When you explore each of our department divisions below, you will come to recognize all that we do! We have a passion to preserve and protect our environment in Manatee County, mixed with a compassion for the well-being of our community and its visitors. From ecological testing of our estuaries’ water quality to offering classes in the outdoors, the Natural Resources Department staff take to heart their responsibilities of ensuring we are all surrounded by a safe and beautiful environment that will enhance the quality of life for all in Manatee County.

Administrative Leadership Team

The Natural Resources Department’s Administrative Leadership Team ensures the office provides support to all customers with expert knowledge in various areas of expertise that are required to run a department successfully and keep it moving in the right direction. This team consists of the director, administrative and fiscal services support, and a human resources liaison and contracts manager.

The department director leads four divisions and their programs. While each division operates under a division manager, the beach renourishment project has been managed by the director for the last 25 years.  The Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project consists of 9 miles of sandy beach coastline which provides citizens abundant recreational activities while at the same time serving as a buffer to lessen the damages to private property, emergency evacuation routes, and public property.  Over time, these beaches require renourishment due to coastal storms and natural erosion which displace the sand.  This renourishment effort takes coordination on the director’s part to also participate with the State of Florida and the federal government through cost sharing as well as regular cleaning and maintenance under the county’s beach raking permit. In addition, the director is responsible for the development of environmental grants from state and federal sources benefiting Manatee County and serves as the County Commissioner’s congressional liaison working closely with the federal lobbyists in Washington D.C. that affect the future of Manatee County.

The remaining members of the Administrative Leadership Team share office responsibilities including administrative day-to-day operations, all aspects of human resources support for the entire department, fiscal assistance with the development of Capital Improvement Projects, processing invoices, and travel reimbursements, and purchasing products/services/supplies for staff.  Team staff also handle contracts and agreements with requirements set forth in those documents between the County and its vendors, and they apply for and track grants and funding received from various sources.

Ecological & Marine Services

The Ecological & Marine Services staff is tasked with such responsibilities as design and maintenance of the waterside components of county boat ramp facilities, inspection and repair/replacement of county-owned aids to navigation, channel markers, as well as boating safety and manatee protection zones. Division staff responsibilities also include the investigation and removal of abandoned vessels and the deployment and maintenance of artificial reefs throughout county waters. Program staff work extensively with state and local regulatory and law enforcement personnel regarding issues involving county waters.

This division develops funding, partnerships design work, and provides project management for complex habitat restoration, creation, and mitigation projects for the county and provides science-based consultation for resource management activities.

Take an interactive tour of Manatee County's boat ramps.   View maps, videos, pictures, and other information about our facilities.

Environmental Protection

The Environmental Protection program protects our streams, rivers, and bays through the implementation of numerous programs by regulating the land application of domestic wastewater residuals (the semisolid by-product of the sewage treatment process), maintaining the county’s compliance with its state-issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit which ensures our stormwater systems carry the cleanest water possible, reviewing proposed developments for their water quality impacts and collecting and analyzing water samples, and implementing management plans in support of numerous local, regional, state and federal water quality programs, including three National Estuary Programs and the USEPA Clean Water Act Program - Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL). Water resource data collected and evaluated by the division are used to develop watershed management strategies to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and provide the citizens with healthy, productive water bodies.

This program protects groundwater resources through Pollutant Storage Tanks (PST), Small Quantity Hazardous Waste Generators (SQG), and Water Well Construction Permitting activities. PST activities ensure that petroleum storage tanks (such as at gas stations) are properly constructed, installed, maintained and where necessary, removed in order to reduce the incidence of leaks or spills. SQG staff routinely inspect small businesses (such as vehicle repair shops), where small quantities of hazardous wastes are generated, to make sure these materials are handled and disposed of safely, thereby reducing environmental impacts and the risks of adverse health, safety, and welfare conditions. The Water Well Construction Permitting activities provide groundwater protection by ensuring the proper installation, maintenance, and abandonment of water wells and that the work is done only by licensed contractors and well-informed property owners. This oversight is critical to making clean water available to the consumer by protecting groundwater supplies from contamination caused by improper well drilling practices. This program also enforces the county fertilizer ordinance. Training and certification are provided to local landscapers on the proper use of fertilizers to reduce the potential nutrient-laden runoff into Manatee County waterways.

