Message from Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle

Fall is a great time to visit a District land

Oct. 8, 2020

Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area walking path
A view of Lake Jesup Conservation Area

The District’s public lands protect water resources. At left, Lake Jesup Conservation Area, Seminole County. At right, Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area, Brevard County.

As the St. Johns River Water Management District’s name would imply, water management is at the heart of our work, but did you know that land plays an important role in that work?

Water and land work together in a special harmony, which is why Florida’s water management districts own and manage tracts of land throughout our state. During the past 40 years, our District has obtained more than 770,000 acres across our 18-county service area, bringing these lands into public ownership to help us carry out our core missions.

Staff in the Division of Water and Land Resources manage more than 400,000 acres of that acreage, with the rest managed in partnership with other agencies, local governments, and various entities. We manage these unique public conservation lands to preserve and restore their important natural functions today and into the future.

In addition, District properties are home to innovative restoration projects. For example, the District’s work in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the headwaters of the St. Johns River has restored more than 160,000 acres of wetlands that filter pollutants and sediments from area stormwater runoff, treat agricultural runoff and provide flood water storage, adding to the region’s resiliency. Our staff blend managing water levels and vegetation to restore a diversity of aquatic habitats that provide natural and recreational benefits.

While water resources benefit from these conservation and restoration lands, the public also benefits. Most of our acreage is open for the public to enjoy through a host of activities compatible with conservation. With a taste of fall in the air, now is a great time to get out, explore your public lands and experience the District’s work for yourself. Whether you enjoy hiking, bicycling, primitive camping or just want to listen to the birds, these wild and scenic lands hold wonders for all ages.

Visit our website (www.sjrwmd.com/lands) to find descriptions, maps, trail guides and a recreational activity listing for each of our 41 properties. You can also find details on our land management practices, meet each of our dedicated land managers and learn more about our projects. I wish you a safe and enjoyable adventure on District lands!

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