Save the date: Webinar about protecting the Panther Refuge from encroaching development

March 14, 2023

On April 5, 2023 at 6:30 p.m., Sierra Club will be hosting a webinar, in partnership with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

This webinar is anticipated to be in advance of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) public meeting regarding the Bellmar State 404 permit application in Collier County. 

The date of the DEP meeting has not yet been announced, but we want to ensure concerned citizens are ready and aware to take action on this critical issue concerning sprawl development in endangered Florida panther habitat! 

DEP and other agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, need to hear that you are concerned and oppose the Bellmar development application.  

This may be the last opportunity for the community to stand up and voice concern over the enormous environmental impacts associated with Bellmar, and to ask DEP to deny the permit for this project.   

Some facts about Bellmar:

  • Connectivity of habitat is essential for the endangered Florida panther.  There are two important major corridors in this area that wildlife, especially large mammals such as the panther, depend on for the viability of the population.  The proposed Bellmar development threatens to encroach on and significantly reduce the viability of one of these corridors – the Camp Keais Strand.
  • Bellmar would add more than 8,000 new residents only about one mile away from the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, threatening not only our wildlife but also our public lands.
  • The project would destroy about 1,700 acres of Primary Zone panther habitat –the most valuable to the future of the species- and over 130 acres of wetlands.
  • Panther-vehicle collisions are the number one documented cause of death for the Florida panther. Development on the Bellmar site will add tens of thousands of vehicle trips per day onto already-deadly roadways.
  • Loss of these core habitats, fragmentation of an essential corridor, more cars on the road, and impacts to the nearby wildlife refuge will jeopardize the Florida panther’s future.
  • Additional impacts and concerns will be discussed at the webinar.

Your voice is needed! Please attend this webinar to learn more about the proposed massive development and how to advocate when the DEP public meeting is scheduled. Please register in advance.

Webinar date: April 5, 2023

Time: 6:30 pm 

If you have questions, please contact Julianne Thomas, Sr. Environmental Planning Specialist, at

Please note that post-webinar, you may receive an email from the host asking if you would like to opt in for further communications on Bellmar and other issues.