In 1999, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) was designated in St. John’s and Flagler counties, Florida as a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) system. The GTM Research Reserve represents the east Florida sub-region of the Carolinian bioregion. It is one of 29 NERRs in 23 states and one territory. GTM is one of three NERRs in Florida, and is administered on behalf of the state by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Coastal Office as part of a network that includes forty-one aquatic preserves, three NERRs, a National Marine Sanctuary, the Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council.
The GTM Research Reserve Visitor Center is located at 505 Guana River Road in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. It is in the northern component of GTM Research Reserve, ten miles north of St. Augustine on State Road A1A in Ponte Vedra Beach, and serves as the administrative, education, research and stewardship facilities for the northern component of GTM Research Reserve.
The southern component of GTM Research Reserve consists of Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserve, Faver-Dykes State Park, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Moses Creek Conservation Area, Pellicer Creek Conservation Area, Fort Matanzas National Monument, Matanzas State Forest, Princess Place Preserve, The River to Sea Preserve at Marineland, Marsh View Preserve, and other state sovereign submerged lands adjacent to the Matanzas River within its boundary. There is a smaller office building on A1A within the River to Sea Preserve in Marineland.
This site is an excellent birding destination; 220 species have been recorded. It offers 15 miles of hiking trails through flatwoods, oak hammocks, scrub, freshwater wetlands and brackish marshes. Two viewing towers, one on Capo Creek and one on Lake Ponte Vedra, provide good vantage to scan for wintering ducks, for which the area is known, as well as egrets and herons.
Coversations/Things we learned:
This location is a hidden gem in St. John’s, Florida. the visitor center has amazing exhibits and the hiking trails were tremendous and well maintained. We found hikers, people fishing, and boating. One could spend all day at this area and the views we exceptional.
Visitor Center & Exhibits