By Florida Department of Environmental Protection
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has acquired 240 acres that will expand the boundaries of Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park in Jacksonville. (Above photo: Florida flatwoods, Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park)
Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve is included in the 7 Creeks Recreation Area, a network of partner parks and preserves managed by local, state and federal governments as well as nonprofit organizations. The recreation area spans 5,600 acres in northeast Jacksonville and features five of Florida’s state parks. Visitors can enjoy more than 30 miles of natural surface trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing.
“We are excited to acquire this long sought after addition to Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, which will expand recreational opportunities in the Jacksonville area,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Along with the increased public access, this property encompasses four known archaeological sites containing evidence of human history dating back 4,000 years.”
Part of the Pumpkin Hill Creek Florida Forever project in Duval County, this addition complements and enhances multiple partnerships and efforts to conserve the rich natural diversity and cultural history of the area.
The Pumpkin Hill Creek property is part of a larger tract on Black Hammock Island initially purchased by Trust for Public Land for conservation and public access. The remaining acres will be conveyed to the National Park Service as an addition to the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.
“This property not only offers visitors increased recreational access to hiking, wildlife viewing and fishing, but it also plays a crucial role in creating climate resilience against extreme weather events like hurricanes through protection of marshes and native forests,” said Doug Hattaway, senior project manager for Trust for Public Land. “We’re proud to be part of this effort to expand Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve and the historic, natural and cultural significance it holds.”
The acquisition protects some of the largest remaining natural coastal uplands in Duval County and enhances the protection of water quality for the Nassau and St. Johns rivers. It supports an important fishery and protects wading bird rookeries, one of which is used by the federally endangered wood stork. In addition, manatees frequent both the St. Johns and Nassau rivers and move into tidal creeks such as Hill Creek and Clapboard Creek.
Governor Ron DeSantis and the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund previously approved this acquisition on March 29, 2022. Funding support for the project was also provided by the city of Jacksonville.
The property will be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as an addition to Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park.
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s principal environmental agency, created to protect, conserve and manage Florida’s environment and natural resources. The department enforces federal and state environmental laws, protects Florida’s air and water quality, cleans up pollution, regulates solid waste management, promotes pollution prevention and acquires environmentally sensitive lands for preservation. The agency also maintains a statewide system of parks, trails and aquatic preserves. Visit the department’s website at FloridaDEP.gov