March 2014
Recreation. Preservation. Education.
Water of Life
Water is an integral component of the quality of life to both residents and visitors alike in Broward County. This month two major events in parks attest to the importance water holds in our lives, in terms of both recreation and daily life.

The first event that will focus on water quality and conservation is the county’s largest environmental event, the 37th Annual Waterway Cleanup on Saturday, March 1 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, with the theme “Where Blue Meets Green,” is organized by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) in cooperation with civil, public, and private partners to promote environmental awareness and responsibility. This year more than two dozen sites will participate, including the Anne Kolb Nature Center, Deerfield Island Park, Markham Park & Target Range, and Secret Woods Nature Center.

Last year the event attracted more than 2,000 volunteers to work at waterfront locations and on floating sites on the Intracoastal Waterway. Nearly 19 tons of trash and debris was collected from the county’s roughly 300 miles of navigable waterways, canals, and shorelines.

Participants should wear clothes that they don’t mind getting dirty, as well as gloves and shoes. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and drinking water are also recommended. For more information, call MIASF at 954-524-2733, visit, or email Anne Kolb is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #4 and #12; Deerfield Island via Route #48; Markham via Route #23; and Secret Woods via Route #6.

Then on Saturday, March 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tree Tops Park, Water Matters Day will take place. Now in its 12th year, the county’s signature water event – this year’s theme is “Water – Our Greatest Resource” – educates residents on what they can do to protect our drinking-water supplies. Among the relevant topics covered will be water conservation techniques, smart irrigation, and native landscaping.

This family-oriented event features live music, educational booths and exhibits, giveaways (including native plants), hands-on activities, children’s workshops, and more. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. The Broward County Board of County Commissioners, Broward Workshop, the School Board of Broward County, and the South Florida Water Management District partner for the event.

Admission to Water Matters Day is free, although Tree Tops’ regular weekend and holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect. For more information, visit

Listen and Learn
Learn all about “Grafting” at this month’s Propagation Lecture at Secret Woods Nature Center. This final installment in the three-lecture series, to be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, includes hands-on instruction in various techniques. The program is for ages 12 and up and runs $5/person. For more information, call Secret Woods at 954-357-8884. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #6.

Also concluding this month: the last installment of the Lunch-and-Learn Nature Series, the lecture program that has been so popular at the Anne Kolb Nature Center. The final of three presentations, from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 21, will be on the topic “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of South Florida.” The guest lecturer is Ricardo Zambrano, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Preregistration is required a week prior to the event. A $7 donation to the Friends of the Anne Kolb Nature Center volunteer group gets you in and gets you lunch. For more information, call Anne Kolb at 954-357-5161. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #4 and #12.

Fun for the Little Ones

It’s no secret that Nature Tots has been teaching tykes to appreciate the great outdoors for years. The program was the brainchild of a park naturalist in 2003.

The one-hour programs, for ages 2 to 4 accompanied by an adult, focus on a different theme each month, with each site’s naturalist free to embellish on it according to his/her style. A typical program might start with stories, songs, or arts and crafts and end with a short nature walk.      

This month’s events will be on March 13, at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek, on March 18, at West Lake Park in Hollywood, and on March 27, at Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach.

The monthly program runs from 10 to 11 a.m. The fee is $5 per child, and preregistration is required. Programs are on the second Thursday at Fern Forest, the third Tuesday at West Lake Park, and on the fourth Thursday at Secret Woods Nature Center.

Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center also hosts Preschool Play ‘n’ Learn on March 13, from 10 to 11 a.m. This program, open to participants ages 3 to 5, may include games, hands-on activities, crafts, storytelling, songs, and a nature walk or animal encounter. This month’s theme is “Butterfly Flutterby.” The fee for this program is $5 per child and preregistration is required.

For more information on a program or to preregister, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198, West Lake at 954-357-5161, Secret Woods at 954-357-8884, or Long Key at 954-357-8797. Fern Forest is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42. West Lake is accessible via Route #12. Secret Woods is accessible via Route #6.

Find the Stars - And Not Just on the Red Carpet
Hollywood may turn out every year for the Academy Awards, but another kind of star – the heavenly kind – inhabits the South Florida sky every night. And every quarter the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association (SFAAA) gets together at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek to discuss all things astronomical.

The free program is called An Evening With the Stars, and the next event starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21. Speakers will cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information. For more details, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

The SFAAA also opens the Fox Observatory at Markham Park & Target Range in Sunrise every Saturday evening, weather permitting, from dusk to midnight. For more information, call 954-384-0442 or email

Photo Finish

Photographers of all levels of skill and experience are invited to Fern Forest Nature Center for the final Family/Team Shutterbug Photo Hunt on Sunday, March 16, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Participants will get a quick guide to basic photography as well as learn about the nature center’s varied flora and fauna as they explore its trails in search of subject matter. A naturalist will be on hand to share the park’s natural history and will provide I.D. cards for many of the plants and animals found at Fern Forest.

Participants can choose their own level – easy, intermediate, or advanced – and enter their photos in the park’s “Best of…” contest. Participants should also bring their own digital cameras that accept standard SD cards. The park will provide the SD cards but will retain them after the hunt. Please bring a flash drive if you want to take copies of your photos home with you.

Keep in mind that the nature center has a variety of trail types, from wheelchair- and stroller-accessible boardwalks to more rugged terrain. Sturdy boots are recommended.

The cost for this program is $10 per team/family unit. Preregistration required. To preregister or for more information, call the nature center at 954-357-5198. Fern Forest is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42.

Parks Division Hosts Annual Public Forum

The Parks and Recreation Division invites the public to a Public Participation Forum at Plantation Heritage Park on Thursday, March 6, starting at 7 p.m., immediately following the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board's 6 p.m. meeting. This free forum is the public's opportunity to provide suggestions, voice concerns, and ask questions about recreational needs in Broward County Parks.

The advisory board, whose members are appointed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, meets six times a year to provide input to Parks staff relevant to facilities and programming. These regular meetings are open to the public, although participation at them is limited to the advisory board and Parks staff. Once a year a Public Participation Forum is held to involve the public in the advisory board's activities.

For more information, call 954-357-8107.

YouTube Spotlight - Airboat Rides at Everglades Holiday Park

Broward County Parks has its own YouTube Channel at Ride through the river of grass at Everglades Holiday Park. Watch our video and see what could be waiting for you next time you visit.

Swim Central

SWIM Central is the Broward County Commission's primary resource and referral service for available swim programs in cooperation with various cities and nonprofit organizations. Call 954-357-SWIM (7946).

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