Jono Miller, a member of the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Land Protection Committee, gave a presentation at the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting about the state of Sarasota County’s environmental endeavors.
His presentation runs timely with the county’s recent approval of an analysis of the county’s parks system to be incorporated into a parks master plan to help guide future development and land acquisition.
Miller started with a general overview of the history of land conservation in Florida, starting as early as the U.S. government’s public land survey in the early 1800s, which divided Florida into equally-sized geographical units called townships. For example, the Garden Club building, where CONA meets, is in Section 24, 17 townships east and 18 townships south of Tallahassee, he said.
Miller also talked about some of the county’s success stories, for example, restoring Red Bug Slough and acquiring the Circus Hammock park on 17th Street. He also mentioned some challenges: “I decided to stop at 12… it’s an arbitrary number,” he said.
Here are a few topics Miller discussed:
• Greenways and connectivity: Miller said the county needed to protect more greenways (small slivers that help connect larger pieces of conservation land), which would in turn help increase connectivity between the county’s larger parks and preserves.
•Scrub jay habitat: the county needs to make sure to conserve more land that provides habitat for scrub jays, a Florida-native and threatened species of bird.
• Confused terminology: the county uses multiple terms to refer to its parks, such as preserve, conservation land and preservation land. Without clear definitions, these words can be misused.
Miller told the audience of about 30 CONA members to make sure and get involved during the comprehensive plan update process and encouraged them to speak up to their county commissioners about conservation issues.