Cape Coral and Southwest Florida Feature Stories

Cape Coral - Let There Be Trees

Back in the second half of the 1950's, the Rosen brothers bought the 7,000 acres of wetlands destined to become the first part of Cape Coral. The land needed to be developed. Canals had to be dug. Lots needed to be plotted. This was an enormous piece of property they were preparing for future greatness. Plenty of work needed to be done, but there was one major obstacle in the way...thousands of trees.

Visit Cape Coral today, almost 50 years later, and you won't need to look too far to realize how the Rosen's solved this pesky little problem of theirs. They clear-cut the entire city down to flat land and started from scratch. Within a few years the majority of Cape Coral went from mangrove swamp to giant sandbox. The sheer magnitude of this project in city building forced their hands. There really was no other way to do it. And if they tried to do it today, they wouldn't be allowed. Nesting birds, rare frogs and endangered turtles would surely shut their dreams down before they even began.

 

What we've inherited is the barren waterfront wonderland we all know and love. The Rosen's made their mark, now it's time for us to make ours. As the ancient proverb goes, " The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is now."

It's clearly up to us to return our yards and streets to their natural resplendence. What this booming city needs are some trees. Native trees, shade trees, exotics, decoratives, ornamentals, bushes and shrubs...we need them all.

The benefits of mass tree plantings are almost as immense as the population of Cape Coral is beginning to be. First and foremost they add beauty and value to what constitutes most Americans' largest investment, their house. Yes it's true. Even in this market of explosive real estate price gains, there is still more room for additional icing on the cake. Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values anywhere from 7 to 15 percent, or more.

Even if you've got investment or business property, the time to plant trees is right now. Trees can stimulate economic development, attract new business and tourism. Tree-lined commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers. Nice privacy landscaping causes apartments to rent more quickly, and results in tenants wanting to stay longer. Space in a wooded setting is always more valuable to sell or rent.

Properly placing trees around buildings and residences can reduce air conditioning needs by up to 30 percent. This can result in hundreds of dollars worth of energy savings a year for the average homeowner. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tells us, " the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day."

Planting trees can improve water quality. This is a big one for the city which bills itself as the "Waterfront Wonderland". Trees and wooded areas result in less runoff and erosion, which allows more recharging of the ground water supply. Abundant trees can help prevent the transport of sediment, fertilizers and chemicals into our canals and streams. Perhaps more trees would stop the algae blooms plaguing our canals.

Even our physical and mental health is at stake here. Laboratory research done by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich has shown us that visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension. Let's calm ourselves down. Plant some trees and stop the road rage.

The birds need places to live. The air needs more oxygen and less carbon dioxide. Our grandchildren need a more beautiful and environmentally-friendly city to call home. Plant a tree and everyone wins.

Thomas Edison is remembered by all as a genius. As soon as he moved to nearby Fort Myers he started planting trees, lots of trees. If he was still around today he'd probably be telling his friends in Cape Coral to follow his lead.

It looks better. It feels better. This is Southwest Florida . Be honest, who among us couldn't use a little more shade on a hot summer's day?

Editor's Note:  Planting new trees need not be expensive.  Visit the National Arbor Day Foundation for information on what types of trees are suitable for planting in Southwest Florida (Hardiness Zone 10).  Join the National Arbor Day Foundation and get 10 free trees sent to your front door.

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