EASTERN COLLIER COUNTY - PROPOSED NEW TOWNS

Rivergrass Village is a proposed new village in Eastern Collier County. If approved, the village will directly impact hundreds of acres of primary habitat for the endangered Florida panther. These lands are essential for the survival and recovery of the panther.


When Collier Enterprises downsized plans for the Town of Rural Lands West with a scaled-back phase 1 version of a village, the Conservancy was hopeful that the new plan would better exemplify principles of environmental and rural land stewardship. The Conservancy was disappointed to discover that the new smaller version, called “Rivergrass Village,” is still incompatible with those principles and continues to contradict the goals of the RLSA program.

A primary goal of the RLSA is to direct development away from listed species and their habitat. Though the plan for Rivergrass is smaller in acreage than Rural Lands West, it is abundantly clear that the development proposal does not avoid listed species habitat, as over 700 acres of the proposed 1,000 acre village would be built directly within primary and adult breeding habitat for the endangered Florida panther. Scientists, Kautz et al. (2006) and Frakes et al. (2015), assert that these lands are critical to the panthers’ survival.

The plan for Rivergrass Village also does not meet the RLSA goal of providing a compact walkable community because the proposed village would be bisected by a 55-mph freight distribution route, Oil Well Road, making it difficult and unsafe to walk to the Village Center. In addition, the development would be filled with dead-end cul-de-sacs spread throughout the project, which defies the program’s requirements for an interconnected street system.

Even though Rivergrass Village was submitted as a smaller project with Collier County, Collier Enterprises is still pursuing a federal permit for the larger 4,000 acre Rural Lands West project, which itself is only a phase of a massive future project that would extend across 8,000 acres, from north of Immokalee Road almost to I-75 in the south, referred to as Town of Big Cypress. Therefore, it is obvious that Rivergrass Village is only one small phase of Collier Enterprises’ desired development footprint with even greater impacts to listed species and natural resources.

The Conservancy will continue to monitor the application for Rivergrass Village and the larger federal permit for Rural Lands West/Town of Big Cypress. We will continue to advocate for a better plan, which meets the goals of the RLSA and protects the Florida panther and all listed species.

Rivergrass

Rural Lands West

potential impacts to Eastern Collier County

Growth

(Rural Lands Stewardship Area - RLSA)

Wildlife

(Eastern Collier Habitat Conservation Plan)

Traffic

(Impacts of proposed roadway network)

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