8/13/2017 Update:

What a successfull event! Thank you to everyone who came out to Orchid Oaks Preserve and South Gate Community Center on August 12th to help restore Phillippi Creek. A total of 64 volunteers participated in picking up trash, removing exotic or nuisance species, flagging a nature trail. and planting trees, shrubs, and cover species.

A special thank you goes to the following organizations and individuals for making it happen: VHB, B&B Land Services, Aquatic Weed Control, Jane McCuiston, Karen Collins-Flemming, Friends of Phillippi Creek, Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team Coordinator Mollie Holland, UF IFAS Extension Watershed Stewards, Abbey Tyrna, Sarasota County Stormwater Environmental Utility Manager John Ryan, Miranda Lansdale and Jane Grogg from Sarasota County Neighborhood Services, Sarasota Bay Esuary Program, and Fishery expert Ryan Schloesser.

Restoration volunteers standing under an oak tree
Volunteers removing invasive plants
Volunteer removing invasive plants
Volunteers removing invasive plants
Volunteer in canoe with invasive plants


When: Saturday August 12, 9-12 pm  Please come join neighbors for this grass-roots restoration project!

LISTEN to WUSF to hear more about the project!

Why: Phillippi Creek Needs Your Help! The creek watershed is highly developed but has been so since at least the 1920s when the area was converted to agriculture, primarily citrus. Phillippi Creek was channelized for agriculture and then later for stormwater improvements to accommodate residential development. Much of Phillippi Creek has armored shorelines like sea walls that provide little potential for fish and wildlife habitat. The Creek’s water quality has deteriorated over the years from significant erosion and stormwater input that carries fertilizers and pollutants. Sarasota County has made significant headway in water quality with such actions as the septic tank replacement program and the fertilizer ordinance, but we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, the creek has exotic/nuisance species dominant in certain areas, so its potential value to fish and wildlife is limited. Shorelinerestoration projects can make a difference with creating better habitat for fish and wildlife and improving water quality.

Where: The restoration will take place on two of the remaining parcels along the Creek that have native habitats and natural stabilization that are both ecologically productive and effective at controlling erosion. Both the Orchid Oaks Preserve and the South Gate Community Center were never completely cleared of native vegetation and are still in relatively good shape but need help with nuisance/exotic plant invasion. The Preserve, with its original unchannelized Creek oxbows, also provides some exceptional terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic habitats reminiscent of the less developed, relatively natural Myakka River out east. Come discover the nature in your backyard!

Volunteer Activities: We understand that some volunteers may have physical limitations, so we have numerous jobs to accommodate different levels of ability. The volunteer effort will include physically taxing work of removing exotic vines and planting native plant species and less rigorous jobs of picking up trash and helping other volunteers with distributing water and gloves and volunteer sign-in. We will have a volunteer coordinator for each activity that will organize the eco-volunteers.

Event Details: This stewardship event will be educational, fun, and fulfilling for all participants. We will meet at the South Gate Community Center for the event. Some of us will travel a short distance to Orchid Oaks Preserve and others will stay at the Community Center. We need volunteers to bring their favorite planting shovel, planting spade, gloves, sunscreen, hand loppers, hard rakes, and other equipment. No chainsaws or mechanized equipment, please. We will have water and drinks available and some equipment, but it is imperative that we know what you are bringing so we have everyone ready.

PLEASE REGISTER: We will need to know how many people are planning to attend and what equipment you are bringing so we can make arrangements for parking, equipment, specific jobs, drinks, etc. If you have questions about the project or about volunteering, please email Ronnie Van Fleet, the project’s professional wetland scientist and restoration project manager, at rvanfleet@vhb.com or call him at 941-256-7159. We will send out update emails to those registered.