DATE: January 18, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe, Public Information Manager
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
One of the best attractions that Broward County offers is our outstanding natural areas that are preserved for parks and recreation. Thousands of residents and visitors use them each year for passive recreation, wildlife observation or to just get away from the stresses of life.
“Not everyone recognizes that two-thirds of Broward County's natural lands lie within the water conservation areas that we occasionally traverse by airboat or by car as we travel to Naples, Tampa or other west coast cities,” said Don Burgess, Land Preservation administrator, during the Best of Broward presentation at the County Commission meeting on January 10.
Burgess explained that Broward County acquired large parcels of land at lower prices with the passage of a $78-million bond approved by voters in 1978. “That acquisition program is the foundation of our award-winning park system and allowed for the acquisition of nature preserves such as Fern Forest Nature Center, Tree Tops Park and West Lake Park,” said Burgess.
Voters would continue to play a big role in Broward County’s ability to purchase and preserve natural land. In 1989, voters approved a $75-million bond to acquire natural lands. The Environmentally Sensitive Land Bond issue focused on the purchase of the rest of Broward County’s natural lands. This program included the acquisition of Long Key, Miramar Pine Land and Tall Cypress natural lands. In 2000, voters approved the Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond which provided $400 million to preserve additional undeveloped land, refurbish County parks, acquire additional land for recreational purposes, expand and build aquatic facilities, build cultural centers and assist municipalities with improving local parks. Using this bond money, 26 conservation lands were also acquired, totaling 155 acres. Additionally, 21 green space sites comprising 119 acres were added to the County and city park systems.
The creation of the Land Stewardship Program by the County Commission provided for two grants that currently assist cities with the development of open and green spaces. These grants are unique in that they mandate the use of green components such as solar panels, rain collection systems, the use of recycled materials and increased natural landscaping that measure up to NatureScape Broward standards. Grants also fund the removal of invasive and exotic vegetation that are replaced with native plants appropriate for the area.
In addition to County, city and state owned natural areas, there are numerous other private and public preserves or enhanced natural areas within Broward County. Preservation efforts within the County have resulted in a total of 322 sites consisting of 16,420 acres, or 25.66 square miles of natural areas, of which six percent consists of protected natural lands. The Protected Natural Lands Inventory has recently been posted to Broward County’s website. The interactive website allows you to zoom in on an area of interest and access information such as the site name, owner and management company, location, vegetation and number of acres. The Protected Natural Lands Inventory can be found at broward.org/naturalresources. For more Information about land preservation and other environmental programs, follow us on twitter@BrowardResource.
The “Best of Broward” presentation highlights a Broward County agency each month at one of the weekly County Commission meetings. 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.