Our neighbor to the north, the Guana Tolomato Matazas National Estuarine Research Reserve, is in danger of losing a major portion of its funding unless we act now. Due to a Tallahassee snafu, money from a Land Acquisition Trust Fund has been reallocated to the legislature’s general fund. With this move, unless we are proactive it will never make its way back into St. Augustine’s beautiful estuaries and marshes. Read below to find out how it will directly and negatively effect our community unless we act now.

Eight positions at the GTM-NERR are funded through this mis-named fund, called the “Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank”. Among them include wildlife biologists responsible for monitoring the sea turtle population on our beaches, an educator who provides coordination for school field trips, guided tours, and community outreach programs, and an environmental specialist who monitors the Guana River system as well as the oyster population within the NERR’s waters.
Keep in mind that the GTM-NERR isn’t just the tract of land formerly known as Guana State Park but includes 55,000 acres (!) of estuary, salt marsh, and marine hammock from Ponte Vedra to the Matanzas Inlet. Aside from the eight staffers needed to manage this giant preserve system the money from the fund provides the annual fuel supply for the GTM-NERR as well as vehicle replacements. These vehicles are used not only to protect the resources of the preserve but to protect our homes in case of wildfire. Without fuel they will not run. Without fuel the turtle patrols won’t run to stake out and protect nests.
Much, much more comes out of the Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank Land Acquisition Trust Fund and it all comes back to us here in the First Coast. If it is reinstated there are eight less people unemployed in our town. If reinstated, our sea turtles will be in better shape. If reinstated, school children will still have a friendly face to meet them at the park and show them the marvels of nature. If reinstated, our marine biology will continue to be part of a national scientific initiative to understand, protect, and preserve these delicate national treasures.
It makes common sense to keep jobs here in St. Augustine, especially jobs that improve the quality of all of our lives and protect the beautiful natural setting we love. Please contact Florida Senator Jim King using the information below and tell him to put the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) Little Pine Island Mitigation Bank back where it belongs.
Senator King’s contact:
District Office:
9485 Regency Square Blvd., Suite 108
Jacksonville, FL 32225-8145
(904) 727-3600
Senate VOIP: 40800
FAX (904) 727-3603
Tallahassee Office:
420 Senate Office Building
404 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
(850) 487-5030
Senate VOIP: 5030
FAX (850) 487-5368
Click HERE to go to the GTM-NERR website.
Thank you.
-Brendan Burke
LAMP Archaeologist