Guana River State Park

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Seagull at Guana River State Park

In 2004 the management of Guana River State Park, located on Florida's First Coast was turned over to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTMNERR), the 25th national estuarine research reserve in the United States.[1] The research reserve is located along State Highway A1A, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Located in St. Johns County, the research reserve is a federal/state partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as the state program administrator and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the federal side.

Within its 60,000 acres (240 km2) are beaches, sand dunes, salt marshes, mangroves, tidal wetlands, tidal creeks, oyster beds, estuarine lagoons, maritime hardwood hammock, freshwater depression marshes, pond pine flatwoods and shell mound forests.


Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway (Tolomato River), the Guana Tract, which includes the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) and Guana River Wildlife Management Area, comprises some 12,000 acres (49 km2) of public conservation and recreational uplands.

The land was purchased from Gate Petroleum with Conservation and Recreational Lands and Save Our Coast funds by the State of Florida in 1984 and divided into Guana River State Park and the Guana River Wildlife Management Area. In 2004 with the construction of the GTM Environmental Education Center, the management of the state park lands was turned over to the GTM Research Reserve to manage as part of the larger research reserve. The tract was privately owned and open to the public for hunting and fishing prior to state acquisition. During the period of private ownership, the Guana River was dammed in 1957, to flood the upstream marshes in order to enhance wintering waterfowl habitat. The result was the creation of the present-day Guana Lake. The lake water is brackish near its southern terminus at Guana Dam and gradually turns into a freshwater reservoir as one travels away from the dam. Both saltwater and freshwater fish species exist in the same body of water.


The GTMNERR is an important calving ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale and is also home to other aquatic and amphibious wildlife, like porpoises, manatees, sea turtles, gopher tortoises, American alligators, indigo snakes and river otters. The reserve is home to peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and the endangered Anastasia Island beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus phasma). Other birds that can be viewed are diving and wading birds, brown and white pelicans, wood storks, and roseate spoonbills. The reserve also contains the northern most extent of mangrove habitat on the east coast of the United States.

Recreational activities[edit]

Activities include hiking, fishing, boating, picnicing, and wildlife viewing.

Amenities include over nine miles (14 km) of nature trails in an unspoiled natural setting. The reserve also contains seventeen archaeological sites, shell middens at Shell Bluff Landing and Wright's Landing, as well as a prehistoric earthen burial mound. Guana continues to be a community gathering place for fishing, canoeing, and other aquatic activities.


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Coordinates: 30°01′24″N 81°19′36″W / 30.0233°N 81.3267°W / 30.0233; -81.3267