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St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Information Page
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Description of Site
Ecological Importance
Rare / Endangered Species
Geomorphic Features
Archaeological Features
Management Status

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Dylan Shoemaker - Dylan.Shoemaker@dep.state.fl.us
St Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve
3915 State Road 30A
Port Saint Joe, FL 32456-7542
(850) 229-1787
Office hours: 9am - 4:30pm Monday - Friday
Trail/Gate hours: Sunrise to sunset

Description of Site

The St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve (SJBSBP) is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) as part of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. The SJBSBP management goals include the conservation, protection, and restoration of important ecosystems and landscapes in order to protect significant surface water, coastal, recreational, fish, and wildlife resources. The preserve provides protection for native species habitat and archaeological and historical sites, as well as opportunities for natural resource-based recreation.


October 1995, Chapter 253 Florida Statutes


The SJBSBP is located in Gulf County, Florida near Port St. Joe on State Route 30A just 5 miles south of US 98.


5,019 acres


Name of watershed: Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint
Size of watershed: 19,600 square miles


The preserve includes xeric, mesic, and wet pine flatwoods, freshwater marsh, swamp, and a tidal creek created by ancient dune ridge/swale topography.

Ecological Importance

SJBSBP provides significant habitat for many endangered and threatened species. Many migratory bird species use the Preserve during spring and fall trans-Gulf migrations. The Preserve is also a water recharge area and buffer to St. Joseph Bay, helping to protect the bay's water quality.

Rare / Endangered Species

Common Name
Scientific Name
American alligator Alligator mississipiensis SSC T (s/a)
gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus SSC n/a
Kemp's ridley Lepidochelys kempii E E
gopher frog Rana capito SSC  N
Wakulla seaside sparrow Ammodramus maritumus juncicolus SSC N
piping plover Charadrius melodus T T
snowy plover Charadrius nivosus T N
Marian's marsh wren Cistothorus palustris marianae SSC N
little blue heron Egretta caerulea SSC N
reddish egret Egretta rufescens SSC N
snowy egret Egretta thula SSC N
tricolor heron Egretta tricolor SSC N
white ibis Eudocimus albus SSC N
peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus E E
Southeastern American kestrel Falco sparverius paulus T N
wood stork Mycteria americana E E
Eastern brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis SSC N
red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis E E
black skimmer Rynchops niger SSC N
least tern Sterna antillarum T N
Florida black bear Ursus americanus floridanus T n/a
pine-woods bluestem Andropogon arctatus N N
Southern milkweed Asclepias viridula T N
pine-woods aster Aster spinulosus E MC
Godfrey's golden aster Chrysopsis godfreyi N MC
tropical waxweed Cuphea aspera N MC
telephus spurge Euphorbia telephioides E T
wiregrass gentian Gentiana pennelliana E MC
panhandle spiderlily Hymenocallis henryae E MC
thick-leaved water-willow Justicia crassifolia E MC
corkwood Leitneria floridana T N
Catesby's lily, pine lily, Southern red lily Lilum catesbaei    
West's flax Linum westii N MC
white-birds-in-a-nest MacBridea alba E T
bog tupelo Nyssa ursina N N
narrow-leaved phoebanthus Phoebanthus tenuifolius T N
Godfrey's false dragonhead Physostegia godfreyi T N
violet-flowered butterwort Pinguicula ionantha E T
yellow butterwort Pinguicula lutea T N
Chapman's butterwort Pinguicula planifolia T N
white meadowbeauty Rhexia parviflora E MC
Chapman's rhododendron Rhododendron chapmanii E E
Florida skullcap Scutellaria floridana E T
Chapman's crownbeard Verbesina chapmanii T N
Drummond's yellow-eyed grass Xyris drummondii N N

State listings are taken from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or as with plants Florida Department of Agriculture. Federal listings are taken from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. E= Endangered; T= Threatened; T (s/a)= Threatened due to similarity in appearance; SSC= Species of Special Concern; MC= Management concern; UR= Under review; N= information not available or no designation listed

Geomorphic Features

The preserve lies within the gulf coastal lowlands physiographic province, characterized by low elevations and poor drainage. The landforms that make up these coastal lowlands include coastal and sand dune ridges and relict spits and bars with intervening coast-parallel valleys.

Archaeological Features

There are more than 20 significant archaeological sites lie with in the buffer preserve.



Recreational activities include nature appreciation, hiking, and picnicking. The preserve is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.


Scientific research and nature study are the significant educational opportunities.

Adjacent Land Use:

The predominant adjacent land uses include residential development, tourist industry associated development and silviculture.

Management Status


The preserve is managed under the single use concept as a State Buffer Preserve.
It is designated as an EPA Gulf of Mexico Ecological Management Site

Ownership / Manager:

SJBSBP land is owned by the Florida Board of Trustees and managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Major Management Activities:

Management activities currently conducted at the preserve include inventorying natural communities, conducting prescribed burns, controlling invasive plants and animals, restoring the natural hydrology and establishing visitor access.


Resource Management Plan for the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer. 1997.

Last updated: June 18, 2013

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