|Historical Background of Mosquito Lagoon
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 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.
April 06, 2015
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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