Coastal Watch Celebrates Successful Initiative Launch

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Back to Our Roots participants are caring for mangrove seedlings in their own homes until they are ready to be planted at a restoration site later this year.

Coastal Watch is celebrating a successful launch of their newest initiative as more than 140 mangrove propagules are now being cared for in the homes of Back to Our Roots participants.

Back to Our Roots is a community-led initiative to learn about, grow, and restore mangroves on Sanibel and Captiva. Participating individuals received their own mangrove propagule that they will care for until it is ready to be planted at a local restoration site later this year.

From January through March, Coastal Watch held five workshops to share the importance of mangroves to our barrier island ecosystem. Kealy McNeal, Coastal Watch Conservation Initiative Coordinator, led each session virtually via Zoom.

“One of the benefits to having the virtual workshops was that we were able to reach out to several people who wouldn’t otherwise have been able attend in person,” said McNeal. “Most of the workshop participants watched from their homes on Sanibel, however we did have some participants that watched from other states. During the five workshops, we received shoutouts from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California.”

During each workshop, McNeal discussed mangrove biology, shared the threats they face, and how we can do our part to conserve these vital trees. At the conclusion of each workshop, McNeal gave instructions on how to care for mangrove propagules that the participants would receive.

Over 140 mangrove propagules were given out through the program and are now being cared for in the homes of Back to Our Roots participants.

“Back to Our Roots” participants are currently fostering their mangrove propagules and helping them grow into strong and healthy seedlings. Our “Mangrove Mamas” and “Propagule Papas” will return their seedlings back to us in November or earlier if they are traveling back up north before the summer heat hits us. The seedlings will then start getting prepared to be planted in their forever home at our restoration sites.” said McNeal

McNeal strongly believes that the issues our local ecosystem faces will only be improved by educating members of the community.

“We had over 80 members of the community participate in our first round of workshops, listening for an hour about mangroves and why Coastal Watch is focusing on restoring mangrove habitats in and around Sanibel,” said McNeal. “My hope is that the participants will not only keep engaging in our initiative by growing mangroves at their homes, but also by passing along what they have learned to others.”

Back to Our Roots workshops have concluded for this season, but will be scheduled again next season. Coastal Watch encourages the community to stay tuned for more information about upcoming mangrove restoration plantings later this year.

For more information on the Back to Our Roots initiative, please visit

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Coastal Watch creates and implements conservation initiatives that promote and improve the future of marine resources and, our coastal heritage. For more information about Coastal Watch, please visit or contact

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