What’s Up With the Jones’ Pier and Natural Land on the Historical Jungle Trail, Indian River County, FL?


Jones Pier 1

Jones’ Pier along The Jungle Trail on the Indian River Lagoon, Indian River County, FL.

On December 10, 2016 a resident of Sea Oaks in Indian River County (IRC) wrote to a friend, copying Commissioners Bob Solari and Joe Flescher, expressing concern about the future of the Jones’ property along the Jungle Trail.

The Jones’ family settled in 1889 on what is now a 16.5-acre parcel, running from the Jungle Trail along the Indian River Lagoon east to State Road A1A. Their livelihood was growing citrus. At that point their was no bridge and the Jones’ had to float their citrus across the Lagoon to the mainland.

IRC bought the land from Jones’ family in 2008, using $3.8 million environmental-historical bonds plus an additional $3.1 million from the Florida Communities Trust.  The purchase was to keep the land from being sold for condominiums.

Here are relevant excerpts from the letter written by the gentleman in Sea Oaks.

“You see, I go by the property every day and I’m constantly frustrated that this gem which belongs to the County is unavailable to its citizens.

Tear down the fences, opening up the property to the public so families can use it.  Perhaps lay out some trails, provide picnic tables and arrange some proper parking. Build a comfort station station similar to the one just up the road at Captain Foster’s Reserve.”

Place some signs directing visitors to the sight.  Since everyone seems to think it is a wonderful site of even ‘national significance,’ why has the County kept it a secret.”

Jones Pier 2

Ironically, on Tuesday, December 13, 2016, two days after having written the above mentioned letter, at a meeting of IRC County Commissioners, a motion made by Vice Chairman O’Bryan and seconded by Commissioner Solari was passed by the Commissioners, to approve the allocation of 30% of the $1 million in funding available from the Windsor Properties Donation, to … building restorations, stormwater/wildlife pond for Jones’s Pier Conservation Area under Item 2.

And according to a December 11, 2017 email from Commissioner Peter O’Bryan, “Over the next 5 years the county will be committing over $2 million from Park Impact fees, Mitigation funds, land acquisition bond proceeds, optional sales tax and grants to a wide variety of parcels. 

Specific to Jones Pier, that is a separate line item. We are committing $300,000 in 2017/18 from the Windsor Properties Exchange and $150,000 in 2018/19 from grants for Public Access Improvements at Jones Pier.” (Emphasis added.)

Here’s what’s up according to information we have obtained.

On November 30, 2017 IRC drafted an Annual Stewardship Report for the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) for the period November 2016 – November 2017. FCT provided $ 3.1 million to acquire the property,

FCT is a governmental land acquisition program in the state of Florida, USA, administered by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

According to the Annual Stewardship Report:

  • The County has contracted with an engineering firm to develop a master plan for the site.  The master plan is approximately 30% complete, and is anticipated to be completed in early 2018.

Jones Pier wetland rest concept plan jpegJones Property Concept Plan provided by the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners

  • A new kiosk has been installed to display information about the conservation area and the history of the Jones’ Pier.
  •  The State Sovereignty Submerged Lands Lease for Jones’ Pier has been renewed through October 15, 2022.
  • The County has applied for a Department of Historical Resources small matching grant to replace the damaged fruit stand along the Jungle Trail.
  • Although the grant was not funded, the County applied for funding from the Indian River National Estuary Program (NEP) to assist in the restoration of the wetlands on the property. NEP did, however, provide positive feedback, approved the overall plan and encouraged the County to seek future funding in their next grant cycle.
  • A FCT acknowledgement sign has been erected.

Jones sign 1

  • An archaeological survey has not been completed, but is planned subject to funding availability.
  • The physical improvements to the buildings and one of the two docks on-site were significantly affected by Hurricane Matthew.  Pending coordination with FEMA, these buildings will be restored when funding is received.  At this time the cottage has been closed and secured.  Immediate remediation was undertaken to dry out the buildings and complete a mold assessment.  No additional interior flooding occurred from Hurricane Irma.

Jones' house

  • Parking stops have been put in place to formalize the parking location on-site.
  • A comprehensive plant and animal inventory will be completed prior to the physical improvements plan as much of the old citrus grove are will require restoration.  At the present time, the shoreline is in good condition with native species.
  • An educational sign has been installed along the shoreline to provide educational information about Mangroves.  If approved and funded by the Department of Historical Resources (DHR) small matching grant application in 2018, additional signage and displays for the site will be developed to design and construct additional educational signage describing the unique history of the Jones’ property and historic Jungle Trail.  These efforts will be carried out with assistance from the IRC Historical Society.

Jones mangroves

No picnic tables yet.


Jones sign 3

7 thoughts on “What’s Up With the Jones’ Pier and Natural Land on the Historical Jungle Trail, Indian River County, FL?

  1. I worked the last 3 years of Richard Milton Jones life for him. I heard so many stories, his 30 years as fishing guide on the indian river, taking the likes of Billy Graham out, Baseball Players, Nascar drivers, Presidents of Tylenol, Cambells Soup, Lloyds of London, all used to vacation here. He and Billy Graham ended up life long friends, with Billys mother even send the Jones fruit cake every Christmas. He took the creators of famous fishing lures out & they were quite impressed with Mr. Jones fishing! Milton was born in the old hospital on the west of the indian River on old dixie hwy. He said, my mother went across the river on a boat with me in and came back with me out. He remembered when the army blew out the way for the Sebastian Inlet. The stories go on and on………..swatting yourself with a palm frond before entering a residence to get the mosquitos off! He said his father shot a rifle in to air in the morning, to make an opening, through the mosquitos….

  2. This is a very special site that needs immediate funding and restoration! Drove by a few weeks ago and was disappointed as to its present condition. In 1971 when I first Learned of this very special road I knew then that this is a rare look at the past that was being developed by millionaires and ruining cultural history and environment . Great article!

  3. wonderful to finally see land being cleared ( March, 2020) on this exciting project..cannot wait for completion!

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