Sunday, July 21, 2024

Governments buying Islands

USA: Florida Private Island Donated for a Bird Sanctuary

The Audabon Society was thrilled to receive a donation of a small Florida private island for use as a bird sanctuary and nesting ground.

(Miller Family Bird Colony Island, Florida)

For the Miller family of St. Pete Beach, a resort community on the barrier island that stretches the length of St. Petersburg, an island they never knew they had has become a wonderful gift to the Audabon Society.

The unassuming mangrove isle known as Fuller Island, found in Boca Ciega Bay, may just be a few acres in size, but it has long been a treasured home for exotic bird species like egrets, spoonbills, and blue herons.

The strange tale of how the island ended up as the Miller Family Bird Colony Sanctuary began in 2010, when an unexpected discovery of a tax bill revealed that the family owned the island – which they thought they had sold in 1981, along with the beach-side hotel property that had been in the family for more than 40 years.

The document was found by Howard Miller, a St. Petersburg lawyer and the grandson of the couple who originally started the hotel. During that time and the intervening years after the hotel was sold, Fuller Island was never altered and remained in a pristine state.

During the years when the family ran their resort, guests would admire the view of the island and people would at times boat or canoe over to it, but the swampy mangroves were never cleared, and nothing was ever constructed.The Millers had no grand plans for development – the family simply enjoyed it as a piece of beautiful nature that added to the character of the area.

(The beautiful Roseate Spoonbill)

When the Audabon Society, who had been surveying the bird life on the island for 10 years, approached them about managing the island, the family members were unified about donating it instead.  “Everyone was in favor,” Howard Miller told a Tampa Bay newspaper. “It was all done by email, and it was quick.”

For the Audabon society, the donation of the island was a dream come true. The first piece of land donated to the Florida branch in 20 years, the Miller family’s island has been added to the 25 other islands under the conservancy’s care. The island will be kept just as it has been for centuries – wild and green, home only to the nests of long-limbed water birds and the occasional visiting falcon.

Read more about this story: Tampa Bay Online


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