Scrub Point Preserve

Guest Author: Biagio Gugliotti (Lake County Water Authority)

     Scrub Point Preserve is owned and managed by the Lake County Water Authority. The Preserve is a 93-acre peninsula that juts into Johns Lake from the southern shore on the Lake County side of the lake. Ecologically, the site has been well preserved and there are at least seven threatened or endangered species and many endemic species (native species that occur in a limited geographic area). There are some exotic plant species, usually around the boundaries and along roads, which staff works to control. The staff has also used prescribed fire to manage some of the dryer habitats on the property. Fire is a very important tool for managing habitat for the rare and endemic species.

     Staff periodically leads field trips on the property. In the past, they have led trips for Festival of Flight and Flowers (formerly the Wings and Wildflowers Festival), and for groups like the Florida Native Plant Society. The Water Authority has also partnered with the Lake County Parks and Trails to lead kayaking trips leaving from the County boat ramp on Highway 50 and paddling across the lake to the Preserve. Staff would then lead a guided hike on the preserve before paddling back to the boat ramp.

     Currently, there is no public access from the land, but access is allowed by boat at the northern point. In recent months more and more boaters are using the preserve. It appears that during the Covid-19 outbreak, more people are socializing on their boats and watercraft since bars and other social venues are closed. Unfortunately, this is having a negative effect on the preserve. The preserve is opened from sunrise to sunset. Alcohol, pets, hunting, trapping, and camping are not allowed on the preserve. All plants, animals, and cultural and historic resources are protected. Some of the issues have been with alcohol and trash on the preserve. The other big issue is the native shoreline vegetation is being destroyed by boats. The original beach area at the point was about 40 feet wide and would accommodate 3-4 boats. As attendance has increased, the opening in the vegetation has become wider and wider.

     Staff installed signs (pictured below) on either side of the opening in an attempt to educate boaters and create a physical limit to the extent of the opening in the vegetation. Within a week of installation, both signs were torn down. Staff was able to relocate the signs in the water and reinstall them. At the time of this writing, one sign has been torn down a second time and the other was twisted around so that the sign was facing the shoreline. The Water Authority is also working with the Lake County Sheriffs Marine Unit to increase patrols of the area.

     The Water Authority wants the public to enjoy the natural beauty of the property, but please be respectful and follow the posted rules.