2016 marks the 20-year anniversary that the Conservation 20/20 program was established by Lee County voters. ​But how did Conservation 20/20 get started?

It began in 1994, when a land-use study determined that only 10 percent of Lee County was set aside for the purpose of conservation. The average for most counties across the State of Florida, at the time, was 21 percent conservation land.

A group of concerned citizens recognized this as a critical moment for Lee County to determine what its future would look like. The group coined the term "Conservation 20/20" to depict a 20/20 vision for the future of Lee County, balanced between necessary growth and native land.

Due to their efforts, in 1996, a Lee County voter referendum passed to establish and fund, through a half-mill tax increase, a county program to purchase and protect conservation land within Lee County. The program appropriately became known as Conservation 20/20, named after the grassroots group that advocated for its creation.

Conservation 2020 Grass Roots Committee
A group of grassroots Lee County citizens lobbied for the creation in 1996 of the Conservation 20/20 program

The Lee Board of County Commissioners created a citizen advisory committee by Ordinance 96-12 (later amended by Ordinances 15-08, 05-17, 13-09) called the Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee, or CLASAC.​​

Twenty years later, in 2016, the Conservation 20/20 program appeared once more on the ballot as a non-binding referendum for Lee County voters. In November 20​16, the referendum passed with 84 percent majority support.