First thing that struck me is that there was no admission fee to get into the north side of the park and there were not that many people there.
At first when I found out that this park was named after a former Broward County Commissioner my jaded nature of politicians kicked in. But further research about Annie Kolb, the centers namesake ,revealed her to be a strong environmentalist. She had convinced the Commission here to pass the Urban Wilderness Park System to preserve endangered lands. Her efforts placed a building moratorium in Southwest Boward County for 61,000 acres. The Florida Wildlife Association named her conservationist of the year in 1977.
Because of her foresight this park was created and the 1,500 acres preserved. Ok maybe I was wrong.
The Nature center is enclosed within WestLake Park. It has been converted to protected coastal Mangrove wetlands and native plants and wildlife.
The idea is to return this area to a native habitat and remove the exotic plant species.
They have built several nature trails that you can walk extending out into the mangroves. The area is mud flats and wet ground so the elevated paths are great.
They are all made out of that gray plastic composite from recycled plastic. This picture is from a top a five story observation tower in the park of one of the nature trails.
I got the feeling that this place was serious about teaching conservation . The more that I read and saw the more I liked it.
Here is some Lantana Plant which does great in the heat here and is drought tolerant. Did I say it is a fantastic Butterfly attractor.
They even give you an excuse to have some weeds in your lawn as well as a reason to stop wasting your money on Weed and Feed.
The issue of pesticide use to me now is pretty much common sense. Whatever you spray on your lawn or plants sooner or later you will be drinking in your water or eating in your food.
Some more wildflowers growing along the walkways.
These are Blanketflower which grow really well here .
But the real star of the place is the Mangroves themselves. This park is covered in Mangrove wetlands. The Mangrove trees themselves are really not that impressive to look at compared to a lot of other trees at first glance.
But when you begin to learn just how important the mangrove tree is to the marine ecosystem they take on a new light. The Mangroves provide the nursery for countless juvenile marine fishes as well as wildlife. Their tangled root systems provide protection for the fish and wildlife giving them a place to hide and prosper.
This picture is of the Mangrove roots. It was low tide so they are visible . You can see the white tide lines on the roots to tell where the high tide water will come up to on the plants. Don't they make a great hiding place for juvenile fish.
I thought this park to be an outstanding example of what we could do to conserve some of our native habitats. Personally I would much rather have my tax money spent on an effort like this than on another baseball stadium. Maybe I'm just weird. It just seems that we have to be stewards of nature.
After a while we went to the other side of the park and rented some Kayaks for a few hours adventure. There are three Kayak trails carved out of the Mangroves that you can paddle down or you can just paddle around in the large shallow saltwater lake.
It is a great way to observe nature close up as you want and have a lot of fun doing it.
The canals extend all the way out to the inter coastal waterway just inside the beach shoreline.The bottom line here is that Westlake Park and the Anne Kolb Nature Center is a really neat place. Not a lot of people , Minimal costs and a lot to see both plants and wildlife.
Then add in a bright blue South Florida sky, Fresh air , and a sultry pre- summer day. Topped by being surrounded by your best girls. Who could want more?