Local residents had an opportunity to experience the beauty of Ponte Vedra’s Guana Preserve recently, when the Save Guana Now group hosted a guided hike through the preserve as a fundraiser for its efforts to prevent development of the Outpost.
Master Naturalist and Save Guana Now Co-Founder Gary Coulliette led participants along one of his personal favorite hikes through the preserve, explaining both the history of the area and its flora and fauna along the way. According to Save Guana Now Co-Founder Nicole Crosby, the two-mile hike began on the yellow trail and meandered through a canopy of old-growth hardwoods, past a freshwater marsh and along the Intracoastal Waterway upon the site of the Juan Andreu Mincoran settlement.
“We saw indigo plants which are descendants of the original plants that were raised for making dye centuries ago,” Crosby said. “We also saw a beautiful salt water lagoon and we walked to Shell Bluff. The views were breathtaking.”
Hikers also ventured down the preserve’s blue trail to the mile-long boardwalk on the west side of the freshwater marsh to enjoy the area’s scenic views.
Crosby said the nature hike was the first of many outings the Save Guana Now group plans to hold in order to raise funds for its quest to prevent the 99-acre Outpost property from being developed. The Ponte Vedra Corporation (PVC) – a subsidiary of Gate Petroleum – submitted a planned unit development (PUD) application to build a 77-home subdivision to be known as “Vista Tranquila” on the property located at the end of Neck Road in Ponte Vedra. Area residents and naturalist groups have opposed the development, however, and (PVC) has since filed a lawsuit against St. Johns County, asking the courts to force the county to act on its PUD application.
Plans for future fundraising outings, Crosby said, include dog walks, a bird watching excursion, bike trips, a photo walk led by a professional photographer, and a kayak/canoe/SUP trip past the Outpost property.
“We all share a deep concern,” Crosby said, “about the impact that construction and habitat loss at the Outpost would have on this beautiful preserve that almost completely surrounds the 99 acres slated for development.”