102 volunteers enhance bioswale at the Celery Fields in Sarasota County

Initiative sponsored by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program

Volunteers add plants to a bioswale at the Celery Fields. Contributed photo
Volunteers add plants to a bioswale at the Celery Fields. Contributed photo

A group of 102 Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) Bay Guardian volunteers added 900 native plants to a bioswale at the new birding center at the Celery Fields on Saturday, Nov. 7, SBEP has announced.

“A bioswale is a shallow vegetated landscape area with gently sloped sides designed to hold rainwater,” a news release explains.

SBEP supported the project with a Bay Partners Grant, the release adds. Awarded earlier this year, the grant supports the efforts of Sarasota Audubon and the Florida House Institute to educate residents about stormwater pollution, native plants, water conservation and the Phillippi Creek watershed, the release adds. Interpretative signs will be installed to support public education at the site.

The project partners were Around the Bend Nature Tours, Sarasota Audubon, the Florida Native Plant Society, Brookside Middle School and the Salvation Army, a news release notes.

SBEP Bay Partner Grants support local initiatives focused on education, restoration and native landscaping to promote the health of Sarasota Bay, the release adds.

In the first quarter of 2016, the Bay Guardians have scheduled three air potato “roundups” to get rid of more of the invasive species, the release continues. Those events will be held at North Water Tower Park on Jan. 16, Red Bug Slough on Feb. 27 and Philippi Estate Park on March 12, the release points out. All those locations are in Sarasota County.

“Native plants are resilient to local environmental conditions and attract wildlife,” the release says. Invasive species such as the air potato compete with native plants, which can disrupt the balance of the Sarasota Bay ecosystem, the release notes.

The award-winning Bay Guardians Program is managed by SBEP in partnership with Around the Bend Nature Tours, the release points out. “The group has donated many thousands of hours supporting restoration projects along the bay and in area parks and preserves,” the release adds. The Bay Guardians complete at least six projects in Sarasota and Manatee counties each year. Every outing includes environmental education and a picnic lunch following the morning project, the release notes.