Size: This 7.43-acre tract consists of two parallel pineland parcels connecting the City of Coconut Creek's urban greenway trail system. The site, adjacent to the county's Helene Klein Pineland Preserve and Saw Palmetto Natural Area, buffers visitors from busy Hillsboro Boulevard and showcases the C-5 canal. This trio of natural areas, although separate and distinct, is critical for migratory birds for refuge, forage, and resting during long migration routes, as well as a habitat for nonmigratory bird species.
Habitat: This site consists primarily of mesic flatwoods, often seasonally wet but considered an upland natural community with mostly sandy soils and hardpan top layer. The protected natural area is representative of the pine flatwood communities once common in this region prior to urban development. The bisecting C-5 canal provides a freshwater component to the landscape and introduces additional wildlife to the pineland community.
Vegetation: The characteristic tree seen at this site is the South Florida slash pine, with mixed understory of saw palmetto, American beautyberry, and a variety of native pineland grasses. Dead slash pines, called "snags," are critical for several of woodpecker species, and birders love these areas for the chance they offer to see these active and often vocal birds.
Wildlife: Resident and migratory birds such as the great horned owl, pileated and red-bellied woodpecker, belted kingfisher, great egret, great blue heron, anhinga, several species of hawk, osprey, mottled ducks, and various wood warblers can be seen at West Creek. Among the freshwater fish documented in the canal are alligator gar and largemouth bass. Nearly 15 species of butterflies are prevalent throughout the site and commonly seen from the greenway.
Amenities: The site is accessible to pedestrians only, with parking available at nearby Helene Klein Pineland Preserve or, slightly farther away, at Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area, both managed by Broward County Parks and Recreation Division. A six-foot-wide paved trail - part of the Coconut Creek multiuse greenway trail system - runs through the southern end of the property and features a 100-foot-long pedestrian bridge that crosses the C-5 canal. Interpretive signs, benches, and a large, shaded gazebo are provided for leisurely wildlife observation and resting along the greenway. Vantage points are especially good along the bridge, and visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars. This section of the greenway is referred to as the Long Pine Greenway. Wildlife observation is encouraged, although bicycles, inline skates, skateboards, and motorized vehicles are prohibited on the trails. As with all natural area sites, pets are not allowed.
EcoAction Days (October through May): Volunteer workdays help keep our natural areas clear of garbage and invasive plants. They're held on the fourth Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon. Closed-toe shoes are required, and long pants and long sleeves are suggested. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own gloves, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, and drinking water. Ages 13 to 17 must have a parent or guardian's signature on the registration form prior to participating. Volunteers under the age of 13 may participate, but only if accompanied by a parent or guardian. High school students can use the hours from these workdays toward their required community service hours. Check the volunteer Web page for the latest workday registration form. Preregister by calling Quiet Waters Park at 954-357-5100.
A Little History: Although West Creek Pineland is representative of a typical mesic flatwoods habitat, it was undoubtedly changed forever by the introduction of the intricate South Florida canal and ditch systems in the early 1900s. In 1912, three years before Broward County was carved out of Palm Beach and Dade counties, the location of the future natural area was owned by the land development company Palm Beach Farms. Ownership of both the east and west parcels that now make up the site changed hands several times from the 1950s to the 1980s, as the general area became increasingly developed. Both parcels were purchased separately by Broward County in 2004, through the 2000 Safe Parks and Land Preservation Bond program. Florida Communities Trust, a state land acquisition grant program, was also a funding partner in the purchase of West Creek.
The natural area is accessible from Broward County Transit Routes #14, #31, and #48.
West Creek Pineland Natural Area
4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd., Coconut Creek, FL 33073