Nearby Nature April 2012
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We’re Listening
Find Broward’s Only Island Park – At Deerfield Island
Broward 4-H Is Looking for Judges
Celebrate Earth Day
All Things Creepy and Crawly
New Moon or No Moon?
Return to the Native
Wings and Things
Nature To Go
Your Opinion Counts!
Nature Centers of the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division
Special Attractions
Mission Statement
Broward County Board of County Commissioners

We’re Listening

Let’s face it: We live in opinionated times. From polls and surveys to social media and more traditional media, everybody wants to know what you think. And we’re no different. The Broward County Parks and Recreation Division, in conjunction with the consulting firm GreenPlay, invites your input at a series of focus groups. At these public forums, you’ll help us assess customer satisfaction and identify potential partnership opportunities and strategic planning issues, as well as provide feedback about your community’s recreational needs. Each meeting emphasizes specific activities or groups.

·         Tues., Apr. 24, 1-2:30 p.m. – Trails & GreenwaysFern Forest Nature Center

·         Tues., Apr. 24, 3-4:30 p.m. – Conservation & Natural Areas – Fern Forest

·         Wed., Apr. 25, 9-10:30 a.m. – Alternative ProvidersSecret Woods Nature Center

·         Wed., Apr. 25, 4-5:30 p.m. – Youth & Schools – Secret Woods

·         Wed., Apr. 25, 7-8:30 p.m. – Public MeetingCentral Broward Regional Park & Stadium

·         Thurs., Apr. 26, 9-10:30 a.m. – Public Safety – Central Broward Regional

·         Thurs., Apr. 26, 5-6:30 p.m. – Athletics & Aquatics – Central Broward Regional

·         Fri., Apr. 27, 8-9:30 a.m. – Business & TourismAnne Kolb Nature Center

For facility phone numbers, addresses, and directions, visit

Find Broward’s Only Island Park – At Deerfield Island

As the county’s only true island park (Snake Warrior’s Island is no longer a true island), Deerfield Island Park in Deerfield Beach has plenty of history and considerable avian life, as two programs this month demonstrate.

There are more than 250 species of birds that make South Florida either their permanent or their temporary home, and more than 200 species have been sighted in Broward County parks and natural areas. Up to 80 species have been spotted at Deerfield Island. Many of these are migratory, however, so while the 53.3-acre park is a good site for a volunteer-led Bird Walk, participants should expect to spot anywhere from a dozen to perhaps two dozen species, depending on the season. The next such walk is scheduled for 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, and the fee is $3 per person.

The island park also boasts some of the most colorful history in the county’s park system. A link with gangster Al Capone in the early 1930s, for instance, led to the land being labeled Capone Island – even though Capone himself never actually owned it, and the area at that time was a peninsula, not an island.

This is the sort of tidbit you might pick up when the park, which opened in September 1980, hosts an Intracoastal History Tour, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 29. The cost is $5 per person, and boat transportation to the island is provided, although you must be at the Sullivan Park dock by 9:30 a.m. to catch the shuttle.

Space is limited for both programs, and so preregistration is required and can be made by calling Quiet Waters Park at 954-357-5100. Deerfield Island is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #48 and #50.

Broward 4-H Is Looking for Judges

4-H Annual County Events is a day of competitions in four categories: Illustrated Talks & Demonstrations, Public Speaking, Fashion Revue, and Share the Fun talent show. This year’s event will be held on April 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Broward County Extension Education Office and the University of Florida Research Center (across the parking lot from Extension). The competition is open to ages 8 to18. Anyone under the age of 8 may exhibit or share project activities on a participation or feedback level. Those who earn the highest scores in their division will go on to participate in the District Events on May 12, in which Broward 4-H youth compete against youth from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Seniors earning a blue Standard of Excellence ribbon at the district level are eligible to participate in Florida 4-H Congress, which is held at the University of Florida the week of July 25-29. 

