Nearby Nature March 2012
Broward County > Parks and Recreation > The Latest > Nearby Nature March 2012

Nearby Nature Banner

Focus on Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center
Water of Life
Find the Stars – And Not Just on the Red Carpet
Listen To Learn
Walks on the Wild Side
Advisory Board/Public Participation Forum Notice
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

Focus on Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center

At 157 acres, Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, in the Town of Davie, is one of the largest natural areas managed by the Parks and Recreation Division. The site is well known as the former location for the Kapok Tree restaurant and the Pioneer City theme park. The nature center, which opened on March 14, 2008, was built using funds from the 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond Referendum.

As recently as a century ago this elevated oak hammock was part of a series of islands surrounded by Everglades marshes. Long Key encompasses some of the most significant archaeological, historical, and ecological resources in the County, as the area was inhabited by the ancient Tequestas and the more modern Seminoles.

Long Key’s magnificent live oak hammock has served as an important habitat for wildlife and is one of the largest remaining stands of upland hardwood forest in Broward. Typical trees found in the hardwood forest include live oak, red bay, paradise tree, strangler fig, and the occasional cabbage palm and gumbo limbo. Among the diverse plants you can see are many species of epiphytic bromeliads and ferns that abundantly line the limbs of the oaks.

Additional features include a 14-acre orange grove, a remnant of a once-active citrus industry; restored wetland marshes, which have become a haven for a variety of migratory and resident birds; several man-made ponds and canals; and an active bird roost/rookery. The site is also a refuge for butterflies and a variety of mammals, including foxes and bobcats. The property’s Baez House, currently not open to the public, is a restored 1940s farmhouse that received a 2007 award from the Broward County Historical Commission, which recommended that the house be designated an Archaeological and Historical Cultural Resource Site.

The centerpiece of the park is the 18,050-square-foot nature center building, which includes an assembly hall (the Oak Hammock Hall), an exhibit hall, a classroom (the Discovery Room), a small theater, offices, a catering kitchen, and restrooms. A bridge spanning an educational pond connects the nature center to nature trails totaling about three-quarters of a mile, and an equestrian trail runs through the site and connects with the Davie Multipurpose Trail that runs along the perimeter.

The nature center’s grounds include a major Public Art and Design installation by artist Lorna Jordan called Island Garden. One of the artist’s concerns is the idea of the garden as a framework for enhancing habitat, and in that context this work heightens the visitor’s experience of the nature center’s topography. Pathway mosaics make reference to the sedimentary layers that have created the aquifer’s layers of limestone, sand, and sandstone; pools and planters reveal the interaction between water and plants; and benches and a trellis system provide a contemplative place to experience shade and the coolness of water.

For more information, call Long Key at 954-357-8797.

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 county’s largest environmental event, the 35th Annual Waterway Cleanup, returns to Broward from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 10. The event 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 nearly two dozen sites will participate, including the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood, Franklin Park and Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park in Fort Lauderdale, and Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach.

Last year the event attracted 1,180 volunteers to work at waterfront locations and on floating sites on the Intracoastal Waterway. Approximately 18.6 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 e-mail Anne Kolb is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #12; Franklin via Routes #11, #36, and #40; Delevoe via Routes #11 and #40; and Secret Woods via Route #6.

The second event that will focus on water quality and conservation is Water Matters Day, also scheduled for Saturday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tree Tops Park in Davie. Now in its 10th year – the theme is “A Decade of Difference” – the county’s signature water event 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 (environmental folk singer Grant Livingtston), approximately 40 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


Parks and Recreation offers three opportunities to find out more about the insect world this month. From 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach will conduct Insectigations, a look at our six-legged friends (and sometimes enemies) presented by the University of Florida’s Paul Bardunias, who will bring in some of his favorite creatures for participants to observe. The program is free and for all ages.

The next day, Sunday, March 25, from noon to 12:30 p.m., also at Secret Woods, Delightful Flight will introduce you to some of South Florida’s butterflies and share information on what to plant to attract them. The fee is $1.50 per person.

That still leaves you time to get over to Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center on Sunday, March 25, for a 2 p.m. presentation called Bugged Beyond Belief, featuring entomologist, photographer, and composer John Lampkin. He’ll use his new book of insect macrophotography as a starting point for an educational, visually artistic, and entertaining look at the bugs in our back yards. Lampkin has been the compiler for the North American Butterfly Association’s counts in Rockland County, New York, for the past decade, and coincidentally, he has written a woodwind quartet, Insects: A Musical Entomology in Six Legs, that won the grand prize at the 2001 Composers Guild international competition. The program is free.

For more information, call Secret Woods at 954-357-8884 or Long Key at 954-357-8797. Secret Woods is accessible via Broward County Transit 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 latest installment starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 9. Speakers will cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information. For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198. The nature center is accessible via Broward County TransitRoutes #31 and #42.

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

Listen To Learn

The Lunch-and-Learn Nature Series lecture program that has been so popular at the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood concludes this month with a presentation from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 9. The topic is “Ensuring the Survival of Florida’s Coral Reefs: Historical Perspectives and Forecasting the Future,” and the guest lecturer is Abby Reneger, a marine biologist with the National Coral Reef Institute.

Preregistration is required a week prior to the event. A $5 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 Route #12.

Also drawing to a close this month: the Propagation Lecture series at Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach. The final installment focuses on “Grafting” and features a lecture and 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.

Walks on the Wild Side

Hikes and nature walks are the most basic way to enjoy our parks and nature centers. This month offers a variety of such opportunities.

Get the month going with a Mangrove Adventure Hike, from 2 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, at the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood. Participants will learn about the park’s highly varied mangrove ecosystem as they hike one of the trails and encounter wildlife along the way. The program is for all ages and costs $3 per person.

On Saturday, March 10, beginning and advanced birders alike will get a chance to see the avian life at Deerfield Island Park in Deerfield Beach when the park hosts a volunteer-led Bird Walk. It’s from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and costs $3 per person. Space is limited and preregistration is required.

Explore the sloughs and back country of Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach by going Off the Beaten Path, from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 11. Closed-toe shoes, drinking water, a walking stick, and the willingness to get wet are prerequisites for this rigorous hike, which costs $6 per person and is designed for ages 6 and up.

Back at Anne Kolb that same day, a Trail Stroll, from 1 to 1:45 p.m., introduces visitors to the mangrove wetland by taking them on a guided boardwalk tour. The program is free and for all ages.

For more information, call Anne Kolb at 954-357-5161, Secret Woods at 954-357-8884, or, for Deerfield Island, Quiet Waters at 954-357-5100. Anne Kolb is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #12; Deerfield Island via Routes #48 and #50; and Secret Woods via Route #6.

Advisory Board/Public Participation Forum Notice

Once a year the Broward County Parks and Recreation Division invites the public to provide suggestions, voice concerns, and ask questions about recreation needs in the county park system. In order to encourage attendance at this meeting, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board reschedules its meeting to 6 p.m. instead of the customary 7:30 a.m. meeting time. Accordingly, the next Public Participation Forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 1 at Plantation Heritage Park (1100 S. Fig Tree Lane, Plantation 33317; 954-357-5135), immediately after the 6 p.m. advisory board meeting. Plantation Heritage is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #30.


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

Subscribe/Unsubscribe to the Nearby Nature Newsletter

Parks and Recreation is a service of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.