Coffee Pot Bayou's Bird Island Gets Permanent Protection
ST. PETERSBURG- Coffee Pot Bayou's Bird Island, an important bird nesting area just off downtown St. Petersburg, has become Tampa Bay's newest nature preserve, thanks to zoning changes by the City of St. Petersburg and years of work by local residents led by citizen activist Lorraine Margeson.
The zoning change, which designates Bird Island as Conservation Land, will provide permanent protection for the island's 600 pairs of nesting birds, and is the final chapter in a multi-year effort to protect the island from development.
In 2006, the Scherer Development Company negotiated a contract to purchase the Coffee Pot Bayou Bird Island from its then owner, the Holland family, and proposed construction of four stilt houses close to the island. The St. Petersburg Audubon Society and Audubon of Florida began an outreach campaign to make the local community aware of the importance of the island to nesting colonial waterbirds. At the same time, Lorraine Margeson set out to find a buyer for the island who wouldn't develop it. She succeeded in the winter of 2007, when the island was purchased by a philanthropic anonymous buyer with the sole purpose of preserving it for the birds.
In the spring of this year, Margeson, working with Snell Isle's residents and its Homeowners Association, convinced St. Petersburg City Councilman Bill Foster and St. Pete Environmental Planner Anne Fidanzato to propose designating Bird Island as Conservation Land with a preserve land use designation. The matter was approved on August 9th by the St. Petersburg City Council.
"It took a lot of people, and a lot of work, plus a bit of luck." said Margeson "But today, finally, we can say the island is truly and forever for the birds."
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