Lee County officials will conduct a dedication and trail-naming ceremony at Matanzas Pass Preserve on Fort Myers Beach on Saturday, April 13, at 10 a.m.
The event comes after the completion of a recycled boardwalk-expansion project in the 60-acre mangrove forest and maritime oak hammock. The finished construction phase enables individuals with certain disabilities to use a boardwalk path from the preserve entrance to an overlook pavilion that is directly across from Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.
This end-to-end path will allow those requiring ADA accessibility to experience the width of the preserve with a manageable route and palm and pine trees, maritime oaks with Spanish moss, mangroves and bush daisies on their way to a view of the Back Bay.
The new trail will allow ADA accessibility from the entrance to the pavilion overlook of the Back Bay.
"To preserve this 60 acre mangrove forest and maritime oak hammock, on a heavily populated seven-mile barrier island, is truly a gift to all of us," said Lee County Parks & Recreation's Vicki Little through an email. "We are definitely fortunate to have that land."
Little stated there will be a formal introduction of a new peace poll in four different languages. Spearheaded by Beach resident Dorothy Rodwell, it allows one to have a medication destination or a place to gather your thoughts. June 4 will be the first summer peace poll meditation destination.
Officials are also putting out new markers engraved in wood with a new map.
"We are really excited to see how that turns out," she said. "It gives us a chance to thank all the fore fathers that had the fore thought to obtain that land."
The trail, which winds through both dry and wet land and supports a wide variety of trees and foliage and the coastal line has been named, but it is being kept secret until the ceremony. The preserve is a habitat that receives tidal flow from the Back Bay and is home to black, red and white mangrove trees.
The ceremony honors those that have the "Vision's of the Future" to help protect and care for Matanzas Pass Preserve, which offers 1.25 miles of trails that wind through the canopies of mangroves and an oak hammock and a paddle craft landing that is part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.
The recent construction joined roughly 24 feet of wood path between two existing boardwalks. A Lee County Tourist Development Council grant funded the $35,000 project.
"I am just so thrilled that ADA people will be able to traverse on the boardwalk through the black mangroves area and get out to the pavilion to see the bay," Matanzas Pass Preserve Land Steward Terry Cain said at the time of the construction. "I just think that is great."
Lee County officials warn parking is limited. Those who can are asked to park by the church or school. Matanzas Pass Preserve is located at 199 Bay Rd.
For more information contact Cain at 432-2158 or Vicki Little at 229-0649.
Matanzas Pass Preserve history
Visitors to the pristine 60-acre site can enjoy an Old Florida feel. It is one of the few remaining natural habitats on Estero Island.
In 1995, Lee County took over Matanzas Pass Preserve by acquiring it through the Conservation 20/20 Program. That year the beginning of the recycled boardwalk was installed.
Since then, County officials with the help of a group of volunteer residents called Friends of Matanzas Preserve maintain the preserve.
The boardwalk trail is included in the looped trail system that stretches from Tropical Shores Way all the way to Donora Boulevard on Estero Island.
Along the trail, there are informational signs and plaques on the history of the preserve and Estero Island. You can learn about the change of the island's contours or when and why native plants were added and exotic vegetation removed or how mangroves adapt to survive in salt water.
Near the pavilion, there is paddling access to the Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail.
The preserve is located at 199 Bay Road (at the end of that street) with its entrance behind Beach Elementary School.
Normal operating hours are 7 a.m. to dusk year-round, while guided tours are offered from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays during season. Visit www.leeparks.org or call 533-7444 for more information.