Board of Directors:

President – Theresa Roake
Vice President - Sabine Vandenhende
Secretary - Nancy Olson
Treasurer - Sara Maliva

Carolyn Babb
Lyn Brown
Donna Cressman
Terri Krass
Bud Schopp



The Friends of the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Advisory Board:

Jacquelin Cadkin - Cadkin Foundation
Dr. William Hammond - FL Gulf Coast Univ.
Jeff Key - Community Environmental Services
Dr. Charles O’Connor Wiley M. Parker, A.I.A. - Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects, Inc.
Joyce Sanders - Former Friends President
Jean Labriola Scholz, PhD
Steve Tutko

Lee County Parks and Recreation Liaison: 

Heather Gienapp , Supervisor, Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

A Brief History

On February 21, 2001, a few volunteers at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve held an exploratory meeting based on their desire to promote environmental education and enhance the capabilities of staff and volunteers. They wanted to broaden understanding and respect for the complex wetland community that the Slough represents. The citizen’s group, motivated by its desire to help provide the Preserve with an Interpretive Center and to inspire more community support, founded Friends of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve as a not-for-profit corporation by late 2001.

Goals and Accomplishments

Goal 1: Add more support for Preserve staff and volunteers and enhance their capabilities.
Established Friends as a not-for-profit public organization
~ Initiated a membership campaign
~ Developed a greeter table program at the Preserve entrance on weekends and selected weekdays to greet and orient visitors
~ Supported staff and volunteer programs and events

Goal 2: Promote public understanding of the Preserve's importance to the community and the environment and build support within the community for maintaining the Preserve for future generations.
~ Published several articles about the Preserve in the News-Press
~ Created and adopted a new Friends logo to enable organizational identity within the community
~ Published five issues of a Friends newsletter to members
~ Established a media database

Goal 3: Provide an Interpretive Center to further support volunteers, staff and visitors to the Preserve.
~ Requested and received an initial financial commitment from Lee County: $150,000 within the Parks and Recreation 2003 capital expenditure budget designated for the Interpretive Center project
~ Extensively researched and visited visitors centers throughout the country and created a portfolio of ideas, photos and concepts
~ Recruited a local architectural firm to propose and design building sketchings and options
~ Refined architectural building plans into a proposal with drawings
~ Ground Breaking for construction of new building in March of 2007
~ Ribbon cutting for opening of Interpretive Center April 12, 2008
~ Installation of permanent exhibits November 16, 2008

Goal 4: Give the Preserve an advocate's voice within the community.
~ Developed advocacy policies and action plan
~ Developed and are maintaining excellent working relationships with important partners and potential partners: Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee County School Board's Environmental Education Department
~ Began formal communication with agencies about permits and other issues related to maintaining the integrity of the Preserve
~ Friends monitors actions, ecological trends and hearings, and provides feedback to various governmental and regulatory boards such as the Lee County Commissioners, Fort Myers City Council, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Estero Bay Agency on Bay Management.

Slough Advocacy Progress

The Conservation 20/20 Program added 467 acres to the Slough. To date 1352.6 acres of land has been added to the Slough through the 20/20 program. This represents forty-two percent of the lands that make up the publicly owned portion of the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. The total acreage in the Slough is currently 3202.68 acres. By far the largest acquisition to date is the 1000.5 acres added north of State Road 82 in May and July of this year this includes the northern watershed of the Slough. This parcel contains some large cypress domes, marshes, and pine lands. Also acquired were some pasture lands that hopefully can be used for reservoirs to treat and store water to improve the hydrology of the Slough.  The reservoirs themselves will provide wildlife habitat similar to Harns Marsh but within ready reach of the people of Ft Myers.

These parcels have made the news both for their environmental benefits to the Slough as well as the price. It is important to note that the staff of County Lands works under State policies and procedures that were established to avoid such controversy. Multiple appraisals are required and County staff negotiates to get a price at or below the mid point of the appraisals. To pay more it requires a supra majority of the County Commission (4 out of 5). The parcels north of State Road 82 had a number of factors that created the high price including location within the City of Ft Myers, at an Interstate exit and approved development plans for a large residential community. Two sets of appraisals were done on this property because the land values had dropped after the first set so the appraisals were up to date.

The one factor that was not taken into account is how valuable this parcel will be to the County as a wildlife viewing recreational asset so close to town.  This parcel will become a second major destination for wildlife viewing in the Six Mile Cypress Slough watershed. An additional 218.26 acres of land will be closed on in December to complete this purchase making the total Slough acreage 3420 acres with 46% of the Slough being acquired through the 20/20 program. The current widening project for State Road 82 includes a wildlife crossing to provide wildlife connectivity to the rest of the Slough from these new parcels.

2018 Annual Report as presented at our 3/27/2019 meeting

2016 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/22/2017 meeting
2015 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/23/2016 meeting
2014 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/25/2015 meeting
2013 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/26/2014 meeting
2012 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/27/2013 meeting
2010 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/22/2011 meeting
2009 Annual Meeting Report as presented at our 3/22/2010 meeting