Description & History:
Bonita Nature Place (BNP) provides a local place for learning experiences, volunteerism, and outdoor family activities that strengthens the environmental stewardship commitment within the community while fostering an awareness of old Southwest Florida in its unique, natural setting.
The goal of the Bonita Nature Place (BNP) is to provide a quality nature center to promote conservation and environmental stewardship through education.
The property sits along the beautiful banks of the Imperial River, a coastal river that drains the freshwater associated with the Corkscrew Regional Watershed into the estuarine areas of Estero Bay. The location makes it a perfect gateway to the southern CREW lands, while it simultaneously offers potential links to blueways for paddlers in the region. The location features a mosaic of interconnected habitat types including oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, riverine forests, and aquatic areas.
The Bonita Nature Place is home to over 24 active Gopher Tortoises. The Gopher Tortoise is currently classified as a Threatened Species, primarily caused by urban development and habitat loss. Our preserve is important to their survival as their burrows are located throughout the Bonita Nature Place property.
The Bee House
The Bee House is home to our European Honeybee Observation Hive. The bees are thriving under the special care of our resident Beekeeper, Chris! Our hives are registered with the Department of Agriculture. Many bee hives, a crucial component of a healthy ecosystem, are found on the BNP grounds.
The Bat House
Our large Bat House was donated by Kent Road resident, Cullum Hasty and the pole was donated by Florida Power and Light (FPL). Community partnerships and collaborative efforts are integral to our goals and successes at the BNP.
The Butterfly Garden
Our community volunteers planted two butterfly gardens! The main garden features Florida Native Butterfly plants, while the second garden is made up of Florida-friendly plants. The butterflies, bats, and bees are all facing existence complications due to the widespread use of pesticides. At the BNP, we are hoping to bring some recognition to these issues. Florida-friendly landscaping and Xeriscape™ techniques require minimal water, fertilizers, and pesticides, which ensures a cleaner, healthier environment.
Meetings, Exhibits & Lectures
We have the space and ability to accommodate group meetings. Additionally, exhibits are currently being implemented to enhance the educational experiences. Lectures and Workshops from area ecologists, environmental organizations and community partners are a large part of our BNP community offerings.
The City of Bonita Springs purchased the 10-acre residential property in 2006. Located just minutes from downtown Bonita on Kent Road, just off E. Terry Street, the property sits adjacent to environmentally-critical preserve lands associated with CREW, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and the Imperial River. In 2009, the property was renamed The Bonita Nature Place (BNP).
In September 2009, the SFWMD recognized the environmental conservationand education elements of the BNP and deeded the neighboring 20 acres to the City of Bonita Springs, which brought the total land area of the BNP to 30 acres.
In October 2009, the Friends of the Bonita Nature Place registered as a Notfor-Profit Organization with the State of Florida and was recognized by the Bonita Springs City Council as the resident organization. Bonita Nature Place also has an ongoing partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University, where interpretive trail systems and displays are being developed so that visitors of all ages can experience the resident wildlife in its natural setting.
Bonita Nature Place is free for all to visit and enjoy.