Pilot program encouraging City of Sarasota homeowners to plant mature trees

Residents can be reimbursed up to $500 after $100 investment

The gumbo limbo is one of the available species. Photo by Yinan Chen via Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to continue the expansion of the urban canopy, the City of Sarasota is supporting a community-driven pilot program offering an incentive up to $500 for residents who plant and maintain mature trees within program guidelines, the city has announced.

Residents, who will own the trees, will be required to invest $100, a news release notes.

Homeowners who purchase a tree under the aegis of the program will be required to water, prune and maintain it, the release adds. “The program focuses on planting mature canopy and understory trees with a minimum 2-inch caliper. Planting is limited to the right of way,” the release points out, or within 10 feet of the right of way.

Participants may select from over two-dozen approved species, from pink tabebuia to shady lady to live oak, the release continues. A complete list of approved trees and program details are available in the Mature Tree Canopy Pilot Program Guidelines.

Participants are required to complete a streamlined administrative process, the release says:

  • If applicable, obtaining a right of way minor use permit (fee waived).
  • Approval of the planting location to ensure appropriate distance from utilities.
  • Approval for the time of year to plant the selected tree.

After city staff has verified the planting, the release adds, the city will reimburse the resident up to $500.

The initial phase of the program includes 50 trees on a first-come, first-served basis, the release emphasizes.

“In addition to beautifying the community, trees provide significant benefits,” including saving energy, cleaning stormwater runoff, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cleaning the air, lowering the urban heat island effect, providing wildlife habitat and improving overall health and well-being for people, the release explains.

The $50,000 in financing for the Mature Tree Canopy Pilot Program comes from the city’s tree replacement fund, “which collects a portion of tree removal permit dollars to be used specifically for urban canopy programs,” the release adds.

Detailed information about the Mature Tree Canopy Pilot Program is available online.

“Sarasota resident Lou Costa, a retired principal engineer, volunteered his time to administer the initiative,” the release adds.

Residents interested in participating in the program should contact Lou Costa: LouCosta1000@aol.com.