The Mining Regulation & Services program administers the county’s Phosphate Mining and Reclamation Code and provides oversight on major earthmoving projects with a primary focus on phosphate mining and shell pit or borrow pit operations. The Phosphate Mining Code provides that mining activities are carried out in the most environmentally sensitive way possible and that reclamation restores the post-mining landscape to productive, beneficial use.

Additionally, the Environmental Protection program assists other county departments by providing monitoring services for wetland mitigation sites, evaluating compliance of regulated and non-regulated petroleum storage systems, and providing assistance in developing and reviewing environmental site assessments.

Education & Volunteer

The Education & Volunteer Division is responsible for maintaining a diverse offering of programs within Manatee County’s conservation properties and parks all of which serve to connect participants to nature and inspire a spark of respect and wonder for the natural world.
The primary focus of this Division is to provide a variety of educational offerings to participants ranging in age from preschool children to senior citizens. These hands-on, interpretive offerings are conducted all over the County, and beyond. Staff host over 500 free programs each year connecting with over 5,000 participants, primarily in Manatee County’s “natural classrooms;” the preserves and parks that provide unique settings for educational opportunities Division staff provide passive recreational opportunities by offering guided paddles, hikes, archery and fishing programs. As the program expands, Division staff have accepted the new responsibility of managing, staffing, and creating programming for the Department’s Nature Centers at Robinson and Rye Preserves and the environmental classrooms at Emerson Point and Robinson Preserves.
Volunteers form the backbone of the Parks and Natural Resources Department, and this Division is responsible for the recruitment, training, monitoring, and tracking of parks and preserves volunteers. In addition to maintaining the standing volunteer core of 100 individuals who regularly give time at each site, Division staff draw in over 2,000 annual participants to regularly scheduled cleanups and workdays. Each year, over 15,000 hours are donated by volunteers, serving to augment and support the work done by paid employees in these natural areas. This represents over $345,000 in donated time providing services ranging from manning the nature centers and providing additional educational programming to acting as auxiliary Rangers and conducting grant-required monitoring.
This program also maintains a variety of special projects and initiatives including managing the Department’s social media and press presence as well as taking the lead to develop, update, and consult for the Department’s website. The Division also maintains a graphic, layout, and design team that creates the art and layouts for preserve and park signage.

Monthly Calendar of Events

Parks and Natural Resources Monthly Calendar of Preserve Events - check out the great FREE events happening in YOUR preserves.  The Department offers programs in environmental education, passive outdoor recreation, and volunteer stewardship.  Most of the programs are free to participants and are available for a variety of age levels.

Taking Flight GeoTour

Fifteen geocaches are hidden across Manatee County, exploring the region's birds.  See if your Bird Sleuth skills are up to snuff and find as many caches as you can.

Resource Management

The Resource Management Division was established to conserve and protect natural and cultural resources under the ownership and/or management of Manatee County while maintaining and restoring the ecological integrity of the historic native ecosystems. This program manages and maintains over 30,000 acres contained in 16 public preserves in the county. The Resource Management staff continually work to restore or enhance disturbed and degraded areas of our county conservation lands to their native condition by using natural processes of prescribed burns in combination with mechanical cutting and clearing. Invasive, non-native plant species which negatively alter natural plant communities are removed by select application of herbicide. Water resource protection is a primary factor in land management and land use decisions.

The Resource Management program endeavors to provide excellent visitor experiences and access to these beautiful natural areas by maintaining all facilities and a wide array of passive and active recreational use. amenities and programs including multi-use trails, paddle trails, canoe/kayak launches, boardwalks, observation towers, pavilions, and a recreational hunt program.