Jeff Cole reported to local Historic City News reporters that the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board voted Tuesday to purchase 565 acres of land adjacent to the Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area in St. Johns County.
The 565 acre tract is located north of State Road 16 and east of Interstate 95, and will be part of the Twelve Mile Swamp Florida Forever Project Area, which currently includes 21,375 acres and is owned by the District and state of Florida.
The $3 million acquisition from West Augustine Land Co., will aid in the protection of extensive swamps that form the headwaters of, or directly influence, six tributaries of three major water bodies, including Turnbull, Mill and Sampson creeks, which discharge into the St. Johns River.
Moultrie Creek and Red House Branch discharge into the Matanzas River, and Stokes Creek discharges into the Tolomato River.
“The purchase helps protect water resources in an area that has experienced very high growth in recent years, and will provide access to existing District lands and be a future site for natural resource-based recreation,” says Governing Board Chairman Leonard Wood, of Fernandina Beach.
The District will manage the property, which is nearly 80 percent wetlands, as part of the Twelve Mile Swamp Conservation Area.
Funding for the purchase will come from mitigation funds from the Florida Department of Transportation for road impacts in the basin.