Protecting Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, can now start right in a Brevard County resident’s backyard with Keep Brevard Beautiful’s new Lagoon Friendly Lawns program.

The Indian River Lagoon provides a home for more than 4,000 species and contributing $3.7 billion per year to local economies. But nutrient pollution from sources like lawn fertilizer and runoff from residential areas fuels large-scale algal blooms that can smother critical seagrass beds and cause massive fish kills. Keep America Beautiful affiliate Keep Brevard Beautiful (KBB), working with the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program and other partners, developed the program to reduce harmful nutrient pollution inputs to the lagoon.

The Lagoon Friendly Lawns program features a countywide certification program for both property owners and lawn care contractors that follow best practices regarding nutrient pollution reduction, turf area minimization, storm water runoff reduction, and restoration of ecosystem benefits with native plants. All certified applicants get a handcrafted lawn sign, constructed using beautiful reclaimed wood that will recognize that property’s achievements and help spread awareness of the program to friends and neighbors.

“There seems to be agreement that a program like this has been needed for some time to help educate and stem the flow of nutrients,” said Keep Brevard Beautiful Executive Director Tony Sasso.  “We’re hoping that by bringing the community together around solutions that everyone can get involved with, we’ll all be able to aid in the recovery of our lagoon.”

Another way to achieve automatic property certification is to work with a certified Lagoon Friendly Lawns lawn care contractor. This program, currently being piloted in Satellite Beach, will certify contractors across the county based on criteria related to fertilization practices, mowing and pesticide application, and reporting and education requirements. Contractors who meet the criteria will receive exclusive marketing to the growing base of eco-minded residents looking to do their part to help the lagoon.

In the future, program developers have their sights set on expanding Lagoon Friendly Lawns into neighboring counties along the lagoon by utilizing KBB’s partnership with the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program and bringing in other Keep Florida Beautiful affiliates and partners.

Keep Brevard Beautiful’s Lagoon Friendly Lawns was developed in partnership with the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, the Satellite Beach Sustainability Board, the Surfrider Foundation Sebastian Inlet Chapter, the Brevard County UF/IFAS Extension Office, Marine Resources Council, Maple Street Natives and Boy Scout Troop 757.

Continue reading about Lagoon Friendly Lawns at Florida Today.

(Photo courtesy: Mike Daniel)