Green Turtle Hammock

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Islamorada Community alliance

Advocacy For Residents, Education and Preservation


Have you been to the Green Turtle Hammock Preserve yet? Do you know what it is and where it is?

The 8.7-acre Green Turtle Hammock Preserve (“GTH”) was acquired by Islamorada in 2006 with grant funds from the State of Florida’s Florida Communities Trust program. Entry is free.

This property at 81224 Overseas Hwy was once the home of Councilman Henry Rosenthal. In the late 1970s, Henry bought the portion of the property where there was a lovely home situated on a picturesque boat basin leading through mangroves to Florida Bay. It was Henry’s home for just over 20 years. Soon after purchasing this home on the water, Henry was able to add the section of the property along the highway where the Russell Cottage is located. The Russell Cottage had been moved from the site where the Islamorada Post Office now sits and was the home of Eddie and Eta Sweeting. 

Later, Henry added the vacant tracts both north and south of the two homes, giving him a combined 8.7 acres… a magnificent rockland tropical hammock habitat, unique to South Florida and particularly the Florida Keys. 

The rockland hammock habitat, once common in the Upper and Middle Keys, has rapidly disappeared as the Keys have been developed and hammocks cleared. Over the last 20 years, a significant amount of conservation land has been purchased for preservation in Islamorada, largely thanks to Land Acquisition Advisory Committee comprised of volunteer citizens working with village staff. The LAAC was disbanded around 2008. GTH is one such treasure.                                                          

Since the 2006 purchase, the Village has been working to fulfill the terms of the Management Plan required by the grants used to acquire the preserve. The Management Plan states that Green Turtle Hammock is to be managed only for the conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources and for environmental education and compatible outdoor recreation.

On the aerial photo, you can see Henry’s former home, though it was demolished by the Village in early 2021.

A canoe launch is now located at the boat basin. A short hiking trail winds through the hammock.  (See trail map)   At the location where Henry's old home once sat, more improvements are planned for the property, including an elevated pavilion close to the water.  

The preserve is open to the public from 8 AM to 5 PM daily. Leashed pets are allowed, but be aware there are crocodile warnings.

It is worth a trip through the inconspicuous gates on the bayside of U.S. One just north of MM 81, to take the circular drive past the Russell Cottage and the boat basin to see this special tropical hammock preserve.

 The Russell Cottage, now Home of Florida Bay ForeverSave Our Water

The historic pioneer Russell Cottage, just inside the gates near U.S. One, was recently leased to Florida Bay Forever Save Our Water, an organization whose mission is educating the public about the issues that threaten Florida Bay and Everglades National Park, vital resources in our area. It is the perfect fit to fulfill the requirements of the Management Plan required by with the Florida Communities Trust.

The Florida Bay Forever group is expected to run daily operations out of the Russell Cottage and agreed to operate within the guidelines of the Management Plan. The group will be seeking funding for capital improvements to the facility, including improvements to the Russell Cottage and adjacent parking area for public access, completing improvements to the nature trail with new interpretive signage, as well as organizing and hosting educational and interpretive programming at the facility.

Improvements, based on these renderings, are currently being engineered as of April 2021 to add more improvements at the Green Turtle Hammock: ADA-compliant kayak launch, an ADA-compliant dock, improved access from the upland area to the waterfront, a waterfront pavilion/observation tower, a restroom, and an improved parking area. 

Our vision

To enhance the community of Islamorada by preserving the quality of life of the residents as well as the beauty and vitality of the native ecosystems and to stop any further degradation of our community from over-development.

Mission statement

To provide the Islamorada residents with information about events occurring in our community that will impact our quality of life, preservation of our native ecosystems, land development, lawful and transparent governance.


Your tax deductible donations allows the ICA to keep you informed about important events that will impact and help protect our quality of life, our neighborhoods, property values and native ecosystems. Your donations make this possible and are most appreciated.

Contact Us

Islamorada Community Alliance

P.O. Box 1507

Tavernier, FL  33070-1507

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