September 2013 Highlights
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Focus on Native Plants
Labor Day Holiday Hours
Make a Difference
Camping Specials Winding Down
Pedal Pushing
Starry, Starry Nights
Wanted: Hard-Working Nature Lovers
Nature by Night
Advisory Board Notice
Quote of the Month
Special Attractions
Mission Statement
Your Opinion Counts!
SWIM Central
Broward County Board of County Commissioners

Focus on Native Plants

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 no 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 Don’t trust older editions of landscaping guides, which may contain outdated information, and don’t buy plants just because they’re pretty or your friends or neighbors recommend them.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, August 31, Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach will hold its Go Native in Broward County Plant Sale, which emphasizes the right kinds of plants to grow in your home landscape. Then, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 7, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek will have its Fall Into Foliage Native Plant Sale, a comparable event. Gardening information and other activities will be offered at both events.

For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198 or Secret Woods at 954-357-8884. The nature centers are accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42 (Fern Forest) and #6 (Secret Woods).

Labor Day Holiday Hours

All Broward County regional parks (including water parks and campgrounds), and all nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas will be open on Monday, September 2, Labor Day. Deerfield Island Park and the administrative offices of the Parks and Recreation Division will be closed.

Make a Difference

In conjunction with the high-tech marketing consulting group Optime, Markham Park will host the Optime 5K Run/Walk, starting at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 15. Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds of this projected annual event will benefit Make-a-Wish Southern Florida. Gold, silver, and bronze medals will be awarded to the top finishers in a variety of categories. For more information or to register, go to optime5krun.com. The park’s regular weekend gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect. Markham is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #23.

Camping Specials Winding Down

If you’re looking for a “staycation” special – a fun, affordable getaway close to home – look no farther than Broward County Parks. The special at T.Y. Park was up at the end of August, but the two camping specials continue at Quiet Waters Park (through September 30) and at Easterlin Park (through October 31).

The Family Fun Package offers a two-night stay (Fridays and Saturdays only) for four campers for $50; two more campers can be added at $3 each per night. The Escape Special, at the same parks, offers a one-night stay (Sundays through Thursdays only) for four campers for $20, and two additional campers can join you for $3 each. The specials at Quiet Waters also include discounts on other fee-based attractions throughout the park.

Contact the park of your choice for additional information: Easterlin, 954-357-5190, or Quiet Waters, 954-357-5100.

Pedal Pushing

Did you know that Florida’s only velodrome – a sports arena with a banked oval track for bicycle racing – is right here in Broward County, at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City? You can check out the facility from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, September 2, when the velodrome will host the Labor Day Criterium, a set of races expected to attract competitive cyclists from across the state. You can enter in one of several categories, or you can just watch. Registration fees vary. For more information, call Brian Piccolo at 954-357-5150 or the velodrome at 954-357-5160. The park’s holiday gate entrance fee of $1.50/person (children 5 and under free) will be in effect.

Starry, Starry Nights

The South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association (SFAAA) opens the Fox Observatory at Markham Park in Sunrise every Saturday evening, weather permitting, for free stargazing from dusk to midnight.

The SFAAA also hosts the quarterly program An Evening With the Stars at Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek, where speakers cover basic telescope techniques and general astronomy information. The next session will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 20, and the program is free and for all ages.

For more information, call Fern Forest at 954-357-5198 or the SFAAA at 954-384-0442, or email info@sfaaa.com. The nature center is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #31 and #42, while Markham is accessible via Route #23.

Wanted: Hard-Working Nature Lovers

The Parks and Recreation Division is responsible for managing 21 designated natural areas throughout Broward County, with some of them already open to the public and others at various stages of development. Volunteers are crucial to maintaining the historic plant and animal communities found in these areas, many of which periodically schedule Natural Area Workdays that emphasize removing invasive plants threatening to overrun the sites’ native habitats.

Four such workdays have been announced for Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: September 21 and October 5 at Tall Cypress Natural Area in Coral Springs, and November 16 and December 7 at Miramar Pineland. Volunteers must preregister by emailing lbriggs@broward.org, and participants must wear closed-toe shoes and long pants; long sleeves, hats, and sunscreen are also recommended. Gloves, eye protection, and drinking water are provided.

These workdays not only help the natural areas in question, they also provide informal laboratories for participants to learn more about Broward County’s ecosystems. For high school students who volunteer, the hours they contribute count toward the service hours required for graduation.

Nature by Night

One night, two choices for nature outings in different areas of the county: Friday, September 20. From 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Hollywood North Beach Park will offer another Night Hike by the Seashore. Participants will learn techniques for observing creatures of the night while hiking the beach and adjacent coastal areas. The fee is $5/person, and preregistration and prepayment are required through the nearby Anne Kolb Nature Center, 954-357-5161. Hollywood North Beach is accessible via Broward County Transit Routes #4 and #12.

There’s also a night hike much farther inland, as in the Full Moon Hike at Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, from 8 to 9 p.m. A naturalist will lead hikers along the nature center’s trails to watch the moonrise through the oaks while listening to stories, myths, and legends from around the world. The fee is also $5/person. For required preregistration or more information, call Long Key at 954-357-8797.

Advisory Board Notice

The public is invited to the next meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, which is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Friday, September 13. The meeting will take place at the Anne Kolb Nature Center, 751 Sheridan St., Hollywood 33019; 954-357-5161. Anne Kolb is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #12. More information can be found here.

Quote of the Month

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” – American president John Quincy Adams  (1767-1848)

Special Attractions

Airboat Rides (Everglades Holiday Park)Batting Cages (AllGolf at C.B. Smith Park) – Bike America (Quiet Waters Park) –  Butterfly World (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Cable Water-Skiing (Ski Rixen USA at Quiet Waters Park) – Campgrounds (C.B. Smith Park, Easterlin Park, Markham Park & Target Range, Quiet Waters Park, T.Y. Park) – Dog Park (Barkham at Markham Park & Target Range) – Educational Farm (Tradewinds Park & Stables) – 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) – Multipurpose Athletic Fields (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium, Tradewinds Park & Stables) – Observatory (Markham Park & Target Range) – Riding Stables (Tradewinds Park & Stables, Tree Tops Park) – Skate Park/Track (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – Target Range (Markham Park & Target Range) – Tennis Centers (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome, C.B. Smith Park) – Velodrome (Brian Piccolo Park & Velodrome) – 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.

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.

SWIM Central

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).

 

Founded in February 1956 and accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, Broward County Parks and Recreation Division manages almost 6,500 acres, encompassing nearly 50 regional parks and nature centers, neighborhood parks, and natural areas at various stages of development. Facilities include water parks, campgrounds, a target range, a stadium, a skate park, 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 broward.org/parks

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations in order to participate in programs, services, and activities must contact the Special Populations Section at 954-357-8170 or TTY 954-537-2844 at least five (5) business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event.

Broward County Board of County Commissioners

Sue Gunzburger
Dale V.C. Holness
Kristin Jacobs
Martin David Kiar
Chip LaMarca
Stacy Ritter
Tim Ryan
Barbara Sharief
Lois Wexler

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