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Historical Background of Mosquito Lagoon Quick Topics

For some 10,000 years before European settlers arrived, indigenous people of Florida inhabited this east central coastal region. Until the early 20th century, the east central Florida coastline was strewn with ancient mounds of clam and oyster shells that testified to the presence of these natives. Timucuan Indian artifacts surrounding the Mosquito Lagoon indicate it was a food source of even greater importance to early inhabitants than to today's residents. Most mounds have been destroyed and the shell used for roadways and building fill. Shellfish harvesting, fishing and hunting game were important consumptive uses from the time of indigenous occupation into the early 1900s. Mosquito Lagoon was the main travel corridor for early settlers.

Several large sugar plantations were established during early European and Afro-American settlement, but later abandoned. As settlements grew, commercial uses such as the harvest of seafood and transport of goods by steamboat became more important. Resettlement began in earnest after the Civil War. The town of New Smyrna Beach was incorporated in 1887, with a population of 150 people. The Florida East Coast Railroad spurred development and seasonal tourism to areas like St. Augustine and New Smyrna Beach.

Historically, Mosquito Lagoon's only opening to the Atlantic Ocean was at Ponce de Leon Inlet, to the northeast. The current southern opening at the southwest end of the Mosquito Lagoon (the original Haulover Canal) was manually excavated in the 1850s during the Seminole Wars. The existing, and larger, 1.2 mile long canal connecting the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to Mosquito Lagoon was created in 1887 and improved in 1930 and 1959 as part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AIWW). Today, the AIWW channel is a busy travel corridor and provides important economic support to the region. All southbound AIWW vessel traffic must pass through Mosquito Lagoon and Haulover Canal to reach the IRL.

Red cedar

Red cedar was important for early settlers

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Florida Legislature recognized the importance of preserving the Mosquito Lagoon and adjacent barrier island (Florida Aquatic Preserve Act of 1975, �258.36, F.S.). Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve (MLAP) was designated in 1970 for the purpose of maintaining Mosquito Lagoon in essentially a natural condition.

The original MLAP boundaries included 28 miles of Mosquito Lagoon, stretching from the southern city limits of New Smyrna Beach to the southern terminus of the basin in Brevard County and encompassed approximately 39,000 acres. During the 1960s and again in 1980, much of the submerged bottom was conveyed to the United States of America for development of the U.S. space program at Cape Canaveral and the expansion of Canaveral National Seashore. Since most of the originally designated MLAP is now under the ownership and management of the federal government, the primary focus of the present management plan will concern that part of the MLAP under the ownership and management of the State of Florida.

Last updated: April 06, 2015

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