Protecting Southwest Florida’s water, LAND, WILDLIFE and future

Conservancy’s Rob Moher celebrates 20 years

Twenty years ago, Southwest Florida was a much different place. Large swaths of land remained undeveloped, and Naples was mostly contained between I-75 and the Gulf of Mexico. Builders and county leaders, however, were formalizing  plans for a frenetic, unprecedented residential and commercial construction boom that ultimately would redefine the region. It also tilted the balance between development rights and environmental protection.

At the same time, in early 1999, a young man named Rob Moher joined the Conservancy of Southwest Florida after serving as regional director for Bahamas National Trust, where he was responsible for protection, management and development of three national parks, including coastal and marine parks. Prior to that, he served as a research
officer for the International Development Research Center in Ottawa, Canada, where he was involved in environmental policy research on an international level.

“Rob had a reputation as a passionate advocate for environmental protection and strong policy development, so his arrival couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Van Williams, Conservancy of Southwest Florida board chair. “The Conservancy has flourished under his leadership.” As vice president of development and marketing, Moher led strategic philanthropic initiatives and provided leadership support for the successful Conservancy “Saving Southwest Florida” Capital Campaign that raised $38.8 million. In 2013, Moher was named Conservancy president and CEO.

In this role he remains front and center in advancing the Conservancy’s mission to protect our water, land, wildlife and future. “Rob’s philosophy is to follow the science in order to make sound policy decisions related to water quality, wetlands preservation and smart growth,” said Nick Penniman, Conservancy board member. “He is very good at making the complexities of science understandable while moving toward consensus and minimizing confrontation… except when absolutely necessary.” There is still plenty of work to do. Moher says the Conservancy’s top priorities include guiding development proposals for eastern Collier County in a way that is sustainable for the economy and the environment.

Working with partners to address Everglades restoration and the impacts of the toxic algae bloom crises impacting our health, water quality and our economy. He is working to advance research in the fight to control the invasive Burmese python population and to enact legislation to ban fracking and enhanced oil well extraction which threaten our limited fresh water supply. Looking toward the future, Moher says as a region we need to address issues related to our changing climate and how we can work toward a sustainable future.

“The Conservancy and Rob are great advocates in our fight for a healthy Everglades ecosystem,” said U.S. Congressman Francis Rooney. “I am thankful to work with Rob and his team on these critical environmental issues.”
“Decisions made in 2019 will permanently shape our future,” said Moher. “We hope each citizen will find ways to become engaged in learning about, and weighing in, on these momentous issues. Together, we can do more to protect the unique treasure that is Southwest Florida.”

For more information about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, please visit or stop by the Conservancy Nature Center, 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples.

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