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Long-awaited nature site opens

If you've traveled along University Drive in Miramar recently, you may have seen something new: Land that had been fenced off for more than a decade is now open, and all that nature is there for the taking.

Miramar Pineland, a 157-acre park that includes two nature trails, wetlands and pine forests, opened March 1 after more than two decades of work, waiting and restoration.

Broward County bought the site's first 97 acres in 1989 as part of an effort to protect environmentally sensitive land. Since then, it has cobbled together other tracts, including 52 acres in 2000 as a result of a county parks bond.

In the 1900s, two men tried to grow sugar cane on the land. In the 1940s, they sold the property to a dairy, which used it as grazing land. It is called Miramar Pineland because of its slash pines (also known as Dade County pines) that naturalists say could be 100 years old.

The area, within sight of SunLife Stadium, had been open and accessible to visitors, including all-terrain vehicle riders, in the 1970s and 1980s. County parks officials, discouraged by all the ruts, closed it off to the public when they bought it in 1989, so the ground could heal. Budget problems prompted the county to continually push back the opening dates.

The park also includes a covered playground, a children's splash pad and rental shelters. A second phase will feature space for nature exhibits and a meeting room.

The park is at 3600 S. University Drive. Go to

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