FOLLOW THE RULES FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE VISIT
History: Since 1980, Rookery Bay Research Reserve has worked with local partners to protect wildlife and habitat on the island while providing a wilderness recreation experience for people. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) purchased 85 percent of the 1,300-acre island at a cost of $15 million. As managers of these state-owned lands, the Reserve removed 300 acres of non-native Australian pine, Brazilian pepper and melaleuca that had displaced much of the island’s native habitats and wildlife. The island didn’t wash away as some predicted, but instead has flourished with native trees, plants and wildlife. The island has changed shape over the years as well. Click here to learn more about how we map this changing shoreline.
Ordinance: Barrier islands in the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, such as Key Island, are governed by Chapter 18-23 of the Florida Administrative Code, known as the Buffer Preserve Rule. The Buffer Preserve Rule applies to all uplands bounded by or adjacent to the waters within both the Rookery Bay and the Cape Romano/Ten Thousand Islands aquatic preserves, which cover nearly 40 percent of the Collier county coastline.
In a recent ruling by the Board of Collier Commissioners, the county beach ordinance now provides clear language that guides the activities of beach goers, and allows officers to enforce the State rule for the protection of nesting birds and other wildlife while still allowing visitors to enjoy the Island.