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Environment

Sarasota County Approves Preservation Of 33 Acres Surrounding Celery Fields

Multiple kinds of birds wading in water.
Sarasota Audubon Society
The nationally recognized birding site Celery Fields in Sarasota County is about 440 acres. People can hike there, and it's also a key piece of the county's storm water management system.

New conservation easements on three parcels adjacent to Celery Fields will keep development from encroaching on the reserve.

Three parcels buffering Celery Fields in Sarasota County will be protected, restored and managed through a public-private partnership, after Sarasota County commissioners approved the plan this week.

The Celery Fields reserve is a landmark on the Great Florida Birding Trail, visited by more than 240 species of birds.

The new conservation easements will keep development off of another 33 acres adjacent to the reserve.

The county is partnering with Sarasota Audubon Society and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast on the project.

Map outlining the newly protected parcels adjacent to Celery Fields.
Sarasota County

County leaders had considered developing some of the land until activists stepped in.

Had the sites been developed, the birds and other wildlife would have eventually retreated into the center of Celery Fields to compete for food in a smaller space, said Jeanne Dubi, president of Sarasota Audubon.
"So the addition of these two, especially the two Eastern parcels, is going to actually act as a buffer and allow those within the current Celery Fields to thrive and not have to retreat," she said.

They’re also going to restore the land by adding more plants for birds to forage, so Dubi said this is a win for the birds, for the environment and for Sarasota County citizens.

Conservation Foundation President Christine Johnson said the outcome is exciting but there's still a lot of work to do.

"Our two organizations are charged with coming up with the plan for the restoration, the plan for the public use, which will be light on the property- basically, little trails and a couple of park benches,” she said. “And we have to fundraise for it all.”

The plan will take substantial funding, though a specific amount has not been announced.