The land acquisition was part of Florida Forever.
Bulow Creek State Park, home of the Fairchild Oak, has grown by 47 acres.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced on Dec. 20, that it had purchased a parcel adjacent to the existing state park lands near Ormond Beach, a move that is part of the Strategic Managed Area Lands List Florida Forever Project, according to a FDEP press release. Florida Forever is a land acquisition program for the purpose of conservation and recreation.
"Bulow Creek State Park is a prime example of the real Florida," said Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper in the release. "This addition allows us to better manage resources and provide memorable visitor experiences. We thank the Governor and Legislature for continuing to invest in Florida Forever to protect our state’s special places.”
The square-shaped parcel was the last piece of undeveloped privately-owned shoreline on the Tomoka Basin, said Phil Rand, Tomoka Basin State Parks manager. About a year and a half ago, the state reached out to Rand and asked if there were properties surrounding the park that should be purchased if they came on the market. Rand submitted the 47 acre property; the previous owners had spoken with him in the past about possibly selling the site.
Aside from the property being adjacent to the park's 5,600 acres of conservation lands, it's also an important diamondback terrapin nesting habitat.
“That’s one of the reasons the division of state lands sought this piece of property when it became available, because we already knew that would be one of the pieces that we wanted," Rand said.
The property is also home to a historic site — the remains of a home. Protruding from the water are posts that used to hold up a dock. Among the scattered brick, Phil pointed out deer tracks.
The road to reach it is a rocky one, passing through salt marshes, private properties, and lined with palmettos, tall grasses and wildflowers.
There are also a concerning number of Brazilian pepper trees, an invasive non-native plant that has spread along the non-park owned land. Now that the park owns some of the land, Rand and other park employees and volunteers will be able to work to prevent the plant from spreading.
“Usually, we like to restore a property to its natural configuration,” Rand said.
Bulow Creek State Park currently has an average annual attendance of 113,491 with an estimated economic impact of almost $10.5 million.
Residents won't be able to visit the property anytime soon. Though Rand said there is a unit plan in place they will follow, for now, the state has not announced concrete plans. Still, the added acreage is a positive outcome.
“We feel that good things will come out of this, for sure," Rand said.
Bulow Creek State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown daily. There is no entrance fee. For more information, visit https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/bulow-creek-state-park