August 8 | Sarasota County Landfill

Wednesday, August 8, Sarasota County Landfill –

When we gave our talk on August 4, several people mentioned the Sarasota County Landfill as a good site to view wildlife. They also mentioned that it is a drive-through site. The visitors’ center gives out a map of the public access areas, a passcode to enter and instructions of basic protocol to follow. Simply put, the public is welcome; but you must stay close to your vehicle and keep camera equipment close. Service work is being carried out and you should use common sense when stepping out onto the green spaces.

Upon entering the site, we saw the mountain of landfill in the distance. Trucks came and went, delivering trash. On top of the hill, there is a mammoth tarp fitted with pumps. We could see a worker walking around and he seemed to be carrying out maintenance involving the pump system.

Turning our sights to the green spaces at eye level, we saw a flock of egrets taking off and landing in a field. A turkey vulture swooped into a pine and began preening. As we continued along we came to a small airfield where radio-operated miniature planes were taking off and performing aerial stunts. Dragonflies landing delicately on the tips of barbed wire fences competed for attention with the planes. Turning down a shorter section of the road, we came upon a painted turtle walking by the edge of the pavement. She stopped to look at us as we turned off the engine and set up our cameras. Then she walked directly to us before turning to move down the bank and into the surrounding marshy wetland.

As we continued along, we came closer to the big landfill and the road around it that curved to follow the back of the hill. There was a series of large black pipes stretching down from the top and they vented into a drainage ditch alongside the road. At the far end of the hill, we looked up to see the active garbage processing area. Accompanied by flocks of birds, a bulldozer moved trash as it came in to be emptied off transport trucks. An endless feeding frenzy was being carried out amid the stench. Vultures, cranes, and crows circled in the air before diving in to snatch tidbits.

The bulldozer operator had equipped his machine with an American flag that waved optimistically, even when his machine dropped out of sight. He worked without pause and we hoped that he did not have to step out into his worksite during his shift. Amid the beauty of the wildlife and plants thriving in the landfill site, our own trash was being processed above.

Sarasota County Landfill:
https://www.scgov.net/government/utilities-water/solid-waste/landfill

Friends of Myakka River:
https://www.friendsofmyakkariver.org/news/knights-trail-landfill

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