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6 - Doris Davis Forman Wilderness Preserve

You are standing on Parkside Drive just south of Riverglades Elementary School.  The Doris Davis Forman Wilderness Preserve is the ideal classroom to foster an understanding and appreciation of nature not only for adults but also for our youth. In fact, the Preserve’s planners thought it so important for students to have access to the Preserve, they not only designed a ‘boards’ walkway throughout the Preserve but also built one for their ease of access from the nature pavilion within the Preserve directly to Riverglades Elementary School. The pavilion was donated by Riverglades PTA with the intent to serve as an outdoor classroom.

The Preserve in our ‘front yard’ is one of the few nature preserves in northwest Broward. Located on 20 acres of natural growth composed of native trees and plants with a plethora of wildlife, funds were provided in 1989 for the purchase and preservation of this tract when Broward County voters approved the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Bond Issue Program. This bond issue insured that ‘natural lands’ could be established as ‘preserves’ throughout Broward County. Under the leadership of then Vice Mayor Robert Marks and the support of  Mayor Sal Pagliara and the Parkland City Commission:

  • funds were appropriated,
  • the Forman Family was approached about preserving their 20 acres rather than building on them,
  • an agreement was finalized amongst the Forman Family, the City of Parkland and Broward County,
  • restoration of the area began (taking out all non-native vegetation),
  • a plan for a walkway and pavilion were designed, and
  • the construction started.

In March 2001, the dedication of Doris Davis Forman Preserve occurred with city and county dignitaries, members of the Forman Family and Parkland residents in attendance. What an historic day it was!

As you walk through the preserve, you’re immediately drawn to the rich smells of the indigenous trees and plants mixing with the moist earth. The harmony of wild bird sounds throughout our Preserve and the soft scampering of tiny paws of raccoons or opossum in their habitat, provides one the feeling of being ‘one with nature’.  The tranquility of the area allows the visitor to enjoy the presence of the natural habitat which is similar today to what it was hundreds or even thousand of years ago. We are all most fortunate to have a natural environment preserved for us in our ever-expanding city.


As you continue your walk along the curving elevated walkway, you can see the natural life cycle of the vegetation, from seedling to decaying remnant and every stage in between. Just before the walkway turns to the south, a well-placed bench appears. This is a perfect, peaceful and serene location to just sit, listen, smell, see and enjoy nature.

During your walk, you come across a few colorful information boards. These panels are throughout the Preserve informing and educating the walker as to the foliage and wildlife encountered. The deeper you go into the Preserve, the further from the twenty-first century you get until you see the backs and then the roofs of some houses in Ternbridge, when abruptly you’re returned to the present.

As you walk, you become attracted to the different shades of greens that play off one another and contrast so well with the grey-brown bark of the sky-reaching pond cypress. Look up into the sky and notice the air plants that have attached themselves to the branches of these beautiful, giant trees. Their presence gives the impression of a ‘palm-like’ look to the branches. The beauty radiates differently throughout the day. Depending upon the time and the season, the Preserve’s grandeur changes as the sun (or haze) shifts the hues, tones and even the colors themselves, providing you with a distinctive way of observing the natural beauty of this area. 

As you continue your walk, consider how fortunate we are, here in Parkland, to have this magnificent 20-acre Wilderness Preserve. This splendid natural environment is what has been consistently destroyed to build and expand the City. The Doris Davis Forman Wilderness Preserve is an absolute treasure!  Once we build on the land and destroy the natural vegetation, we only have memories, and possibly photos, to remind us what the land was like before it was changed. Our Preserve could have been lost, if not for the farsighted planning and tireless efforts of the Forman family, Robert Marks and a number of other county and city leaders to preserve a most important historical and natural resource for the enjoyment of our present and future citizens. 

Do yourself a favor, take the time to walk through the Doris Davis Forman Wilderness Preserve. Not just once, but over and over again. Go alone, bring your spouse and, most definitely, bring children, to enjoy and experience the ever-changing artistic pallet of ‘Mother Nature’. Our Preserve is a treasure which is equal to, or exceeds, a visit to an exhibition of nature’s artists. Why is a visit to our Preserve superior? Because of its superb beauty, serenity and continual changes; because of its close proximity to residences and because it’s Nature at its ‘Florida Best’. This is our Preserve to enjoy again and again.

Written by James Weiss; Archive Retrieval by Pierre Hodot; 
Edited by Ira Goldman and Linda Briggs; 
Parkland Historical Society President Jeff Schwartz;