The Healthy Pond Collaborative that we introduced to you in last month’s E-Newsletter was officially launched on September 15th with a press conference held by the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation at Selby Gardens. Teri A Hansen. President and CEO of the Barancik Foundation, welcomed the audience and opened the proceedings by explaining the growing importance of improving the quality of our waterways and why the Foundation thought it was important to award such a substantial $250,000 three-year grant to START for its outstanding work in helping local neighborhoods improve their ailing stormwater ponds.

Sandy Gilbert, Chairman and CEO of START, followed with an outline of the structure and objectives of the Healthy Pond Collaborative created by the Barancik grant funding. The four contributing partners are the Sarasota County NEST Program, the University of Florida IFAS Sarasota Extension, the Science and Environment Council of South West Florida and START.

The Healthy Pond Collaborative will use 70% of the grant funding to help local neighborhoods buy the aquatic plants necessary for a healthy pond enhancement, 9% for educational communication including a Best Pond Practices Guide to assist HOA leaders in planning how to effectively manage their ponds, 11% to hire an intern who will assist with monitoring pond performance and 10% for administration and supplies.

Sandy then introduced the other members of the Healthy Pond Collaborative including Mollie Holland, Coordinator of the NEST Program, Jennifer Shafer, principal of the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida and Abbey Tyrna, Water Resources Agent with the University of Florida IFAS Sarasota Extension.

Abbey Tyrna then closed the formal part of the program with an explanation of the importance of doing a better job of cleaning up stormwater as it is the source of 65% of the excess nutrients in the Bay. She also explained how the right mix of aquatic plants in stormwater ponds helps guard against erosion, absorbs excess nutrients and provides shade that hinders the growth of unsightly algae.

The program closed with a question and answer session.

For questions about how the Healthy Pond Collaborative can help improve your neighborhood ponds, contact Sandy Gilbert at sandem133@aol.

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