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Jacksonville, FL (July 14, 2018) – District 11 Councilman Danny Becton spent Saturday morning outdoors at the Julington-Durbin Preserve off Bartram Park Blvd on July 14th at a Celebration Rally that originally began as a “Save the Park Rally”.

A crowd of happy protesters attended and celebrated their victory against the developer, Eastland, who decided not to follow through with original plans to exchange land in Black Hammock Island for 403 acres and build the 1,400 homes purchased from the preserve.

Back in June, the once proposed plan to swap land from Black Hammock Island for 403 acres of the preserve to build on sparked the attention of local residents, visitors, environmentalist and large organizations like St. John’s River Keeper. A petition was started to save the preserve, which received about 6,500 signatures in two weeks.

On June 28th, Eastland announced its decision to not pursue the exchange of land in a press release. According to a News4Jax article, a written statement from the President of Eastland Tom Dodson, wrote “instead we are now exploring the sale of the Black Hammock land to the state of Florida.”

After the developer’s announcement, the St Johns River Keeper posted a blog on its website inviting the community to still join them, and the many other organizations involved, at Julington Durbin Preserve on July 14th for a rally instead of protest to celebrate their victory that saved the land.

Councilman Becton was one of the several speakers at a Celebration Rally at Julington-Durbin Preserve hosted by The St. John River keeper and a number of partner organizations. Many of the speakers shared their gratitude to everyone involved in their fight to save the preserve and their wishes to continue fighting for conservation land.

The event started at 7am with a pre-rally Bird Walk followed by The Public Rally which started at 9 a.m.

St Johns River Keeper, Florida Wildlife Federation, Florida Native Plant Society, Duval Audubon Society, Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group, League of Women Voters Jacksonville First Coast, Public Trust Law, Fun 4 First Coast Kids, Timucua Parks Foundation, and The Stetson Kennedy Foundation Councilman are some of the organizations that attended the Celebration Rally.

Becton was the first to speak at the rally and thanked the crowd for holding the event. CM Becton discussed his appreciation for the park that began years ago when he first visited JDP and how it’s an honor to have a resourceful asset like JDP in District 11. He continued to explain his interest in further educating others about the conservation land and hopefully influencing more people to experience the resource and use it to its full potential.

“When I first became councilman in 2015, I set three major initiatives. Fast forward three years later; I will be completing my third and final initiative this upcoming Monday.” Councilman Becton said. “Once I set a goal or an initiative that is important to me and my community, I do not stop working on it until I complete it. That being said, I will be setting three new initiatives to work on and complete over the next four years, and I am happy to say, the enhancement of the Julington-Durbin Preserve is one of them.”

Becton said as plans for exactly what needs to be done has not been decided, he said he has already gained ideas in how to help the preserve from residents. These ideas that have been discussed include: 1) Better signage at the front on Bartram Park Blvd so people know it’s there, 2) installing some type of road crossing device or allowance whereby residence can cross Bartram Park Blvd at the entrance, 3) a Kayak access point on Julington and/or Durbin creek so that users can access the preserve during their trip down the waterway, and 4) public restroom facilities for preserve users.

Once the speakers concluded, Florida Native Plant Society led a Native Plant Hike and St. Johns River Keeper and Fun 4 First Coast Kids led a Kids and Nature Scavenger Hunt and Hike.

See CM Becton’s previous story, maps and videos on the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve at: 

Learn More About the Julington-Durbin Creek Preserve