Conservation 20/20 is Lee County’s willing-seller conservation lands acquisition and management program. In the early 1990s, Lee County had the lowest percentage of conservation lands of Florida’s Gulf Counties. The 20/20 program was conceived by a broad based citizens’ group of business owners, realtors, planners, and residents to ensure that critical habitats, wetlands, and corridors, were protected to preserve economic property values, quality of life and natural resources. In 1996 a nonbinding referendum was passed by the majority of Lee County voters to fund a conservation lands program through ad valorum property taxes. Because the majority of the county voted in favor, the tax was continued on an annual basis per the direction of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).
To date, the program has acquired nearly 25,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands – from preserves on barrier islands, to upland habitats, wetlands, and buffer land to rivers and streams. Conservation 20/20 manages preserves throughout Lee County. Many of the preserves are open to the public for resource-based recreational opportunities. There are more than 30 miles of marked hiking trails and hundreds of unmarked maintenance/fire lines trails available to adventurous hikers to seek out and discover.