Similar to we harden our properties for hurricanes, we’ve got to harden our coasts. How? One man has spent 20 years preventing to guard the pure limitations that assist maintain Southwest Florida’s coasts protected from hurricanes.
Rookery Bay in Collier County is likely one of the crown jewels of Florida’s protected areas. Whereas it wasn’t resistant to the consequences of Hurricane Ian’s wrath, it’s remarkably intact in comparison with different coastal areas. Why does it not appear to be these different devastated areas regardless of weathering a storm surge of over 8 toes?
“Mangroves, they assist to stop additional storm surge, proper, in order that they type of take the brunt of the wave motion within the storm surge,” stated Rob Moher, CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
If mangroves existed alongside Fort Myers Seaside, then, how would that space look?
“If you end up taking an almost-Class 5 storm head on, there’s little or no that you are able to do to cease that; nevertheless, what the analysis and the images I’ve seen in imagery exhibits is that the areas that had extra mangroves and pure dune techniques and pure protections fared higher than people who didn’t,” Moher stated.
Bayview Park in south Naples is an ideal instance of permitting individuals and nature to work collectively. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida fought to guard round 20 acres of mangroves there. Nevertheless, Collier County might nonetheless enable builders to construct a marina that was largely protected throughout the hurricane.
Whereas Moher is at present the one preventing to maintain mangroves, this mission began with the Conservancy of SWFL 60 years in the past, when a bunch of locals banded collectively to battle what they dubbed “the Street to Nowhere.”
“They have been opposing a highway that was going to be constructed from Naples right down to Marco Island,” Moher stated.
Within the waters of Rookery Bay, one will move kayakers and wildlife not prone to be noticed in different elements of Southwest Florida post-Ian.
“These are rookeries,” Moher stated. “These are locations the place 1000’s of birds at sundown come again to those islands.”
The mangroves protected fowl and fish habitats, retaining our ecotourism and fishing industries alive. The Conservancy additionally took in animals from CROW on Sanibel after the storm, since its constructing was broken.
“Numerous native animals are impacted by storms as nicely,” Moher stated. “We see the native inhabitants bringing in injured animals lower than 12 hours, 20 hours after the storm.”
And after the storm, Moher helped increase $70,000 in a matter of minutes for the YMCA on Marco Island. The earlier month is only a snapshot of how he’s been an integral a part of the Conservancy and preserving our pure magnificence for the final 20 years. It’s one of many causes Gulfshore Life named him a person of the yr for 2022.
However Moher is humble about such recognition.
“It’s not about me, it’s about what maybe I signify because the CEO of the Conservancy, and maybe that mission of the Conservancy has by no means been extra essential,” Moher stated. “After I mirror on the storm, I mirror on the property of Southwest Florida. I believe each acre of mangroves we’ve got we have to maintain, after which we have to restore these which were broken.”
If you wish to learn extra about Rob Moher or the opposite women and men of the yr, head to the Gulfshore Life website.