Important Bird Areas

St. Joseph Bay

Florida

Black's Island, 2.8 ha;
Eglin Air Force Base Test Site, 202 ha;
Palm Point, 40 ha;
St. Joseph Bay Buffer CARL-FF Project, 2176 ha;
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, 1018 ha;

Located at the ?elbow? of the Florida Panhandle in southwestern Gulf County, mostly south and west of the town of Port St. Joe.

This IBA surrounds and forms St. Joseph Bay, a state-designated Aquatic Preserve. It consists of several public land ownerships, as well as other sites sought for public acquisition. Black's Island is a small privately-owned island in southern St. Joseph Bay. Eglin Air Force Base Test Site, at the southern end of the St. Joseph Peninsula?and known as Cape San Blas?is used by the military, primarily for radar calibration and missile testing. Palm Point is private land along the northern shore of St. Joseph Sound, just north of the community of Highland View, extending northwest 2 miles (3.1 km). Pig Island is immediately east of the State Park, and is part of St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve is a state acquisition project designed to protect the entire eastern shore of St. Joseph Bay south of Port St. Joe, as well as a few miles (km) of Gulf coast between Cape San Blas and Indian Peninsula. No data were provided for this site. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park occupies most of a long, narrow peninsula jutting north from Cape San Blas for more than 15 miles (24 km). It is bounded on the east by St. Joseph Sound and on the west and north by the Gulf of Mexico. At its northernmost point, it is only about 2 miles (3.2 km) from the mainland at St. Joe Beach. Visitation to T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is 145,400 recreationists annually.

Ornithological Summary

These six sites that surround and form St. Joseph Bay are regionally important for breeding Brown Pelicans (Black's Island), breeding Snowy Plovers (Palm Point), wintering shorebirds, migrant raptors, and Neotropical migrants (state park), and other species. Black?s Island is the only site in Florida??and perhaps the world?? where Brown Pelicans nest in the tops of palms. Beaches at Cape San Blas and the State Park have been designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Critical Habitat for the Piping Plover. The north end of the State Park frequently supports large numbers of roosting larids, and has historically supported nesting Least Terns. Overall diversity, derived solely from the list for T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, is 179 native species.

Conservation Issues

Black's Island: *development, *human disturbance. Eglin Air Force Base Test Site: *human disturbance. Palm Point: *development, *human disturbance. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park: *human disturbance, *erosion, exotic plants, feral cats, cowbird brood parasitism

Ownership

U.S. Air Force (Eglin Air Force Base Test Site), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Pig Island), Florida Division of Marine Resources (St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park), and private owners (Black's Island, other remaining acreage of the St. Joseph Bay Buffer CARL?FF Project, and Palm Point)

Habitat

Black's Island: *temperate hammock, coastal strand, artificial. Eglin Air Force Base Test Site: *coastal strand. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park: *slash pine flatwoods, *sand pine scrub, *coastal strand, temperate hammock, sawgrass marsh, tidal marsh, estuarine, coastal grasslands, artificial

Land Use

Black's Island: *private (planned development). Eglin Air Force Base Test Site: *conservation, *low-impact military use, recreation. Palm Point: private. T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park: *conservation, *recreation

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