The 100-acre Captain Forster Hammock Preserve in Vero Beach, Florida, is one of only a few corridors that connect estuary habitat along the Indian River Lagoon to the ocean, continuing through all of the natural phases of estuary, dune and coastal habitat.
While the preserve is often visited by local residents who walk its beautiful trails through sea grapes and gumbo limbo to the lesser-known public beach access, many of the Preserve’s visitors do not fully understand the environmental value of the property because of the lack of educational signage and the general appearance of the park.
Keep Indian River Beautiful, recipient of a Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Partners Grant, sought to bring the Preserve back to life.
With the tireless assistance of Lowe’s Heroes, employee volunteers of Lowe’s, and other Keep Indian River Beautiful volunteers, Captain Forster’s Hammock Preserve now has Florida Native Pollinator Garden at the entrance of the Preserve, as well as educational signage, benches and even handcrafted bee and bat houses.
More volunteers went to the end of the property where the Preserve meets the Atlantic Ocean to remove exotics and restore the dune destroyed by Hurricane Matthew by planting sea grapes, sea oats, railroad vine and other dune species to help prevent resurgance of the Snake Plant and stabilize the dunes, which is important for that sea turtle nesting that takes place from May through September. Everything was accomplished on one day in December by more than 50 hard-working volunteers, including Indian River County Commissioner Joe Flescher (pictured at top, left).
In addition to Lowe’s, Keep Indian River Beautiful received assistance from Native Butterfly Plants, LLC, which also helped make this historic project possible.