Seventy years have passed since the day that Hugh Taylor Birch, a visionary with a love of nature, donated his coastal property to the State of Florida as a living testament to what once covered our entire coastline, “as it once was.” In a way, this last patch of green allows us to move into the past and provides us a profound opportunity to study, enjoy and protect a crucial representation of the Maritime Coastline before it was abruptly covered with an agressive, and often convoluted, competition to develop.
Despite a densely populated city that emerged in a very few short decades, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has maintained a lead role in keeping its property representative of the wild lands that are our coastal legacy. The park, and its various programs, have helped shape the ecological literacy of our community (people of all ages) and our millions of visitors to this popular Ft. Lauderdale destination.
Birch State Park is home to the last remnant of Subtropical Hardwood Hammock (also known as Maritime Hamock roughly 100 acres) in Broward County; this with an additional 35 acres of the same at our sister park across the street, the Bonnet House. The small 180 acres is amazingly home to a broad list of protected species (Critically Endangered, Endangered, Threatened or Species of Special Concern categories). These “individuals” are our true ancestors. They evolved here and each have a complex story that even the most lectured scientists are yet uncovering. Each of these creatures, protected or common, holding on to small patches of wild space, provide us the opportunity to learn and expand our knowledge, to empathize and always treat them with gentle respect, and to assist in their preservation.
This wonderful residual parcel of Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch’s Florida acquisitions (once holding nearly 1000 acres in the vicinity) contains so many intricate historical allusions, orally-repeated and sometimes only half-confirmed stories, otherwise strong anectodes and documented records – as well as the legends that fascinate us as characters recede further into the past. Our ranger staff is more than happy to share with you the knowledge that has been passed down to us – and we are open to local historians’ anecdotes and documents that help us expand the deep-time stories that reside on just this coastal barrier island parcel of southeast Florida.
Bottom line is that this beautiful park exists soley because man from the north who came on an adventure to land prospect fell in love with the then wild seclusion of the New River Settlement. Here, he was able to indulge in his gifts of botany and other scientific interests, to garden and work alongside his African American employees, each of whom became dear friends. It is evident that we can know this patch of green as a very unique place where Mr. Birch rubbed shoulders with Dr. David Fairchilds and many other well known icons of the early 20th Century history of Florida. This special land is a walk into contemplations of our past well before the city of Ft. Lauderdale or even the New River Settlement was conceived of.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park offers something for everyone, from the athlete seeking a route away from heavy traffic on either roller blade, bike, skateboard or just jogging. This is a perfect place for college interns to conduct research. It is a perfect home to families drawn in by an astounding variety of native and tropical animal and plant species – the majestic, central Banyan tree, migrating birds, sea turtles. Explore over 3 miles of trailways that offer seclusion from the city. Kids lives’ have forever been positively affected by the enduring seasonal session Camp Live Oak (25years). For decades, Youth Groups have created unforgettable memories at the woodsy Elk’s Lodge & Youth Camp. Our park’s Concessionaire MCruz Rentals offers a tremendous variety of recreational amenities from bike rentals to jet skiis. Honor must be given to the thousands and thousands of hours that volunteers, people who just like Birch and want to help out, offer to this park to keep it running. They are our lifeblood. There is so much that goes into the operations and the team circles of a functioning state park, this is just the tip of the iceburg. Please come explore and inquire with staff if you wish to learn more indepth information about any of the pertinent history and biology of this park!
We do hope to see you here! Come visit, explore, learn! This is your local State Park!
Give a Gift to your local State Park – a gift for Nature
By either Volunteering with or Donating a meaningful gift to the Friends of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Inc. you can personally help to secure the legacy of this last remnant of Tropical Hardwood Hammock in all of Broward County.
What the Friends Are Doing – and Why we Need Your Help:
- Partnership in Parks Grant to Revitalize the Park – Your help is needed today!
The Board of the Friends of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park have stepped up to support a Partnership in Park’s grant for the Trestles to Trails program.
- Identifying large-scale projects for park revitalization:
In addition to the Trestles to Trails project, we are currently identifying large-scale needs of the park’s infrastructure:
- Revitalization of Mr. Birch’s estate, Terramar – moves are being made to relocate administration into the second story while the first story is evaluated for installation of a modern museum to the public.
- The Friends of Birch have achieved a windfall for the park in regard to an overhaul of the park’s currently crumbling seawall. This will be a tremendous success story for our park.
- Water taxi landing installation in the park has been a success, launched in June 2014.
- An Archaeological Evaluation of the park has been approved to be funded by the Friends of Birch State Park. This will potentially revolutionize our park’s historical story.
- Enhancement of old restroom infrastructure and modern application of ADA standards coming late 2014.
- MCruz Rentals (Park Concession) installation of a fully comfortable, inviting sports-type barbecue restaurant (expected in 2015).
AND MUCH MORE!
Our Lovely Park: A short walk from beachside shops and condominiums, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is an oasis of the last Tropical Maritime Hammock in all of Broward County. It preserves the natural heritage of subtropical coastal habitat that once covered southeast Florida.
The property is a magnificent gift from the late Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch to Florida’s posterity. His former estate, which once also included the Bonnet House property, preserves four distinct natural communities, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
There are a number of amenities that visitors can enjoy during their stay. These include, renting a canoe and paddling along a half-mile-long freshwater lagoon. MCruz Rentals offers an interactive rental concession with bikes, beach gear, segway rentals, kayaks and more for everyone’s enjoyment. Many guests regularly fish from the seawall.
Nature lovers can hike along a number of trails and learn about local plants and wildlife through either regularly-scheduled Ranger-guided walks or the Mid Trail Audio Tour. Bicyclists and skaters glide along the 2-mile paved park road. By the thousands, visitors access the beach via the pedestrian tunnel under A1A. Picnic areas overlook the channel; pavilions with water and electricity are available for rental. A group/youth campground is available to organized groups. The Terramar Visitor Center, the latest home to Mr. Hugh Taylor Birch, is currently closed to the public but renovation efforts are underway to offer displays and exhibits regarding the area’s natural and cultural history.
Open daily, there is enough for everyone to enjoy! Located on East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, off A1A.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
3109 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 33304