Conservation Foundation reminding public of importance of land preservation efforts to safeguarding ‘fishable, swimmable, drinkable water’

January spotlight of 20th anniversary year focuses on natural cleansing of contaminants from stormwater

Sunset Paddle by Kerri Gagne Photography courtesy Conservation Foundation of the West Coast

The January spotlight for the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary, is Safeguarding Our Water, the organization has announced.

Each month, the not-for-profit land trust is putting the emphasis on a different aspect of its work and the corresponding community impact, as it marks 20 years of preserving natural areas for a multitude of benefits.

“Land conservation is essential to protecting water quality because what happens on the land directly impacts the quality of the water flowing through and from it,” a news release explains. “In natural areas, such as marshes, prairies, grasslands, and forests, rainfall soaks into the soil,” where it is naturally cleaned and stored, the release continues. “In more urban and industrial areas with pavement and buildings,” the release points out, water flows “directly over the pavement into gutters, ditches, and drains,” instead of soaking into the soil.

“When humans pave over natural areas, the land cannot filter or store water, and instead, that water is forced through our cities and towns,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “Not only does this increase our community’s flood risk,” she added, “but it also means everything the water picks up on its way through town — pollution, fertilizers, etc. — ends up dumping directly into our rivers, bays, and ultimately the Gulf. When we conserve land, we’re also protecting that land’s ability to store and clean water for generations to come.”

Whether the issue is red tide, toxic algae, “or a myriad of other water woes, Floridians are all too familiar with what happens when excess nutrients and pollution find their way into local waters,” the release notes. The natural cleansing of contaminants from the water “decreases our flood risk and reduces the amount of pollution that ends up in Southwest Florida’s water bodies, thereby safeguarding fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water throughout our region,” the release adds.

To learn more about how the Conservation Foundation is safeguarding water, visit