Like most organizations along the Suncoast, START has experienced some setbacks from Ian’s devastating winds and storm surge. As a result, this October’s edition of our monthly E-Newsletter will be limited to an overview of the current status of our facilities and various field operations.

With the shift of the projected path of the storm from Sarasota to Ft Myers, the START office lost power for a few days, but escaped any major damage with just some downed tree branches in the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with our field operations. There definitely will be some setbacks with the recently planted aquatic plants in the Healthy Pond Collaborative’s stormwater pond enhancement programs in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. We will spend the next week or so assessing the degree of damage with our community partners.

Dr. Charles Reith, who heads our Microforest program, reports that three of our established Microforests at the Celery Fields and the two at Stoneybrook all received notable damage in the storm. He estimates the degree of damage at 4 on a scale of 10 with 10 being total destruction. Fortunately, based on his experience in restoring trees after Katrina hit New Orleans, Charles feels our Microforests can be restored with proper staking and replanting.

We have not had a chance to get on the water to assess the state of our various oyster and clam restoration projects, but will work with our partners with the Sarasota Bay Watch, the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources and the All Clams On deck program to do that as soon as possible.

We will report on our recovery efforts to restore these important water quality programs in next month’s E-Newsletter. In the meantime, we wish everyone a safe and healthy recovery from this devastating hurricane.

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