Rookery Bay is part of one of the world’s largest mangrove estuarine systems, the Ten Thousand Islands. It is located in Collier County, just south of Naples.
Rookery Bay is recognized as one of the few undisturbed mangrove estuaries left in the United States, and one of 28 National Estuarine Reserves. The bay is 110,000-acres of open water containing interconnected bays, mangrove wetlands, lagoons and streams. It is a habitat for dolphins, manatees and birds. As a designated Estuarine Reserve, Rookery Bay offers a natural backdrop for education as well as a laboratory for biologists, teachers, and students.
Protecting Rookery Bay was the first accomplishment of the fledgling Conservancy of Southwest Florida in 1964. A new road was planned as an extension of what is now Bayshore Drive, slated to run through the heart of Rookery Bay. The 10-mile extension would invade mangroves and barrier islands. Despite opposition from developers, a few concerned citizens put together a plan on the porch of Lester Norris’ home on Keewaydin Island, formed the Collier County Conservancy and purchased land to save the estuary.The Conservancy of Southwest Florida worked with other partner organizations on the Deltona ettlement that literally changed the landscape of Collier County. Finalized in 1982, the settlement prevented the unchecked development by the Deltona Corporation of thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive areas, south of Naples and surrounding Marco Island. Had it not been for this agreement, this coastal land, which includes part of the current Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, may have been dredged, filled, and covered with residences and high-rises.The Conservancy was granted oversight to monitor plans within the development areas to ensure that the standards agreed upon in the Deltona Settlement were enforced. The organization also conducts various research projects in and around Rookery Bay, including sea turtle research on Keewaydin Island. Guided Good Fortune II pontoon boat tours, run by the Conservancy, provide some of the most spectacular viewing of the area’s mangrove forests, eagles, roosting birds and even dolphins.
1495 Smith Preserve Way Naples, Florida 34102
Monday - Sunday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm (ET)
239-262-0304 phone 239-262-0672 fax
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