Gulf Coast Community Foundation awards $75,000 to Conservation Foundation to support re-wilding of county Quads parcels

Grant will be used to implement strategies from Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s ‘Community Playbook for Clean Waterways’

Image from the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast recently received a $75,000 grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in support of their joint project with Sarasota Audubon Society to “re-wild” the Quads parcels at the Celery Fields, the Conservation Foundation has announced.

The grant, which was made possible through Gulf Coast’s Environmental Initiative Fund, has been designated for the implementation of strategies from that Foundation’s Community Playbook for Clean Waterways, a news release explains.

“Released in early 2021, the Community Playbook for Clean Waterways is a comprehensive online manual highlighting activities to reduce and remove manmade nutrient pollution in our region’s waterways.” The Conservation Foundation and Sarasota Audubon Society aim to implement activities from five of the Playbook’s 10 chapters as part of the Quads re-wilding, the release adds.

“Gulf Coast Community Foundation is committed to improving water quality and stewarding initiatives to help improve our environment,” said Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s vice president of community leadership, in the release. “The re-wilding of the Quad Parcels at the Celery Fields will improve our environment in many ways, and we are honored to support this amazing project,” Thaxton added.

The re-wilding includes improvements to an existing stormwater pond on the Northeast Quad, along with the addition of a stream on the Southeast Quad, the release points out. “This will allow for enhanced water filtration and storage, thus improving the water quality that flows into Phillippi Creek and ultimately Sarasota Bay.”

Further, the release notes, the re-wilding will include extensive plantings of native species, “benefitting birds and other wildlife while at the same time enhancing the ability of the soil to naturally process nutrients and retain water.” Additionally, a “no-mow shoreline will be established as part of the improvements to the existing pond,” which will prevent grass clippings from directly entering the water and releasing nutrients that stimulate algae growth, the release points out. The pond also will serve “as a learning tool,” to demonstrate how effectively stormwater ponds can filter pollutants when they incorporate native plants and are sustainably maintained.

“Ensuring water quality and quantity is a top priority for Conservation Foundation and safeguarding our local water resources is one of the primary goals of the Quad Parcel re-wilding,” says Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “We are incredibly grateful to Gulf Coast Community Foundation for their investment in this community project and their ongoing commitment to both our work and the future of our region.”

To learn more about the re-wilding of the Quad Parcels, visit