Grassy Waters Conservancy is the City of West Palm Beach approved, non-profit supporting Grassy Waters Preserve… the original northern Everglades.
Historically, the Grassy Waters area was part of the northern Everglades watershed and headwaters of the Loxahatchee River. In the 1890’s, approximately 100 square miles was purchased by Henry Flagler to supply water to West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. In 1955, the City of West Palm Beach purchased what remained of that system. In 1964, the Florida Legislature recognized the area’s uniqueness and importance, and created the Water Catchment Area affording 19 square miles special protection. The U.S. EPA has identified portions of Grassy Waters as an Aquatic Resource of National Importance.
Today the Water Catchment Area along with other adjacent lands make up Grassy Waters Preserve, an approximately 24 square mile natural area located in and owned by the City of West Palm Beach. It remains the principle source of the water for West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and South Palm Beach, and is unique in that it is a surface water supply.
The Preserve is almost 50 percent of the land area of the City and contains miles of hiking and biking trails, a boardwalk, and a nature center which is currently being expanded, where the City provides environmental education programs.
The Preserve remains a pristine remnant of the original Everglades ecosystem and critical component in maintaining water levels for environmentally sensitive areas. In addition to its historical significance and key role in the regional water supply, it is one of the largest areas of undisturbed wetlands in Palm Beach County, allowing it to be a refuge for many threatened and endangered species including the Bald Eagle Wood Stork, and Everglades Snail Kite.
In 2014, the City designated the Grassy Waters Conservancy the sole non-profit organization to support the Preserve. The Conservancy founding partners are Nason, Yeager, Gerson, White & Lioce, P.A., and Florida Power & Light Company. In 2015, the Conservancy received its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation.
The Conservancy is a volunteer organization. Its mission is to support, promote and protect the Preserve, for environmental education and research, and nature-based experiences, while ensuring its ecological integrity and role as a regional water supply. To achieve its mission the Conservancy looks to raise funds from memberships, donations, and grants, and reach out to local, regional and national organizations to collaborate and partner with on its activities. Conservancy plans include the annual photo contest, photo group, art events and other educational programs and activities.
The Preserve creates a sense of place. It is recognized for sustaining a unique public water supply while supporting a diverse natural and cultural heritage with regional and national significance. These resources must be maintained for future generations.
The Conservancy goal is to provide appropriate high quality environmental education and research opportunities and enhance residents and visitors connection to and stewardship of the Preserve, the regional water supply, and greater Everglades ecosystem.