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Calusa Land Trust holds annual meeting

January 30, 2019
Pine Island Eagle


The Calusa Land Trust held its 43rd annual meeting Sunday at the Lutheran Church to review the trusts progress for 2018 and plans for 2019 and beyond. The meeting was conducted by CLT President Robert Ballard.

Article Photos

Retiring board member Sonny Koutsoutis receives certificate of appreciation.


During 2018, the Land Trust maintained 2,400 acres of protected land. The Wigert Barron Preserve received many enhancements in 2018, including dedicating Rubye's Pond to long time CLT member Rubye Woodhead; adding the Nancy Rogers Nature Trail; and installation of a kiosk with a preserve map and information signs along the trail to identify native plants.

The Taylor/Willow Lake Preserve received a new gate and fence thanks to James Parison and in the near future a new entrance and parking will be completed. St. James Creek Preserve received gopher tortoise and plant identification signs thanks to a donation from the Dewanes.

The Ward Bridge connecting the Smith/Dewane chickee huts with the St. Juse's Nature Trail was completed and dedicated. The Dobbs Preserve entrance bridge was completed and the Bud House Calusa Canal Preserve received a sign to highlight the location and history of the Calusa canal.

Ballard recognized Sonny Koutsoutis and Rad Hazen for their long service to the Calusa Land Trust. Koutsoutis and Hazen retired from the board. Hazen was not present.

Three members of the board of directors were re-elected: Robert Ballard, Ed Chapin and Cathy House, and two new members were elected, Carol Mullin and Nancy Weir. Board members serve two years.

Mullin has been a member of the Calusa Land Trust since 2015. She was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and received her bachelor of science degree from Washington University majoring in systems analysis. After more than 30 years in the life and health insurance industry in Missouri, she and her husband, Jeff, retired to Pine Island in 2013. She is also active in the Pine Island United Methodist Church, Cayo Costa State Park, Pine Island Food Pantry and the Pine Island Garden Club.

Weir, a new member of CLT, was born in Colorado and raised in California. She lived on Sanibel for most of the 1970s and 80s before meeting her husband, Kelly. For some 20+ years they lived in the horse country of Kentucky engaged in the thoroughbred breeding and training business. They retired to Pine Island in 2015. She is presently proprietor of a house keeping business. Her passion is the removal of invasive species and protection of natural habitats.

One of the Calusa Land Trust's most successful fundraising tools is the Nature Lover's Guide to Pine Island. The guide was first assembled by long-time Calusa Land Trust member Phil Buchanan in 1998 with the help of dozens of dedicated island residents. Following Buchanan's death, several people redesigned and printed the book. The "new and improved" guide is available from the Calusa Land Trust. Books will also be sold at the Pine Island Garden Club's Garden Gala on Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Garden Park one block north of the Center.

"The Calusa Land Trust and Pine Island lost a compatriot and friend with the death of Calusa Land Trust Board Member Jaren Cernicky on Sept. 18, 2018," Ballard said. "Jaren and his wife Jerry moved to Pine Island after Jaren retired from Boeing Military Aircraft in 2011. Jaren was active in the Pine Island community, having served several terms as president of the St. Jude Harbors POA and was a member of the board of directors of the Calusa Land Trust at the time of his death." Upcoming events include the Pine Island Garden Club Garden Gala Feb. 23 at the park north of the center and the Great Calusa Duck Race - Saturday, March 2, at Low Key Tiki. The CLT is looking for donation prizes for live and silent auctions, shirt sponsors and volunteers.

Currently the Calusa Land Trust holds $1,988,252.75 in protected land and $2,650,052.87 in total assets.

The Calusa Land Trust website states, "The purpose of the Calusa Land Trust is to protect the natural diversity and beauty of the Pine Island region by acquiring, managing and preserving in perpetuity environmentally sensitive or historically important land and to foster appreciation for and understanding of the environment and our past."

The buffet was provided by Winn-Dixie and music by Frank Tuma.

Visit the Calusa Land Trust website at:



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