Visit Everglades City and the Ten Thousand Islands of Southwest Florida, the Everglades

The Man Who Made Collier County

Everglades City

by Reverend Dr Bob N. Wallace
Everglades Community Church

Barron Gift Collier (March 23, 1873 – March 13, 1939) was an American advertising entrepreneur whose impact on Florida was profound.

Collier made his fortune in streetcar advertising and quickly became a millionaire. His business ventures extended far beyond advertising, including a chain of hotels, bus lines, banks, newspapers, and more. He was a visionary who saw potential in undeveloped areas. Barron and his wife, Juliet Gordon Carnes, acquired more than 1.3 million acres of land in Southwest Florida. They became the largest private landowners in the state.

Collier’s investments transformed the wilderness, including draining the Everglades and constructing the Tamiami Trail. Collier was instrumental in the construction of roads, drainage systems, and other infrastructure that opened the area for development.

His efforts were crucial in transforming the region into a viable and accessible destination. To recognize his influence and investment in the state’s future, the Florida legislature named Collier County after him on May 8, 1923. His impact extended beyond business. He established the Rod & Gun Club at Everglades City. He donated land for Everglades Community Church. He also established the Izaak Walton Club at their Useppa Island Resort, which became one of the most exclusive sporting clubs globally.
Barron Gift Collier was a visionary entrepreneur who left an indelible mark on Florida’s landscape and conservation efforts. His legacy reverberates through various initiatives that continue to benefit the state’s environment:

Rural Land Stewardship Program (RSLA): In 2002, Barron Collier Corporation pioneered the RSLA, a land use plan aimed at protecting agricultural areas, natural habitats, wetlands, and flow ways. Over 50,000 acres of Florida habitat have been preserved through this program. The masterplanned community Ave Maria set aside 17,050 acres for conservation under the RSLA.

Florida Panther Protection Program: Collaborating with conservation organizations and local farmers, Barron Collier Corporation established this program. It safeguards over 2.5 million acres of public and private lands for the endangered Florida panther. The Paul J. Marinelli Panther Protection Fund supports conservation through sustainable real estate developments like Ave Maria.

Big Cypress National Preserve: Barron Collier’s family conveyed land for the 729,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve. This preserve protects wetlands that flow clean water across the Greater Everglades ecosystem, benefiting diverse wildlife and the endangered Florida panther.

Collier Seminole State Park: The park, historically known as Royal Palm Hammock, was donated by the Collier family to Collier County in 1947. It covers 7,271 acres, extending south to the Ten Thousand Islands, encompassing mangrove river estuaries and salt marsh preserves.

Barron Collier Wikipedia
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Habitat Conservation Plan: Permanently preserving approximately 150,000 acres in Eastern Collier County, this plan ensures the protection of true Florida habitat and threatened species.

Barron Gift Collier’s commitment to conservation continues to shape Florida’s natural heritage, benefiting both present and future generations. Barron Gift Collier’s vision and dedication continue to shape Florida’s landscape and economy, leaving a lasting mark on the region.

2024-04-23T11:28:41-04:00April 30, 2024|History|

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