The Carlton Reserve Is Closed

due to Hurricane Ian


Sarasota County Requests Your Help

Please excuse our mess while we work to make Carlton Reserve safe for everyone.  We are working with FEMA contractors and County staff to clean up the trails and parking lot areas.  For safety reasons public presence during this process delays reopening:

The FEMA contractors are unable to continue work if the public is in the area. 


Please refrain from entering the Reserve until it is safe and cleared by Land Management. 

Use this link to check which parks and preserves are open or closed, updated regularly: or Parks status report


photos by Land Manager Meghan Meyer

Sarasota County Government

Save the date! Sarasota County will host the Water Quality Virtual Update 2022 on Monday, Dec. 5, from 3-5 p.m. Registration for this free online event is now available at






ABC7:  Mike Modrick interviews  Joyce Adams and Sherm Stratton

in the Carlton Reserve

Click here

Friends of the Carlton Summer of 2022 Update

Dear Members/Donors/Volunteers,


Thank you for your continued support of the Friends of Carlton Reserve (FCR)!


For those who gave during the Giving Challenge, we apologize for the delay; we just received the results. 15 contributors added $1924.58 to our account! Since the first of the year, we have 6 new members and 7 new volunteers.  Thank you all for your support and stewardship of this priceless resource.

Use of Donations


In the meantime, FCR has been able to provide financial support to the Carlton Reserve for multiple projects/programs, including:


1. Refurbish the visitors cabin bulletin board and 2 kiosks.


2. Ordering and laminating assorted educational posters,


3. Providing refrigerated drinking water for cabin visitors.


4. Purchasing paint and supplies for parking lot car-stops, gates, signs, safety borders around the picnic pavilion and restroom ramp. 


5. Keeping supplied with state of the art technology, memory cards, and security boxes, the remote camera program to monitor wildlife.


6. Providing ongoing supplies for the Save Our Endangered Bromeliad program.


7. Purchasing You Are Here” signs and posts for deployment at remote trail intersections.



Enabling Volunteer Tasks in 2022


All of these projects were facilitated by dedicated, hardworking volunteers. 


The Carlton Reserve has come back to life after more than 2 years of park closures due to COVID, wildfire, seasonal flooding, law enforcement manhunt, and facilities repairs. Enabled by your financial support, despite setbacks—loss of storage sheds, tools and an all terrain vehicle— volunteers have been able to assist staff and recreational users of the Carlton Reserve in many ways:


1. Maintain three websites (FaceBook, YouTube and for information on flora, fauna, trail conditions, map downloads, etc. 


2. Help maintain trails and campground areas by trimming vegetation, cleaning or replacing markers and signs and repairing hog damage.


3. Greet and provide Reserve information to over 800 cabin visitors in the first few months of 2022.


4. Reporting and assisting law enforcement in locating diseased feral hogs.


5. Provide information to assist law enforcement in deterring illegal camping, poaching, littering, and other abuses of the wild and scenic Myakka river.


6. Monitor potable water supply and self-composting restroom and report malfunctions to staff.


7. Locate and GPS trail hazards and invasive plants for treatment or removal by staff.


8. Assist at FireFest with informational table, hay wagon narration, count of attendees, parking, set up and take down of exhibitors displays.


9. Greet and assist campers with information and maps.


10. Locate, direct and/or escort lost hikers back to parking.


11. Provide information to emergency personnel to assist injured visitor.


12. Map and report condition of benches and picnic tables so staff can replace, repair, retire, and/or pressure wash as needed.


13. Monitor cabin conditions so that staff can arrange for contract services: A/C duct replacement, bat exclusion devices, pest control, re-chinking, painting of window frames and wood preservation.


14. Report to staff gate, sign, and lock damage to deter unauthorized access.


15. Sweep, vacuum displays cases, clean glass surfaces in visitors cabin.


16. Maintain bromeliad cages and relocate vulnerable endangered plants.


17. Retrieve digital media, relocate, maintain camera traps and share selected photos of Carlton Reserve fauna with the public. 


