Jacksonville Beach Approves Contract for 43-Acre Preserve

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

Cradle Creek Preserve, 43 acres of sawgrass and wooded uplands west of the Plantation Oaks subdivision in Jacksonville Beach, will offer wooden boardwalks, observation areas and a canoe landing when it opens to the public next year.

The city recently approved an $89,000 contract with HDR Engineering of Jacksonville to prepare construction documents for the passive park and to apply for state and federal permits needed to build on wetlands.

The preserve, at the end of Fairway Lane, was described as "the last large undeveloped parcel on the Intracoastal Waterway in Jacksonville Beach" when the city bought the land in 2001 for $1.2 million. The Florida Communities Trust, a state program that helps preserve environmentally sensitive land, will reimburse the city for half the purchase price.

Home to numerous endangered birds and plants and species of special concern, the preserve includes the West Indian manatee, a pair of bald eagles, wood stork, least tern and peregrine falcons.

The master plan calls for a 6-foot-wide boardwalk, with covered overlook area, and a 6-foot-wide asphalt trail that will loop through the property, a canoe landing and free-standing interpretive signs to educate visitors about the sensitive plants and wildlife species in the salt marsh. …