VERO BEACH - The highly anticipated Jones’ Pier Conservation Area is ready to open. The JPCA is next to Jungle Trail in Vero Beach.
The Indian River County Board of County Commissioners will hold a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony on Fri., May 5 at 1 p.m. Guests should access Jones’ Pier from the south, from A1A onto Old Winter Beach Road. Jungle Trail will be closed to thru traffic on May 5.
The JPCA holds an important place in late 19th century/early 20th century Indian River County history.
According to the county, the project sits on a pioneer family homestead. Seaborn Jones and his family homesteaded 160 acres on Orchid Island in 1889. Along with other neighbors, they built the Orchid-Narrows Road, now known as Jungle Trail, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The early settlers’ development of citrus groves helped give birth to the county’s citrus industry. In 1907 Mr. Jones built a dock to make use of the river for citrus commerce. The dock was featured in the movie “There Goes the Bride.”
Indian River County purchased the dock and land from the Jones family in 2011, with assistance from the Florida Communities Trust. The county committed to implementing an ecologically-guided management plan for the site.
Since the purchase, the county has spent over $2 million to restore and improve the site, with additional funds budgeted in the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
The county has completed reconstruction of the historic fruit stand, planted a living shoreline along the lagoon, reconstructed the dock and overlook, and repaired the cottage and Jones house after damage from Hurricane Matthew. Both structures have been restored to pre-storm condition. The cottage has been converted to a lab for students and volunteers, with a small kitchen, work space, meeting space, and storage.
Approximately 10,000 native plants have been installed throughout the property. The wetland is now connected to the Indian River Lagoon.
The centerpiece of the site is a four-acre salt marsh designed for wildlife habitat and water quality benefits.
The grand opening will highlight the many improvements on the site, including the historic buildings, walking trails, salt marsh and other natural areas.
There will also be a celebration of County Historian Ruth Stanbridge for her contributions to Indian River County.
“I think Ruth Standbridge will forever be known for her dedication to establishing Jungle Trail as one of the National List of Historic Places,” said Acting General Services Director and Director of Parks and Recreation Beth Powell. “It was a daunting task that required extensive knowledge and perseverance.” In addition to her tenure as county historian, Ms. Stanbridge served as county commissioner from 1998-2002.
For more information about the JPCA, contact the Conservation Lands Program at (772) 226-1781, or visit www.ircgov.com/departments/General_Services/Parks/Conservation/Jones_Pier.htm.
The Jones Pier Conservation Area is located at 7770 Jungle Trail, Vero Beach.
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