Florida’s S.R. 64 West Palma Sola Scenic Highway Shoreline Restored with Native Plants

Tom Heitzman and Tracey Hooper from Parrish, Florida's Sweet Bay Nursery

One of the first phases of a Palma Sola Scenic Highway resource protection, preservation and enhancement project will be done in time to celebrate Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day on Saturday, Sept. 10, in Bradenton, Florida.

Keep America Beautiful affiliate Keep Manatee Beautiful (KMB) has partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Manatee County Government, City of Bradenton, and the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity (CME) to enhance this designated Florida Scenic Highway.   

A Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Grant of $3,000 was awarded to KMB to restore the shorelines along the Palma Sola Scenic Highway with native plants where invasive plants were removed. The grant will also be used to install bollards to protect the native vegetation from damage and the shoreline from erosion, while still providing waterway access.

Sweet Bay Nursery in Parrish, Florida, installed the native plants in time for National Planting Day. The City of Bradenton will water the new plants through the establishment period.  Woodruff & Sons in Bradenton will be repairing and installing the bollards later in September. FDOT removed 60 tons of invasive plants from March through July 2016, while Manatee County Government waived the landfill tipping fees for the invasive plants.

The CME applied for a Florida Scenic Highway designation from the FDOT Scenic Highway Advisory Council for S.R. 64 West, known in Bradenton as Manatee Avenue West, from 75th Street West to East Bay Drive on Anna Maria Island, which includes Palma Sola Causeway. The CME was awarded designation in August 2004. Palma Sola Scenic Highway carries motorists, boaters, anglers and recreation enthusiasts using S.R. 64 West across several bodies of water, which include Palma Sola Bay, Perico Bayou and Anna Maria Sound.  

Four locations on Palma Sola Scenic Highway are being degraded from vehicles driving onto the shoreline edge. (Please see the map.) Two locations are on the east end of the Perico Island Bridge and the other two locations are on the east end of the intra-coastal waterway bridge.  

The native landscape designs (Location 1 and Location 2/3) were created by Tom Heitzman, owner of Sweet Bay Nursery. Heitzman is Past President of the Florida Native Plant Society Serenoa Chapter and Past Co-President of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries. His designs have been reviewed and approved by the Palma Sola Scenic Highway CME.  

The Palma Sola Scenic Highway CME has various segments of the community involved in planning the enhancement of this highway segment, which includes: Manatee County Government, City of Bradenton, City of Holmes Beach, Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, FDOT, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, KMB and citizens who reside on or near the scenic highway.  

This project compliments Robinson Preserve, Perico Preserve and Neal Preserve which are all on the Palma Sola Scenic Highway. The preserves’ plans call for removing unwanted invasive plants, planting native marsh species, and reshaping the land to improve the tidal flows and water quality from Palma Sola Bay, Perico Bayou and Anna Maria Sound into Tampa Bay.  

Why Plant Natives?

Native species are losing ground to suburbanization, fragmented habitats, ornamental plants and invasive species.  Yet we know that natives are critical to attracting specialized pollinators and insects, which in turn provide food for birds and ultimately many more animals up the food chain. Natives also provide habitat for wildlife. Natives are hardy, low maintenance and require less water than other ornamentals.

Trees native to Manatee County, Florida, come in many different sizes and shapes, and they have different needs. Before planting a new tree, the homeowner should seek information about which trees will be right for the right place in his yard. Selecting the right tree for the right place will help make this planting a success. This information is readily available from reputable landscape businesses, KMB, the IFAS Extension Office in Palmetto, the Florida Native Plant Society, and at American Beauties Native Plants.

Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day

This Saturday, Sept. 10, we celebrate the fifth annual #NationalPlantingDay. National Planting Day, an initiative that acts as a fall extension of the Great American Cleanup, mobilizes Americans to bolster their local ecosystems by planting native species of trees, shrubs and plants.

This weekend, and throughout the month of September, we encourage you to get outside and help us "Keep America Bee-utiful" by focusing your efforts on pollinators in an effort to:

  • Increase the number of trees in public spaces
  • Bring natural beauty and sustainable infrastructure to environments
  • Create community-supported sustainable vegetable and fruit gardens; and
  • Green and restore vacant lots with low-maintenance indigenous plants and trees

Show and tell us how you will be acknowledging National Planting Day by using the hashtag #NationalPlantingDay and tagging our social channels!