Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marsh Fest a Celebration of Nature; the 2009 Event Was Special Thanks to the Acquisition of 345 Acres of Marshlands

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marsh Fest a Celebration of Nature; the 2009 Event Was Special Thanks to the Acquisition of 345 Acres of Marshlands

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGGIE FITZROY

They took free kayak and canoe tours through pristine marshlands that are intended to forever stay pristine.

They went on nature tours, made crafts from recycled materials, listened to stories and live music, munched hot dogs, hamburgers and veggie burgers and kept the beat in a drum circle deep in the woods of Dutton Island Preserve.

People of all ages came to Marsh Fest at Dutton Island Preserve Saturday to enjoy the great outdoors and to celebrate the acquisition of a 345-acre tract of undeveloped marshlands along Atlantic Beach's western shore on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Known for years as the Buckman-Pritchard trust property, the land adjacent to Dutton Island has been renamed River Branch Preserve in honor of a donation by the River Branch Foundation, a local private nonprofit organization.

This year's Marsh Fest resembled two previous Marsh Fests sponsored in 2006 and 2007 by the Marsh Preservation Society.

Those events were held to build community support and to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the land along the western edge of Atlantic Beach from development, said Cindy Corey, one of the organizers.

"It was successful," she said, thanks to "behind-the-scenes groups working hard to make the acquisition a reality," including past mayors and community leaders, and several conservation and preservation organizations, including the Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida founded by Warren Anderson.

Many organizations, businesses, and individuals also contributed to the free Marsh Fest celebration, which began at 9 a.m. with doughnuts, coffee and juice donated by Starbucks. Shuttle buses transported people from several parking areas in Atlantic Beach to the event that ended at 4 p.m.

On a stage near the preserve's entrance, former Atlantic Beach mayor Lyman Fletcher gave a welcome announcement, followed by a talk by guest speaker Anderson.

Bands played live Americana music through the day, beginning with Jammin' with Terry, Tamara and Friends, followed by Ruby's Sister, Tamara and Terry, Girvin Mountain Boys, Shoofly and Gary Ammonette and the Palm Valley Boys. …

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