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County to consider eagle management plan for planned storage facility

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Aug 2, 2021

A planned outdoor storage facility in North Fort Myers may be placed under a bald eagle management plan.

The Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday will decide whether to approve a Bald Eagle Management Plan for the construction of an outdoor storage facility located at 2521 Tamiami Trail.

This was the site of the old North Fort Myers Drive-in Theater and of the North Fort Myers Flea Market, which was closed for good last month.

The outdoor storage facility is within the 660 foot-radius of a bald eagle nest, which is located south of the project site at 16021 Oneal Drive, in a cell tower along Littleton Road, about 350 feet south of the property line and 170 feet west of Oneal Drive, just off of Littleton.

The nest was active during the 2020-21 nesting season and fledged one chick.

The Bald Eagle Management Plan is required for the proposed construction of an outdoor storage facility within 660 feet of the nest, which is a requirement of the county’s Eagle Protection Ordinance.

To avoid disturbance of the bald eagle nest and nesting activity, the Bald Eagle Management Plan proposes to limit exterior construction within 330 feet of the nest to the non-nesting season.

Exterior construction between 330 feet and 660 feet of the nest during nesting season will require bald eagle monitoring as defined by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Bald Eagle Monitoring Guidelines.

According to the management plan, major exterior construction activities may occur during the nesting season provided that the activities do not disturb the nesting bald eagles; The use of any chemicals that are toxic to wildlife shall be prohibited within 660 feet of the bald eagle nest; Outdoor lighting installed within 660 feet of the nest shall be subdued, shielded, and directed away from the nest tree; After construction, normal storage facility activities will be allowed throughout the year.

Also involving North Fort Myers, the BOCC is expected to consider approval of an exotic plant control project at the Caloosahatchee Creek West Preserve with Peninsula Improvement Corporation dba Collier Environmental Services.

The company will undertake exotic vegetation removal on 378 acres of the preserve, in the amount of $182,100. This will be a maintenance sweep needed to keep the native plant communities in good condition.

This project reinforces the previous exotic plant control done on the site which has drastically improved the wildlife habitat.

Work to begin upon approval and will be completed within four months of the contract being awarded.

The BOCC will also consider installing school zone warning signs in the vicinity of Hancock Creek Elementary School, one of eight in the county it will consider to improve safety in those areas.

Total estimated costs for maintenance are about $8,000 per year and are included in next year’s 2021-22 budget.

As these are consent items, they will pass automatically unless pulled for discussion by a commissioner.