list you can email me at or telephone me at (239) 218-7531."
Gloria Andrews spoke about the merchandise.
"We have apricot hats for the ladies and khaki and green hats for the men," Andrews said. "We also have a lot of requests for the long-sleeve fishing shirts for the guys we have them in. We still have tote bags, double knits and Calusa Island pocket Ts. We will be getting some new flora and fauna in putty for the guys and beige for the ladies. We are working on zip jackets and we need your opinion on colors. So be sure to give us your opinion."
She continued, "Our resident artist, Diana Wellman has given us the design for the T-shirts. She has done many designs in the past and she has agreed to do a design for each of our preserves."
"We don't do this every year but if there's some person or organization that we feel is deserving of special recognition we like to do that," Bruner said. "This year we want to recognize Phil Buchanan. I'm not going to try to list his accomplishments because there are so many but Phil has impacted so many things on this island. I will just read from the plaque:
"The Calusa Land Trust and Nature Preserve does hereby acknowledge the significant efforts of Phillip G. Buchanan Sr. for dedicated service as a board member, vice president and president from January 1998 through March 2003 and for dedicated service to the citizens of Lee County and especially to the citizens of Pine Island as an environmental advocate of the highest caliber. Presented this 19th day of January 2014."
"Thank you very much, I appreciate that," Buchanan said in response. "I hadn't realized it's been 10 years since I was president. But I remember in a good year we had $30,000 income and one year we did $40,000 and thought that was phenomenal. Today we're at $127,000.
"He continued, "I'd like to reinforce something Harold said about the 20/20 Program. It is in big trouble and people in this organization, and others like us, have to do something. The good people that founded and ran the program for the last 15 years have been kicked off the program and replaced with pro-development people. This past week the program was offered a property down in the crew complex. The owner offered the property at a bargain rate at $4,000 an acre and the committee turned it down. If you can think of anything we can do before the next election lets do it."
He went on to say, "One last piece of business is we have to take care of is electing the board of directors. We've got two nominees for new board members. We have Rad Hazen and Frank Potter. If you go online you can read bio's on these two guys and I think they'll make great contributions. We thank you for your willingness to serve and with that we'll move to close the meeting.
Frank Tuma provided music.
Mel Meo's Mullet Wagon provided food.