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Environmental Times Fall 2019 - Volume 24 Issue 3 Published by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management


Rehabilitated Wildlife Released at Palm Beach County Natural Areas

NINETEEN SQUIRRELS, SIX DUCKS, FOUR BLUE JAYS AND TWO GOPHER TORTOISES Staff from the Department and South Florida Wildlife Center released 19 squirrels, six blackbellied whistling ducks, four blue jays and two gopher tortoises at Winding Waters Natural Area in West Palm Beach in late September. The birds and squirrels were rescued and/or rehabilitated by the wildlife center. The gopher tortoises are part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission waif gopher tortoise program. Learn more about the program here: 15705/gt_factsheet_waif.pdf.

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary released four rehabilitated animals at Cypress Creek Natural Area in Jupiter in early August. Busch Wildlife's outstanding hospital and outreach facility cares for injured or orphaned wild animals with the goal of returning them to the wild. At this event they released three sibling gray fox kits and a great blue heron. As a natural area adopter of Cypress Creek, Busch Wildlife will do many more wildlife releases at the site. For more information about adopting a natural area, visit

Environmental Times

By Jena McNeal

At the end of August Palm Beach County deployed two artificial reefs near Lake Worth Inlet. The first to be deployed was in partnership with the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation (PBCFF), which is the non-profit portion of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club. The PBCFF donated 30 prefabricated artificial reef modules called Reef Darts and 30 reuse culverts. Palm Beach County funded the placement of the material four miles offshore of Lake Worth Inlet in 500 feet of water to create the deepest artificial reef in Florida. The material was placed at this depth to create habitat for juvenile snapper and grouper species. The second artificial reef was placed one mile southeast of Lake Worth Inlet in 45 feet of water. This reef included 19 mermaid modules and 100 tons of reuse concrete. The reuse concrete was donated by GL Homes and the modules were created by local artist Chris O’Hare and donated in conjunction with the 1000 Mermaids project. The mermaid modules also included poetry, abstract art and a module that allows divers to stand in a fish tail to get a picture looking like a mermaid!

Photo: Ron Nash


LagoonFest 2019 Welcomes Largest Crowd Ever! On November 2, approximately 5,000 people attended the 6th annual LagoonFest held along the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront. This festival celebrates the 20-mile-long Lake Worth Lagoon, the county’s largest estuary. Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) staff joined with Discover the Palm Beaches and other Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative partners to present this free, family-friendly festival. The event is held each year to raise awareness of the lagoon’s environmental, recreational and economic importance. Attendees could find their connection with the lagoon by exploring more than 80 hands-on exhibits that showcased the wonders of this urban estuary. Those who embarked on the complimentary kayak cleanups and boat tours got an even more up-close experience with the waterway. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary released a rehabilitated Cooper’s hawk and families enjoyed a Kids Zone full of activities like face painting, exploring a gopher tortoise burrow and learning how to cast. Make sure you mark your calendars to attend the 7th annual LagoonFest on November 7, 2020.

Fall 2019

The first phase of the Tarpon Cove restoration project is nearing completion. Partnering with the local marine community, including dredging projects by the Town of Palm Beach, Florida Inland Navigation District and Rybovich Marina, resulted in an estimated 240,000 cubic yards of free sand acquired for the project. This sand is lagoon compatible and represents more than half of the project’s estimated sand needs to complete the restoration of 46 acres of seagrass, mangrove, and oyster habitat within Lake Worth Lagoon. Even though the project is not completed, shorebirds took notice of the new islands. Black skimmers, sandwich and royal terns, brown pelicans and ruddy turnstones checked out the newly-formed islands even as heavy equipment worked nearby. In spring a pair of American oystercatchers nested on the fill. They hatched two chicks which were tagged, measured and weighed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) avian biologists. Once the chicks were able to fly the island construction continued. Phase 1 of the Tarpon Cove project is creating two intertidal mangrove islands and submerged seagrass habitat in the lagoon from Sunset Road to south of Almeria Road. Armoring stone is being placed around the two islands to stabilize them and provide habitat for mangrove and cordgrass to grow along the shorelines. Higher portions of the islands will provide valuable nesting habitat for American oystercatchers. Phase 1 work is expected to continue through December. A portion of the funding for Phase 2, which will create three additional islands, comes from three grants totaling $2.1 million acquired in partnership with FWC. Phase 2 work is anticipated to begin in spring 2020 and be completed in early 2021. By Eric Anderson


Environmental Times

Prescribed Burn at Loxahatchee Slough Department staff burned 31 acres of grassland in late September at Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area to maintain healthy prairie habitat near public-use facilities under construction. A prescribed burn is an intentional fire set under carefully controlled conditions to achieve certain land management objectives. The primary objectives of this burn is to enhance and maintain the slash pine forest (a fire-dependent ecosystem) and lower the possibility of a destructive wildfire by reducing the fuel load (dense palmettos and downed trees). Learn more about the county's Natural Areas Prescribed Burn Program at

Great job, burn crew! The smoke plume in the background is from a prescribed burn at J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area.