If you would like to volunteer to judge any of these events, please contact Rina LaRosa or Erin Daniels at 954-357-5270. The tentative schedule, subject to change depending on the number of participants, is as follows:

·         9:20-9:45 a.m. – Judges’ Orientation

·         10 a.m. -12:30 p.m. – Public Speaking Competition (UF Research Center)

·         10 a.m. -12:30 p.m. – Illustrated Talks & Demonstrations (Extension Auditorium)

·         12:30-1:30 p.m. – Lunch (judges tally scores of morning events)

·         1:30p.m. – Fashion Revue, immediately followed by Share the Fun

Celebrate Earth Day

On Saturday, April 21, the day before the official Earth Day, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek offers a Celebrate Earth Day Guided Walk, from 10 to 11 a.m. It’s free and for all ages. Participants will learn about the native habitats found at the nature center. At 2 p.m. the same day, there will be a Living Green Lecture, with tips on how to live a greener life. It’s also free, although donations are encouraged and appreciated.

For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198. Fern Forest is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

All Things Creepy and Crawly

For three successive Sundays this month, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek will offer a Nature Lecture series, from noon to 1 p.m. The topic on April 15 will be “Snakes,” followed by “Spiders” on April 22. The series concludes on April 29 with “Dangerous Plants, Animals, and Insects.” Live animals will be included as part of the presentations, which include question-and-answer sessions, but relax – you’ll be neither expected nor allowed to handle them. The lectures are free, but donations are encouraged and appreciated.

For more information, call the nature center at 954-357-5198. Fern Forest is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

New Moon or No Moon?

In astronomical terms, the new moon is the lunar phase in which the moon is not visible to the naked eye – the opposite of a full moon. Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center in Davie will take advantage of the darkest night of the month on Friday, April 20, when it hosts a New Moon Hike, from 8 to 9 p.m. Participants will carefully make their way along Long Key’s nature trails, looking for nocturnal animals as they emerge. The hike is $3/person, and preregistration is required by the day before the program. For more information, call the Long Key at 954-357-8797.

Return to the Native

In subtropical South Florida just about anything you stick in the ground has a good chance of growing, which is why so many plants classified variously as non-native, invasive, or exotic can thrive. Such plants may have been introduced intentionally. Australian pines, for example, were originally planted throughout the region as shade trees and windbreaks; now they’re out of control in many areas. Likewise melaleucas, which were once recommended as ornamental landscape trees but are now considered a nuisance plant.

Other times unwitting home landscapers cultivate the wrong kinds of plants, thanks to misinformation from such seemingly reliable sources as books, friends, nurseries, and the Internet. A home landscape including, say, areca and Chinese fan palms, wandering Jew vines, lantana shrubs, flowering four o’clock and ground orchids, and such trees as schefflera, weeping fig, mimosa, and orchid trees might seem like a good plan, but all these plants wreak varying degrees of havoc on the native environment. Even such fruit trees as mango, guava, and sapodilla come with their own sets of problems. And forget about tossing out houseplants that have outgrown their containers – they can easily take root and spread until they run amok.

That, simply put, is the potential problem. Non-native, invasive, and exotic plants can go wild in our yards, parks, and natural areas and on our roadsides and canal banks. The vast majority pose so serious threat, but some grow out of control, competing with native vegetation and gradually displacing it, forever altering ecosystems that have developed over millions of years.

The most notorious invasive plants – the aforementioned Australian pines and melaleucas, along with Brazilian pepper – have long been targeted by intensive campaigns to curb their spread. But you can also do your part simply by paying closer attention to what you grow in your own yard. Don’t trust older editions of landscaping guides, which may contain outdated information, and don’t buy plants just because they’re pretty or your friends or neighbors recommend them. And by all means don’t put indiscriminate faith in the Internet, which is rife with misinformation.

The key is educating yourself on what you put into the ground and what you do with it once it’s planted, and for help with that you can turn to Broward County parks. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek will have its Spring Into Gardening Native Plant Sale, which emphasizes the right kinds of plants to grow in your home landscape. The event will also include gardening information, displays, and children’s arts and crafts.

For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198. The nature enter is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

Wings and Things

What do bats and butterflies have in common? Wings, for one thing. Both are also the subject of a Thursday, April 12 program at Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach. It’s called Bat and Butterfly House Class and runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Participants ages 16 and up will learn about bat and butterfly roosting habits in South Florida. They’ll also leave with a hand-built bat or butterfly house to attract the flying creatures to their own back yards. A $20 donation to the Friends of Secret Woods volunteer group is requested, and preregistration is required.

For more information, call the nature center at 954-357-8884. Secret Woods is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #6.

