Editorial: Mirasol ... judge’s order a victory for watchdogs, wildlife

For years, environmental protectors have petitioned in vain for a thorough environmental impact review of a proposed development called Mirasol in Collier County, where it abuts the southern border of Lee County east of Interstate 75.

A federal judge in Miami now orders a look at issues as specific as development’s impact on Mirasol’s stock of fish for wood storks from Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary next door.

Corkscrew is thrilled. So are members of an impressive environmental coalition including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Collier County and National Audubon societies, and the Florida and National Wildlife federations.

Environmental destruction has been the contention since Mirasol sought its first permits nine years ago. Local agencies such as the Collier County Commission and the South Florida Water Management District have tended to favor Mirasol while independent watchdogs have consistently raised concerns.

A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as it stands now, would allow Mirasol to build up to nearly 800 homes, calling for the destruction of 645 acres of wetlands and the preservation of 832 others as well as nearly 110 acres of high and dry uplands.

We’ll see how this turns out. At least now credible environmental organizations feel they have a better chance to make sure that whatever happens at the Mirasol site east of Interstate 75 will be better for Southwest Florida and its wildlife in the long run. That is sustainability.

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