More than 300 new trees are being planted along a mile-long stretch between North Cattlemen Road and Nathan Benderson Park’s Cooper Creek Lake. Both run parallel to Interstate 75’s west edge, between the University Parkway and Fruitville Road exits. The planting began Monday, Aug. 30. Research in mid-2020 by Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates (SANCA), the nonprofit operator of the park, showed visitors overwhelmingly wanted more shade.
The 325 new trees join another 100 trees planted in 2020. Sarasota County Government and other partners funded both the 2020 trees and the new trees, their irrigation and planting. The new trees are Florida-friendly and include Florida flame red maples, gumbo limbos, southern red cedars, wax myrtles, slash pines, cathedral live oaks, cabbage palmettos, pond and bald cypresses, and winged elms. They will join the 2020 plantings of Florida flame red maples, southern magnolias, slash pines, cathedral live oaks and cabbage palmettos. When mature, the trees may reach heights of 120 feet for the cathedral live oaks and 50 feet for the slash pines. Most of the other trees will reach 30 to 40 feet. The planting will also develop into a sound barrier for the park from Interstate 75.