This website has been created to try and save what is left of the natural scrub area in Wickham Park from destruction. Many do not realize there still is a section of the 391 area county park in Melbourne Florida which is a true Florida scrub. Once upon a time a fair portion of Florida was just scrub, I suspect that most of Melbourne once was just scrub land. Scrub is usually made up of sand, palmettos and pines. There are only a few acres left of scrub in Wickham Park. Most of the other originally allocated conservation scrub land which was there when the park was created has been built on by the county. It is now a college, senior center, equestrian center, county maintenance buildings, archery range, dog park, limited access picnic/walk area, schools and ball parks. You can see the difference just by looking at this picture. It shows what the park looked like in 1984 (already being cut up) and 2009 (it is even more developed now)
Click to enlarge -
The park was originally set aside as an area to protect and preserve nature in Brevard. It was named after a county commissioner who was concerned about the environment and wanted an area to protect nature and give the residents of Brevard County a place to go and enjoy the outdoors. His name was Joe Wickham and he has passed on; I have a feeling he is turning over in his grave seeing what the county has done to his beloved Wickham Park!
We can not take back the areas of Wickham Park already given up by the county commissioners for what I call "sprawl". Brevard county has already allocated a fair portion of the existing scrub for a community center (done deal), now they want to sell most of the rest to the local college. We the people can protest this travesty, but the wildlife who actually live there have no means of protest! I started seriously visiting the park in 2008. I had been there a few time before that, for GEOcaching and guided hikes. I wish I had been able to visit the park back when it was created, it had to be a real natural wonderland. Since 2008 I have recorded most of my hikes and also have taken numerous photos. The wildlife I have run across was always wonderful. This included beautiful scrub jays, the cutest rabbits you can imagine, mighty land tortoises, as well as other song and wading birds. I would see raccoons and opossums occasionally along the trails and sometimes a harmless snake. I always felt a certain amount of sorrow for them because some people allow their dogs to run without a leash and the feral cats they must be careful of. They seem to be holding their own against this small group of ignorant people, but now the mighty county wants to destroy them entirely! I have written editorials about this in the past, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. I could never figure out why people who love nature continued to turn their backs on the wildlife in Wickham Park. Well, now before it is terminal (can not turn back development), please nature lovers stand up and come to the rescue of the wonderful creatures right in the middle of Melbourne!
The scrubs are not only there for the wildlife, but also for everyone. People come from all over the country (some from all over the world) to GEOCache in Wickham Park (see my link if you don't know about GEOCaching). There is a large scout camp on the edge of the scrub which is visited by many, many scouts and their families each year. Those scouts venture out into the scrub to learn about nature - priceless! Many bikers use the trails to test their mountain biking skills. There are a number of running clubs and running students who use the trails to get their legs in shape on the sand. Many people exercise their dogs walking the trails crisscrossing the scrub. Once this area is gone, many of those visitors will also be gone! I do not know how much tourist dollars would be lost.
It maybe to late for the Community Center, but it is not to late for the scrub land being sold! You ask what can you do - well, here are some things -
• Write a letter to Florida Today in support of the wildlife
• Send an email to your or any county commissioner - tell them to not sell Wickham Park, but to have the college use the land they already own in Palm Bay
• Attend the meeting in Viera on Oct 8th at 9:00 - let them know how you feel
• Tell your friends and relatives to do those things
Here is a scrub jay and tortoise I came across in the scrubs of Wickham Park (click to enlarge) -