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Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics


St. Johns County, seven miles south of Jacksonville Beach and seven miles north of St. Augustine.


40,000 acres, including 11,500 acres of uplands and 25,000 acres of open ocean


Designated in 1985.

Guana Lake and beach dunes

Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve is unusual because it also includes uplands. 12,000 acres of uplands were purchased by the state of Florida in 1984 because of their environmental sensitivity and to protect several species of endangered and threatened plants and animals. Approximately 9500 acres are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and 2600 acres are managed by CAMA and houses the Environmental Education Center near Guana Dam. The preserve offers exceptional water related recreational activities. GTM Research Reserve provides four beach access areas to the Atlantic Ocean for swimming, surfing, and fishing. There are parking and boat launch facilities and access to both Guana Lake (Lake Ponte Vedra) and the Guana River for fishing, boating, shrimping, and crabbing. The upland areas offer great opportunities for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and birding.

Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve has a rich association of habitats including saltmarshes, a large artificial freshwater-to-brackish water lagoon, open ocean and a complete cross-section of a relatively undisturbed barrier island. This diversity provides habitat for a wide variety of resident and migratory wildlife. Bird rookeries, including a sizable breeding population of the endangered wood stork, are found within the preserve. The preserve also contains 13 miles of high-energy beach fronting the Atlantic Ocean with high dunes (35-40 feet) and stabilized with native coastal vegetation. These beaches provide breeding and nesting habitat for sea turtles and ground-nesting shorebirds such as the threatened least tern.

The preserve also contains archaeological and historic resources such as numerous aboriginal middens, burial grounds, and artifacts of aboriginal and Spanish colonial origin. This combination of natural and cultural resources provides an outstanding example of essentially natural Florida found nowhere else in the region.

The Guana River begins north of the preserve in Ponte Vedra Beach and flows south to join the Tolomato River. In 1957, an earthen dam was constructed across the Guana River creating Guana Lake, this wetland is approximately 2,400 acres, and provides both open water and marsh habitats. This shallow lagoonal lake extends 10 miles north from the dam. The drainage basin includes approximately 7,800 acres extending from the dam 17 miles north into Jacksonville Beach.

Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve

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Last updated: July 16, 2014

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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