The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has acquired 565 remaining acres within the Tiger Island/Little Tiger Island Florida Forever project. This acquisition includes Little Tiger Island and a portion of Middle Island and completes the 1,463-acre project.
“Preservation of this ecologically rich property ensures that natural and cultural resources are protected,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “This acquisition will further safeguard the area against flooding, erosion and storm surge.”
Adjacent to the Fort Clinch State Park Aquatic Preserve, the project connects a network of national and state preserves and parks that stretch from St. Andrews Sound in Georgia to the St. Johns River in Florida and protects tidal marsh ecosystems along the St. Marys and Amelia rivers. The area is known to have one of the highest nesting concentrations of Worthington’s marsh wren and MacGillivray’s seaside sparrow along the Florida coast and provides critical habitat for wintering populations of the piping plover.
“These islands at the mouth of the St. Marys and Amelia rivers have long served the area as home to many types of unique coastal wildlife,” said DEP Division of State Lands Director Callie DeHaven. “From migrating shorebirds to juvenile sea life to the anglers that have relied on these waters for their existence – this series of little islands are forever conserved.”
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved the purchase at the Jan. 17, 2023, Cabinet meeting. The North Florida Land Trust and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission secured a $1 million grant toward the purchase price from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. The property will be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as part of Fort Clinch State Park.
Florida Forever is the state’s conservation and recreation land acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving our natural resources and renewing the state’s commitment to preserving its natural resources and cultural heritage. DEP’s Division of State Lands is Florida’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship.
Since 2019, the state has invested $600 million for land acquisition, including $300 million specifically for the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and acquired over 170,000 acres, which is nearly four times more than that of the previous four years. Approximately 97% of these acres are within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.