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FWC and SJRWMD begin habitat enhancement project on St. Johns Water Management Area - Stick Marsh/Farm 13

landscape of stick marsh
Media contact: Michelle Kerr, 850-510-4776 or Release Date: 02-07-2023   All Articles Tags:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) are collaborating on a large-scale habitat restoration project on the St. Johns Water Management Area, also known as Stick Marsh/Farm 13 in Brevard and Indian River counties.

A drawdown will be conducted from February-August 2023, where water will be released and the low water levels will stimulate growth of aquatic plants.

FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration Section will plant native aquatic plants, bulrush and spatterdock, during the drawdown in the southern portion of the reservoir. These plants provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and benefit the recreational users of this resource. Established plants will also create natural wave-breaks, protecting habitat from future storms.

This drawdown will be the first ever conducted on Stick Marsh/Farm13, which became world renowned as a premier trophy bass fishery following impoundment in 1991. A Critical Wildlife Area is within the reservoir and provides nesting and roosting habitat for imperiled waterbirds, including roseate spoonbills and tricolored herons. The lower water levels created by the drawdown should benefit waterbirds by increasing foraging habitat and concentrating prey. Snail kites do not currently nest in the Stick Marsh but the results of this project could facilitate future kite nesting and foraging in this area. Water levels around the nesting islands are anticipated to be high enough to continue to prevent land predators.

To conduct a drawdown of the Stick Marsh/Farm 13, Three Forks Conservation Area to the north must also undergo a drawdown. Biologists will closely monitor the Three Forks Conservation Area for snail kite nesting. The St. Johns Water Management Area boat ramp at the Stick Marsh/Farm 13 and the Thomas O. Lawton Recreation Area boat ramp at Three Forks Conservation Area will remain accessible during this project. Please be aware that shallower water can create underwater hazards. Boaters should operate at slower speeds and proceed with caution.

For more information about this project, contact FWC biologists, Trevor Knight at 352-732-1225 or Joel Andreas at 321-624-9468.