Honoring A Fabulous Flagler Female During Women’s History Month

Take a hike and celebrate the legacy of Betty Steflik, one Flagler’s fabulous, feisty, focused females. Let’s start along the shoreline and visit some of the places she helped preserve.
Many Palm Coasters and visitors have come to enjoy a unique coquina outcropping known as “The Rocks.” It became part of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park after this visionary, a Flagler Beach City Commissioner for 12 years, obtained grants to purchase 50 acres of shoreline east of A1A opposite the park’s entrance. Steflik was elected in 1979 and began campaigning to protect the beach area in 1980.
Betty dedicated herself to protecting this fragile environment for the next 25 years. In a 2004 Daytona Beach Journal Memorial tribute fellow City Commissioner Jack Kelly described her as “more than a visionary, she was a doer.” In reference to “The Rocks” he stated, “She recognized that it was a very unique beach…She found the goals and she stayed with them.”
Daughter Bette stated, “She saw a need, way before its time, way before any environmental measures were popular, to look at the coastlines, and realized that the dunes needed protecting.” Thanks to her efforts the county secured grants to install 27 dune walkovers on the beach.
A few blocks inland from the coast you’ll find the pristine salt marsh, maritime hammock and black mangroves Steflik is also credited with preserving. She initiated the purchase of 350 acres of wetlands originally known as Flagship Harbor Park. The county park is now named the Betty Steflik Memorial Preserve. The picnic pavilion is also named in her honor.
Take a comfortable stroll along trails and raised boardwalks to view wading and migratory birds thriving along with other wildlife in their natural habitat.
The preserve’s entrance along South Daytona Avenue is adjacent to Wickline Park, a small recreational area next to the Wickline Senior Center. Steflik also helped acquire the funding necessary to restore the Center, once the site of the first and only free-standing elementary school in Flagler Beach. She reportedly was one of the few people who had not given up hope of restoring the building despite its dilapidated condition.
According to Kelly, “You just couldn’t turn her down…if you did she would just call you back.”
Sustaining Florida’s heritage and natural beauty “for our children and for our community to enjoy” was her focus. Thanks to this fabulous, feisty female current and future generations will benefit from her determination to protect and preserve the special places that help make our community so unique.