The volunteers of the Southeast Chapter in the Sarasota area help local wildlife and improve water quality through grass roots habitat restoration projects in coastal area. Most of the sites selected are publicy owned lands, either county or state parks or wildlife refuges. They remove invasive plant species and then replant with native species.
Exotic trees like Australian Pine and Brazilian Pepper crowd out the native plant species upon which native wildlife depends for food and shelter. When biodiversity in one link of the food chain is reduced, it impacts the entire ecosystem. For example, many native plants, such as Red Mangrove, play a vital role in the local ecosystem as a source of food, a sink for excess nutrients and pollution, a soil stabilizer, and a buffer against storms.
Our volunteers grow their own native plants by collecting the seeds themselves and growing them either in their own back yards or, more recently, in our plant nursery located on the grounds of the Gulf Conservation Foundation in Sarasota. When the plants are large enough to survive on their own, we plant them in reclaimed areas. Our native plant nursery program was so successful this year that we were able to supply other groups with plants for their projects.
Because invaders like Australian Pine and Brazilian Pepper readily germinate and can grow up to 10 feet a year, we must constantly monitor cleared areas to remove any new growth.
How You Can Help
We need volunteers to help with these projects. You can be an individual or a group. We love to partner with schools, scouts, civic groups, corporations, and faith-based groups. You don't even need a green thumb--just a willingness to work. If you have them, bring your own tools. To learn about upcoming work days, check back here or phone John Sarkozy at 941-966-7308.
Check out some of our projects.