The Pepper Ranch Preserve is a 2,512-acre Conservation Collier property located along the northern shore of Lake Trafford, west of the town of Immokalee, in northeastern Collier County, Florida. It was acquired by Collier County in February, 2009 for the Conservation Collier Program. The primary objectives for acquisition were protection of its significant natural resource values including upland and wetland communities, native plant communities, rare and endangered flora and fauna, endemic species, and endangered species habitat. It was also acquired with the goals of providing present and future generations with appropriate natural-resource based recreational and educational opportunities and of gaining panther habitat mitigation credits for use by Collier County Departments.
The Conservation Collier ordinance (Sec. 5.9) defines natural resource-based recreation as "all forms of uses which are consistent with the goals of the Conservation Collier Program, and are compatible with the specific parcel." Consistent uses include, but are not limited to, hiking, nature photography, bird watching, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing and hunting. In addition to numerous other nature-based recreation uses contemplated for the Pepper Ranch Preserve, this property is considered compatible for hunting. Hunting, done appropriately, can provide an overall benefit to wildlife populations and is not expected to interfere with the ability to gain panther habitat credits for County infrastructure projects.
On January 12, 2010, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners directed Conservation Collier Program staff to develop an independent hunt program for the Pepper Ranch Preserve for Collier County residents. Four public organizational meetings were held in 2010 to gather input from Collier County citizens and hunters on development of a hunt program. Staff also met with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Manatee County staff to gather additional input. Using public and agency input, staff designed the Pepper Ranch Preserve Quality Wildlife Management Hunt Program. If you have questions, please contact Conservation Collier staff at (239) 252-2957 or ConservationCollier@Colliergov.net