By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In honor of Earth Day, CBS4 took a stroll through local parks.

Officials at Secret Woods Park in Broward County said they have seen the effects of our changing climate up close, and we all need to do our part to keep our green spaces pristine.

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When you take a walk through Secret Woods Park in Dania Beach, you would not guess you are still in the middle of an urban area.

“If you look at it on a map, it is surrounded by development, so everything we do around it affects it,” said Linda Briggs Thompson, the Environmental Program Manager for Broward County Parks.

Walking across a wooden bridge, she pointed out: “When this was constructed, the king tides didn’t get this high.”

Briggs Thompson said they have noticed a troubling trend on their trails.

“Because of sea-level rise, as the oceans rise, the places that did not flood before now are flooding. We’ve seen that firsthand here at Secret Woods. We’ve seen the boardwalk flood, especially in wetter years.”

She said 2020 was one of those years.

Though the sea level rises slowly, they are seeing the effects.

“We’re looking at about 8 inches over 100 years,” she explains. “It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in Florida where our elevation is low, that has a significant impact.”

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Now, they are doing what they can to keep the local ecosystem viable.

“As we get sea-level rise, and as wetlands in the east part of the county are becoming saltier wetlands, we need to make sure the plants and animals are as healthy as possible. One of our focuses here would be to remove invasive species.”

Invasive species can compete with native vegetation.

Invasive plants can come in from the rising tide, the wind, or even us.

“This is called Surinam cherry,” Briggs Thompson says as she holds up the plant.

“It’s another invasive species. It’s another that comes from our yards, and, when it comes into the natural areas, it can crowd out some of the native species.”

While Earth Day may help highlight the importance, there are things we can learn every day.

“Throughout the year, we can learn more about these parks, learn how to protect them, and just keep them the jewels that they are in our county,” she says.

This weekend, you can volunteer to take part in their Eco Action days.

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Karli Barnett