HUGH TAYLOR BIRCH STATE RECREATION
Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area is a perfect example of how the dream of one man can become the reality of future generations. In 1893, the Chicago attorney came to south Florida in search of a secluded area for his home. He settled in a small village called Ft. Lauderdale that included a store, a few houses and the remains of the old Fort Lauderdale Army Post.
Purchasing oceanfront property for about a dollar an acre, he eventually owned a three-and-a-half mile stretch of land along the beach. In 1940, at age 90, he built his last home here. He called his 180-acre estate Terramar, "land to sea."
Wishing to preserve his subtropical paradise from the development that was springing up all around it, Birch donated his estate for use as a public park. On July 1, 1949, Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area officially opened to the public. It is now an island of trees and greenery in the middle of urban Ft. Lauderdale.
The park contains several distinct native biological communities, including the last significant remnant of a maritime hammock (tropical hardwood forest) in Broward County. A self-guided nature trail takes you through the hammock, highlighting plants that have been used as foods or medicines. Ranger-led walks are conducted seasonally and by special request for groups.
Extending north and south through the park is a freshwater lagoon system. Canoes may be rented at the park entrance for short trips on the lagoon. Wading birds, hawks, ducks, turtles, and other wildlife can be seen. Fishing is only permitted in the Intracoastal Waterway.
Small sections of mangroves remain along the west side of the park, providing habitat for several species of herons and other shoreline animals. Glimpses of raccoons, gray squirrels, marsh rabbits, opossums or various non-poisonous snakes are common. Butterflies are abundant.
Several endangered and threatened animals and plants make the park their home including the gopher tortoise, eastern indigo snake and the golden leather fern. Non-native plants, such as Australian pine and Brazilian pepper, are being removed from the park. These exotics, introduced as ornamentals earlier this century, displace the native plants and animals. A self-guided trail will introduce you to many of the park's exotic plants. The park may also be explored by bicycle on the scenic park road or on foot along the 1.7-mile exercise course.
Several shaded picnic areas with playground equipment, pavilions and barbecue grills are conveniently located close to parking throughout the park.
Birch's home, which combines Spanish and Art Deco architecture, is now open as the Terramar Visitor Center. It offers exhibits that interpret the natural and cultural history of the park and south Florida. A short video orients visitors to the park and its facilities. Call or check at park entrance for hours of operation, special tours, and other programs.
Group camping is available for organized groups of up to 72 people. Reservations are required for these facilities, which include six cabins, an air conditioned meeting/dining room and a fully-equipped kitchen. Cabins are furnished with cots and mattresses but no towels, pillows or bed linens. A primitive camp for tent camping is available to groups by reservation.
Hugh Taylor Birch State recreation Area is located on East Sunrise Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale, off A1A
.For more information, contact:
Hugh Taylor Birch State Recreation Area
3109 East Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304