Coastal Oaks Preserve: Restoration in Progress

Indian River County (IRC) voters elected to tax themselves to buy conservation lands in 1992 and 2004. Concurrently, the group that is now the Indian River Land Trust (IRLT) worked to purchase additional conservation lands with private donations.

Fortunately, the IRLT was able to purchase the land south of the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area in 2011 when IRC had exhausted its land acquisition bond referendum monies. This parcel, located between the Grove Isle and Garden Grove subdivisions, had long been sought for purchase by IRC to protect the shoreline of the Indian River Lagoon.

The IRLT has named this 200+ acre property Coastal Oaks Preserve, as this discreet sign on US Highway 1 indicates. and has purchased additional land on the west side of US Highway that connects to the Hallstrom House, a 5-acre property owned and operated by the Indian River Historical Society, which is surrounded by 90 acres of IRC conservation land.

Dave Fuss, IRLT Director of Stewardship, led a special walk at the Coastal Oaks Preserve on the afternoon of Saturday, February 26, outlining future plans for parking, nature trails, and other amenities. We much appreciated his ability to walk backwards so that all of us could enjoy his narrative.

Dave explained that the 35-acre area nearest Highway US 1 was filled with Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia), which was mechanically removed by the St. Johns Water Management District (SJRWMD) as part of a mitgation project. That project includes ongoing restoration efforts including uplands and an extensive wetland area …

The rest of the property also includes pine flatwoods, extensive oak hammock, mangrove forest, and a tiny bit of saltmarsh.

The Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) along the DOT ditch toward the southern end of the property was especially dramatic …

Invasive plants in the areas that we saw were mostly minimal due the work of the IRLT. Some shoebutton ardisia (Ardisia elliptica) and evil climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) were evident. Thanks to Terry Greene for removing some of the shoebutton ardisia …

We look forward to future improvements!

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