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Resources of St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Quick Topics

The hole in the shells indicate that they are from a midden.

Archaeological Features

St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve contains 19 known archaeological and historical sites, dating from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Indigenous Americans have harvested food, manufactured tools, and lived, at least seasonally, on sites near the bay for 12,000 years. One of the most significant shell-tool manufacture sites in the region is located on Buffer Preserve lands. The Buffer Preserve supports academic research to learn more about these peoples and help guide management decisions regarding the sites. Other research involving geology, fire history, botany and herpetology continues to be supported at the Buffer Preserve. These partnerships help with the restoration and management of the Buffer Preserve.

Pine flatwoods

Natural Communities

The most common natural community in St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve is mesic flatwoods, but the preserve also contains hundreds of acres of wet prairie, salt marsh, shrub bog, wet flatwoods, dome swamp and basin marsh. Mesic flatwoods are the most common natural community in Florida, but throughout much of its range, longleaf pines have been supplanted by slash pines after logging. Mesic flatwoods need to be burned frequently to control hardwood and off-site pine invasion. Wet prairies were probably common throughout the coastal plain, but few high-quality, intact examples remain. The Panhandle is a hot spot for rare plants in the wet prairie community, several of which can be found in the Buffer Preserve.

Chapman's rhododendron

Wildlife and Plants

The Florida Panhandle is one of the nation's six biological hotspots. The highest biodiversity of species in the United States is found within the central Florida Panhandle, along the nearby Apalachicola River. Buffer Preserve lands are of special biological significance and were acquired to preserve a full range of threatened coastal natural habitats and communities. Three globally imperiled plant species, pinewoods aster (Aster spinulosus), Chapman's rhododendron (Rhododendron chapmannii) and Telephus spurge (Euphorbia telephioides), along with numerous other confirmed rare, endangered or threatened species occur within the Buffer Preserve.


Money Bayou

Physical Features

Conspicuous topographic features in this area of Florida include a series of relict sand bars, dunes and spits that now often support patches of scrub, scrubby flatwoods or sandhill vegetation. The overall topography is marked by a pronounced dune ridge/swale system running in parallel fashion oriented with the coastlines. Buffer Preserve lands on Cape San Blas are clearly dune ridges that were parts of either old sand spits or barrier islands that have formed since sea level stabilized about 5,000 years ago. Inland portions of the Buffer Preserve are also characterized by ancient ridge sets.

Money Bayou, which originates within the Buffer Preserve, is an uncommon tributary in that it flows directly into the Gulf of Mexico instead of an intervening bay or sound.

St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve

Last updated: August 30, 2016

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