OSPREY, FL (February 6, 2019) Gulf Coast Community Foundation awarded a $100,000 matching grant to Venice Area Beautification, Inc. (VABI) to support the creation of an Urban Forest along the Intracoastal Waterway in Venice. This nearly two-mile forested greenway will provide habitat in which butterflies, birds, and wildlife will thrive, and for residents and visitors to enjoy. Gulf Coast’s support raises the visibility of this transformative community conservation project. All gifts will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000, helping VABI to complete the first phase of this dynamic initiative.
“We are thrilled to have this commitment from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Their grant is a catalyst, spurring VABI and the community to help raise the funds for this phase of our project,” notes Greg Vine, Urban Forest project chair. “We have an ambitious vision relying on fundraising, in-kind gifts, and sweat equity. With broad community support, we will create the Urban Forest, tree by tree.”
The Urban Forest began several years ago as a grassroots-led vision to reforest the former CSX railway corridor through the heart of Venice. So far, more than 600 trees of 32 species and understory plants have been planted as part of Phase One. When the project is completed the Urban Forest will stretch from the Venice Train Depot to Center Road and will provide a beautiful woodland trail for pedestrians parallel to the Venetian Waterway Park. All native trees and shrubs are being planted so that the forest provides habitat specifically for migratory songbirds and native wildlife.
Early community partners and in-kind donors include William Jervey, Bill Farnsworth, ArtisTree Landscape, Clark Connections, JT Holland, Shipps Excavating, Simply Trees, H&H Signs, Petra Prion Photography, and Lowes. The multi-year project will be completed in phases and Phase One will open to the public once completed. Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is also collaborating with VABI to build resources and public awareness for this unique community conservation project. To be a part of the Urban Forest, visit conservationfoundation.com/urban-forest.
About Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Together with its donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation transforms this region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital. Since then, it has become the philanthropic home of more than 700 families who have established charitable funds there and has invested over $300 million in grants in the areas of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at GulfCoastCF.org.
About Venice Area Beautification, Inc.
Venice Area Beautification, Inc. (VABI) is dedicated to making Venice, Florida a more beautiful place to live, work and play. An off-shoot of the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce, VABI formed as a non-profit in 1989. Staffed primarily by dedicated volunteers, VABI facilitates community partnerships and provides the leadership, manpower, and resources to complete beautification projects in the Venice area. Over its 29 years, successful collaborations have included the Venetian Waterway Park, the Venice Arboretum at West Blalock, Patriots Park, Volunteer Park, Caspersen Beach Park, and many outdoor murals and public art projects. Learn more at www.vabi.org.
About Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast saves land, forever, protecting those special natural lands that make this region extraordinary. Working with landowners, businesses, and government, Conservation Foundation protects the character and natural integrity of the bays, beaches, barrier islands and their watersheds on Florida’s Gulf Coast and has protected forever more than 11,000 acres in Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties. Learn more at www.conservationfoundation.com.