Airport photo

Mitigation Park

The 7,000-acre Mitigation Park, located four miles southeast of Southwest Florida International Airport, was established to compensate for the impact of long-term development of the airport. The lands are among the most pristine and environmentally sensitive in the region. Site surveys resulted in identifying eight plant and eleven wildlife species listed as protected by State and Federal agencies. The site includes the Imperial Marsh, the largest freshwater marsh in Lee County, and extends from the headwaters of the Imperial and Estero river watersheds through the Flint Pen Strand, ultimately connecting to the Everglades.

Mitigation Park is an innovative concept that not only allowed the Lee County Port Authority to streamline permitting for the new terminal project, but also restored many acres of land and preserved other areas of pristine habitat forever. The Port Authority has been recognized and won several industry environmental awards for this project. The land for this project was acquired between 1994 and 1998 through the vision of the Lee County Board of Port Commissioners. It demonstrates their commitment to striking a balance between the need for airport expansion and environmental preservation.

Phillips and Jordan Inc. of Zephyrhills, Fla., began work on the site in January 2003 under the supervision of DMJM Aviation Inc., the firm that managed the design and construction of the new terminal project. Exotic vegetation, including melaleuca trees, Brazilian peppers and torpedo grass, were wiped out  Oak, cypress and pine trees, bulrush, pickerelweed, spike rush, saw grass and other native vegetation were planted and are thriving. Empty farmlands were excavated to create four man-made marshes and other land has been returned to its original, natural state. The project plan, designed by Johnson Engineering, has restored surface-water flow ways and created 550 acres of wetlands.

The total budget for the project was $30 million, which included land acquisition and restoration costs. The Lee County Port Authority maintains this property for approximately $500,000 per year. No ad valorem (property) taxes are used for airport operation or construction. Although it is called a park, this mitigation land is not a public area.