Airport and County Environmentalists Team Up to Save More Than 800 Trees

Some of the more than 800 replanted trees now line the Airport perimeter road.

Some of the more than 800 replanted trees now line the Airport perimeter road.

The new Airport runway expansion will not affect Broward County's famous baobab tree.

The new Airport runway expansion will not affect Broward County's famous baobab tree.

DATE: March 1, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Greg Meyer, Public Information Officer
Broward County Aviation Department

PHONE: 954-359-6116

As work continues on the south runway expansion project, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport contractors and staff with Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department have joined forces to relocate more than 800 trees that now stand where the new runway will be built.

Peter Burke, tree specialist with the Broward County Development and Environmental Regulation Division, says the County’s practice of preserving trees when large projects like this are underway requires the contracted design-build team to keep the relocated trees alive for one year with regular watering and fertilizing.

“All of these are mature trees and require a little more prolonged nurturing to help them reestablish themselves,” Burke said. “In some cases, it can take years for a tree to get to the height these have and to provide the canopy that they do. The County’s ordinance clearly outlines the practice and procedures for the preservation of trees,” Burke said. “Big projects like this call for the preservation of trees by incorporating them into the project design, relocation of suitable trees and the replacement of trees affected by construction that cannot be relocated.”

Andy Murray, structures project manager for the project, said that to date 802 trees have been tagged and represent 18 different species. The species include cabbage palms, coconut palms, crepe myrtle, Florida trema, green buttonwood, gumbo limbo, live oak, red maples, wild tamarind and more. “These trees will all be relocated to new homes within a five-mile radius of the airport,” said Murray. The trees are native or non-invasive exotics. “We would not relocate an invasive species,” Burke said.

The new homes for these trees include Topeekeegee Yugnee (T.Y.) Park, Hollywood; Sunview Park, Fort Lauderdale; P.J. Meli Park, Dania Beach; Holland Park, Hollywood; John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, Dania Beach; Snyder Park, Fort Lauderdale; Wildlife Care Center, Fort Lauderdale; Florence C. Hardy Park, Fort Lauderdale; and Oaklake Park, Hollywood, and existing airport property.

Among the many trees to be saved is, perhaps, the County’s most famous tree, the baobab tree, located at the intersection of Griffin Road and U.S. Highway 1. “Right now there is a wooden fence protecting it,” Murray said, “but most likely that will be replaced with a chain link fence.”

Legend has it that the baobab tree in Broward County was well-known throughout the United States as it was the subject of postcards used to help lure tourists to South Florida as far back as the 1920s. A baobab tree can grow up to 70 tall and have a massive trunk growing up to as much as 35 feet in diameter and shaped like a bottle. The trunk is in fact used to store water during dry periods. It's not uncommon for old trees to have several huge trunks branching off near the ground, and a tree 60 feet tall can have a spread of more than 100 feet.

“Relocating eight hundred trees is a challenge, but it is also a responsibility we have to the community," said Kent George, director of the Broward County Aviation Department. "We want to make sure every tree is preserved in a location that allows them to prosper."
Release Properties