Vaill Point Park

The Moultrie Creek / Intracoastal Park (Vaill Point) contains 23 acres and is bordered on the east by the Intracoastal Waterway and on the north by Moultrie Creek, accessible from US 1 via Vaill Point Road and Sturdivant Road. This site constitutes the last remaining parcel from an 80-acre parent tract owned by the Vaill Family since 1918. Over the years the Vaill Family utilized this site for passive recreational activities such as family picnics and horseback riding.

Environment

Elevated on a geologically unique bluff (20-25 feet on the east side) over looking the Intracoastal Waterway and Moultrie Creek, many panoramic and vista views can be observed of the surrounding waterways from the densely vegetated plant communities containing plant species characteristic of North Florida. These native vegetative communities vary with the topography and consist of Live Oak/Upland Temperate Hammock, Temperate Hardwoods, Oak/Pine Forest and Saltwater Marsh. The Bluff (Mesic Uplands) is contained within the Live Oak / Upland Temperate Hammock and the Temperate Hammock communities which aligns the entire northern and northeastern boundaries (approximately 1146 linear feet) of the site along both the Moultrie Creek and the Matanzas River. The Bluff (Mesic Uplands) vegetative community is currently classified as imperiled in Florida and according to the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) there are only 19 other locations in the State of Florida where this occurs. The very high quality native vegetative communities consist of mature canopy trees and densely vegetated under stories. There are only a few locations in the uplands and along the wetlands where re-vegetation with native vegetative communities needs to occur. Both the uplands and the wetlands areas where erosion has occurred will need to be re-vegetated with native vegetation. The bluff is of particular interest in the Live Oak community where existing oaks, magnolia and hickory trees extend to the actual bluff edges.

Species

The Saltwater Marsh community contains habitat for several State and Federal listed wading birds including the least tern, least bitten, yellow-crowned night heron, reddish egret, snowy egret, tri-colored heron, brown pelican, bald eagle and the white ibis. Both the least tern and the bald eagle are listed as Threatened (T) and the brown pelican, little blue heron, reddish egret and tricolor heron are listed as Species of Special Concern (SSC) by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). The Live Oak / Upland Temperate Hammock consisting of large pines lying along the western bluff of Moultrie Creek provides nesting and/or roosting sites for several State and Federal listed species including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and osprey. The Oak / Pine Forest Community currently has two inactive gopher tortoise burrows. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) list the gopher tortoise as a Species of Special Concern (SSC).

Recreational Opportunities

Future uses of the site will be limited to the facilities such as hiking trails, nature observation platforms (2), picnicking, canoe launching area, fishing dock, environmental / archaeological interpretive signage, playground area, multi-purpose area access road and parking area. The facilities will be developed in a manner that allows the general public reasonable access for observation and appreciation of the natural resources on the project site without causing harm to these resources. The Moultrie Creek / Intracoastal Tract will be managed only for the conservation, protection and enhancement of the natural, archaeological resources and outdoor recreation compatible with the natural resources.

Acquisition of this project site, will provide this community with a much needed neighborhood/ community park; will provide additional access to the Moultrie and Intracoastal Waterways; will improve the surrounding water quality; will connect St. Johns County´s Northeast Blueway – Phase II with Duval County´s Blueway – Phase I; will promote a local canoe blueway trail and provide additional environmental resources protection and will further the previously established initiates started by NOAA / DEP through the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR); the DEP’s program through Guana, Tolomato, Matanzas Shellfish Harvesting Task Force and the SJRWMD’s program through Northern Coastal Basins Program. All of these project site characteristics, as stated above, are consistent with the St. Johns County 2015 Comprehensive Plan’s initiatives.