Fakahatchee Strand: Adding Polish to This Eco-Gem

Enhancements are underway at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve Sate Park to make this botanical marvel even more visitor-friendly.

  The Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is one of the world’s most botanically abundant and diverse places—the royal palm capital of the United States, the orchid capital of the United States, the bromeliad capital of the United States, the peperomia capital of the United States and the keeper of the state’s last remaining virgin cypress trees, to name a few of its distinctions. Pulling up to the visitor entrance, you’d never suspect you’ve stumbled upon such an ecological gem. An easily missed brown sign on the Tamiami Trail announces that you are entering the Fakahatchee. The best landmark is the Indian village located near the boardwalk’s entrance. This is deceptive, because it’s private property and not affiliated with the park. Parking? Nearly nonexistent. Visitors cram their vehicles into a couple of spaces in a haphazard dirt lot, or line their cars on the eastbound shoulder of the Tamiami Trail and dash across the roadway. “We’ve got pictures—you can see whole families running back and forth,” says Friends of Fakahatchee President Patrick Higgins. Talk about safety hazards. There are no restrooms, just portable toilets near the parking area. And the boardwalk itself: It is a 2,300-foot-long stroll through dense vegetation that lures some 88,000 people a year from all over the world. Guides can bring the place to life—pointing out rare plants that an untrained eye surely would over
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