North Florida Land Trust is Urging Florida Cabinet Members to Save Fish Island

The community can contact the Florida Cabinet to ask for their support

Jacksonville, Fla., June 27, 2019 – North Florida Land Trust is asking for the community to show their support for preserving Fish Island by reaching out to Florida Cabinet members. The 57-acre property is located on the Intracoastal waterway immediately adjacent to the 312 bridge onto Anastasia Island. NFLT has been working to preserve the land for months and successfully negotiated an assignable option contract with the owners. On July 23, the Governor’s Cabinet will meet in Tallahassee to decide if the State will accept the contract and acquire Fish Island through the Florida Forever program.

“The citizens spoke out about wanting to preserve this environmentally sensitive land which is also an important part of Florida history and now we are asking the community to let Florida’s Cabinet know how important it is to them to preserve Fish Island,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT.

The project will be presented to the Florida Cabinet for their consideration by Noah Valenstein, Secretary of Environmental Protection. McCarthy will be making a supporting presentation to the Cabinet as will State Senator Rob Bradley and Vice Mayor of St. Augustine Leanna Freeman. Freeman has been working to protect this property for approximately 14 years and her presence at the Cabinet meeting is in solidarity with the St. Augustine community’s support.

“We are deeply honored to have Vice Mayor Freeman and Senator Bradley join us in this event,” said McCarthy. “Senator Bradley led the effort to fund Florida Forever in 2018 and fought tirelessly for the $100 million it received. That is the money that will be used to protect this property. The Senator has been a strong supporter of our efforts to protect valuable historic and environmentally sensitive land in north Florida. Without his leadership, this effort would not be possible.”

NFLT began private discussions with the owners of Fish Island late last year. The state and the nonprofit then did their due diligence and appraised the property before submitting an offer letter to the owners. After extensive negotiations between NFLT, the seller, the seller’s bank and the state, the offer was accepted.

“We stepped in to help put this deal together because that is what we do day in and day out,” said McCarthy. “We work with willing sellers and with the city, state, National Guard or other agency to find a way to reach an agreement to preserve lands. We have developed a great relationship with the folks at the Division of State Lands. We bring them good projects, do the negotiating and perform a lot of the due diligence.”  

St. Augustine Commissioners recently unanimously voted to approve management of Fish Island if the state agrees to buy the property. Fish Island is a healthy maritime hammock forest and preservation will help avoid water quality impacts to the Matanzas River. The island also has historic significance. It was the site of one of the plantations that were integral to St. Augustine’s history and still has some ruins and other evidence of its historic use.

More information on NFLT’s campaign to preserve Fish Island can be found at https://www.nflt.org/preservefishisland/. The nonprofit is still looking for contributions to help with offsetting the hard cost of the preservation of the property and the hours of staff time expended.

The community can contact the Florida Cabinet to express their support for funding Fish Island either by email, phone or by mail at the following:

Governor, 850-717-9239

Ron Desantis: Ron.Desantis@MyFlorida.com

Cabinet Aide, Beau Beaubien: beau.beaubien@eog.myflorida.com

Executive Office of
Governor Ron DeSantis
400 S Monroe St
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Attorney General, 850-245-0145

Ashley Moody, Website form for Email

Cabinet Aide, Erin Sumpter: Erin.Sumpter@myfloridalegal.com

Office of the Attorney General
State of Florida
PL-01 The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 850-617-7700

Nikki Fried: Nikki.Fried@FreshFromFlorida.com

Cabinet Aide, Kyle W. Troop: Kyle.Troop@FreshFromFlorida.com

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Plaza Level 10, The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800

Chief Financial Officer, 850-413-2925

Jimmy Patronis:  CFO.Patronis@MyFloridaCFO.com

Cabinet Aide, Robert Tornillo: Robert.Tornillo@MyFloridaCFO.com

Chief Financial Officer
Florida Department of Financial Services
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0301

Secretary of Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 850-245-2118

Noah Valenstein: noah.valenstein@dep.state.fl.us

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that champions environmental protection in its primary, 11-county focus area of Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union, Columbia and Volusia counties. NFLT is also expanding its reach to the west of the state. NFLT was founded in 1999 and has protected thousands of acres of environmentally significant land including property at Big Talbot Island, Ortega River, Guana River, Little Orange Creek, Keystone Heights and, along the St. Mary’s River and other valued natural areas predominantly in Northeast Florida. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with private landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit nflt.org.