A group of 38 volunteers with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) Bay Guardians planted thousands of Florida native plants at Perico Preserve on Saturday. Manatee County Natural Resources and Around the Bend Nature Tours supported the morning project. SBEP provided a picnic lunch and some of the volunteers included students from Martha B. King Middle School in Bradenton. The plants, including cord grass, buttonwoods and sea grapes, were donated by the Florida Wildlife Commission and the Southeast Littoral Society.
Perico Preserve is the newest preserve in Manatee County located across Perico Bayou from Robinson Preserve. The 176-acre property was originally farmland and the extensive mangrove fringe is currently undergoing restoration to become another natural habitat within Manatee County’s coastal preserve system. Plans include the construction of a lagoon to support seagrass growth and a bird rookery island. During construction, public access is only permitted through sneak peek tours hosted by Manatee County Natural Resources or volunteer workdays.
The outing to Perico Preserve is the fifth Bay Guardian volunteer outing this year in Manatee and Sarasota County. Prior outings were held at North Lido Beach Park, Emerson Point Preserve, North Water Tower Park, and Quick Point Preserve on Longboat Key. Many of the local parks and preserves are visited annually by the Bay Guardians to build on prior efforts. Most of the projects focus on planting Florida native plants and removing exotic plants or trash and debris.
The Sarasota Bay Guardians is a family-friendly program that SBEP manages in partnership with Around the Bend Nature Tours. New volunteers receive a blue tee shirt featuring the Bay Guardians logo. Each outing features environmental education and a picnic lunch. Join the Bay Guardians for a single project or as an ongoing commitment. Local school, scout and church groups interested in volunteering can contact Sara Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring the area’s greatest natural asset—Sarasota Bay. Its unique program strives to improve water quality, increase habitat and enhance the natural resources of the area for use and enjoyment by the public. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the United States that have been named by the U.S. Congress as an “estuary of national significance.” Partners include Sarasota County, Manatee County, City of Sarasota, City of Bradenton, Town of Longboat Key, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.