With the support of many early conservationists, scientists, and other advocates, Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals. Covering 2,400 square miles, the Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and is home to many rare and endangered plant and animal species. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to ALL people of the world.
Sanibel and Captiva are barrier islands that lie a few miles off the west coast of Fort Myers, Florida. To the great credit of the residents and friends of the island, they have protected it from over-development and kept it from becoming another high-rise, fast food tourist trap. About 45% of Sanibel has been set aside for the preservation of natural habitats by organizations like the Nature Conservancy. Over 5,000 acres on the bay side of the island is the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, named in honor of the Pulitzer prize-winning political cartoonist and wildlife system pioneer Jay Norwood Darling. The rest of the island is privately owned but is subject to the laws of a strict Land Use Plan.