Florida Historical Society Preserves ‘History Shaped By Nature’
Known as “a little patch of green” in the heart of a heavily urbanized area of south Florida, the BLM’s 120-acre Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area is a gold mine of natural and cultural resources containing 25 special status species and hundreds of artifacts dating back to 3,000 B.C.
A tidal wetland, the area also contains a rich diversity of freshwater fisheries and a host of endemic plant species. The ongoing challenge is to preserve these unique resources while allowing for visitor use and enjoyment.
The Loxahatchee River Historical Society is meeting this challenge with its dedication to the conservation of the valuable historic site. The Society’s mission is to preserve the “history shaped by nature.” Founded in 1972 when the area was still under Coast Guard administration, the Society has been an active partner with the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ever since.
The Society has collaborated with many groups to balance visitor use, public access and recreational opportunities with conservation, preservation of imperiled habitat, and protection of sacred traditions.
Along with the BLM, the Society has developed plans for more than a million dollars worth of improvements; accomplishments have been extensive and include installing native landscaping, accessible ramps, and an interpretive desk; restoring the 1920s Keeper’s Workshop; replanting the Lighthouse mound; repainting the Lighthouse; and restoring the First Order Fresnel Lens.
The partnership’s extensive archeological monitoring and survey work has led to the discovery of hundreds of artifacts.
The Friends operate the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum which hosts more than 70,000 visitors each year and received the 2012 BLM’s Public Lands Partnership Excellence Award. With a staff of 10 and 120 dedicated volunteers, the Society offers over 3,500 guided tours annually of the historic lighthouse, which sits atop an ancient parabolic dune as a prominent landmark.
Other accomplishments include removing exotic species; expanding public access to historic areas; preserving and protecting important scrub habitat, and increasing youth and veteran involvement through volunteerism. The Society conducts monthly hikes showcasing Florida Scrub habitat with an observation deck overlooking a quiet manatee refuge surrounded by red mangroves.
Additional interpretive programs for all ages focus on the historic and natural resources of the site, including the Lighthouse History Lecture Series, Chickee Chats for Children, Sunset and Moonrise Tours and presentations on the construction of the lighthouse and the lives of the early lighthouse keepers. The 1892 pioneer homestead exhibit provide stories of life in south Florida in the 1800s. The Area is also a popular destination for student field trips and summer camps. Interpretive signs have been installed throughout the site, ensuring that all can enjoy this preserved historical gem set in the humid environment of South Florida.
BLM-Eastern States nominated this program for the Interior Secretary’s “Partners in Conservation” Awards. The Department will formally announce those selected to receive an award in January.