The weekend after the bat/butterfly program, Butterfly World at Tradewinds Park South in Coconut Creek will offer a Butterfly Gardening Workshop, starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. Participants will: learn how to identify and attract local butterflies to their yards; learn about the plants best suited to starting a butterfly garden; see nectar and larval host plants for butterflies that are available in South Florida; and receive a free photo guide to help identify butterflies and host plants.

No reservations are required, and the workshop is free with paid admission to Butterfly World. For more information, call Butterfly World at 954-977-4434. Tradewinds is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #34. The park’s regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect.


Broward County Parks now has its own YouTube Channel at If you’ve never gone kayaking at West Lake Park in Hollywood, you’ll get a glimpse of this urban oasis. Other park experiences you can watch include mountain bike riding at Markham Park in Sunrise, cable water-skiing at Ski Rixen USA in Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach, and even Eli the Dog’s outing to Barkham dog park at Markham Park!

Nature To Go

You can now take a little bit of Broward County nature home with you – thanks to a series of nature posters produced and sold by Broward County Parks. The six posters, all photographed in the county’s parks, nature centers, and natural areas, feature American white waterlilies, burrowing owls, a gray fox, live oak trees, a prairie iris, and a queen butterfly. The posters look great either framed or unframed, and they’re a distinctive way to bring a taste of nature into your home or office. They also make excellent gifts.

The offices at seven facilities have the posters available for purchase: the Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park in Hollywood, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center in Davie, Markham Park in Sunrise, Plantation Heritage Park in Plantation, Tree Tops Park in Davie, and T.Y. Park in Hollywood.

The high-quality posters, which measure 18 inches by 24 inches, retail for $10, including Florida sales tax. You can also purchase posters by mail from Broward County Parks and Recreation, 950 N.W. 38th St., Oakland Park, FL 33309. Mail-order posters are $15 (includes Florida sales tax, shipping, and handling), with checks/money orders payable to Broward County Parks and Recreation. For more information, e-mail

Your Opinion Counts!

We’d like to know what you think about our programs and facilities. Please take a moment to tell us how we’re doing by filling out this survey.

Nature Centers of the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division

Anne Kolb Nature Center

751 Sheridan St., Hollywood


Deerfield Island Park

1720 Deerfield Island Park

Deerfield Beach


Fern Forest Nature Center

201 Lyons Rd. South Coconut Creek


Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center

3501 S.W. 130th Ave.



Secret Woods Nature Center

2701 W. State Rd. 84 Dania Beach



For more nature activities, please go to

Special Attractions

Batting Cages (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Butterfly World (Tradewinds Park) – Cable Water-Skiing (Ski Rixen USA at Quiet Waters Park) – Campgrounds (C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park) – Dog Park (Barkham at Markham Park) – Educational Farm (Tradewinds Park) – Exhibit Halls (Anne Kolb Nature Center at West Lake Park, Fern Forest Nature Center, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, Secret Woods Nature Center) – Golf Facilities (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Softball/Baseball Fields (Brian Piccolo Park, Sunview Park, Tradewinds Park) – Observatory (Markham Park) – Riding Stables (Tradewinds Park, Tree Tops Park) – Skate Parks/Tracks (Brian Piccolo Park, Quiet Waters Park) – Target Range (Markham Park) – Tennis Centers (Brian Piccolo Park, C.B. Smith Park) – Velodrome (Brian Piccolo Park) – Water Playgrounds/ Waterslides/Swimming (C.B. Smith Park, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park)

Mission Statement

The Parks and Recreation Division is dedicated to providing a countywide park system with diverse facilities and recreation opportunities, along with natural area conservation and research-based educational outreach, to enhance the well-being of residents, businesses, and visitors.

Founded in February 1956 and accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages nearly 6,500 acres, encompassing 18 regional parks and nature centers, six neighborhood parks, and 21 natural areas at various stages of development. Facilities include water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, skate parks, an observatory, mountain bike trails, an educational farm with stables, and a velodrome and other sports facilities. Hours and fees vary by location. For more information, visit


Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in County programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least 10 business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event to request an accommodation.

Broward County Board of County Commissioners

Sue Gunzburger
Dale V.C. Holness
Kristin  Jacobs
Chip LaMarca
Ilene Lieberman
Stacy Ritter
John E. Rodstrom Jr.
Barbara Sharief
Lois Wexler


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