WATCH: Lori Wilson Park Hammock and Boardwalk in Cocoa Beach Named in Honor of Phyllis and Howard Mansfield
By Janice Scott // August 30, 2022
Green space gets a boost!
WATCH: Green space gets a boost! The Lori Wilson Park Hammock and Boardwalk in Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast has a new name – The “Mansfield Maritime Hammock.”
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – The Lori Wilson Park Hammock and Boardwalk in Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast has a new name – The “Mansfield Maritime Hammock” as the dedication honoring Phyllis and Howard Mansfield and the naming of the maritime hammock was held Friday, Aug. 19.
On hand for the ceremony were Phyllis’ friends including Jim Stahl and members from the Florida and Space Coast Audubon Societies, Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik, former Cocoa Beach Mayor Janice Scott, members of Brevard County’s Tourism Development Office, Parks & Recreation Department and Central Beach Advisory Board and the District 2 Commission Office.
“Our wildlife and habitats are an important part of what makes the Space Coast so special, so we’re proud to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the Mansfields with this dedication,” said Peter Cranis, Executive Director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.
“Their inspiring work saved this incredible habitat and it remains a favorite for locals and visitors alike.”
The Mansfields were honored for years of tireless work to create and maintain an inviting place for local and migratory birds and a quiet nature spot in the last maritime hammock along Florida’s east coast that’s easily accessible to the public.
They began working in Lori Wilson Maritime Hammock in 1990. Living near State Road A1A for over 25 years, Phyllis visited this hammock almost daily to observe, count, lead bird tours, and submit her observations to birding websites and the Cornell University eBird.com website.
The Mansfields removed exotic plants and litter from the hammock, cleaned and filled bird feeders, maintained a watering pond and reported species to bird watchers.
As a child growing up on a farm and being active in the 4H Club have kept flora and fauna foremost in Phyllis’ spirit, inspiring her to work tirelessly in the outdoors – her favorite place to spend the day.
For decades, with the help of a group called the Cocoa Beach Tree People, Phyllis could be seen planting native plants and trees, weeding, mulching, and eradicating noxious invasive plants such as Brazilian Pepper throughout this hammock and Cocoa Beach.
She promoted the importance of native plants which she realized that once they were established, did not need constant care, water or fertilizer in order to thrive, such as wax myrtle, oaks, Florida cedar and Palatka Holly, and planted hundreds of native plants and trees.
Phyllis observed that migratory birds that used to crowd our areas are far fewer than in past years when this maritime hammock was one of the best migratory bird destinations in Florida.
A well-known spot in Cocoa Beach, a pocket park on Minutemen was dedicated to Phyllis in 1998 where she was often seen at the edge of the Banana River by all who traveled Minutemen Causeway each morning.
When the Mansfields downsized after 54 years in Cocoa Beach and moved just across the Banana River to Merritt Island, Phyllis still finds her way back to walk the beach and look for birds most mornings.
“This maritime hammock is a wonderful part of the greater Lori Wilson Park, and I hope my friends – county residents, birders and volunteers – will all work to ensure this maritime hammock’s wildlife habitat will be restored by removing and replacing invasive plants with desirable bird attractors and a water feature,” said Phyllis.
This maritime hammock is named to honor the inspiring and heartfelt efforts of Phyllis and the late Howard Mansfield, who toiled as volunteers for decades to protect this habitat for the birds that traveled through and nested here was approved by the Brevard County District 2 Merritt Island/Beaches Recreation Advisory Board in August of 2021, and Board of County Commissioners.