Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Party Celebrates Moccasin Slough

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Party Celebrates Moccasin Slough

Article excerpt

Byline: R. Michael Anderson, County Line staff writer

If you're a nature lover and enjoy an outdoor party, the Trust for Public Land, the North Florida Land Trust and the Clay County Commission have an invitation for you.

They are hosting a community celebration on Fleming Island Sunday afternoon to celebrate the preservation of Moccasin Slough, a 260-acre wildlife habitat between U.S. 17 and the St. Johns River, as a public park.

Starting at 2 p.m. at the southwest corner of the property at Raggedy Point Road and U.S. 17, activities will include refreshments, family entertainment and the unveiling of plans for the site, including nature trails and a picnic area.

A parking area will be available in a vacant lot on the south side of Raggedy Point Road, directly across the street from Moccasin Slough, a few hundred feet off U.S. 17. Clay County sheriff's deputies will be there directing traffic.

The county recently acquired Moccasin Slough as a passive nature park and wildlife preserve on heavily developed Fleming Island. The property, which had been zoned for development of 108 residences on the southwestern corner, is a unique parcel featuring a prairie, thick woods and freshwater marsh bordering the river between Westover Road on the north and Raggedy Point Road on the south.

Not only is Moccasin Slough home to numerous waterfowl, it also is a habitat for two of Florida's oldest species: alligators and bald eagles.

The site was purchased by the Trust for Public Land in December and conveyed to Clay County using funds from the Florida Communities Trust state grant program and the North Florida Land Trust.

Clay County, which had to contribute only $100,000 of taxpayer money to the purchase price, will operate the property as a nature-based county park. Moccasin Slough is the county's first Florida Communities Trust project.

County Commission Chairman Christy Fitzgerald worked closely with the state and Trust for Public Land for two years, beginning when she was chairman of the county's Parks and Recreation Committee in 2002, to acquire the property.

"Moccasin Slough has been in the public eye for quite some time," Fitzgerald said. …

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