Our friends at North Florida Land Trust have secured a contract to purchase Fish Island for permanent conservation! The next step will be for the Governor’s cabinet to allocate the funding to pay for this purchase, but this is a HUGE step in the right direction! Check out the press release below.
North Florida Land Trust: We Have a Deal on Fish Island
Jacksonville, Fla., May 10, 2019 – North Florida Land Trust announced today that they have reached an agreement to preserve Fish Island forever. The 57-acre property is located on the Intracoastal waterway immediately adjacent to the 312 bridge onto Anastasia Island. The property has been the center of many controversial development efforts over the years, but an effort to rezone the property failed in fall of 2018.
NFLT began private discussions with the owners late last year and received commitments from the State of Florida to fund the acquisition of the property through the Florida Forever program. NFLT is optimistic the Cabinet will approve. The state and the nonprofit 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.
“The Governor and the Cabinet will have final approval of the purchase with Florida Forever funds and while we don’t normally announce our deals until they close, we did want to let the community know that we had come to an agreement to preserve the land,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “This was a very complex negotiation given the number and nature of the parties involved. The fact that it was in foreclosure was a significant factor. Jim Young (the Managing Partner for Fish Island Development) was committed to having this property in conservation and worked tirelessly with the bank to make this agreement happen. It is exciting news from both a conservation and historic standpoint as saving the property is both good for the environment and for the preservation of St. Augustine’s past.”
The property has a healthy maritime hammock forest and preservation will help avoid water quality impacts to the Matanzas River. The primary conservation purpose though is a historic one. The island was the site of one of the plantations that were integral to St. Augustine’s history. It still has some ruins and other evidence of its historic use.
NFLT is still looking for contributions to help with offsetting the hard cost of the preservation of Fish Island and the hours of staff time expended. Donors can contribute directly to the campaign at https://www.nflt.org/preservefishisland/. “We would love to have a party to celebrate. We are looking at other land in the area in need of preservation,” said McCarthy.