By: David E. Lindsay, Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LA-MSID) District Manager
The offices at the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services District (LA-MSID) often see a spike in calls during this time of year of residents and visitors looking for more information on a place called Harns Marsh, where the birding is superb and many enjoy passive recreation – walking, running, etc., noted David E. Lindsay, Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (LA-MSID) District Manager.
Some often say they just happened upon the Marsh, others have heard about it through birding groups and publications, and other may ask “Just what is Harns Marsh?”
“Harns Marsh is a man-made, stormwater treatment area. We allow public to access the area for passive recreation from dawn till dusk, unless otherwise posted. But it is not a park,” noted Lindsay.
Harns Marsh is owned and operated by LA-MSID; the agency’s mission is to preserve and protect the water resources within its boundaries. In the early 1980’s, the agency transformed the 578-acre farmland into an active stormwater facility, Harns Marsh, to filter water and reduce flooding to the Orange River. The water control structures have helped create a lush habitat for snail kites, limpkin and more than 160 species of animals.
“It is important for visitors and residents to understand the vital role water quality and conservation plays in keeping our community and environment safe,” noted LA-MSID Chairman, Mike Bonacotla.
The agency heard the call from residents and visitors and conceptualized the Wings over Water (WOW) Festival to provide an opportunity for visitors to experience and learn about southwest Florida’s natural resources now in its ninth year.
The WOW Festival Community Day on Saturday, March 16, 2019 has grown to include more vendors/exhibitors, a farmer’s market, plant sale, kid’s activities and more.
On-site activities will take place at Harns Marsh from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, 2019 including lectures from experts; exhibitions by wildlife and education-related organizations and businesses; farmer’s market by Lehigh Acres Rotary; plant sale; the rubber duck races by Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties to raise fund for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event; food and beverage sales, children’s activities, free blood pressure checks by the Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue District; numerous educational exhibits by local organizations and businesses guided walks and viewing of various species of flora and fauna. In addition, Home Depot will be hosting a free children’s activity to build birdhouses – while supplies last.
“The abundance of wildlife at Harns Marsh creates an exciting opportunity for individuals to explore the beauty of southwest Florida,” said Katy Hoover, LA-MSID Vice-Chair.