Success! The 100-acre "Outpost" property will remain in conservation in St. Johns County.
Good news for the Guana River Wildlife Management Area and the wildlife that depend on it! The Ponte Vedra Corporation (PVC) has pulled its request for a land-use change that could have led to development within this important ecological system. PVC owns a 100-acre parcel called "The Outpost" that is designated as "Conservation" on the county's land-use map. The property is mostly wetlands and coastal hammock with a building sometimes used for group events. The property is 97% surrounded by the Guana River WMA and is adjacent to the Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserve - an Outstanding Florida Water. Developing this property that is practically within the WMA would have profound negative ecological consequences for the region.
Tuesday, September 17 was set for the critical vote by the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners. Audubon's Chris Farrell was set to testify as an expert witness at the meeting, just as he did when the proposal moved through the county's Planning and Zoning Agency. Farrell was part of a team of experts organized by partner Save Guana Now that opposed the land-use change due to the many ecological and historical resources that would be jeopardized by development. The compelling testimony of experts and resounding opposition from residents of St. Johns at the PZA meeting were likely factors in PVC's decision to pull the request from Tuesday's meeting.
PVC could come back with new proposals for development in the future so Audubon and partners will need to remain vigilant. We hope instead that PVC will begin negotiating in earnest to see the property is conserved in perpetuity through a sale or conservation easement. Land conservation programs like Florida Forever are designed for this exact purpose - protecting Florida's great natural heritage for generations to come.