Public use that is compatible with natural and cultural resource protection is a priority at the Buffer Preserve along with promoting and encouraging visitors to view the Buffer Preserve as a unique wilderness area with a high degree of aesthetic and natural value that is worth protecting through active stewardship. The Buffer Preserve is managed under the single use concept.
Invasive non-native plant species in the Buffer Preserve are a significant management issue and at present are largely confined to the perimeter of the Buffer Preserve in residentially developed areas. The following species are treated as part of the Buffer Preserve's invasive plant management program: cogon grass, Chinese tallow, Japanese climbing fern, and camphor tree. The control program consists of annual herbicidal application, primarily in the fall, as well as mapping and monitoring throughout the year.
Florida has lost more than 50 percent (9 million acres) of its natural wetlands in the past 200 years. Most of this loss may be attributed to wetland drainage and filling. The natural flow of water across a landscape of natural wetlands is critical to the quality of water finding its way into our rivers, bays and oceans.
The natural systems that occur on Buffer Preserve lands form a complex mosaic of natural communities that are not managed independently of each other. The majority of natural communities that occur on the Buffer Preserve are fire dependent or fire-adapted. The Buffer Preserve's fire dependent communities include sandhill, scrub, scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods and wet prairie.
The lands and waters that make up the Buffer Preserve have a rich history of human occupation. In order to adequately assess and interpret the full range of cultural resources, the Buffer Preserve facilitates and conducts research to serve as a foundation for developing a comprehensive cultural resources management plan starting with a detailed assessment of the location and description of these resources. As the Buffer Preserve's archaeological surveys and artifact collection inventory progresses, this information is incorporated into its education and outreach programs.
While the St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve buildings are currently closed for repairs due to Hurricane Michael, other public areas withing the Preserve (hiking, biking, horseback riding trails) are all open and available for use.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.