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Panther Walk Preserve

Conservation Collier Referendum Information

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This is an educational website designed to answer your questions about the Conservation Collier Program and the proposed Referendum on the November 3, 2020 ballot for Collier County residents.

If you have further questions, please call 239-252-2979

What is the mission of Conservation Collier?

The goals of Conservation Collier are to acquire, protect, restore, and manage environmentally sensitive lands in Collier County for the benefit of present and future generations.

When and how was Conservation Collier established?

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 2004 and 2013, the property tax was collected.

What did Conservation Collier do with the funds that were collected from 2004 – 2013?

To date, the Program has acquired and manages twenty-one (21) preserves totaling 4,345 acres. Currently, 13 of these preserves are open to the public for natural resource-based recreation.

Where are Conservation Collier preserves located?

The majority of Conservation Collier Preserves are located where people live in the Urban area, Golden Gate Estates, Rural Fringe [Mixed Use District], and Immokalee; the two exceptions to this are McIlvane Marsh and Camp Keais Strand.

Some of our most popular preserves include land with the Gordon River Greenway and Freedom Park. Our largest preserve is Pepper Ranch in Immokalee at 2,512 acres.


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History of Acquisition

The initial acquisition phase occurred from 2003 to 2011. In 2011 available funds were appropriated in a maintenance trust fund as the program moved into a preserve management phase, including opening the preserves for public access and managing and hosting visitors.

The Program remained in a management phase until 2017 when the Board authorized the use of management funds for the acquisition of more land. In 2018 and 2019, three (3) projects totaling 237 acres were purchased.

Taxable ValueTax Impact @ .25 Mills

Tell me about the Conservation Collier Referendum on the Ballot. What is it asking the voters?

The Referendum will ask voters if they would like to reestablish a levy of .25 mil ad valorem tax for ten (10) years to continue to fund the Conservation Collier Program’s acquisition and management of environmentally sensitive lands.

For example, if you own a property with a taxable value of $200,000, your ad valorem tax to fund the program will be $50 annually for 10 years.

The basics of the Referendum:

  • An ad valorem millage of 0.25 mills OR $25 per $100,000 of taxable property value
  • To be collected for 10 years

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If the Referendum passes, what does Conservation Collier plan to do with the money?

If the Conservation Collier referendum passes, taxes to fund the program will be collected for a period of 10 years:

  • 65-75% will be used to acquire new preserve land
  • up to 10% will be used to fund public amenities at preserves
    (may include boardwalks, facilities, parking, interpretive programming, etc.)
  • 25% will be used for management of acquired preserve lands.

A majority of the management funds will be placed in a trust fund that will generate interest for annual management activities so that the program can operate in perpetuity using only the taxes collected over the 10 year period authorized by the referendum.

Section 6.1.e. of the Conservation Collier Ordinance provides that up to seventy-five percent (75%) of all revenues collected for Conservation Collier may be used for acquisition. Section 7.2.a. of the Ordinance provides that management funds shall be no less than twenty-five percent (25%) of revenues collected in one year. If the referendum were to pass, the Conservation Collier Land Acquisition Advisory Committee (CCLAAC) has proposed that up to ten percent (10%) of the acquisition funding be available for use for amenities on an annual basis to improve access to existing and future Conservation Collier preserves. Amenities may include boardwalks, facilities, parking lots, and interpretive staff. This would be evaluated on an annual basis during the Board’s review of the annual budget. This would result in an allocation of a minimum of sixty-five percent (65%) for acquisition, twenty-five percent (25%) for maintenance and a maximum of ten percent (10%) for access improvements.

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How does Conservation Collier acquire property?

  • Conservation Collier is a willing seller program.
  • Priorities for acquisition are based on the criteria in the Conservation Collier Implementation Ordinance, and 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.

Land Management – summary of work on the land

Conservation Collier preserve lands are managed to maintain and restore native habitats and provide public access to those native habitats if possible. Land management activities include: invasive, exotic plant control; prescribed fire; mowing; restoration plantings; fence maintenance; and trail maintenance.

Board walk through preserve

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