July 29, 2021

This is the first phase in the plan to purchase nine islands comprised of wet flatwood islands and saltmarsh

North Florida Land Trust has acquired approximately 28 acres within the Intracoastal Waterway at J. Turner Butler Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach which is a portion of the properties known as the Small Islands. The nonprofit land conservation organization purchased the land in the first phase of the acquisition of the entire 245 acres of the islands owned by Small Group, LLC. The 28 acres are adjacent to the City of Jacksonville Beach’s Cradle Creek Preserve. NFLT is in early discussions with the City to incorporate the property into the preserve.

NFLT entered into an agreement with Small Group, LLC in December of last year after the owner went public with a plan to develop the islands into luxury homes. The move drew public outcry and NFLT negotiated with the owner to purchase the islands for conservation. NFLT began a campaign to raise $350,000 to buy the nine islands and raised $30,050 towards the goal. The first phase will cost the nonprofit $35,000 which includes a $29,000 purchase price plus due diligence and stewardship costs.

“We still need the community’s help to raise the remainder of the money needed to acquire these environmentally important islands,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “The islands are surrounded by salt marshes and oyster beds and create an extremely biodiverse ecosystem. Protecting the islands is important for the survival of many forms of wildlife as well as the recreational value of the islands. Salt marshes also protect coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge.”

The 28 acres of land contains salt marsh and tidal creeks that are home to rare species including the federally endangered West Indian manatee and the federally threatened wood stork both of which have been seen within the property boundaries. The wetland habitats are vital to the survival of many species of birds including plovers, warblers and waterfowl.

NFLT has until the end of the year to raise money to purchase the more than 215 remaining acres of the Small Islands. To help save the islands visit https://www.nflt.org/small-islands/ to donate. Once NFLT acquires the remaining properties, there will be approximately 1,200 acres of contiguous protected land on the east side of the Intracoastal.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements.  NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations.