Find a Natural Area
Natural Areas Program
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
- Frenchman's Forest Natural Area Closed
The site will be closed beginning Wednesday, June 22nd while crews are out working. The natural area will reopen on the weekend for public use.
- Lake Worth Lagoon Fishing Challenge, June 1st - 30th
Interested in helping collect valuable fisheries information while getting a chance to win a prize? If so, you'll want to participate in this free fishing event. Visit the web page for details. [LINK]
- Lake Worth Lagoon Initiative Grant Program
Now accepting applications for FY 2017. Deadline to submit is August 15, 2016. [LINK]
- Adventure Awaits - Bike and Hike, June 25th 8:00am
Discover the trails of Loxahatchee Slough with ERM staff during this unique tour that incorporates cycling and hiking. For more details and to reserve your spot, visit the event page.
- Environmental Times Newsletter
Read the latest edition Spring 2016 for highlights on artificial reefs, climate change, LagoonFest and more. [LINK]
- Lake Worth Lagoon E-News
Read the latest edition May 2016 for highlights on the Lake Worth Lagoon Fishing Challenge, restoration projects, LagoonFest and more. [LINK]
- Volunteer Accomplishments in 2015
See what ERM's volunteers were up to in 2015. [PDF]
- 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]
- Scavenger Hunts
Are available at several natural areas for youngsters to complete to recieve their Natural Area Youth Explorer certificate.
- ERM's Status Reports
Stay up to date on our projects with these monthly publications. [LINK]