Samsons Island Information

Samsons Island Information

Where is Samsons Island?
Samsons Island Boat on WaterwaySamsons Island is located on a 52 acre island in the Banana River, in the City of Satellite Beach, Florida.  The Banana River is part of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Estuary system.  The IRL is the longest saltwater lagoon in Florida, comprising more than a third of the state’s east coast.  It has been called “the most diverse estuary in North American” and has been designated as “an Estuary of National Significance”.


What is the history of the island?
Prior to the 1950’s, the Samsons Island area consisted mostly of saltmarsh and mangrove wetlands.  In the early 50’s, the island was created from the dredged material deposited onto those wetlands.  The island is named after Sam Fuchs and his sons, who, in 1968 donated approximately 26 acres to the City.  The other half was purchased by the City.  It lay dormant until 1990, when, at the recommendation of a citizen committee, it was designated a passive recreation park and nature preserve to be developed as time, funds, and civic volunteer efforts allowed.

Is there a plan for the island?
The committee developed a master plan, setting forth the following major goals:
  1. Develop viable examples of the five natural biological communities present on our barrier island and in Brevard County (coastal saline wetlands, freshwater wetlands, mesic forest, zeric scrub, and hardwood hammock).                    
  2. Develop sufficient facilities to support the “passive recreation” aspect of the park.
  3. Build a biologically sustainable (food, shelter and reproductive requirements) safe haven for flora and fauna displaced from the barrier islands by human development, focusing on gopher tortoises, scrub jays, other birds and native plants.

    
   
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If Samsons Island is a nature preserve, what is all the clearing and other work about?
Owl2_edited-1Since the destruction of the natural ecosystem in the 1950’s, the island has been dominated by Brazilian Peppers and Australian Pines.  Even though both of these trees are “green”, they are actually exotic invasives, and now banned in Florida.  So far, clearing efforts have created substantial areas of each of the five natural biological communities mentioned above.  A dramatic increase in the use of the island by wading birds, ospreys, and manatees has already been seen.  Sightings of land animals such as raccoons, rabbits, tortoises and possum have also increased.  Work continues to restore the remaining areas of the island and is considered to be an ongoing project.

How is all the work being funded?
The Samsons Island Working Board has been successful in working towards the goals using a minimal amount of support from the city’s budget.  A creative partnership with a local developer restored much of the saline wetlands.  Funding from local, state and federal grants, as well as private and business donations, also aid the revegetation efforts and facility development.  However, the key to the success of the project lies in the volunteer commitment.  Civic clubs, scouting organizations, students from local schools and military and civilian volunteers have invested over 40,000 hours in the restoration efforts.

How can I get to Samsons Island?
There is free public boat transportation provided by the City each Sunday, leaving at 1pm.  From State Rd. 518 (Eau Gallie Causeway), turn north on South Patrick Drive and travel to the Satellite Beach Fire Department, 1390 S. Patrick Drive.  From State Rd. 404 (Pineda Causeway) use exit #513 then turn right onto S. Patrick Drive.  Travel to the Satellite Beach Fire Department.  Park at the Fire Department and walk to the dock on the canal.  If you are visiting by boat from the Banana River, enter the Grand Canal in Satellite Beach using the canal cut on the north side of Lansing Island or the south canal cut on Tortoise Island.

What are the recreational activities available at the park?
Samsons Island is a passive recreation park where you can enjoy recreation activitieshiking on the many nature trails.  While bird watching you can spot more than 30 species of birds, including great blue herons, egrets, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, pileated woodpeckers and horned owls.  Enjoy boating in the surrounding waters or fish for trout, redfish, snook or tarpon.  You can camp in primitive campsites or enjoy a day picnic.If you are planning to be on the Island after dark, you must have in your possession a Samsons Island permit.  The permits are free and can be obtained at the Satellite Beach Recreation Department during their office hours. 

What can you do to help?
There is an ongoing need to stop the degradation and loss of wildlife habitat along the Indian River Lagoon system.  You can help by volunteering to be involved with the restoration work on Samsons Island.  Financial support from foundations, corporations and individuals is needed to continue our efforts.  It will take a creative partnership of diverse groups of people working together to have a positive impact upon the Estuary.

For more information contact:

Satellite Beach Recreation Department
1089 South Patrick Drive
Satellite Beach, Florida 32937
(321) 773-6458