The last remaining wild Florida paradise that has not been paved over inside the Bartram Park community was under threat. Julington-Durbin Preserve is a 2,031-acre peninsula formed at the confluence of Julington and Durbin creeks. The property was purchased in 2001 for $16.5 million as part of Jacksonville’s Preservation Project, a land acquisition program conceived by Mayor John Delaney to manage growth, protect environmentally sensitive lands, improve water quality, and provide access to the City’s natural areas.
The developers who originally sold the Julington-Durbin Preserve property to the City of Jacksonville and State of Florida for conservation wanted it back. J. Thomas Dodson and Eastland Partners, the developers of the adjacent Bartram Park mixed-use community, are now proposing to build 1,400 homes inside the heart of Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve. To do this, they are offering to exchange property on Black Hammock Island for 407 acres within the Preserve. Due to resident’s outcry and persistence by local environmental activists this project has been abandoned. But readers, BEWARE!! This could happen again and there is a lot a stake for our community so keeping our voices heard is essential.
This land was meant to be protected as a preserve for water quality, habitat, and for the benefit of future generations – forever. If we allow this property to be developed and swapped to preserve another piece of land, who’s to say that in 20 years the land it was swapped for will no longer be seen as a land worth protecting? Gutting one preserve for the sake of the other is a scary precedent. We should put our energy in protecting both, encourage our elected officials to stand up, and look at our lands holistically for the sake of our river and our city.
WHAT WE COULD LOSE
- Julington Durbin Preserve contains nine unique ecosystems including extensive floodplain wetlands and upland pine scrub.
- The Preserve has 22 documented archeological sites, including a prehistoric burial mound, several prehistoric campsites, and remains from early nineteenth century buildings.
- Backyard oasis for community residents to hike, paddle, bike, run, and explore.
WE ARE CONCERNED that developing this property would result in:
- loss of critical habitat for plants and death of wildlife
- poorer water quality in Julington and Durbin Creeks and the St. Johns River
- more flooding
- traffic congestion
- and will set a precedent of opening up other conservation lands to development
Together, our collective voices to send a strong message to our politicians and developers!