Society News

Ixia Chapter Instrumental in an Environmental Victory in Jacksonville

June 30, 2018

Undeveloped land that was sold to Jacksonville in 2001 as a preserve was threatened when the original seller wanted to trade some other land for a development in the middle of the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve. Environmental groups including the St. Johns Riverkeeper, FNPS’s Ixia chapter, and others took action. The petition (see text below for more detailed information) was signed by more than 6,000 people and a protest march was scheduled for July 14th. Now it will be a victory celebration because after all the noise we made the developer backed down.

THREAT:

J. Thomas Dodson and Eastland, the developers who originally sold the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve to the City of Jacksonville and State of Florida now want it back. They are proposing to swap property on Black Hammock Island to build 1,400 homes on 403 acres inside the heart of Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve.

BACKGROUND & SIGNIFICANCE:

The Preserve consists of 2,031-acres located on a peninsula formed at the confluence of Julington and Durbin creeks, with approximately nine miles of shoreline along the adjacent waterways. The property was purchased in 2001 for $16.5 million as part of the Jacksonville’s Preservation Project, a land acquisition program conceived by Mayor John Delaney to manage growth, protect environmentally sensitive lands, improve water quality, and provide access to the City’s natural areas. Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve provides the public with an opportunity to experience old Florida. This Preserve is a shining example of what was the committed intent of The Preservation Project and Florida Forever.

CONCERNS:

  • Destroy critical habitat for plants and wildlife;
  • Adversely impact water quality in Julington and Durbin Creeks and the St. Johns River;
  • Reduce flood protection;
  • Degrade the ecological integrity of the property, since prescribed burns would no longer be possible.  According to the SJRWMD, prescribed fire is the most important land management tool for restoring and preserving the ecological health and diversity of the site, while also decreasing the risk of wildfires.
  • Diminish recreational opportunities;
  • Increase traffic congestion;
  • Establish dangerous precedent that could open up other conservation lands to future development.

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Ginny Stibolt