Land management

Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area

A program to preserve water resources

The St. Johns River Water Management District owns or manages approximately 735,500 acres of land, acquired for the purposes of water management, water supply, and the conservation and protection of water resources. These lands largely consist of wetlands or historically wet areas. Of less acreage, but not of less importance, are upland areas. These areas preserve wetlands, waters and wildlife, and provide critical buffers between rapidly encroaching development and important wetland areas.

District lands and related resources are used by the public and private interests in a wide range of ways, including recreational activities such as hunting, camping and boating, as radio tower sites and for utility easements, for district monitoring equipment and agricultural purposes. These uses are evaluated based on their compatibility with the natural resource function and character of the land and the extent to which they are of benefit to the public. A multiple-use approach is favored that includes an emphasis on ecosystem viability and provides for public recreation when possible.

Informational kiosks have been erected on many district properties and provide on-the-spot guidance for visitors.

Over the years, the need has arisen for a consistent, systematic approach to managing district lands and meeting public demands and water resource protection responsibilities. The land management plan approved by the district’s Governing Board for each property establishes the philosophy and direction for management and use of district lands.

The land management plan provides for water resource protection, a diversity of habitats, compatible recreational uses, wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement, and the continuation, where possible, of traditional land and water resource uses. Legislative directives guide the land management planning process from acquisition evaluations to the development of land management plans. These plans identify resource needs and compatible uses.

The district actively pursues partnerships for land management with other state agencies, local governments and nonprofit organizations. In fact, more than three-quarters of land holdings have been purchased, and are being managed, in conjunction with other groups.