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Ecologically Friendly Sawgrass Airboat Rides

When new owners, Rick and Susan Soverns took over Sawgrass Recreation Park in 2005, their mission was to not only have a successful Sawgrass Airboat Rides business, but to create a more eco-friendly attraction; one that would not only help the environment, but educate locals and tourists alike on the importance of leaving a minimal carbon footprint. In less than 10 years, the Soverns and Sawgrass Recreation Park have made many changes not only outside but inside their store as well to create a more environmentally friendly business.

One of the most important changes we have made is with their Sawgrass Airboat Rides. They brought in 4 new airboats each with fuel efficient engines. One boat in particular, allows them to have 1 engine rather than 2 engines cutting fuel consumption in half. They also have improved mufflers which have greatly reduced noise emissions.

Inside the store, they have made many renovations to help save energy costs. They replaced the air conditioning unit with a green energy efficient system. The store cooler is also a new 2011 design with LED lighting. The new systems offer an approximate 20% in savings. They also used energy saving fluorescent lighting which has an approximate 8% annual savings.
Outside in the exhibits, they have switched to a good system that has cleaner and cooler water that continuously flows into the ponds. This means less cleaning which in turn means using fewer chemicals such as chlorine, keeping a natural water source for their animals. Also, when renovating cages for their animals, they reused viable wood products to try and create as little waste as possible, utilizing every scrap of wood possible from old projects into newer designs.

For the feeding of their animals, they have partnered up with a local grocery store which donates byproduct, bruised and slightly damaged fruit and vegetables as well as the meat just past the sell dates. This allows them to cut down on unnecessary waste into landfills and wasted farming efforts. They make sure that all food is put to good use.

Aside from the exhibits and store area, they have also worked with the state in an effort to help remove all invasive species of trees located on the property. They are working with the department of forestry each year to purchase seedlings so we can regrow the canopy with native trees such as the Bald and Pond Cypress. The plan is to plant almost 200 seedlings each year as they have for the past four years. The Giveback Getaway program works with Ritz Carlton of Miami to give their guests an opportunity to enjoy our amenities as well as give back to the ecosystem. The guests plant native plants which have helped to create a butterfly garden with safe local plants. This will help stimulate the re-population of native butterflies that are currently threatened such as the Miami Blue.

Sawgrass works with several charities such as the Everglades Foundation which promotes Everglades natural restoration and conservation. They also work closely with the Florida Wildlife Care center in the adoption and rescue of wildlife. This allows them to minimize the impact on the local environment by ensuring very few exotics are released into the Everglades. They help raise awareness for responsible pet ownership.

They continue to work each and every day finding new and better ways to contribute and help restore this historical ecosystem; including supporting UF and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service efforts in the Everglades specifically with Todd Osborne Ph.D. in the Soil and Water Science department. They frequently take soil samples from our park to see changes and progress that has been made over the years. This is an ongoing project with the university and the park plans to continue their commitment to the conservation of the Everglades.

Come ride the most ecologically friendly Sawgrass Airboat Rides!

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