A Restoration Success Story Cypress Creek South Natural Area Looking Good This 159-acre section of Cypress Creek Natural Area (located on the south side of Indiantown Road just west of Riverbend Park) was heavily impacted by drainage construction (canals) that lowered water tables and destroyed fragile wetlands. Work began in late 2013 to restore hydrology, recharge groundwater, create wetlands and remove non-native invasive plants. The project created 22 acres of wetlands and restored 16 acres of disturbed wetlands. Once the heavy machinery left the area, native trees, shrubs and grasses were installed in and around the wetlands. Take a look at these "before" and "after" photos - even the local wildlife approves - check out the great egret in the middle of the bottom photo! Learn more about Cypress Creek Natural Area at


Fall 2019

Tracking Swallow-Tailed Kites from Palm Beach County to Brazil An hour before sunrise in early June, Department land managers met with staff from the Avian Research Conservation Institute (ARCI) and Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society to prepare for a project that will help researchers and land managers better understand swallow-tailed kites and their conservation needs. The goal of this collaborative effort was to deploy tracking devices on two swallow-tailed kites.

A Species In Decline Records from the 1800s show swallow-tailed kites once nested in 21 states. By the 1940s, their population plummeted dramatically and their range shrunk to only seven southern states from Texas to South Carolina. Several factors contributed to their decline: loss of the forested wetlands used for nesting, high mortality rate on their 5,000-mile round trip migration to southern Brazil, and the relatively long time it takes for the birds to reach breeding age (three or four years). It is estimated that only a few thousand breeding pairs are left in the country.

Attaching Trackers Nesting adults and their young are subject to predation by great horned owls. For each capture, a rehabilitated, but non-releasable, great-horned owl was used to lure the kites into the trap area. Once captured, each kite (a male and female) was weighed and measured before GPS-equipped cellular transmitters weighing 12 grams were attached. The accurate, time-stratified location data produced by the transmitters will address questions about nesting locations, home-range and core activity areas, premigration behavior, timing of seasonal movements and site fidelity.

You can follow the travels of the two Palm Beach County kites along with 14 other tagged birds by visiting ARCI’s Facebook page - @ARCInst.

Collecting Data By August both kites were on their way south for their annual migration. They crossed from the southern tip of Florida over Cuba and then to the Yucatan Peninsula. During September the birds crossed the Andes Mountains and headed to the Amazon. As of late October, the male was settled into Mato Grosso, Brazil while the female was last reported near the Panama/Colombia border. A special thanks to ARCI for spearheading this project and providing their expertise on monitoring techniques and to the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society for funding the project, assisting with monitoring efforts, and becoming a Natural Area Adopter. We are excited about the data generated by this collaboration and thrilled to work with these two great organizations. By Melissa Tolbert and Dave Witmer


Back row from left to right: Kathleen Breland (Zoo), Dr. Ken Meyer (ARCI), Gina Kent (ARCI), Margo McKnight (Zoo), Dave Witmer (ERM), Melissa Tolbert (ERM). Front: Callie Carpenter (Zoo) holding Hino the great horned owl.

Environmental Times

Florida scrub can be, at first glance, a barren lifeless place. These remnants of ancient beaches are not the easiest places for plants to grow. Very little shade mixed with sandy soils that don't hold water means plants growing here have to be tough. Probably not the best place to look for flowers. Wrong. Florida wildflowers are showing their fall colors right now. The soft pinks of sandhill wireweed, the delicate white flowers of October flowers and the bold yellow blossoms of gray nickerbean are on display at Hypoluxo Scrub Natural Area. While admiring these hidden treasures be on the lookout for all the wonderful pollinators busily moving from flower to flower. There's so much to see at Palm Beach County's scrub sites -begin your outdoor adventure at


Fall 2019

Volunteers removed 215 pounds of trash from Limestone Creek Natural Area in September.



The numbers have been crunched and the results are outstanding! During July, August and September Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management volunteers donated 690 labor hours to help preserve Palm Beach County’s precious environment. More than 230 volunteers worked on 17 projects in countyowned natural areas. They removed 3,525 pounds of trash and planted 240 trees and wetland plants.

Jupiter High School Environmental Academy students planted 240 trees and wetland plants at Cypress Creek Natural Area in August.

Volunteers removed 100 pounds of microplastics from DuBois Park in September.

By Ann Mathews

Volunteers removed 200 pounds of trash from Currie Park Living Shoreline mangrove planters in September.


Environmental Times

Check out this gorgeous Catesby’s lily bringing a bold pop of color to the pine flatwoods at Cypress Creek Natural Area. Also known as pine lily, leopard lily, tiger lily or southern-red lily, Catesby’s lily can be found in wet flatwoods, wet prairies and savannas. It is very sensitive and thrives in conditions generally inhospitable to other lilies. It responds well to fire. Catesby’s lily typically blooms summer to late fall, attracting a variety of pollinators, but it is primarily pollinated by swallowtail butterflies.

Volume 24 Issue 3 Published quarterly by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management 2300 N. Jog Road - Fourth Floor West Palm Beach, FL 33411-2743 561-233-2400 Deborah Drum..........Department Director Michael Stahl...................Deputy Director Ann Mathews...................Editor/Graphics

Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Dave Kerner, Mayor Robert S. Weinroth, Vice Mayor Hal R. Valeche Gregg K. Weiss Mary Lou Berger Melissa McKinlay Mack Bernard Verdenia C. Baker, County Administrator

Who says orange and purple don't look good together? This photo of an orangewinged gulf fritillary butterfly stopping by coastalplain chaffhead blossoms was taken at North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area. The coastalplain chaffhead is just one of South Florida's many fallblooming wildflowers. The flowers attract not only butterflies but also bees, beetles, flies and spiders. The gulf fritillary butterfly is a frequent visitor to Palm Beach County natural areas and backyard flower gardens.

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Environmental Times Fall 2019  

This quarterly newsletter published by Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management highlight's the local environmental restoration...

Environmental Times Fall 2019  

This quarterly newsletter published by Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management highlight's the local environmental restoration...

Profile for pbcerm