Representatives from Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group attended an information session about the recent acquisition of the Jacksonville Beach Marina by the Windward Marina Group. Although Windward hasn’t finalized the specifics of the proposed developments, their website states that they are “embarking upon a major facelift to improve docks, increase storage efficiency, upgrade lighting and renovate customer service areas, seawalls and concrete areas among other improvements.” During the information session, the Windward representatives also mentioned residential and retail development.
The Sierra folks are concerned about possible impacts to the marshlands just north of the marina. They investigated the long-held belief that part of the marsh is a bird sanctuary. A deed from the original owner of the northern section of the marsh (from 9th avenue and north) to the City of Jacksonville Beach indeed designates that portion of the marshland as a bird sanctuary.
The portion of the marsh just north of the marina is part of the parcel now owned by Windward. This land, about 600 acres, is designated as “conservation” or “estuarian wetlands” in Jacksonville Beach's 2010 and 2030 Comprehensive Plans. It is Sierra's intent to monitor any proposed changes to land use in both the Windward parcel and the Jacksonville Beach parcel of the marsh lands.
Sierra reached out to us for information about the birds and other wildlife species that rely on those marshes for their survival. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data available on eBird about bird species spotted in this area. Reports from Castaway Island Preserve, while helpful, are from the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway, and sightings from Rotary Park are limited to the south end of the marsh.
~ Carol Bailey-White, Chapter President and Lucille Pendleton, Sierra Club Northeast Florida