the nature of amelia island
and surrounding areas
Amelia Island, 2.5 miles across at its widest point, and 13 miles long, is almost totally surrounded by preserved lands. The local area has seven sites on the Great Florida Birding Trail. Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Parks are on either end of the island, with Egans Creek Greenway nestled in the middle. From Amelia Island, naturalists can easily explore several barrier islands: to the south are Florida State Parks Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island, as well as Fort George State Park. The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is also just to the south of Amelia Island. Cumberland Island National Seashore is just to the north in Georgia.
Fort Clinch State Park
Significant plant communities throughout the park’s 1,100 acres include sand dunes, overwash plains, maritime hammock and estuarine tidal marsh. Some of the last remaining examples of coastal strand habitat left in Northeast Florida are found here. These areas are mixed scrub oak and pine and include coastal strand grassy areas. Hardwood oak hammocks are found within the confines of the park also. These are dense shady areas with heavy canopy providing relief from the sun. The park is riddled with large sand dune ridges—windbreaks for small saplings to grow into large trees. Some of these primary dunes indicate the continuous ocean breezes in the way their limbs have grown away from the ocean.
Egans Creek Greenway
Located on the northern end of Amelia Island, this area was opened for public use in the summer of 2001 as an undeveloped park for passive recreational use. It consists of over 300 acres of protected lands, managed by the City of Fernandina Beach. This natural setting offers opportunity for wildlife and nature observation.
Amelia Island State Park
This park protects over 200 acres of unspoiled wilderness along the southern tip of Amelia Island. Beautiful beaches, salt marshes, and coastal maritime forests provide visitors a glimpse of the original Florida.
Little Talbot Island State Park
Offering over five miles of beachfront, this is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in Northeast Florida and rich with coastal wildlife. A maritime forest, magnificent sand dunes, and undisturbed salt marshes are on the island’s western side.
Big Talbot Island State Park
This island’s unique “Boneyard Beach” is the resting place of salt-washed skeletons of live oak and cedar trees. The estuarine systems that surround the inshore sides of barrier islands like Big Talbot are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park
Mysterious ruins, undisturbed forests, historic plantation structures, and bluffs overlooking the Timucuan Preserve make this sea island a thrill for any explorer. The Park offers a beautiful four-mile nature trail.
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is 46,000 acres of salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammocks and is one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast. The preserve is named for the Timucuan Indians who lived in this region when the French explorer Jean Ribault landed here in 1562.
Huguenot Memorial Park
This Jacksonville City park at the mouth of the St. Johns River hosts a wealth of declining species, providing vital stopover habitat for imperiled Red Knots. It is a federally designated critical wintering habitat for threatened Piping Plovers, a state-designated critical wildlife area for Royal Tern and Laughing Gull colonies, and a nesting habitat for marine turtles. Though the city of Jacksonville allows beach driving on this small and critical island, and it is heavily used by humans, the birds and humans seem to interact successfully. Jacksonville has recently prohibited pets on Huguenot’s beach.
This Georgia island is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. It has one of the largest maritime forests remaining in the U.S. and one of the largest wilderness areas in a National Seashore on the east coast.