The gorgeous nature preserve of Longboat Key – Sister Keys – was
revitalized by Sarasota Bay Watch and friends on April 28, 2018. Over 75
hardy volunteers paddled and were shuttled to the Keys to remove trash,
tear out invasive plants and have a good time together on a perfect Saturday
Special Thanks to Larry Beggs of Reef Innovations who brought a
gigantic barge to shuttle people to and from the island and haul a 1,300-
pound mountain of debris back to land. There was also an additional 800
pounds of recyclables captured. Town Manager, Tom Harmer and his
delightful wife Dee Dee came by to take part in the activities.
Ronda Ryan and Tracy Sweat built a mermaid from marine debris and
brought it to the event. Many a selfie was taken posed next to our nasty
lady of the sea. Thanks to LBK marine officer Nick Reno who kept passerby
boat speeds safe and slow. James Linkogle and the guys from Public Works
also did a lot of legwork to make this special event happen.
Back in 1992, the town of Longboat Key bought the four islands, totaling 74
acres, after a grass-roots citizen’s group formed the Sister Keys
Conservancy to lobby for their protection. The islands were restored with
native plants, wetlands, salt marsh and gopher tortoise habitat. It is one of
the rare places where the natural abundance of SW Florida is still in full
In the 1960s, a plan was hatched to build Shangri Isles on Sister Keys.
It would have included a conference center, golf course and an air strip.
Thanks to the Conservancy and wise action by the Town, the islands are an
environmental preserve today that can be enjoyed forever by generations to
Ed Chiles, Owner of the Mar Vista Restaurant, once again generously
donated a delicious lunch for everyone involved. Sharing a meal together
while meeting new people was the ideal ending to the day.