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Sanibel Plan Lecture Draws Dozens

March 17, 2023

SCCF Pfeifer Conservation Fellow and Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida Thomas Ankersen visited the Bailey Homestead on March 16 for the first in a series of lectures about the Sanibel Plan.

Completed in 1976, the Sanibel Plan protects Sanibel from overdevelopment by prioritizing natural systems in land-use planning. Ankersen, an expert in law and coastal policy, discussed the historical context of the Sanibel Plan, the leaders who brought it to life, how it has prevailed amid ever-increasing development pressure, and what future threats to the plan could lie ahead.

“The Sanibel Plan holds a remarkable place in the history of land use planning in Florida, the United States, and even beyond,” said Ankersen. “This pioneering piece of public policy emerged from a milieu that featured the convergence of a novel approach to physical planning, the birth of a political movement, and a “quiet revolution” in public policy.”

The authors of the Sanibel Plan were preeminent thought leaders in each of those areas, and the newly incorporated City had both the vision and the wherewithal to bring them to the Island for the mind meld that became the Sanibel Plan.

“The result was — and is — a Plan like no other; one in which the protection of nature serves as the central organizing principle of governance,” he added. 

Ankersen is Professor Emeritus at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and Director Emeritus of the Coastal Policy Lab at UF’s Center for Coastal Solutions and the Florida Sea Grant Legal Program. He currently serves as the SCCF’s first Pfeifer Conservation Fellow. 

In addition to a law degree, Ankersen holds a master’s degree in history from the University of South Florida. For three decades Ankersen and his students worked to move the public policy needle in the direction of conservation at all levels of government.  


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