State Awards St. Lucie County Environmental Resources nearly $2 Million to Purchase Additional Preserves
Left to Right: David A. Clark, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation and Florida Communities Trust Governing Board Chair, Amy E. Griffin, St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department Director, Linda Bartz, St. Lucie County District 3 Commissioner and Board of County Commissioners Chair, Mike Middlebrook, St. Lucie County Environmental Resources Department Natural Resources Manager, Lynda Bell, Florida Communities Trust Governing Board Member, Erick Lindblad Florida Communities Trust Governing Board Member.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Florida Communities Trust (FCT) recently awarded St. Lucie County $1.9 million in reimbursement checks for the purchase of more than 800 acres of environmentally sensitive lands. St. Lucie County’s Environmental Resources Department will use these grant funds towards future land acquisition(s) and to unveil two new environmental preserves: the Myers-Stickel Preserve and the Cypress Creek Preserve.
Encompassing 33 acres along the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, the Myers-Stickel property is located near Kitterman Road and Oleander Avenue. Planned amenities include ADA boardwalks with hiking trails, a nature playground, an outdoor classroom and an ADA kayak launch. County staff are working to have this preserve open to the public by 2021.
The Cypress Creek Preserve spans 783 acres and features historic portions of Cypress Creek – a tributary to the St. Lucie River watershed with historic connections to the St. Johns River. Located in western St. Lucie County near the intersection of Bluefield Ranch Road and State Road 70, this site will be completed within three years with amenities such as a campground, ADA accessible trails and boardwalks, equestrian trails and connections to the State Road 70 Greenway Trail.
In addition to the $1.9 million in grants from the State of Florida, the Environmental Resources Department used matching funds from the voter-approved Environmentally Significant Lands program. In the mid-‘90s, St. Lucie County voters overwhelming approved an additional millage increase to pay for a $20 million bond to purchase environmental significant lands, creating passive recreational sites and protecting these areas from future development. The millage rate has since expired. However, thanks to State grant programs such as FCT and Florida Forever, St. Lucie County has used that $20 million bond to purchase more than 10,000 acres valued at roughly $76 million.
St. Lucie County manages more than two dozen preserves with roughly 42 miles of trails that are open to the public every day for passive recreation during daylight hours. For more information about St. Lucie County’s Environmentally Significant Lands visit: www.stluciepreserves.com. For a list of all St. Lucie County parks and preserves visit the interactive map at http://gis.stlucieco.gov/parkspreserves.
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