18. Document, archive, and share events, wildlife activity and wildflowers on social media (FaceBook and YouTube) and the Friends website.

Gallery of Recent Friends and Volunteer Projects above

Use arrows to expand




A Day In the Life of a Slough

Carlton Reserve Monday, April 11, 2022



Two of our long time officers, Jim Courtright, president, and Russ Johnson, secretary/treasurer

are stepping into retirement.


Here are two video tributes to their two decades of service to the Carlton Reserve and Friends of the Carlton:





It's all good:
9 months after the Memorial Day wildfire set by lightning, wildflowers are springing up within sight of the cabin:

Spring in the Carlton Reserve

Swallow Tail Kites Return and Wildflowers Blooming Today

Photos by Art Smith



Despite closures due to COVID, wildfire, flooding, and a month-long manhunt, the Carlton Reserve's priceless serenity is a sanctuary, reminding us of nature's ability to renew itself and us.


Click on picture or here to view 4 minute video using trail cam captures.



Excellent video on Alligators

Sarasota County Play on FaceBook

 filmed in the Carlton Reserve


Amazing half hour video


captured by Jacob Klasinski documents not only the dynamic Carlton Reserve environment as it transitions from drought to flood, but also its rich biodiversity of wildlife and habitats: coyotes, owls, bobcats, alligators, herons, egrets, hogs, deer, otter, vultures, raccoons--even crayfish and fish! Click on video  

Resilience and Rejuvenation at The Carlton Reserve
Photos by Jean-Louis Dumaine on reopening day, one month after Memorial Day fire.



"Queen of the Marsh"

new trail camera video


alligator and other wildlife from the Carlton Reserve


by Jacob Klasinski



More great trail camera video


from the Carlton Reserve and Big Slough


by Jacob Klasinski

Click on photo



New trail camera video footage 


from Jacob Klasinski


Carlton Reserve Wildlife:

coyotes, deer, turkey, bobcat, feral hogs, etc.


Click here or on photo

The first blue flag irises and other early spring wildflowers

A photo gallery 

by Jean-Louis Dumaine

"You are here" map kiosks (12) have been installed in the Carlton Reserve to assist trail users along 100 miles of trails crisscross 38 sq. miles.


12 UV resistant signs were designed by Debbie Blanco (retired 10/30/20), funded by Friends of the Carlton, printed by H&H Signs, and installed today by Russ Johnson and Art Smith.


Trail Camera Video

Friends of the Carlton Reserve


Trail camera team: Donna Day, Ernie Winn, Martin Siesta funded by Friends of the Carlton Reserve


Click on picture or here for video


Carlton Reserve Update


1. Volunteers in the Save Our Native Florida Bromeliads Program relocated a fourth cage in which to sequester select plants to protect them from an invasive Mexican weevil until they can produce seeds.


2. Ten wildlife monitoring trail cameras remain in service 24/7. Since 2001, over 14,000 images of animals have been entered into a database. Click here to view gallery


3. Sarasota, the name given to a swallow tail kite from the Carlton, was outfitted with a satellite tracking device and departed for Brazil in August and returned to the Reserve in March.  


4. New YOU ARE HERE maps are being readied to assist bikers, hikers and riders. They will be located at key locations as soon as conditions permit placement.


5. Volunteers and Friends who contributed during the Patterson Giving Challenge earned the Friends of the Carlton an extra $675. 


Who knew?

The lowly palmetto (serenoa repens) may be as much as 10,000 years old!


Click here to read Florida Native Plant Society "Palmettos" issue 

See what's coming to a park near you soon. Preview of coming attractions:

Sarasota County Parks Master Plan (download)


T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve, protects Sarasota County's water supply and habitat for wildlife. It does not permit pets. Pets are permitted elsewhere on leash in 71 parklands and off leash in 5 others. Click Here for list.

