St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area is the site of two fishing lakes operated jointly by the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). It is a hidden gem for nature lovers, and one of our chapter's favorite birding spots, as it is an eBird Hot Spot where 90 different species of birds have been reported!
Recently, Duval Audubon Society board member and Duval County Conservation Chair Carolyn Antman noticed that the north lake was clogged with an overgrowth of aquatic plants covering the entire surface of the lake. FWC scientists tested the water quality in the lake and found that oxygen levels were very low, which could lead to fish kills and a reduction in the lake's ability to support the wildlife we love.
A lake in need of rescue.
In late July, FWC staffers Trevor Phillips, Will Prevatt, Mike Ricketts, and Shalyn Zappulla led a small team of volunteers in an effort to clear the overgrowth of floating water fern vegetation on the surface of the lake.
Carolyn reports: "FWC had a boat and a big net. They circled around and got a net full of weed then hauled it to the bank where they dragged it up with a winch on a truck. They repeated this (slow) process many times."
After two days of backbreaking work, the result is that about half of the surface of the lake has been cleared, so although great progress was made, more work will undoubtedly be needed to keep this lake healthy.
We are so grateful for the hard work of the FWC staffers as well as the volunteers who came out to help, including Carolyn Antman, Vincent Jaso, Brian Defina, and Dennis Thompson.
And a special thanks to volunteer Daniel McDaniel (right), who "adopted" this park some time ago, clearing trails and building a sturdy bridge to enhance accessability to this lovely natural area. We are so grateful for your dedication to this beautiful place!