7.4 Support and promote green infrastructure demonstration projects on publicly accessible properties with interpretive signage and self-guided tours

Chapter 7. Community Partnerships for Stormwater Improvement

Key Message: Visibility and awareness of successful green infrastructure projects can be increased through interpretive signage, demonstration sites, and guided or self-guided tours at publicly accessible places such as parks, government buildings, botanical gardens and museums.


Demonstrating successful green infrastructure projects is key to their adoption by individuals and communities. Beautiful, accessible examples can reduce uncertainties and preconceptions about appearance, cost, difficulty, maintenance, and effectiveness. Installing green infrastructure projects on public land offers visibility and access in addition to demonstrating a vested interest in improving water quality. Guided or self-guided tours of these projects can build excitement and momentum for innovative ideas, educate new residents about natural Florida and sustainable practices, and spark community conversation and collaboration.


Demonstration Sites

A handful of demonstration sites constructed by the City of Sarasota and Sarasota County Government feature stormwater quality best management practices (BMPs) and are mapped on the Sarasota Water Atlas. Many municipal building landscapes and rights-of-ways have Florida-friendly plants, bioswales, and rain gardens. The City of Sarasota and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory and others, have installed living shorelines, living seawalls, bioswales, and green roofs at public parks and open spaces.

Low Impact Design (green infrastructure) projects in Sarasota County are mapped on the Water Atlas. Source: Sarasota Water Atlas

Bioswale in Downtown Sarasota. Source: David Shafer

Cistern at Fire Station 1. Source: Sarasota County Government

Green Roof at Casperson Beach Park. Source: Sarasota County Government

The Florida House Institute is a demonstration site for Low-Impact Development (LID), Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, green building, renewable energy, permaculture, and other resource conservation and climate mitigation techniques. The Institute offers classes at its facility and in partnership with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. However, their capacity for offering project consultations and resources to help individuals and communities implement green infrastructure BMPs is limited (see Chapter 7.2).


The Science and Environment Council (SEC) hosts a self-guided Watershed Audio Tour that highlights habitat and water quality protection and education at 39 stops across Sarasota and Manatee Counties— from mangrove shorelines and tree canopies to green roofs and cisterns. The audio tour hosting is low cost, low maintenance, and records detailed metrics on use. New stops can be easily added, and existing stops are updated with audio and on-site signage every few years.

The Watershed Audio Tour can be accessed by phone at locations across Sarasota and Manatee Counties by dialing 941-926-6813. Source: Science and Environment Council

Various organizations like the Master Gardeners, the UF/IFAS Extension Program, Florida Native Plant Society, and the Sarasota Garden Club showcase or conduct tours of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, but many activities are either targeted to members, do not have funding or capacity to continue regularly, or involve private homes that cannot be advertised to the public. The Florida House Institute offers tours of its property but lacks funding to market these as a regular program.


Grants that support water quality improvement projects on publicly accessible properties could require installation of interpretive signs about the benefits of green infrastructure. Adding interpretive signs or Watershed Audio Tour stops at public parks and high-traffic government buildings with existing best management practices (BMPs) is a cost-effective strategy to increase visibility and engagement. The SEC regularly seeks funding from public and private entities to host and update the Watershed Audio Tour. Supplementing self-guided tours with a guided tour, scavenger hunt, interactive demonstration giveaway, or other promotional event actively invites the community to seek out and engage with these projects. Partnerships with Selby Gardens or the Ringling Museum to create artistic exhibits, contests, or creative BMP demonstration projects can cater to larger audiences.




Implementation – Science and Environment Council Watershed Audio Tour, UF/IFAS Extension Program, Florida Native Plant Society, UF/IFAS Florida Master Gardeners, Sarasota Garden Club, Florida House Institute

Performance Measure

  • Number of demonstration projects on publicly accessible property with interpretive signs
  • Number of educational signs repaired or updated
  • Number of tour stops added or updated for the Watershed Audio Tour
  • Number of residents who participate in tours

Experts or Leads

Jennifer Shafer, Science and Environment Council; Wilma Holley, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County; Fran Palmeri, Program Director of the Serenoa Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society; Karen Parisner, Sarasota Garden Club; Southface/Florida House Institute

Cost Estimate


Related Activites

Chapter 7.2



Other Stormwater Improvement Activities