Protecting the Audubon Islands in Style

Thursday, March 30, 2017
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Tatiana and Campion Platt, Katie Carpenter, Wendy Bingham and Eric Draper hosted a cocktail party to create awareness about the restoration of the Audubon Islands Sanctuary, a series of six islands in the Lake Worth Lagoon between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. 


Audubon Florida hopes to recreate what was once a paradise protected from development for centuries. Seventy years ago, herons, egrets and pelicans nesting on the islands led the Audubon Society to designate them as bird sanctuaries. Prominent local families leased the islands to Audubon, which is now seeking to restore their natural beauty. 


The islands feature some of the most beloved trees of antique Florida habitats, including the gumbo limbo, paradise, mastic, caper, buttonwood, ironwood, cabbage, palm and even crabwood trees. But over the years, non-native invasive plants and trees have infested the islands. Restoration requires removal of these invasive species and replanting with more native specimens to allow the islands to thrive once again as bird sanctuaries, and as a natural resource for the Palm Beach community. 


Guests included Pamela O’Connor, Russell Kelley, Lily Holt and Patrick Dillon; Michelle and Peter Farmer; Robin and Robert Leacock, Mary Morse, Toby Pell, Howard Cox, Bill Mulroy, Kathleen and Lew Crampton, Susan Van Pelt, Cameron Lickel, Morgan O’Neill, Carol Timmis, Gaida and Matt Zirkelbach, Hildegarde Mahoney, Ashley and Pierce O’Neil and Bob Merrill, all of whom have seen the islands from a distance and now relish the opportunity to be part of their restoration. 


In February, the Town of Palm Beach granted a permit for the removal of invasive plant species on Bingham Island, the largest island of the six. The goal of the restoration project is to return the islands to their original state in a phased approach in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Southern Bridge project by the Florida Department of Transportation. Attendees were given the opportunity to donate and select a tree to be planted on Bingham Island.


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by Kelly LaffeyPhotographed by Billy Farrall