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North Fork, St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve

"Nestled into the urban sprawl of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Stuart is a quiet and scenic retreat - perfect for viewing manatees, birds, turtles and alligators from a canoe or kayak."


North Fork, St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve is located in southeast Florida, approximately 40 miles northwest of West Palm Beach.

The aquatic preserve is bounded on the north by Midway Road in White City. The southern preserve boundary extends from Coconut Point in Stuart to Jenkins Point in Palm City just west of the Roosevelt Bridge in Martin County. The eastern and western boundaries encompass the state-owned sovereign submerged lands occurring below the mean high water line to which the state holds title. The preserve is approximately 16 miles long through the natural riverbends.

Five bridges currently cross the aquatic preserve:

  • Midway Road at the northern boundary.
  • Prima Vista Boulevard, approximately four miles south of the northern boundary.
  • Port St. Lucie Boulevard, approximately 10 miles south of the northern boundary.
  • Mapp Road (over the C-23 Canal at the southwest boundary).
  • Murphy Road (over the C-23 Canal at the southwest boundary).

The headquarters for North Fork, St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve is the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves Field Office, located in Fort Pierce. The office is on public land managed by the Savannas Preserve State Park located at the meeting of Five Mile and Ten Mile creeks. The headquarters is approximately two miles north of the aquatic preserve boundary at Midway Road.

  • The North Fork St. Lucie River was extensively channelized and dredged in the early 1900s.
  • The North Fork St. Lucie River, designated as an aquatic preserve in 1972, is a freshwater system upstream and a brackish system near the St. Lucie Estuary.
  • The river supports a variety of federally and state-protected species such as American alligators, manatees, nesting wood storks, little blue herons and opossum pipefishes. 
  • Rare tropical peripheral fish species, such as gobies, sleepers and pipefishes, are also found in the upper reaches of the North Fork and the two headwaters - Five Mile Creek and Ten Mile Creek.
  • The river is especially important habitat for the juvenile phases of commercially important species such as blue crabs, snook, snapper, drum and shrimp. 
  • The North Fork St. Lucie River is part of Florida's "Save our Rivers" program.

The Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves are a proud partner of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and were selected as a 2017 & 2018 Leave No Trace Hot Spot. To learn more about Leave No Trace in the Indian River Lagoon, contact Emily Dark at Emily.Dark@dep.state.fl.us or 772-429-2995.

Visit us on Facebook.

Volunteering at the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves

The Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves provide a variety of volunteer opportunities from projects in ecosystem science, restoration and spoil island activities. Volunteers help with activities such as wildlife monitoring, annual seagrass monitoring or microplastic sampling. The Shoreline Restoration Project enables volunteers to get involved in shoreline stabilization through native plantings. On spoil islands, volunteers take a hand in improving visitor access through activities such as invasive plant removal or installing picnic tables, fire rings or human waste bag dispensers. For more information, please contact our office at IRLAP@dep.state.fl.us or call 772-429-2995.

For other opportunities to help preserve the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding aquatic preserves, consider joining the Friends of the Spoil Islands.

Counties: 
St. Lucie
Location: 
Managed Location Contact: 
Irene Arpayoglou
Phone: 
Total Acreage: 
2972.00
Managed-Regulated: 
Managed
Receives State Funding: 
Yes
State Owned: 
Yes
Public Access: 

Recreation at North Fork St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve includes canoeing, kayaking, motor boating, sailing, water skiing, wake boarding, catch-and-release fishing, and nature viewing. Ecotour operations provide pontoon trips to educate residents and visitors about the biology and ecology of the aquatic preserve.

The Savannas Preserve State Park provides an ADA accessible kayak launch on the North Fork of the St Lucie River at the Halpatiokee Nature Trail location. The entrance is located on US 1 in Port St. Lucie, south of SE Village Green Drive, about 3/4 mile north of Walton Road. The launch allows transfer from a wheelchair to a kayak or canoe and has a pull-on/pull-off ramp and a paved parking area.

The aquatic preserve contains five public boat ramps, three public canoe stopovers and two public marinas. The five public boat ramps include:

  • White City Park.
  • River Park Marina.
  • Veteran's Memorial Park at Rivergate.
  • Sandpiper Bay Marina.
  • C-24 Boat Ramp.

The three canoe stopovers are located at:

  • Idabelle Island.
  • St. Lucie County's Oxbow Eco-Center.
  • Savannas Preserve State Park - Halpatiokee Canoe and Nature Trail.

With the exception of Sandpiper Bay Marina, public access points are associated with adjacent public lands and managed by local and state agencies.

Archaeological Resources: 

The Division of Historical Resources Master Site File, Florida Department of State, indicates that there are six historical sites located within or adjacent to the preserve; three shell middens, one historic road scar, one shack and one bridge.

Habitat-Wildlife Type: 
Aquatic Preserves
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Last Modified:
March 20, 2018 - 2:15pm

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