Everyone enjoys the cool shade tree of big trees on hot Florida days, but did you know trees significantly benefit our watershed by reducing stormwater runoff and flooding?
Stormwater runoff is rain that does not soak into the ground or get absorbed by trees and plants. Instead, the rain falls on hard surfaces like buildings, parking lots and paved streets or flows off lawns into streets. As it flows over these surfaces, it picks up pollutants, including lawn fertilizer, pet waste and oil residue from cars, before it empties untreated into our neighborhood creeks, canals and coastal waters. The result is poor water quality and increased flooding and erosion. Polluted stormwater eventually reaches the bay where it negatively affects the health of fish and wildlife and encourages algae blooms.
Trees are on the front lines of preventing the negative effects of stormwater runoff. A tree’s branches and leaves form a canopy which catches rain. Some of the rain evaporates off, some soaks into the tree and some flows down the trunk and into the ground.
Research at New College of Florida shows that oaks, pines and even palms, capture a considerable volume of rainfall. Trees can catch all of the rain from a light storm, most of the rain in a moderate storm, and some of the rain in a heavy storm. Rain captured in tree canopies reduces stormwater runoff and thus water pollution.
Tree canopies are especially important in urban areas. In natural forests, the dense canopy of trees captures at least 75% of all rainfall, but in most urban settings with widely scattered trees, less than 40% of rainfall is captured by trees. By protecting existing trees and planting more, we can enjoy the shade and protect water quality in our waterways and bays.
To learn more about watershed connections and the natural environment of Sarasota, visit the Watershed Audio Tour to listen to short messages on a variety of topics. Visit: www.watershedtour.org
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The Downtown Sarasota Condominium Association (DSCA) submitted this proposal to the City of Sarasota for a series of Reserved Community Spaces (i.e. Pocket Parks) to be identified and included in the City’s Strategic Plan for future implementation within the Rosemary District (between Fruitville Road & 10th Street, and US41 & Orange Avenue). This proposal was prepared by the DSCA Greenspace Committee and refined through a series of meetings with representatives of the Rosemary District Association and City of Sarasota staff. The need for Reserved Community Spaces in Rosemary District was identified in the City’s Downtown Master Plan.
The City’s Downtown Sarasota Economic Development Reports have identified over 3,200 residential units planned or under construction which will represent an increase in over 5,000 downtown residents. A majority of the large residential developments are in the Rosemary District. Many of these large developments are also significantly reducing the existing tree canopy in the Rosemary District; so greenspace needs to be preserved and enhanced. With this rapid growth of development in and near the Rosemary District, it is imperative that the City take action now to identify and make plans for eventual implementation of Pocket Parks to better serve the current and future residents and visitors of the Rosemary District and surrounding areas. Addition of these pocket parks will increase the attractiveness and livability of the Rosemary neighborhood, and make the streets and sidewalks more walkable for people living in the district and those walking through the district. The DSCA Greenspace Committee has initially identified ten locations that should be explored as possible sites for future pocket parks.
As a follow-on to the DSCA 2016 Pocket Parks in Rosemary District Proposal, the Rosemary District Association launched a Grassroots Planning Initiative. The Planning Initiative includes several goals and actions under Guiding Principle #6. Enhance the Presence of Nature in the District through the addition of neighborhood and pocket parks, and enhanced landscaping in the streets and sidewalks. You can review the proposed actions under Goal 1: Think Creatively to Identify Opportunities to Create 3-4 Small Parks within the Rosemary District. in the October 25, 2017 presentation.
Download the original May 2016 DSCA Proposal for Pocket Parks in Rosemary District