Originally published by Naples Daily News on April 19, 2023 by Chad Gillis

Ray Bearfield was recently appointed as the Collier County Waterkeeper, a local chapter of a nationwide effort to protect America’s waterways.

Bearfield, 72, grew up in Richmond, Indiana, and his family moved to Tennessee when he was in high school. He attended East Tennessee State University and moved to Naples in 1976, when he became a freelance writer and fishing guide.

Bearfield moved away from Naples years ago but returned last fall (he closed on a condo two days after Hurricane Ian made landfall).

The nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance has grown its presence tremendously in Southwest Florida in the last six years as retiree and Calusa Waterkeeper Emeritus John Cassani developed a program for the Caloosahatchee River and the Fort Myers-Sanibel area.

Cassani developed Calusa Waterkeeper to the point that the group’s social media posts reach up to 700,000 accounts.

Bearfield hopes to grow the Collier chapter into a larger, more influential group that oversees water and environmental issues in Southwest Florida.

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