February 06, 2023

North Florida Land Trust has purchased nearly 219 acres at a bargain price along the Intracoastal Waterway adjacent to NFLT’s River Branch Islands Preserve. The land was sold to NFLT by Atlantic Beach Holding Company, a group of heirs of Harcourt Bull, the first mayor of Atlantic Beach, and his wife, Florence.

The family had owned the land since about 1949 and has a great fondness for the property along with cherished memories of their time spent in the salt marsh. The heirs decided to sell it at a bargain price with the difference in actual cost considered a donation to NFLT to preserve it forever in its natural state.

“The generosity of this family allows us the opportunity to protect most of the marsh grass on the eastern side of the Intracoastal from Butler Blvd almost to Mayport,” said Allison DeFoor, president of NFLT. “Every day, when you drive home to the beaches and look at the pretty view as you cross the bridge, I want you to think of the North Florida Land Trust, and our work. Now or never for more of the same!”

The property is located along Atlantic Blvd. and J. Turner Butler Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach. It is adjacent to NFLT’s River Branch Islands Preserve and across the Intracoastal Waterway from the City of Jacksonville’s Castaway Island and Dutton Island Preserves. It is also within the Northeast Florida Blueway Florida Forever project area.

It is primarily salt marsh but also has a few small areas of hardwood forest. Keeping the property in its natural state provides many benefits to the area. It helps to prevent flooding, reduces storm surge, removes nutrients to provide clean water and provides habitat for wildlife. The surrounding salt marsh and tidal creeks are home to rare species including the federally endangered West Indian manatee and the federally threatened wood stork. NFLT has also viewed an abundance of wading birds on the property including Brown Pelicans, cormorants and Great Blue Herons.

The property is not only a wildlife habitat but also provides recreational opportunities. The cities of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach have expressed an interest in creating a kayak launch. The family is expected to host a dedication ceremony for the property later this year. 


About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of life by protecting North Florida’s irreplaceable natural environment. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through the donation or purchase of land and conservation easements as well as facilitating government acquisition of important projects.  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.