Invasive plant clearing continues at Ocean Strand Park

Brett Shweky, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District Commissioners unanimously voted Dec. 7 to fund Phase 2 of efforts to clear invasive vegetation from Ocean Strand Park.

The removed plants will be replaced with native trees designed to form a natural buffer between the park on A1A just south of Spanish River Boulevard and nearby residential areas.

The district will be taking out Brazilian pepper and Australian pines, which are both classified as Category 1 invasive species, from the north and south park borders. In addition to the clearing, a temporary irrigation system will be installed.

Already removing invasive species from the central and waterline portions of the park, commissioners opted to expedite the second phase, hoping to save taxpayer dollars with Maracore Builders still present on the site.

“The removal of all invasives now will save taxpayers in the future,” the district’s Executive Director Briann Harms said in a statement. “The growth of invasives is extraordinary. As the central portion of the hammock has been released from the grips of Brazilian pepper, we can begin to see the native species that will now have the opportunity to grow and create unique canopies over the pathways, and give residents a walk back in time to Florida’s natural state of being.”

Boca Raton Parks & Recreation will manage Ocean Strand Park’s day-to-day maintenance through district funding, ensuring the invasive vegetation does not return.

District commissioners also approved adjusting part of the Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant walking path, intending it to run closer to the northern end of the property. The planned path will be widened to 8 feet.

Phases 1 and 2 focused on 11 of the 14 acres located west of A1A between Spanish River Boulevard and Palmetto Park Road. Future phases are set to include the addition of parking, connectivity to the Atlantic Ocean side of the property as well as further programming.

With the decision to clear the additional invasive vegetation, the grand opening of Ocean Strand Park is tentatively slated for February 2021.