Congratulations to Debbie Blanco, retiring after over two decades of service to Sarasota County as land manager of the Carlton Reserve.


Click on picture or here to view video tribute 3:50 minutes

Venice Area Beautification, Inc., Lemon Bay Playhouse, Friends of the Carlton Reserve, and Friends of Sarasota County Parks  celebrate Russ Johnson

Fran Valencic       Sun Columnist    

         Venice Area community service organizations and family celebrated Russ Johnson whom they refer to as “The Man For All Seasons” with a surprise 80th birthday party. Bob Vedder kept a long line of members paying tribute to the volunteer to just 5 minutes each. Some had names for Russ including the “Godfather of Beautification in Venice.”

“There are no pictures of Russ,” Monty Andrews said. “He leaves when the work is done and never sticks around for pictures.”

The list of work by Russ Johnson is long including helping plant more than 200 trees in Venice over the past few years. Russ installs the lights for the Holiday Parade and the Boat Bash. He designed the butterfly gardens at Venice Gardens and the YMCA. In his red truck, he waters the trees in the Venice Urban Forest.

The group agreed Russ’s major deficit is he just can’t say no. After greetings and accolades everyone sang Happy Birthday and said,: “We love you.”

 On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Russ Johnson was honored Dec.  1, 2019, at the Venice train station for his numerous contributions to the Venice Community, including the Friends of the Carlton Reserve.

 Click here to view a video tribute to Russ's many good works in the Carlton Reserve.    

Russ Johnson is the Indispensable Knight of the Reserve. Besides doing triple duty for Friends of the Carlton as Secretary, Treasurer and main supporter, he has been repeatedly recognized as “Volunteer of the Year” for his dedication to community service. For years he has been a loyal worker for groups like ours--VABI (Venice Area Beautification, Inc.), Lemon Bay Playhouse, and Shamrock Park. He has been seen on many sensitive lands with his infamous gang-- the pepper patrol--removing exotic invasive plants or setting out acres of native plants as part of a restoration project. Russ worked tirelessly on the 12 stall pole barn and WindySawgrass Cow Camp restoration and on virtually every project and event we have ever undertaken.  From the beginning Russ has been there for us and the lands.

Thank you, Russ.


Carlton Friends and Volunteers Honor Bob Branson & Family

Photos by Jean-Louis Dumaine

 Check out the Sarasota Herald Tribune article

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

featuring one of our best Friends: Jeff King

Jeff King is a long time Friend of the Carlton--his donated signs guide hikers and bikers, and a cage he donated sequesters giant air plants, (endangered by an invasive Mexican weevil) to be used as seed banks.



Venice Gondolier features long term Friend of the Carlton,  Kelly Caldwell.

 2/3/2018 edition, B section, p. 1





Information & Website


Park Naturalists:

 Meghan Harris Meyer

         Art Jensen


Counter set 03/24/2015



Sarasota County

Field Guide

to Conservation Lands

(download 64pp. PDF)

Field Guide.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.8 MB

Friends of the Carlton

is a chapter of  FOSCP   

not for profit corp.


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