We still have incredible beaches, and the water is incredibly beautiful. We need to keep it that way.
Jeanne Bigos
Director of Sales & Marketing
The Outrigger Beach Resort
Jeanne Bigos


Jeanne Bigos 2

Jeanne Bigos
Director of Sales & Marketing, The Outrigger Beach Resort

Jeanne Bigos knows first-hand the reaction of visitors when they're vacationing in Fort Myers Beach during an outbreak of red drift algae. Guests at The Outrigger Beach Resort don't understand when there's a large amount of it on the beaches. They just want to go to the beach.

"We've promised them beautiful beaches and incredible water, but we're not always providing it," says Jeanne. "They get upset."

Jeanne and her fellow resort staff members explain to guests that, in layman's terms, red drift algae is like seaweed that's been ripped up from the bed of the Gulf and deposited on the beach by the winds and the tides. It's a natural occurrence so the local government is reticent to remove it when eventually the tide will take it back out. They're o.k. with this explanation, but they're not happy.

She worries about the impact of their experiences on future visits. When they think about returning, will they think about our destination's beautiful beaches? Or will they remember what they had to wade through to get to the water? She's equally concerned about the amount of press coverage outside of the area regarding water issues. How will that impact her business down the road?

When potential guests call her to ask about the beaches, she reports on the present situation at her resort; but she doesn't make any promises about future conditions. That's because she's well aware that we never know what Mother Nature will give us today or tomorrow.

The changes she's seeing in water quality are hard for her to digest. She grew up vacationing in Captiva. The water was so healthy that she could see her toes in the water, and dolphins played around her all the time. There weren't any issues with seaweed, and she doesn't remember any algae whatsoever.

"I just wonder what we're doing to the environment," she laments. "Sometimes we've lost the elements of what Florida was. We have to protect what we still have for our grandchildren."

Jeanne already is doing her part. When she and her husband moved to the area in 1986, one of the first things they did was take a night class on how to landscape in a way that's friendly to the local environment. Her husband actually took the course twice. They moved from Colorado, so it was a huge learning curve for them. They had to get used to working with native plants and the responsible use of pesticides. They learned you can have a beautiful lawn as long as you work with nature. As a result of doing so, she loves to sit in her backyard and watch the hummingbirds and the butterflies. She highly recommends the services of Lee County's Extension Service as well as the book "Florida My Eden," her "Bible" when she goes to Home Depot.

On a broader scale, Jeanne wants new residents to honor the environment. "They come here for the incredible beaches, warm waters, year-round green paradise, and boating," she says. "But everyone needs to understand that we must work with Mother Nature to keep it that way."

Related Links

A conservation educator sees plenty of cause for concern...

Read This Story

Two local artists inspire others to promote solutions...

Read This Story

A hotel marketer laments the changes she sees...

Read This Story

An ecology professor explains the dynamics behind water quality issues.

Read This Story

A marina owner takes personal responsibility.

Read This Story

An environmental activist paints a challenging picture.

Read This Story

A commercial developer sees the writing on the wall.

Read This Story

A noted author is very troubled by water quality issues.

Read This Story

A local fisherman advocates for continued pressure on decision-makers.

Read This Story
More Links

Tell Us Your Story

To tell us your tale, email us at mywaterstory@leegov.com. And thanks for taking time to help us better understand the scope of what’s happening to us all.

Send Your Story

Related Links

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force:
http://www.sfrestore.org

South Florida Water Management District:
http://www.sfwmd.gov

More Links

Glossary

Phosphorus [P]:
An element or nutrient required for energy production in living organisms; distributed into the environment mostly as phosphates by agricultural runoff and life cycles; frequently the limiting factor for growth of microbes and plants.

Blue-Green Algae:
A type of algae natural to our area that blooms in the climatic and nutrient conditions it finds favorable.

Go to the Glossary
>