Citizens of Palm Beach County place a high priority on natural areas
For the first time in its 15 year history the Audubon Society has awarded a local government for extraordinary efforts to protect the natural areas that make Florida unique. Palm Beach County has been recognized this year for their outstanding effort to acquire and manage environmentally-sensitive and biologically-diverse lands. We can all be proud of this achievement. It all began in 1990s when voters approved 2 referendums that authorized the sale of $250 million in bonds to acquire these lands for conservation purposes. To date 31,000 acres have been preserved and are being managed by the county sometimes in partnership with state and local governments. The mission is to protect these environmentally-sensitive areas as well as provide habitat for native wildlife and endangered species.
As a result of this initiative, Palm Beach County has an abundance of 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.
The vast majority of the land acquired through this initiative is in North Palm Beach County. The residents of Jupiter greatly benefited 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.