History of IRLT

  • Indian River Land Trust is established in Vero Beach, FL
  • IRLT helps promote $26 million bond referendum
    Approved by voters to purchase environmentally sensitive land.
  • Archie Carr Refuge for Sea Turtles Fund
    IRLT establishes fund to enable protection of sea turtle habitat in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
  • McKee Botanical Garden Purchase and Restoration
    IRLT completes ten year, $10 million project culminating in the protection of McKee Garden in perpetuity through a conservation easement held by IRLT.
  • Environmental Land Bond Referendum
    IRLT leads countywide effort for passage of $50 million bond referendum approved by 67% of voters to purchase land and easements to protect our natural, historic and agricultural land.
  • IRLT researches and produces digital map of Indian River County's most important environmentally sensitive lands.
  • Gopher Tortoise Study
    IRLT funds a study in the North Sebastian Conservation Area to determine tortoise populations, carrying capacities of the Preserve, and the potential for relocating tortoises displaced by development.

    Protection of Treasure Hammock Ranch
    IRLT initiates and facilitates county project to purchase a conservation easement on the 462-acre historic, working cattle ranch containing wetlands, native wildlife, and natural water filtration. This is the first true agricultural conservation easement in the State of Florida.

    Protection of Padgett Creek Ranches
    IRLT assists with county project to purchase conservation easements on more than 1,600 acres of environmentally significant working cattle ranchland containing the Padgett Branch, a critical waterway leading directly to Blue Cypress Lake and the St. John's River.
  • Lagoon Greenway
    Initiated a multi-agency effort to establish and manage miles of trails and boardwalks through 187 acres of conservation lands along the Indian River Lagoon, including a 66-acre property owned by IRLT.
  • Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail
    Acquired two parcels totaling eight acres along the Indian River Lagoon which will provide public access to a 50-acre block of publicly managed parcels of oak hammocks, dwindling native scrub forest and essential mangrove swamps, with beautiful views of the lagoon.
  • Land Trust Doubles Conservation Lands North of Barber Bridge
    Purchased 4-acre waterfront property on Historic Quay Dock Road.

    November 2010 completed the purchase of Winter Beach Salt Marsh a 47-acre high salt marsh and mangrove swamp with a 1/4 mile of lagoon frontage adjacent to the Spoonbill Marsh conservation area. This acquisition doubles the protected area available to dozen of species of wading birds such as the threatened Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork.
  • Purchased largest conservation properties in 20 year history:
    Bee Gum Point - The 111-acre property was the last unprotected wetlands on the barrier island, containing a mile of lagoon shoreline. Bee Gum Point Preserve will remain a natural area along the Atlantic Flyway, a major corridor for millions of migrating birds each year, including over 160 species of birds that utilize the preserve. This purchase was made possible with the financial assistance of The Conservation Fund.

    Coastal Oaks Preserve - Initial purchase of 185 acres located on the west side of the Indian River Lagoon north of the St. Lucie/Indian River County line contains tropical oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, freshwater and saltwater wetlands and ponds, as well as a mile of Lagoon shoreline.
  • Fish & Wildlife Grant for Bee Gum Point - The Land Trust was awarded a one million dollar grant by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This grant, made available through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, helped to complete the acquisition of Bee Gum Point Preserve.

    Pine Island - The Land Trust accepted a donation of 130 acres of premier conservation land on Pine Island, south of the Wabasso Causeway. This gift along with the purchase of 60 acres in March 2012, assembles a 190-acre block of significant wading bird habitat.
  • Expansion of the Winter Beach Salt Marsh: In an effort to fully protect the Winter Beach Salt Marsh that the Land Trust originally acquired in 2010, we added 5 acres and 1/4 mile of shoreline, expanding the property to 52 acres. The Land Trust's salt marsh properties and the County's adjoining Spoonbill Marsh north of Grand Harbor now make up a nearly 100-acre block of contiguous conservation lands with a mile of protected shoreline.

    Bridge View Properties: The Land Trust acquired 200+ acres and more than a mile of shoreline property. In two independent transactions, IRLT acquired a 56-acre and a 150-acre property. These two properties are a critical part of a two-mile stretch of green shoreline in full view, looking north, from the Barber Bridge.

    Expansion of Coastal Oaks Preserve: An additional purchase of 5 acres with Lagoon frontage brings the preserve to a total of 190 acres.
  • Expansion of Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail Conservation Lands:
    July 2014: Through a three-way transaction between the Land Trust, Indian River County and the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Land Trust was able to acquire 30 acres of publicly managed oak hammock, scrub and coastal wetlands. This ecologically significant property would have been sold by the State as "surplus" had the Land Trust not intervened.

