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T.M. Goodwin - History

aerial photo of wetlands

Since the early 1900s, most of the floodplain marshes within the Upper St. Johns River Basin have been diked and drained for urbanization and agriculture, primarily citrus, sod or cattle production. These practices destroyed valuable wetlands, decreased water supply during the winter dry season, increased flood peaks and created critical water quality problems. Wetlands that included what later became the T.M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area, were ditched and drained prior to being planted with vegetable crops or pasture grasses. At one time, about 2,000 head of cattle grazed on the area.

As part of ongoing wetland restoration efforts and the need for flood protection, the St. Johns River Water Management District (District) acquired this agricultural land beginning in the 1980s using state Save Our Rivers funds.  In turn, the District leased this land to FWC to develop Florida’s first and only waterfowl management area.  The management area is named after Thomas M. Goodwin, a dedicated FWC biologist and waterfowl enthusiast who passed away in 1990. The objective of the WMA is to provide high quality wetland habitat for wintering, migrating, and resident waterfowl and other wetland wildlife, while providing recreational opportunities to the public. 

The T. M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area encompasses 6,270 acres and is comprised of two management units; The T. M. Goodwin Unit and the Broadmoor Marsh Unit.  The T. M. Goodwin Unit (3,870 acres) was developed with funds provided by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, Ducks Unlimited (DU), and the former Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.)

The Broadmoor Marsh Unit was added in 2002, as a result of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the District purchasing a Wetland Reserve Program conservation easement and fee-title acquisition, respectively, on 2,400 acres of private farmland immediately north of the T. M. Goodwin Unit.  This area, historically known as the Broadmoor Marsh, was leased to FWC under the auspices of the T. M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area agreement.  Like the T. M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area, the purpose of this area is to restore and enhance wetland habitat for migratory birds and other wetland wildlife.   Funding for restoration was provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Wetlands Reserve Program.  Ducks Unlimited, with technical support by the District, provided engineering and construction services.  FWC manages the Broadmoor Marsh Unit similar to the T. M. Goodwin Unit and provides public recreational opportunities.