Florida Forever funds to save Fish Island
Fish Island is one of the few undeveloped properties in the St. Augustine area.

Fish Island
A big deal for St. Augustine.

Thursday was a good day for Northeast Florida conservation interests, as the Cabinet voted to allocate $6.5 million for a prime parcel in St. John’s County.

Fish Island, a 57-acre property, abuts Anastasia Island on Highway 312 in St Augustine. The parcel was up for development, but the North Florida Land Trust stepped in to work out a resolution.

Key to that process, said NFLT President Jim McCarthy, was state cooperation.

“We are so pleased that the Cabinet has agreed to move forward to purchase this property with Florida Forever funds and even more pleased that Fish Island will be preserved,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy noted the importance of Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley to the project.

“Without his leadership to fund Florida Forever in 2018, this project would not have been possible. It was also great to partner with the Division of State Lands at DEP on this significant acquisition,” McCarthy said.

As budget chair, the Fleming Island Republican has been key to reviving Florida Forever.

A budget accord in Bradley’s first year as chair included $100 million for the environmental land-buying program.

Going into the Session, the Senator expressed confidence (seemingly validated since) that then-incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis would fulfill his promises to focus on environmental stewardship.

“I’m particularly excited that [he] shares my passion to preserve Florida’s unique environment. I look forward to working with him to build on the good work that has already been done.”

St. Augustine’s Vice Mayor attended the Cabinet meeting, signaling the local commitment to managing the property.

In June, she told the city commission that Fish Island was “the most important thing in the city.”

And that argument could be made.

At a time when St. Johns County continues a long period of exponential population growth, Fish Island offers a reminder of what once was everywhere.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Edward Freeman

    July 26, 2019 at 1:58 am

    Thank you for the news and it is fantastic that the State of Florida is FINALLY buying conservation lands again. The voters of the state have at least 3 times through Constitutional Amendments overwhelmingly told their employees, the Governor and Legislature, to protect natural Florida. Yet during the 8 years of the criminal Prick Scott Administration the voters’ expressed will was rejected outright. Even today, although the situation is much better, we are still subjected to smoke and mirrors. For example, the Legislature and Governor may claim that they funded Florida Forever at $100 million this year, but in reality they only added $33 million. The other $67 million was carried over from last year.

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