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County OKs paddleboat launch for NFM

October 10, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Despite miles of waterfront along the Caloosahatchee, there are few places boaters can go to launch their canoes, kayaks or small boats in North Fort Myers.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a purchase to help remedy that lack.

The BOCC approved the purchase of 0.92 acres on Telegraph Creek at North River Road to provide for a paddlecraft launch on the waterway which is part of The Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail.

Commissioner Frank Mann said the launch will give the area, with some 17 miles of waterfront along the river, something it has been sorely lacking.

"We have a great parks program, but we don't have much water access. Kayaking and canoeing are becoming very popular, so this will be a great addition," Mann said.

The land previously had been used as an informal launching site for canoeists and kayakers until private owners fenced the land in 2017.

"For about 20 years, people used to park their cars and unload their canoes, kayaks and small boats. The new owners fenced it off so the public couldn't use it," Mann said.

About three months ago, the new owners approached the county's Parks & Rec department about buying the property for use as a launch site.

"It has room for people to park their cars if they bring their kayaks on the roof or on small trailers. The county used to receive complaints from people who used to park there about that," Mann said. "When the opportunity came to purchase it, Parks & Rec reviewed that and recommended we buy it. It was a great opportunity."

The parcel is on the western bank of Telegraph Creek, a tributary of the Caloosahatchee, and is on the south side of North River Road. The purchase price is $95,000. The property will be maintained by Lee County Parks & Recreation.

The site is big enough to park cars since the lot has been cleared and, instead of being near the road, there will be more space, making it a "great recreational opportunity," Mann said.

The closing is expected to occur on or before Dec. 31. Mann believes it can be closed in as little as six weeks, in time for the holiday season.

"Telegraph Creek offers a serene paddling experience stretching from the Caloosahatchee River to the Telegraph Creek Preserve, a Conservation 20/20 property," said Mike Hammond, coordinator of the Great Calusa Blueway for Lee County Parks & Recreation, in a statement. "It's a unique and beautiful creek."

The Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail was established in 2002 by Lee County Parks & Recreation and the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. The Estero Bay leg was completed in 2003; the Pine Island Sound leg was completed in 2005; and the Caloosahatchee leg debuted in October 2007.

For more information about Lee County Parks & Recreation, visit , call 533-7275 or email



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