LAI at-large members join forces on rewilding projects

Article authored by:

Holly Elmore - LAI Atlanta Member & LAI Assistant Scribe

Holly's eclectic career path includes multiple facets ranging from the corporate arena (Arthur Andersen Auditor & Trammell Crow Controller) to the foodservice industry (owner of a corporate catering business & restaurants) to sustainability-industry leader (Zero Waste Zones & Elemental Impact Founder).  In addition, Holly is an avid nature & documentary photographer and respected journalist with prominent articles and photographs featured in national publications.

Two LAI at-large members join forces to rewild Sarasota County-owned Nathan Benderson Park (NBP) in a series of projects. Suncoast Aquatic and Nature Center Associates (SANCA) CEO & President Tomas Herrera-Mishler (formerly with the San Diego Chapter) and Elemental Impact Founder & CEO Holly Elmore (formerly with the Atlanta Chapter) are committed to soil-health restoration at NBP via projects that sequester carbon, create local-food security, and reestablish insect and wildlife populations.

Sarasota County contracts with SANCA to operate NBP, which consists of a 400-acre lake along with an additional 200 acres. The 400-acre lake was the shell-excavation pit for building nearby I-75 and now serves as the world-premier rowing facility in the Western Hemisphere. NBP brings $25-30 million in economic benefit to the local economy. As confirmed in the May 2021 NBP Conservation Stewardship Plan, the park soil is essentially dead and non-native plants are common on the grounds.

A microforest funded by local organizations is under development on Regatta Island. Soil preparation is in process for planting the tree saplings with the former turf grass covered with cardboard and topped with mulch.

An Ei Rewilding Urban Landscapes $100,000-grant proposal with a private foundation was selected as one of 18 finalists. Two NBP rewilding projects were included in the proposal: 1> Wetlands Eco-Park and 2> Native-Plant Garden Path. Additional grant proposals are underway with various federal government organizations.

The Regeneration in ACTION Magazine article, From Organic Certification to Regenerative Agriculture to Rewilding Landscapes: an evolution towards soil integrity, published to substantiate importance of the NBP rewilding projects. The Holly Elmore Images Nathan Benderson Park gallery documents the baseline as well as progress on the NBP rewilding projects.

… and the LAI at-larger membership nominations in the Sarasota area are ready to flow!

A Spanish moss-covered oak tree graces the
3.2-mile trail that circles the rowing lake.

The NBP soil is essentially dead.

NBP includes 107 acres of Florida Power & Light Right of Ways,
which are ripe for rewilding.


Wetlands at the north end of the north-south
Florida Power & Light right-of-way serve as a mitigation
wetland for nearby development.

The first step in soil preparation for the microforest is to cover the turf grass with a cardboard layer.

As seen from the wetlands, the Benderson Family Finish Tower
is a distinguished landmark.


Tomas and Reith Energy & Environmental Development founder
Charles Reith make a powerful team for NBP rewilding projects,
including the microforest. Charles is a new LAI at-large member.


Photos courtesy of



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