Every now and then, you need a quiet escape into the wild, and these islands are the last wild place in Palm Beach,” says local conservationist and filmmaker Katie Carpenter, one of the volunteer leaders of the Audubon Islands Sanctuary restoration project.
These islands, located in the Lake Worth Lagoon between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, have been untouched by development under the watchful protection of three Palm Beach families—the Binghams, the Boltons and the Blossoms—for many years. The islands are home to over 89 species of wading birds, migratory songbirds and raptors—not to mention native vegetation including gumbo-limbo, seagrape and black mangrove, to name a few. The islands also act as an important buffer for the city’s coastal communities from storms, wind and dangerous surfs.
Carpenter, along with longtime Palm Beach friend and architect Campion Platt, has worked with Audubon Florida to step up efforts to give the islands the tender lover and care they have so badly needed. Carpenter and Platt have been instrumental in raising awareness, funds and hosting local cleanup days to move these efforts along. “We feel so lucky to be a part of this restoration project,” Carpenter enthusiastically responds. “We’re learning native trees and plants from Audubon’s master botanist and subtropical wading birds from Audubon ornithologists.” Adds Platt, “And more and more, we are finding our neighbors and friends are getting excited about the islands, and when the restoration is complete, it will be the first beautiful look at Palm Beach as you come across the renovated Southern Bridge. We want to make sure it’s a truly dazzling sight.”