Jacarlene Foundation awards $20,000 to Conservation Foundation in support of rewilding of county Quads next to the Celery Fields

Foundation and Sarasota Audubon Society in permitting phase for their project

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast recently received a $20,000 grant from the Jacarlene Foundation in support of the Foundation’s collaboration with the Sarasota Audubon Society to re-wild Sarasota County’s “Quads” parcels next to the Celery Fields, in the eastern part of Sarasota County, the Foundation has announced.

In October 2020, the County Commission voted unanimously to place a conservation easement over the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest Quads, having worked with Foundation representatives on that process. The Sarasota Audubon Society manages the land.

“The four properties known as the ‘quads,’ or quadrants, at the intersection of Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard in Sarasota, were among 300 acres Sarasota County purchased from a private landowner in 1994,” county staff has explained in a document showing the property. “The acquisition was made as part of the development of the Celery Fields, although the quads were never intended to be a part of the regional stormwater facility the county constructed there,” the document added.

In subsequent years, the Celery Fields has become an internationally known bird-watching destination, as well as a recreational area, with walking trails around the stormwater ponds.

The Foundation and the Sarasota Audubon Society have been raising funds to improve the Quads “for people, birds, and other wildlife,” a Foundation news release explains.

“We are grateful to the Jacarlene Foundation for their investment in our work and the community,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “In addition to supporting the creation of new habitats for a greater diversity of wildlife, these funds will help create additional opportunities for people to connect with nature and each other.”

The Quads “buffer the western edge of the environmentally significant Celery Fields from industrial areas,” the release points out. Not only will the re-wilding increase habitat for birds and other wildlife, the release notes, but it will “expand water storage and filtration to help with flood prevention and improved water quality.”

The Conservation Foundation and Sarasota Audubon are engaged in the permitting phase of their project; their leaders and supporters “look forward to starting the physical transformation of the three protected parcels in the near future,” the release adds. Among the envisioned improvements are “extensive plantings, meadows, woodland areas, additional trails, high and low points of terrain along a meandering stream, shaded picnic areas,” Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant walkways, a bird blind/observation platform, and a discovery area for children.

To learn more about the re-wilding of the Quads, visit conservationfoundation.com/quads.