New Lakefront Park for Flagler County (FL)

December 18, 2007
Florida

Flagler County, FL, 12/18/2007: ?Public access to Dead Lake and 23 acres of cypress wetlands in Flagler County have been preserved with the acquisition of a historic site on Bull Creek, it was announced today by Flagler County and The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization.

The 30-acre property, known as Bull Creek Fish Camp, is located in the westernmost part of the county. The property includes docks and a boat ramp that are very busy during fishing season, as well as a restaurant, small store, and 50 recreational vehicle camping sites.

"The purchase of the Bull Creek Fish Camp insures that countless future generations of residents in Flagler County will always be able to enjoy and have access to one of the best fresh water boating areas in the county. The Trust For Public Land was instrumental in the County's ability to set this land aside and preserve it forever," said Flagler County Commissioner Bob Abbott.

The property has long been sought after by the county's land acquisition committee, as it provides lake access and is considered to be a prime piece of property for parkland and wetland preservation. The property is located on the state-designated "Great Florida Birding Trail."

The site and surrounding habitat are home to alligators, bald eagles, and manatees, which frequent Dead Lake at certain times of the year. Its 23 acres of forested wetlands contain many mature red cypress trees, sabal palms, and pine trees, all of which provide excellent wildlife habitat.

"When you visit Bull Creek Fish Camp you feel like you are a world away," said TPL project manager Andrea Goldman. "But in reality you are on the edge of a superblueway, a chain of lakes and creeks that connect to the St. Johns River and take you out to the ocean."

Bull Creek Fish Camp has enjoyed a historic legacy as a destination along the St. Johns River and its tributaries. In the early 1900's, Dead Lake and the surrounding community of St. Johns Park were the gateway for visitors to Flagler County. Before the roads were paved, steam ships from Jacksonville motored guests to the former Omega Hotel on the shores of the lake by coming up the St. Johns River, through Crescent Lake to Dead Lake. Dead Lake got its name from the fact that it was as far as the steamers could go or the "dead end".

The area boasted 149 recorded homesites, docks, a big hotel, and a Dupont railroad line that ran east to the Florida East Coast Railroad. Many residents left after the Great Depression, and in recent years the Bull Creek Fish Camp has served the local community by providing a variety of amenities and access to the water.

Many visitors look forward to staying at Bull Creek Fish Camp during bass or speckled perch season, spending their time out on the water trying to hook a big one. Others like to come watch the beautiful array of birds, and might even glimpse an alligator or a manatee.

"This is really the type of place you would bring someone to visit the old Florida - the "real Florida" - to watch alligators and birds, catch some fish, camp, do some kayaking, or sip a cold drink outside at one of the tiki tables," said Ms. Goldman.

The Trust for Public Land worked with former owners Charlie and Margie McCraney to purchase the property for conservation.

"About eight months ago we were introduced to the Trust for Public Land and found what we had been looking for," Charlie and Margie McCraney told the Flagler County Commissioners in a December 3 letter. "This is an organization that works very hard to make the wishes of land owners come true. They have worked to transfer our property into public ownership, always thinking of the long-range goal... We hope that after the acquisition we can all work together to make this area, for all the people of Flagler County, a park to be proud of."

The county commission purchased the property from The Trust for Public Land using Environmentally Sensitive Lands funds approved by voters in 1998 and again in 2002. The commission voted in earlier this month to continue to operate the campground.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites - over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please call 850-222-7911.