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LAMSID holds its annual WOW Festival

January 24, 2018
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Members of the public got a look at the challenges facing southwest Florida's water, land and wildlife, thanks to the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District.

The organization hosted its eighth annual Wings Over Water Festival Friday and Saturday at Harns Marsh.

Attendees got a chance to take part in a variety of on-site activities including attending lectures and the ability to speak with experts at exhibitions put on by wildlife and education-related organizations and businesses.

Article Photos

The rubber duck races, by Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties, raised funds for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event.


One returning guest speaker was Steve "Snakeman" Masek who brought his live animal educational sessions back this year, as well Jason Bader, the co-founder and president of SWFL Reptile Rescuers, Inc. a not-for profit, 501(c)3 organization that rescues, rehabilitates and adopts out reptiles, arachnids and invertebrates.

Bader spoke about the differences between invasive and non-invasive species and their effect on the environment.

"We try to educate the public on the negative implications that releasing invasive exotic animals has on our environment," said Bader.

Other guest speakers were LA-MSID Manager, David E. Lindsay who discussed the future plans/development for Harns Marsh and the West Marsh and Mark Renz, a fossil guide and author of numerous books including "How to Find Fossils In Florida", who gave tips to the audience on local fossil excavation.

On-site exhibiters included the Calusa Herpetological Society who brought and array of reptiles and amphibians and the Lee County Mosquito Control's educational team.

Wendy Samz, a local teacher, runs an educational program through Lee County School's that teaches kids about mosquitos and their life cycles.

"We do a two to three day educational program for grades kindergarten, fifth, seventh and high school. Each program is grade specific and goes over various insects found locally, their lifecycle and characteristics," said Samz.

Mosquito biologist Kara Tyler-Julian from the Mosquito Control District was also on-hand to speak to attendees about how residents can control their own mosquito populations by doing simple things around the home.

"People don't realize that many times they are breeding mosquitos right in their own yard. Mosquitos only need as little as a cap full of water to breed," said Tyler-Julian. "Also the cold weather we get here in Florida isn't enough to really affect their life cycles."

The day also featured the Wings Over Water 5K and the rubber duck races by Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties to raise funding for Partners of Breast Cancer Care; free blood pressure checks by the Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue District; a Home Depot sponsored children's activity station; numerous educational exhibits, as well as guided walks and viewing of various species of flora and fauna.

LA-MSID'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. Harns Marsh is located in the eastern portion of Lee County located off of Sunshine Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.

"The WOW Festival showcases to the importance of LA-MSID's mission and provides a unique opportunity for community members to connect with local organizations and experience nature through an array of interactive experiences," said Michael Welch, chair of the LA-MSID Board of Commissioners.

The event is made possible by the generous support of Mosaic, AIM Engineering and Surveying, Inc., Public Risk Insurance Agency, Brian and Barbara Cottrell, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Audubon Society of Southwest Florida, Caloosa Bird Club and Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties.

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