St. Marks River Preserve State Park


A flight of Common Egrets along the St. Marks River
A flight of Common Egrets along the St. Marks River

St. Marks River Preserve State Park is Florida's 161st state park but development of the property has been rather slim. Apparently it's a 2,589-acre property that was bought by the state to buffer the St. Marks River from surrounding developments, protecting the natural communities in the floodplain and preserving the water quality.

The property is rich in natural and cultural resources, with a dirt road system that dates back to the 1800's. For now, you can explore the place by hiking and/or biking those old roads while the state develops a management plan and starts to deal with updating what's there and building the infrastructure of a modern state park. One problem, though, is the state started this project about the same time the global economy began its financial crash in late 2007. In a word: cash has been short...

The property is composed of flatwoods, sandhill, floodplain forest, xeric hammock and bay heads. You'll find fox, deer, wild turkey, bobcat, fox squirrels and black bear in these woods, and hawks, owls, ducks and other wading and shorebirds in the air and on the water.

Photo of Common Egrets along the St. Marks River courtesy of Betsy Kellenberg