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Brickell neighbors visit 4 area parks in Eco-Tour

Sixty-five intrepid BHA neighbors and friends braved cloudy skies for an insider’s tour of nature’s extraordinary ecological jewels surrounding the Brickell community at the first-ever Brickell Eco-Tour in November 2013.

The day began at Simpson Park with a continental breakfast and walking tour of the hammock of Simpson Park. This 7.8-acre park was once part of an extensive coastal hammock system or tropical jungle, known as Brickell Hammock, that extended along Biscayne Bay from north of Miami River to Coconut Grove. Simpson Park is the only hardwood hammock restored to its native ecological state, and the forest contains 15 endangered species and nine threatened plant species.

Alice Wainwright Park, the second stop on the trolley tour, was also part of the original Brickell Hammock and offers recreational areas on the edge of Biscayne Bay. Its Hammock is in need of restoration and recapture from the homeless. The third stop was Virginia Key, where residents walked through the deep forest areas to the Native Plant Nursery and learned about restoration work going on to ensure rare species’ survival.

The group enjoyed the air-conditioned comfort of Miami’s popular trolleys, courtesy of the City of Miami and Mayor Regalado, continental breakfast, a delicious Joanna’s Market lunch at the end, and cold beverages along the way. And the clouds only opened up once, for a brief downpour

The guides were extremely knowledgeable. Miami’s Senior Naturalist Juan Fernandez has been leading the conservation at Simpson Park and on Virginia Key. With the help of volunteer groups, a small dedicated crew and grant funds, he has restored approximately 46 acres of coastal Hammock to a more indigenous state. He also created the Native Plant Nursery at Virginia Key, completed the restoration of the nature trail at Simpson Park. He has implemented educational projects and oversees ongoing conservation of plant species that are endangered and highly threatened.

Frank Schena, Urban Naturalist and owner of Royal Palm Tours, was the other guide who is a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for the nature of Miami. Both were highly engaging naturalists with unparalleled expertise on our area’s rare species of flora and fauna, and we thank them for giving of their time. •

Special thanks to Juan Fernandez, Adriana Tio-Dominguez at Simpson Park for their leadership in making this event happen.

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 Photos of Brickell Eco-Tour