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Natural Areas Directory

 
 

ERM Directory

 
 

Natural Areas

 

Natural Areas Program

One goal of the County’s Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) is to preserve, monitor and maintain the County’s native biological communities, encouraging the highest possible environmental quality and best long-term stewardship practices. To reach that goal, ERM developed the County’s Natural Areas Program. In 1991 and 1999 Palm Beach County voters approved referendums that authorized the sale of a total of $250 million in bonds for the acquisition of lands for conservation purposes. Of this total, $100 million was earmarked for the purchase and conservation of agricultural lands in the County’s Agricultural Reserve. The remaining funds, together with state and municipal matching funds and mitigation dollars, were used to acquire more than 31,000 acres that are owned or leased by the County and managed as natural areas or greenways by ERM. The natural areas targeted for purchase were selected on the basis of their biological characteristics and were acquired to preserve the rare and diverse native ecosystems present on these sites and the endangered, threatened, and rare species of plants and animals that live there.

There are 19 natural areas with public use facilities, such as a small parking lot, hiking trails, and an informational kiosk. The natural areas are open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week, including holidays, for passive, natural resource-based recreation activities such as hiking, bird watching, nature study, and photography, as well as for environmental education and scientific research. Other recreation uses, such as horseback riding, bicycling, and fishing, are permitted in designated areas on a site-specific basis.

All Palm Beach County natural areas are publicly-owned and are open for passive, natural resource-based recreational public uses such as hiking, bird watching, nature study and photography. Other recreational uses, as authorized under the Natural Areas Ordinance (Chapter 11, Article XI of the Palm Beach County Code), may be permitted in designated areas on a site-specific basis. Certain natural areas may be temporarily closed for environmental restoration activities and/or other public safety issues. Users should confirm that the natural area they plan to visit has existing public use facilities which match the users proposed activity; not all natural areas are readily accessible or have existing public use facilities such as a parking area, accessible trails, natural-surfaced walking paths, trail markers, and/or information kiosks.

 

Current Highlights and Upcoming Events

 
  • Mosquito Control Update - Zika Virus
    While ERM's Mosquito Control Division is hard at work taking proactive steps to reducing mosquito popluations learn how you can protect yourself and reduce your exposure to mosquitoe-borne diseases. [PDF]
  • Dark Sky Festival - Okeeheelee Nature Center, Sat. February 27th
    This free, fun-filled family event has many exciting and educational opportunities to experience and learn about the night sky. [LINK]
  • Site Closure - Sweetbay Natural Area, Palm Beach Gardens
    The natural area will not be accessible from Aviation Rd from Feb. 23, 2016 through Feb. 27, 2016 while work is done on the railroad crossing adjacent to the Beeline Highway.
  • Running Wild - Frenchman's Forest Natural Area, Sat. March 5th
    Series of guided 3 to 10 mile trail runs through pine, cypress and coastal scrub habitats on some of the most scenic trails in Palm Beach County. [LINK]
  • Environmental Times Newsletter
    Read the latest edition for highlights on artificial reefs, climate change, LagoonFest and more. [LINK]
  • Adventure Awaits Events
    Series of guided adventures (including hiking, cycling, paddling, photography, and more) designed to introduce participants to the hidden eco-treasures in Palm Beach County's natural areas. [SCHEDULE]
  • Scavenger Hunts
    Are available at several natural areas for youngsters to complete to recieve their Natural Area Youth Explorer certificate. [PDF]
  • ERM's Status Reports
    Stay up to date on our projects with these monthly publications. [LINK]