The Florida Audubon Society has added nearly 200 acres of pristine Nassau County marshland to its system of wildlife sanctuaries thanks to a generous donation from Reid B. Hughes of New Smyrna Beach. Hughes serves as a member of Audubon’s Board of Directors and is a past member of the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Audubon will name the new sanctuary the “Reid Hughes Marsh Sanctuary” in honor of the donor.
The new Audubon sanctuary tract is located on the Bells River, which branches from the St. Marys River separating Florida and Georgia. The sanctuary is just offshore of the Pirates Wood subdivision near Yulee and consists of deep marsh with some tree islands. Audubon is increasing its efforts to protect the marshlands in the Northeast Florida area, as these marshes are vitally important habitat for both resident bird species and migratory species on the Atlantic Flyway.
The “Reid Hughes Marsh Sanctuary” is ideal habitat for Threatened Wood Storks, ibis, herons, egrets, many types of shorebirds, as well as the MacGillivray’s Seaside Sparrow and Worthington’s Marsh Wren, a Species of Special Concern in Florida.
“The Reid Hughes Marsh is a great addition to the Florida Audubon Society’s sanctuary system. It provides exactly the kind of habitat we are looking for to sustain important coastal bird species that are under increased threat from development and climate change,” said Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director. “Private environmental land donations have become ever more important in recent years because of reduced state land purchases. Individual donors, like Reid Hughes, are stepping up to make a positive impact for Florida’s imperiled birds and wildlife.”
For information on Audubon conservation efforts in Northeast Florida, contact Chris Farrell, Policy Associate, Northeast Florida (904) 325-9940. For information on donating conservation land to the Florida Audubon Society, contact Charles Lee, Sanctuary and Land Manger, at (407) 620-5178.