Most of the stately native pines for which Pine Island was named have been destroyed. At least 80 % of the native palmetto and slash pine uplands upon which they grew have been converted to crops and housing - all in the last 100 years. Only some 8 % have been preserved. The remaining 12% are under constant and unrelenting pressure for conversion for agricultural or urban use. Unless something is done, all of the larger and most significant parcels will be lost within the next five years. Even the small upland parcels interspersed between rural housing could be lost within a few decades.
Pine Island mangrove forests were devastated by dredge-and- fill developments that continued until the mid-1970’s, when the state of Florida awoke to the tragic consequences of this activity. Permits continue to be granted to destroy small mangrove areas, often without adequate mitigation. Mangrove restoration is easy to do but rarely conducted, and the constant attrition will eventually prove costly. Satellite photography suggests that we have lost about 10% of our island’s mangroves in the last 100 years. Of the remaining mangrove forests, about two-thirds have been preserved and about one-third remains endangered.
Our suburban areas are approaching buildout, and our fast-growing population is quickly extending into what are designated as "outlying suburban areas". Numerous additional outlying areas have already been designated in the Lee County Land Use Plan, largely in patchwork fashion, often intruding into rural areas to accommodate previous subdivision activity. Much of our rural areas are in fact not rural but either high intensity agriculture, e.g.,m palm plantations, or parceled into single-family house lots
Pine Island’s population is growing faster than either the infrastructure or the environment can support without drastic changes. Either controls on growth or expansion of the infrastructure is necessary - which of these should be done or how they should be done are essentially land planning/political questions beyond the charter of the Calusa Land Trust. However, we have to preserve what we have left or we won’t have it.
CLT has identified 38 significant environmentally endangered upland and mangrove areas on and around Pine Island. We have action plans for a mere eight of those areas, and ,of course, not all of these action plans will be successful. All Pine Islanders are strongly encouraged to join with the Calusa Land Trust in developing action plans for all 38 properties and implementing as many of them as possible.