Southeast Intracoastal Waterway Park

Southeast Intracoastal Waterway Park contains 114 acres and is located between Crescent Beach and Marineland on Anastasia Island in southeastern St. Johns County, lying between S.R. A1A and Matanzas River. S.R. A1A defines the eastern boundary of this site, was designated as a National Scenic Byway (known as A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Highway) by the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) in 2002. The Matanzas River defines the western boundary of this site and this river lies within the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Natural Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) boundary, the SJRWMD´s Northern Coastal Basins (NCB) Surface Water Improvement Management (SWIM) Program area and this is one of the last few remaining areas in St. Johns County open to shellfish harvesting (classified as Class II water by DEP). This project is made up of two parcels Boyd (112 acres) and Roth tract (2 acres).

Environment

The vegetative communities on these parcels are relatively rare and rapidly diminishing coastal ecosystems and are pristine areas of the basin very rich in bi-diversity. The predominate natural communities on these parcels consist of coastal scrub oak (uplands) and bay, estuary and saltwater marsh (wetlands). The upland portions of these sites consists mainly of coastal scrub oak, between "S.R. A1A and marshlands, with includes such species as sand live oak, myrtle oak, wax myrtle, saw palmetto, yaupon holly, saltbush and bracken fern. One of the vegetated natural communities, scrub oak", is listed as "imperiled" by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) because of its rarity or vulnerability due to extinction.

On the wetland portion of these sites are predominate vegetative natural communities consist of a mixture of saltwater marsh community, bay and estuary vegetative natural communities. The bay and estuary vegetative natural communities are contiguous to the Matanzas River and comprises of a mixture of smooth cordgrass and black needlerush. The Saltwater Marsh (wetlands) is located between the coastal scrub community and the bay-estuary vegetative natural communities and consists of smooth cordgrass, black needlerush, sea oxeye, black mangrove, glasswort and saltwort. The salt marsh and estuarine communities on these parcels are part of a much larger estuarine system in southern St. Johns County, which has been identified by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) as providing critical habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including listed species.

Species

Because the Matanzas River lies adjacent to these parcels, the river waters function as wildlife nurseries for the young of many species (including young turtles, oysters, etc.) and provides protection (shelter) needed for the young species to mature. Listed species that may use the uplands/wetland habitats for foraging or nesting on these parcels include the Anastasia beach mouse, Florida mouse, Florida manatee, eastern brown pelican, snowy egret, white ibis, American oystercatcher, black skimmer, Florida scrub jay, little blue heron, osprey, piping plover, tricolored heron, wood stork, southeastern American kestrel, eastern indigo snake and gopher tortoise.

Historical / Archaeological

There are at least ten known historical/archaeological sites on or within the vicinity of these parcels, with two known archaeological sites located on this site. These two known sites are currently enrolled on the Florida Master Site File listing. The Florida Master Site File has the two sites listed as, Sand Dollar Midden I (8SJ03131), which is an artifact scatter and shell midden, dating from the first St. Johns Period and Sand Dollar Midden II (8SJ03132), a coquina shell and shell midden dating between the Orange and St. Johns Period. U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service´s, Fort Matanzas National Monument is located just south of the project site. The National Park Service is interested in maintaining the rural character within the immediate surrounding areas so the National Monument visitors can visualize life as it once was for a Spanish soldier during the 18th Century.

Amenities

The proposed site amenities include nature trails, boardwalks, scenic views of the Matanzas River and tributaries, scenic outlooks and interpretive displays that emphasize and promote the passive recreational characteristics of this site. Interpretative signage displays will be located along the park trails informing the public about the natural systems, archaeological and historical amenities on these parcels.

Physical improvements will include facilities such as hiking trails, nature interpretation, picnicking, fishing, restrooms/visitor center, entrance road/parking, security, historic restoration and a playground. Acquisition of this park is needed in this high growth region of the County (SE); therefore, in 1998 the County applied for funding from the Florida Communities Trust.