INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A preview of the new Jones Pier Conservation Area late last month revealed what the public can expect once the project is complete.
The old fruit standwhere the Jones family sold local citrus fruits, was rebuilt with a Historic Resources grant to provide a hub along Jungle Trail where visitors can get information about the conservation area.
A 4 acre salt marsh was built to provide wildlife habitat for local fish, invertebrates and birds and to provide filtration for the Indian River Lagoon water.
A pavilion — which would eventually be called the Ruth Stanbridge Education Building – was built as a shade structure and serves as a meeting place for volunteers and students who meet while working on the site. It will be dedicated in the fall to Stanbridge, Indian River County historian and former county commissioner.
About 20 people took part in the July 30 guided tour of environmental improvements at the 16-acre, 7770 Jungle Trail site, led by Conservation Lands manager Wendy Swindell.
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After: Jones Pier Fruit Stand is rebuilt along Jungle Trail
Although the site is not yet open to the public, the county is planning more preview tours over the next few months before arranging a soft opening to the public in November. Tours last about an hour and visitors can expect to walk about a mile.
“This site is a wonderful blend of history and ecology,” Swindell said. “Not only do we have this wonderful site along the Indian River Lagoon, but we have the historic Jones Pier which tells the story of the pioneers and early citrus on Barrier Island.”
Indian River County purchased the conservation area in 2008 for $6.8 million. The property was once owned by the pioneering Jones family, some of whom lived on the property along Jungle Trail for over 115 years.
The next phase of the project includes transforming the old Jones Farm along Jungle Trail into a museum containing information and memorabilia from the early pioneer days of Indian River County.
Because the area is prone to flooding, the house will be elevated on 8 foot concrete piers. Once the house is moved, sidewalks and walking paths will be constructed on the site.
“We’re trying to eliminate every lit patch of habitat,” Swindell said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for just 16 acres.”
County Commissioner Laura Moss joined the tour on July 30 and said she was very excited for the project to move forward.
“It’s a very special project that the public is very interested in,” Moss said. “It’s going wonderfully, but there’s a lot of pressure to do it.”
Sebastian resident Cecilie Silvagni moved to Indian River County three years ago from South Florida and said she enjoys visiting local sites of historic interest.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to have a guided tour of the new conservation area,” Silvagni said. “The tour was just awesome and I learned a lot about local history and got to meet new people.”
The County Conservation Lands Program is dedicated to the management of county-owned conservation properties. For more information on conservation lands, visit www.ircgov.com/conservation or Facebook.com/ircConservation. For information on future tours of the Jones Pier Conservation Area, email [email protected]
Janet Begley is a local freelance writer for TCPalm.com. If you like articles like this and other TCPalm coverage of Treasure Coast news, please support our journalism and subscribe now.