We asked our partners in the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department to tell us how their staff adapted to physical distancing during the COVID-19 epidemic while maintaining and enhancing Manatee County’s beautiful parks and preserves. Our hats are off to these staff for their impressive work.

Thanks to Damon Moore, Division Manager of Ecological and Marine Resources, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department for this writeup.

As the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department implemented social distancing requirements among staff, many of the Recreation Division staff whose normal duties include things like training the aquatic center life guards, maintaining tennis facilities, and front desk customer service found themselves stepping into new roles on the County’s natural areas. The Director of the Parks and Natural Resources Department, Charlie Hunsicker, challenged his team to keep each other safe as number one priority, and keep people working on a backlog of projects at the Preserves that can be done safely. As Charlie put it, “Much like the Civilian Conservation Corps programs during the 1930s, we have plenty of opportunities for County employee field work in our preserves over the coming weeks as on site or workstation requirements for employees begin to diminish over a prolonged closing.” Mr. Hunsicker instructed the Preserves staff, who can easily meet social distancing requirements working across the 30,000 acres of County Preserves, to bring appropriate tasks and projects forward and implement the work under CDC guidelines for COVID-19 with the Recreation Division team members. The Recreation Division stepped up and have been getting lots of important work done in the preserves to the benefit of Manatee County’s Natural Resources.

Sevastian Rodriguez And Malik Barton Building Oyster Bars In Perico Bayou.
Sevastian Rodriguez And Malik Barton Building Oyster Bars In Perico Bayou.

Tasks completed by Recreation Division Staff on Manatee County Preserves Included:

  • Perico Bayou Oyster Bar Completed! (Sarasota Bay Guardians volunteers will remember building the first half of this oyster bar in September 2019)
  • Building Starter Nests and Installing Wading Bird Decoys at Perico Preserve
  • Building Work Benches and Shelves
  • Weeding Grow Zones
  • Delivery of Manatee County Boater’s Guides to businesses across the County
  • Trail Improvements
  • Mowing Entrance Areas and Trail Heads
  • Trash Clean Up
  • Planting cypress trees on stormwater pond edges
  • Building and installing new and improved swinging benches
  • Trail Speed Limit Marking
  • Vertical Oyster Garden Shell Drilling and Wire Rig Construction
  • Preserve Patrol for Social Distancing Reminders
  • Maintenance Buildings Organization
  • Invasive Vegetation Removal
  • Power Washing Buildings
  • Installation of Speed Bumps
  • Mulching Trees and Flower Beds
  • Parking Area Pothole Repairs
  • Daily Trash and Recycling Runs
  • Rescue of an injured Osprey!
Sherry Price Building And Installing A Swinging Bench At Perico Preserve
Sherry Price Building And Installing A Swinging Bench At Perico Preserve

Big thanks to these folks who have stepped up and helped get things done in the Preserves:

Shannon Cielinski
Sevastian Rodriguez
Preston Higdon
MJ Ross
Malik Barton
Jay Jaudon
Derek Marshall
Bridget Frattallone
Alex MacDonell
Sherry Price
Jake Jacob
Molly White

Preston Higdon And Molly White Installing Wading Bird Decoys And Starter Nests At Perico Preserve
Preston Higdon And Molly White Installing Wading Bird Decoys And Starter Nests At Perico Preserve