E.O. Wilson explains why parks and nature are really good for your brain: Washington Post

So when the Washington Post asked Wilson what he thought about the mechanism by which these environments relax, rejuvenate and restore people. His answer was simple but pretty sweeping at the same time.

“Instinctively, without understanding what’s happening, they know that in certain wild environments, they have come home.” 

Click here for latest additions to 

The Florida Field Journal

by Darryl Saffer

Darryl Saffer video news:

The Evil Weevil part 3 now airing on the Education Channel, You Tube

Wildlife Photography: second in a web series  on You Tube.

Notebook sketch of Oscar Scherer State Park: Florida Field Journal

"Not Long Ago," a FL Field Journal video is being screened Feb. 14, 2016 in Gainesville:    Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival: schedule



Darryl Saffer has given voice to one of our own-- Grandmother Oak located in the Carlton Reserve



Darryl Saffer video essay on MRSP

 Not Long Ago

Dr. Mary Jelks on Myakka River State Park

oral history project   Slideshow


Evil, The Weevil! part 2 

Mexican invasive insect threatens bromeliads

see Darryl Saffer's latest FL Field Journal filmed in the Carlton Reserve

Starring Donna Day, Dr. Theresa Cooper and Mike Owen,  click here


Photo by Darryl Saffer: Hummingbird Clearwing


You never know what's waiting for you in the forest. . .Check this out


Carlton Reserve featured in Harbor Style magazine: Seeking Serenity p. 78-88

 (Excellent article overall but here are some corrections/clarifications)


Need a natural escape vacation? check out Florida's Coastal Dune Lakes


Teaching Cats To Dog Paddle? or Crossing the Caloosahatchee 


     We are a 501(C)3 community support organization whose mission is to support the parks and natural lands of Sarasota County, Florida.

      With 24,565 acres  on the state protected "wild and scenic" Myakka River, the Carlton Reserve has over 90 miles of trails and nearly 40 square miles for wilderness recreation:



  • hiking
  • biking
  • paddling
  • horseback riding
  • reserved camping on a limited basis at designated sites.

The Carlton Reserve is wilderness habitat/environmentally sensitive land:  

No pets     No hunting 

Ordinances, Resolutions and State Laws Protecting the Carlton


Economic Benefits of Wilderness: US Fish&Wildlife Service

     $4.87 economic benefit for each tax dollar spent on wilderness Click here 

     75% from passive recreation: hiking, biking, picnicking Click here

Global Forest Change Map: zoom in to view Florida and Carlton

Threatened Native Bromeliad Found in Carlton Reserve Picture here

Guide and Maps of Invasive Species  Click here.



Florida Field Journal: Crowley Museum and Nature Center: video

Florida Field Journal: Selby Gardens 1, by Darryl Saffer video

FL Field Journal: Fire and Flood, Myakka RSP by Darryl Saffer video

Recommended streaming video: Great Plains Episode 1   Episode 2

Monitor Poaching in Africa, Sri Lanka on iPhone:Instant Wild

Photo of the Month: Stewards of the Land, the Next Generation

Leucistic Buck caught on cameras in Carlton over 5 years: click here

Nature Conservancy Buys Critical Panther Corridor: Click here.

Florida Field Journal: Baby Birds, Save Our Seabirds,by Darryl Saffer:video

Florida Field Journal: Celery Fields-Jeanne Dubi: by Darryl Saffer:video

Gators Gather at Deep Hole: video

Cornell Ornithology Lab Project Preview: BIRDS OF PARADISE

World Heritage Sites   360˚ aerial views



Use top bar to navigate this site.





Information & Website


Park Naturalists:

 Meghan Harris Meyer

         Art Jensen




Sarasota County

Field Guide

to Conservation Lands

(download 64pp. PDF)

Field Guide.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.8 MB


Link to searchable U.S. map resources with parks, trails, campgrounds, historical sites, marinas, etc.



Friends of the Carlton

is a chapter of  FOSCP   

not for profit corp.