The Six Mile Cypress Slough (pronounced “sloo”) is over 3,400 acres of wetland in Fort Myers, Florida, that measures approximately 11 miles long and 1/3 mile wide. This linear ecosystem is home to a diverse population of plants and animals, including a few considered to be endangered. The Slough also serves as a corridor for wildlife by providing a safe route of travel.
The Slough is a natural drainage-way, collecting runoff water from a 33-square-mile watershed area during periods of heavy or prolonged rainfall. During the wet season (June through October), a depth of 2 to 3 feet of water makes the Slough comparable to a wide, shallow stream. This fresh water flows southwest through the Slough and empties into the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.
The Six Mile Cypress Slough became a preserve in 1970 because of its positive influences on the community and environment. The Preserve provides education and low impact recreation to its visitors, deters flooding and recharges shallow wells, protects the health of the Gulf of Mexico, and is a wildlife habitat for numerous plant and animal species.
Visit Lee County's Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve web site to learn more about it!
The Friends of the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the Preserve for future generations through education and community partnerships. As a partner with Lee County Parks and Recreation Department the funds for the Interpretive Center were raised, and the common goal of the Friends and Lee County of building an Interpretive Center at the Preserve has been achieved.
It was anticipated that the building would have a profound impact on the environment and has been built as a “green” building, Lee County’s first certified green building. It was through donations from the Friends organization that Lee County was able to proceed with the LEED Green Building Certification.
Displays in the main room of the Interpretive Center provide an introduction to the wonders of the Slough. These displays can also answer many of the questions that are a result of a volunteer guided walk or a self guided walk on the boardwalk. Donations received through the Friends were also included in the funding for the displays.
The new building has on site offices for Preserve staff and volunteers. The front desk and Friends Corner, a shop for Slough related items for purchase, are staffed by volunteer naturalists and Friends members.
The Interpretive Center also provides facilities for educational programs and camps for adults and school children through out the year.
The building has a volunteer resource library, the Blake Cadkin Memorial Resource Room. Resources for this room were made possible by the Cadkin Foundation. There is computer internet access as well as resource books, DVDs and CDs for the use of the volunteers in their constant quest for knowledge and answers to help the myriad of visitors to the Slough and the resulting questions!
Friends Corner is a shop that has Slough related items for purchase by the visitors. All proceeds from the shop are used for the Friends mission to preserve, protect and promote the Slough and for use in providing exhibits and programs as needed by staff and volunteers.
A Green Building
Because building construction can have such a profound impact on the environment, the Interpretive Center at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a green building. A certified green building is one that has minimal negative effects on the environment, achieved through the careful selection of materials, construction methods, energy use strategies and maintenance practices.
If you would like to make a contribution to the Interpretive Center, see Donate.
Introduction: The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization that is comprised of individuals and businesses involved in the building industry. Their mission is “To transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.” They have come up with a system for rating and certifying buildings as Green called the LEED® Green Building Rating System. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This is a voluntary national rating system designed to promote the building of “high performance, sustainable buildings.”
There are 5 categories that a building must meet criterion for in order to be certified green by LEED standards. They are sustainable site, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality and water efficiency. The 4 levels of certification in ascending order are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. This building is the first LEED certified building in Lee County and it is Silver-certified.
A sustainable site is one that uses natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of an area. Ways to maintain a sustainable site is to use native vegetation and xeriscape. Lee County Extension Services offers many local workshops and educational sessions on native plants, composting, mulching etc.
Materials and Resources
Green materials are ones that are rapidly renewable (Bamboo), recycled (Hardi Board, Trex) or able to be recycled. Many of the other green products we used in our building are featured at this website. Green resources are local and therefore reduce the amount of fossil fuels used or greenhouse gases produced.
Energy and Atmosphere
Conservation of energy and protection of the atmosphere are also very important. There are many choices to make which include purchasing EnergyStar® equipment using fluorescent instead of incandescent light bulbs and using dimmers. Other options include using alternative energies like Sunshine Energy.
Also our HVAC system reduces our carbon footprint (amount of carbon emissions produced) by reducing the amount of carbon emitted since it does not contain any CFC based refrigerants.
Indoor Environmental Quality
A key element of the Indoor Environmental Quality is VOC’s or Volatile Organic Compounds. The goal is to reduce these emissions during the building process and after. The products and adhesives we used contained low levels of VOC’s. An example is the Marmoleum flooring in the display area and multi-purpose room. Green cleaning products also help reduce these VOC’s.
Water efficiency is more than just turning the water off when brushing your teeth. It involves utilizing innovative practices and new technologies. One way to reduce your water usage is to use a rain barrel for watering your plants and lawn. A larger scale version would be a cistern. Another way is to utilize low flow sinks, toilets and shower heads.
How you can be green :
1. Landscaping (Sustainable Site)
iii. Composting (Eco Living Center Program) pdf file
2. Water Efficiency
ii. Dual flush toilets
iii. Low-flow toilets and shower heads
3. Energy and Atmosphere
i. Fluorescent vs. incandescent, Dimmers
ii. Purchase Energy Star® equipment
iii. Green Power (Sunshine Power)
4. Materials and Resources
i. Buy recycled products (Hardy board—Lowes/Home Depot)
ii. Recycle (Program at Eco Living Center) pdf file
iii. Use Rapidly Renewable Resources (Bamboo flooring)
5. Cleaning Products (Indoor Air Quality)
i. Buy biodegradable cleaning products (Non-antibacterial soaps)
ii. Buy concentrated products
iii. Use natural household products as cleaners (Baking Soda and Vinegar)