One of the greatest assets of Palm Beach County is the abundance of natural preserves, state and community parks, and open spaces. Since 1984, great effort has been made by a coalition of environmental groups; state, county and local governments; and citizens to acquire environmentally sensitive areas throughout the county.
In 1987, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners created the Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to oversee the acquisition of lands that meet certain criteria. In 1991 and 1999 voters approved a $100-million and a $150-million bond referendum, respectively, to purchase these lands. Those bonds along with matching funds from various state agencies has enabled the purchase and restoration of more than 31,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands throughout the county.
The vast majority of the acquired land is in North Palm Beach County. The residents of Jupiter greatly benefit from this initiative as the town has many undeveloped areas that meet the criteria. In addition, the town has been mindful of preserving open spaces through its Open Space Program.
About Jupiter Ridge
One of Florida’s rarest habitats, scrub, is preserved in Jupiter Ridge which is situated east of the Intracoastal Waterway and south of Riverwalk on US Highway 1.
Jupiter Ridge contains five native Florida ecosystems: scrub, scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods, depression marsh, and mangrove swamp. The state owns 267 acres of the site, which are leased to Palm Beach County. The rest of the natural area is owned by Palm Beach County. The County manages the natural area with the assistance of the Town of Jupiter. It is also is part of the Northeast Everglades Natural Area.
There are over 2 miles of natural surface-hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. Visitors also may access the site by beaching a small boat on a sandy area known as Ski Beach along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Plant species observed on the site include bushy bluestem, lemon bacopa, gray nicker, common buttonbush, purple lovegrass, scrub pinweed, four-petal pawpaw, scrub live oak, sand pine, and bulltongue arrowhead.
Animal species observed on the site include rosy wolfsnail, comet darner, two-striped walkingstick, mangrove skipper, Atlantic needlefish, scrub lizard, gopher tortoise, Florida scrub-jay, hermit thrush, and West Indian manatee.
Jupiter communities with nature preserves: