State Could Approve Purchase Of Fish Island Next Week

Jul 18, 2019

One of the last remaining undeveloped waterfront properties in St. Augustine could soon belong to the state of Florida.

Fish Island is one of three parcels of land the governor and state cabinet could decide to buy with money from the Florida Forever conservation fund.

The North Florida Land Trust brokered the deal for the state.  Its president, Jim McCarthy, says Fish Island has significant environmental value.

“It sits in the Matanzas River — it’s right on the very edge — and it contains healthy marsh grasses. And those marsh grasses are important to prevent flooding and protect the shoreline.”

McCarthy says Fish Island is also historically significant as the site of Florida’s first orange grove.

“You can see the foundation of a home built in the 1700s. And you can see the sentinel house that would have been there before that to protect the main house. And you can see a trench — a navigable ditch that would have gone out into the river that would have allowed him access in and out of his plantation.”

The price tag for Fish Island is around $6.5 million.  The other properties under consideration are in the Wakulla Springs Protection Zone south of Tallahassee and in Charlotte County in Southwest Florida.

The cabinet will vote on whether to purchase the three next week.