DATE: October 25, 2011
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe, Public Information Manager
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
West Lake Park is an environmental showcase within Broward County. It is the largest remaining mangrove ecosystem in a highly urban coastal zone that stretches from Miami to West Palm Beach and was the center of attention at the Best of Broward presentation for the month of October.
West Lake Park encompasses more than 1,500 acres of diversified habitats. Approximately 123 different bird species have been identified, including 20 that are rare, threatened or endangered in Florida. More than 10 animal species, 80 forms of plant life and 86 species of fish call West Lake Park home.
“West Lake Park is an environmental jewel that offers different opportunities for people to enjoy, including hiking trails and a lake as well as opportunities to learn about mangroves in a park atmosphere,” said Broward County Parks Director Dan West.
This precious mangrove eco-system is environmentally fragile. The invasion of exotic vegetation and coastal erosion has presented environmental threats that Broward County has successfully worked to mitigate using a multi-agency approach.
Broward County’s Parks and Recreation Division, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and environmental agencies joined forces to mitigate necessary impacts to roughly 15 acres of low-grade wetlands that are on airport property. The mitigation project includes improvements to 34-acres of the Park, including the removal of invasive plants such Australian Pines and the creation of a riprap crib structure that provides a barrier to block erosion of the mangrove shoreline.
“This protection is the first of its kind in the nation and inquiries have been made from various groups and regulatory agencies around the country to see how it is all coming together. In fact, the mitigation project has been so successful that it is being utilized by the University of Florida in its master naturalist training classes,” said Aviation Director Kent George. The $10-million mitigation project was financed with money generated from the operation of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. With the support of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, the mitigation project was started and well underway years ahead of the start of the south runway expansion. The $791 million dollar runway project is expected to break ground in early 2012.
The engineering consultant firm of Miller Legg was hired to create the wetlands mitigation design plan. “Commissioner Kristin Jacobs and I sat in on the negotiation meeting where Miller Legg was chosen about ten years ago,” said Broward Mayor Sue Gunzburger. “We’re very pleased with the results and we are glad that West Lake Park has become a model for eco-tourism as well as wetland recovery.”
Mayor Gunzburger features a County agency or division for the “Best of Broward” presentation at a Broward County Commission meeting. Broward County Commission meetings take place the first four Tuesdays of each month beginning at 10 a.m. The meetings are webcast and televised on participating cable channels. For more information, visit broward.org/commission. For more information on West Park Lake, broward.org/parks. Information on the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport can be found at broward.org/airport. The park is located east of U.S. Highway 1 at 751 Sheridan Street and open to the public with new walking trails allowing people to experience Florida’s natural beauty.