START AIDS Beachfront Restoration

Members of the Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores neighborhood community wanted to improve the natural aesthetics and protection of their shoreline along the Bay and reached out to a number of environmental partners to bring together the expertise and funding needed to undertake an impressive restoration project.

As shown in the above picture, members of the various partnering organizations met on Indian Beach on Sunday morning February 17th, to break ground for the planting of mangroves and other vegetation that will help preserve the shoreline. Initial planning for the restoration was developed by Phil Chiocchio, of Mote’s Fisheries Forum sub committee on Coastal Restoration, shown on the far right of the last row with technical expertise provided by Mollie Holland of Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) and Armando Ubeda of the University of Florida’s Sea Grant program. Mollie is shown above in the middle of the front row with the sun glasses and Armando is third from the right in the front row.

Joining START in providing funding to purchase the plantings for the project were the Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores Neighborhood Association and the Sarasota Bay Foundation. Representing START is Sandy Gilbert, Chairman, CEO shown second from the right in the first row, and Jack Merriam and Alison Albee of the Sarasota Bay Foundation. You’ll find Jack in the back row, third from the right and Alison on the left in the front row.

Other members of the NEST partnership are Tim Rumage of Ringling College of Art and Design and John Ryan, with Sarasota County’s stormwater management team. Tim is located in the middle of the back row with the broad brimmed hat and John is also in the back row, second from the right.

Along with the other neighborhood volunteers in the picture, also joining the planting team is Stevie Freeman-Montes, the Sustainability Manager of the City of Sarasota, in the front row on the far right.

The project is an excellent example of what can be done when a number of organizations pool their resources. The mangrove seedlings will increase shoreline protection by increasing bank stabilization and reducing wave action. The mangroves will also provide new habitat for crustaceans, fish, birds and other organisms important for bay health. The ultimate goal is to provide a more environmentally diverse park for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

To learn more about how your neighborhood can improve its shoreline footprint contact Mollie Holland with the NEST Program at

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