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 Southeast Florida Aquatic Preserves Project Spotlight

"From the time of the Ais Indians, the Indian River Lagoon has been and remains an important feature that continues to shape the lives of those that reside near it, recreate within it, and earn a livelihood from it."

Laura Herren, Aquatic Preserve Manager

Location:

Southeast Florida in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties

Acreage

The Vero Beach to Ft. Pierce Aquatic Preserve is 12 miles long and encompasses 11,000 acres. The Jensen Beach to Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve is 37 miles long and encompasses 22,000 acres.

Contact:

Brian Sharpe
Aquatic Preserve Manager
3300 Lewis Street
Fort Pierce, FL 34981
(772) 429-2995
Brian.Sharpe@dep.state.fl.us

Transcript
Credits

Key Accomplishments

  • Community water quality and shoreline concerns have been addressed through a series of management initiatives including larval oyster recruitment, survivorship, and reef formation studies.
  • The coordination of a volunteer-based spoil island enhancement program designed to improve resource quality for recreation, education, and native wildlife has been considered by the community and preserve management as a great success.
  • A partnership with St. Johns River Water Management District has benefited seagrass species diversity and density monitoring efforts between Fort Pierce and St. Lucie Inlets.
  • A Coastal Zone Management grant award has provided for the identification and production of engineer drawings for five potential Indian River Lagoon seagrass restoration projects.
  • CAMA’s support of restoration works of a St. Lucie County spoil island has contributed to the creation of nearly 10 acres of mangrove and seagrass habitat.

Volunteers of all ages support CAMA’s Spoil Island Enhancement Project.

Spoil Island Enhancement

Spoil islands, once state-owned submerged lands, were created in the mid-1900s with the creation of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Since then, these islands have become popular recreational areas, educational outlets, and home to many native species of plants and animals. The colonization and survivorship of native vegetation, which is necessary to support native wildlife, has been heavily influenced by the high density of invasive, exotic species like Brazilian pepper and Australian pine. Dedicated volunteers assist Southeast Aquatic Preserves Field Office staff each month between October and April with enhancement activities such as trail blazing, campsite creation, shoreline stabilization efforts, exotic species removal, creation of educational kiosks, and biological monitoring. A volunteer appreciation day picnic is held each May. Funding for island enhancement is provided by the Southeast Aquatic Preserves Field Office and Florida Inland Navigation District.

Quick Facts about the Southeast Florida Aquatic Preserves
Map of Aquatic Preserves along the South Indian River

Seagrass bed

Many marine organisms spend a portion of their lives seeking food and shelter in seagrass beds, such as this turtle grass.

Mangrove, showing the underwater roots

Due to their ability to efficiently dissipate wave energy and provide essential fish habitat, red mangroves are commonly used in natural shoreline stabilization projects in the southern Indian River Lagoon.

Visitors enjoying a spoil island

Recreational spoil islands are ideal settings for camping, snorkeling, picnics, and fishing.

  • The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in the nation.
  • One of 28 estuaries in the country in Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, the Indian River Lagoon is the only estuary with this designation (1990) on the east coast of Florida.
  • Supports seagrass beds, mangroves, drift algae, salt marshes, oyster bars, tidal flats, and spoil islands which serve as important spawning and/or nursery grounds for commercially important species, such as shrimp, groupers, snappers, snook and drum.
  • Popular activities include boating, recreational and commercial fishing, wildlife observation, snorkeling, and photography.
  • Spoil islands provide visitors with camping, fishing, picnicking, hiking, snorkeling, and birding opportunities.

Last updated: June 28, 2013

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094 (phone) / 850-245-2110 (fax)
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