Patrick Painter oversees nearly half the area of the city of West Palm Beach. But those 24 square miles don’t have a single home, or fire hydrant, or traffic light. Painter is the city’s environmental resource manager. His primary job is to oversee the Grassy Waters Preserve, a protected area of the original Everglades that provides water for more than 100,000 city and suburban households who are customers of West Palm Beach’s utility system.
In August, the city began a push to make Grassy Waters South Florida’s first “eco-tourism destination.” As with other parts of the Everglades, which once covered most of the southern peninsula of Florida, Grassy Waters hosts a myriad of birds, land mammals and reptiles, including alligators. But the city also has to be careful that it not become too popular, lest Grassy Waters be overrun.
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