Homes along Black Creek in Clay County were among some of the hardest hit by the flooding that followed Hurricane Irma.
While land conservation won’t prevent future flooding, the North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) believes it will help prevent things from getting worse.
The NFLT has received a donation of 388 acres of land in Fleming Island and Middleburg that runs along Black Creek and Doctors Lake.
NFLT President Jim McCarthy said his organization plans to do some restoration and clean-up that should help with water absorption.
“An acre of marsh land can hold a million to a million-and-a-half gallons of flood water,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy points out that perhaps the greatest benefit of the land acquisition is preventing future development that might have increased the risk for flooding. “Had it been developed, we would have lost that capability to hold all that floodwater and that would have caused significant problems downstream or downcreek.”
South Doctors Lake, Ltd. donated the land. A property appraisal wasn’t done so the market value isn’t known but McCarthy believes its worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000.
Black Creek is a tributary to the St. Johns River. The NFLT said it’s known for its wide and healthy swamps, as well as the steep bluffs and ravines towering above its banks.
It is also home to the BlackCreek crayfish, a state-designated threatened species.
A large amount of trash and debris was found on the land from the recent storms and recreational boaters. NFLT plans to hold a trash cleanup soon and do some restoration that should help with maintaining the health of the creek.
The non-profit expects to acquire some more land for preservation before the end of the year. NFLT was founded in 1999 with the goal of environmental protection, primarily in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.