The latest in a series of Conservation 20/20 projects is now nearing completion.
Powell Creek is on 77.2 acres in North Fort Myers, and was specifically engineered to improve water quality in the creek and other downstream water bodies, and to provide additional habitat for wildlife.
It is known as a filter marsh, a joint project preserve with Lee County 20/20 and Lee County Division of Natural Resources. The site is bordered by Powell Creek Bypass Canal to the west, Forest Park Mobile Home subdivision to the north, Hart Road to the east and Carriage Village Mobile Home subdivision to the south.
The project will divert water from both Powell Creek and the Powell Creek Canal into the filter marsh using a pump, said officials. This water will flow through a series of created wetlands to allow sediment to settle out and excess nutrients to be absorbed by the wetland plants in the created wetlands.
This cleaner water will then flow back into Powell Creek south of the pump. More importantly for local preservationists, it is a symbol of the future.
"It is a gift for future generations," said site manager Laura Greeno.
She now is in charge of three local 20/20 projects - Prairie Pines Preserve and Alva Scrubs Preserve, along with Powell Creek.
"It gives them (local residents) a chance to be able to go in and hike on one of our 20/20 preserves, and see some of the wildlife we're purchased these lands for."
Concerning wildlife, she said birds may benefit the most.
"We'll be adding an incredible diversity of wading birds and migratory song birds from what the filter marsh has created."
According to officials, the preserve contains six plant communities including mesic flatwoods, unimproved pasture, slough, scrubby flatwoods, hydric hammock and depression marsh. There are also pop ash trees (Fraxinus caroliniana), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana).
This project wasn't typical, Greeno said.
"It was done on a very site-specific water filter marsh called to be created to allow the access nutrients to filter out of the water and settle in to the marsh."
And she, as well as fellow project coordinator Anura Karuna-Muni said, "Cleaner water will be going out to the Gulf."
Karuna-Muni is the project manager for the Lee County Division of Natural Resources. "The project is funded by the Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District of Lee County.
"The water was not compliant with the state regulations, so we had some pollutants that needed to be removed," he said.
"It has lower levels of oxygen and bacteria, so one of the main goals of the project was to reduce that. So the benefits you get of the project is for the Caloosahatchee River, and the project will provide increased water storage in the event of a hurricane, and increases an intense wildlife habitat. The birds coming in make more opportunities for wildlife, and the project will provide additional recreation opportunities there like bird watching and hiking."
The project should be full completed in August, he said.
There is still planting and designated parking spaces to be done.
For more information on any 20/20 project, go to conservation2020.org.