The EEL program proves to be a boon for Brevard County

A humpback whale skull at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge Barrier Island Sanctuary Management and Education Center, Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Explore the EEL.

What eel? Not sure I want to!

Well, we’re talking about Brevard’s Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL), not the slippery marine creature.

In fact, our community has been farsighted in identifying and preserving these important lands as Brevard County continues to grow. First established in 1990, this land acquisition and management program acquires environmentally sensitive lands for conservation, recreation, and environmental education. EEL protects more than 28,000 acres of uplands and wetlands open to the public.

These sanctuaries provide homes for at least 130 threatened or endangered species and reduces nutrients entering the lagoon along 37 miles of shoreline. EEL is recognized nationally as a model of environmental stewardship!

Best of all, we get to enjoy it.

The 33 natural preserves are scattered across the county from the Scottsmoor Flatwoods in the North to the Micco Scrub and Grant Flatwoods Sanctuaries in the South. Each offers a range of recreational options from hiking to biking, fishing, special exhibits and other opportunities.

Wildlife is one of the great treats. Yes, bobcats have been spotted, but more frequent are scrub jays, ospreys, gopher tortoises and bald eagles.

Sea turtles are a big hit and the EEL Barrier Island Sanctuary, located in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, is the educational center for Turtle Walks. If you haven’t been, it’s a must for next year.

EEL only buys lands from willing sellers; it does not condemn or restrict private lands. It is operated by the county and the sites draw visitors from Brevard as well as visiting tourists. An estimated 170,000 use the hiking trails annually.

A recent economic analysis showed the current value of the EEL Program to citizens is $494 million. It is supported by 0.2085 mil ad valorem tax on land value, passed first in 1990 and again in 2004. We’ll need to support it again when it comes up for renewal on the 2022 ballot.

See more at