Over a relatively short 100 year time frame, Sarasota’s natural landscape has been manipulated to optimize human settlement. The unintended consequences of these anthropogenic changes have proven to be deleterious to natural systems, and difficult and costly to correct.
Initial impacts came to the county’s hinterlands where agricultural interests ditched, connected, and drained “isolated” wetlands; deepened, straightened and channelized streams; and redirected historic sheet-flows from the area’s flat upland habitats into manmade ditches. The second wave of impacts came from the suburbanization of the county’s coastal and near-coastal areas. Subdivisions, commercial centers and industrial parks created vast expanses of impervious surfaces which prevented natural filtration and silt control; and added excess nutrients and pollutants to surface water bodies.
Collectively, the impacts from suburban and agricultural landscape alteration have significantly altered surface water quality, quantity and timing, all critical to the delicate balance between land, water and a high quality of community life.
Submitted by Jon Thaxton, Sarasota County Commission