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Environment

Sarasota Wants Residents To Plant More Trees, Offers Incentive

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City of Sarasota
The Mature Tree Canopy Pilot Program is funded with money from the city’s tree replacement fund.";

There is a building boom in Sarasota and that means a loss of trees.

Now the city is hoping to grow its urban canopy by offering an incentive to homeowners.

Residents in the city of Sarasota can get up to $500 if they plant and maintain full-grown trees on their property.

But first, the homeowner will have to invest $100 of their own money.

Sarasota resident Lou Costa, a retired engineer, volunteered to head up the initiative.

"And that would include delivery, planting, and all of the permits that are needed,” he said. “All the homeowner has to do is write a check for a hundred dollars and it all happens."

Costa adds that in the past, the city would plant trees on city streets and volunteers would be tasked with caring for them.

"And what was happening was the trees were not surviving,” he said.

Now the hope is that if a resident owns the tree, they would become more invested in keeping it alive. 

Costa says homeowners can choose from over two dozen species.

"Before it wasn't what they wanted, it's what the city wanted," he said. "So now we have a situation where they're putting skin in the game which is going to make a major league difference.” 

Once planting is verified by city staff, residents are eligible for the paid incentive.  

Money comes from the city’s tree replacement account which collects funds from developers when they remove trees for construction projects.

Cities, with their paved streets and concrete buildings are almost always hotter than natural settings. That’s because of an occurrence known as the urban heat island. Fewer trees and green cover almost always means higher temperatures.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, well shaded neighborhoods can be up to 6 to 10 degrees cooler than neighborhoods with minimal tree canopy.