2014 Premiere Issue

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Page 145 of 147

PARADISE REDISCOVERED REAR VIEW Birch State Park gives a nod to the past while looking toward its future. BY TRACY ROLOFF PHOTO COURTESY OF FLORIDA MEMORY It has been 70 years since nature lover Hugh Taylor Birch donated his 180-acre coastal property to the state of Florida. He was a prominent Chicago attorney, a real estate investor and a born naturalist. His gift is a living testament that reflects his passion for nature, wildlife and the intrinsic features of the land "as it once was." Over the years, despite a burgeoning city around it, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has remained a special place in the hearts of those who have enjoyed it for its natural beauty and vital ecology. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Birch State Park has unique natural communities, including coastal dune lakes, maritime hammocks, an estuarine tidal swamp and 400 feet of maintained beach. Since the park opened to the public in 1949, millions have reconnected with the natural world. From the bygone era of the park's scenic train to the seaside cabanas that lined A1A, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is still a destination for escaping the mundane and getting close to nature. The park invites guests to hike the hammock trails, picnic along the Intracoastal, rent a canoe or kayak, relax on the beach or take a Segway tour. There is something for everyone to explore within the paradise that was once Hugh Taylor Birch's home. RETROSPECTIVE: A sunbather at Birch State Park in this archival photo. 144 Venice

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