    December 2014: The Land Trust accepted the generous donation of an 11.6-acre property from Virginia and Warren Schwerin and family. This valuable property, located along Hwy U.S. 1, now serves as an important upland buffer to adjoining Lagoon-front property owned by the Land Trust and has expanded this conservation area to over 50 acres.

    Expansion of Bridge View Properties: The Land Trust purchased an additional 25 acres of maritime hammock, high salt marsh and mangrove forest in an effort to further protect the fully restored wetlands located on the 200+ acre Bridgeview Property.

    Lost Tree Islands: In November 2014, the Land Trust acquired the final puzzle piece of the Lost Tree Island archipelago, previously purchased by Indian River County with environmental land bond funds. Van Busch Island, now named Cove Island, is a 15-acre island a mile north of the Vero Beach Marina.
  • Winter Beach Salt Marsh: With private donor and federal grant support, the Land Trust began a significant effort to restore one of the last remnant high salt marshes in Indian River County.

    Reed Cut: Part of a long-term strategy in the Wabasso area to conserve a nearly 150-acre block of natural lands along the Indian River Lagoon, the acquisition of this key 10-acre parcel expanded the Land Trust holdings in this area to 60 acres.
  • Expansion of Coastal Oaks Preserve: An additional purchase of 30 acres which includes part of the historic Hallstrom citrus grove expands Coastal Oaks Preserve to an impressive 220 acres.
  • Habitat Restoration at Coastal Oaks Preserve: The Land Trust embarked on a unique effort to restore freshwater wetlands and associated uplands on 35 acres of Coastal Oaks Preserve near US Hwy 1. In partnership with the Land Trust, the St. Johns River Water Management District developed plans to expand historical wetlands and restore native upland forest on former citrus grove as part of a wetlands mitigation project. The restoration will be implemented and monitored over a number of years and, after success has been achieved, will be cared for in perpetuity by the Land Trust.
  • Expansion of Wabasso Area Conservation: The Land Trust acquired an additional 30-acre property, increasing its conservation land in the Wabasso area to 90 acres. This was another important step toward the Land Trust's long-term strategy to conserve a nearly 150-acre block of natural lands along the Indian River Lagoon in this area.
  • Hoffmann Property: The Land Trust acquired 66 additional acres along the Indian River Lagoon near the base of the Barber Bridge, further extending the Bridge View Properties' contiguous habitats to 300 acres. This land, which includes 30 acres of an intact tidal creek and direct access to the Lagoon, had high development potential and represents a big victory for preservation.
  • Coastal Oaks Preserve: The Land Trust acquired two key parcels totaling 6 acres along US Hwy 1 directly across from the 220-acre Preserve, thereby creating a green corridor along this busy six-lane highway. The naturally vegetated parcels were proposed for development of storage units before the Land Trust stepped in to protect them. Their acquisition establishes a 321-acre contiguous block of conservation land, including Indian River County's 90-acre scrubland preserve together with the 5-acre historical Hallstrom House & Farmstead parcel immediately west of the Land Trust's land.
  • Oyster Bar Marsh Trail: Over the years, the Land Trust and Indian River County partnered to acquire multiple parcels that make up the 155-acre Oyster Bar Marsh, located on Hwy A1A, 1/4 mile north of Round Island Park. Through this long-term partnership, a trail, boardwalks and an observation deck were officially opened in December of 2022.
  • Sebastian River Property: The Land Trust acquired a new conservation property, adding 33 additional acres of protected green space. The property is located on the South Prong of the St. Sebastian River, bordering the City of Sebastian. The St. Sebastian River is home to manatee, alligator, the prehistoric garfish, important bird rookeries, and species of globally rare fish. It is the only natural tributary of the Lagoon in the county, which further underscores its conservation value. This acquisition will be the spark to realize the long-imagined St. Sebastian River Greenway trail. Plans with other local non-profits and municipal leaders have recently resumed for the scenic nature trail along the river.

Additional Accomplishments:
  • IRLT has been an active partner in the improvement and expansion of the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and the historic Jungle Trail.

  • IRLT has been a critical partner in the establishment of the St. Sebastian River Greenway by developing the St. Sebastian River Greenway Plan, adopted by the Indian River County Board of Commissioners, and securing associated lands at risk with the goal of protecting a corridor of native habitat leading into the Indian River Lagoon.