Special To The Citizen
The East County Water Control District (ECWCD) hosted its Second Annual Wings Over Water Festival (WOW) on April 5 and 6 at Harns Marsh to help the public discover the beauty of southwest Florida's water, land and wildlife.
The two-day festival celebrated Southwest Florida's natural resources with presentations from experts and enthusiasts; an array of exhibits from local organizations, children's activities; food; guided walks and a rubber duck race.
Admission to the annual festival was free, thanks to its many sponsors.
ECWCD's mission is to preserve and protect the water resources within its boundaries - Lehigh Acres and western Hendry County. Harns Marsh is a stormwater retention area which helps to filter water and reduce flooding to the Orange River.
"It is important for visitors and residents to understand the role water quality and conservation play in keeping our environment safe," said David E. Lindsay, ECWCD manager.
Design and construction of Harns Marsh began in the early 1980s and soon transformed the 578-acre former farmland into the storage area it is today.
Over time, ECWCD's water quality and conservation efforts have helped make Harns Marsh an "accidental" sanctuary for more than 160 species of birds and wildlife. Although this area is not a park, it is open for passive recreation such as walking, bird watching, etc.
"WOW provides an opportunity to educate the community on our local environment as well as to ECWCD's efforts to protect these resources and their services," said Lindsay.
Many residents braved the inclement weather on Friday, April 5 to hear a presentation by ECWCD Manager, David E. Lindsay and Lee County Parks and Recreation, 20/20 Program, Land Stewardship Manager, Cathy Olson regarding future plans/development for Harns Marsh and the West Marsh.
On Saturday, April 6, the district hosted a variety activities from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. including lectures from experts; exhibitions by wildlife and education-related organizations and businesses; children's activities such as flower pot decorating stations and instruction on planting native plants; guided walks and viewing of various species of flora and fauna.
"The Second Annual WOW festival was wonderful event and that brought together Lehigh Acres residents, businesses and visitors," said ECWCD Chairman of the Board David Deetscreek. "We exceeded our attendance goals for the year and hope to continue to grow this event with support of our community members and partners."