Marco Island man buys vacant land, turns into tortoise sanctuary
MARCO ISLAND, Fla.– Doug Meester has quiet neighbors and, thanks to him, his neighbors will stay quiet.
The Marco Island man purchased a vacant plot of land next door to his property earlier this year and plans to keep it as a gopher tortoise sanctuary.
Dozens of tortoises already live on the property as well as hundreds of other animals who live in the tortoises’ burrows.
If Doug hadn’t purchased the land, it is likely a home would have been built instead.
“I thought it was the most generous thing a human could do for conservation,” said Brittany Piersma, a wildlife biologist under Audubon Western Everglades.
Brittany had been surveying the vacant property when she was approached by Doug.
“I was taken aback by it,” Brittany said of her reaction to hearing Doug’s idea for the first time. “It definitely gives me hope to influence others who are living in this area.”
Brittany has already started working with Doug to make the land more suitable for the tortoises and other animals who will call the property home.
“[Gopher tortoises] are a very intrinsic part of our little island here and if we can all do our part to protect them then that’s a good thing,” Doug said.
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