Bruce Beach Project

BRUCE BEACH PROJECT: NATURAL AND NATIVE!

Bruce Beach in Pensacola, Florida is a remnant of Gulf Costal Habitat with beach, sea grasses, wet meadow, and upland species of plants and trees. As such it represents a community treasure of undeveloped coastline with potential for recreational and educational activities.

Where is Bruce Beach?

Bruce Beach is in Downtown Pensacola behind the Maritime Park. Its location makes it perfect as a tourism and recreational site to experience native coastal habitat.

Natural and Historical Value of Bruce Beach

The Native Plant Society has identified 48 native species at Bruce Beach (and 32 invasive species), and the local Audubon Society has continuously documented a variety of shorebirds and upland birds during the annual Christmas Bird Count. Migratory birds utilize Bruce Beach habitats as a regular stopover on their annual flyway route. Coastal Oaks, pecans, Sabal Palms, and other native trees are evident on and adjacent to the property along with invasive trees.

The beach has a 200-year recorded history of human activity. It once served as a launching site for boats carrying tanned hides to awaiting international ships in Pensacola Bay—an early mercantile activity of the only deep-water port on the Gulf of Mexico. Later, a wharf was built for Bruce Beach Dry Dock to support numerous commercial activities including a short train track for overland transport of goods. The Florida Public Archeology Network has conducted an initial assessment and concludes there are many sites where original artifacts might be found.

Site of Segregation

Bruce Beach was one of several Escambia County coastal areas which were segregated during Jim Crow days. Jim Crow refers to a series of racist laws and measures that discriminated against African Americans. Even though these laws were enacted between 1876 and 1965, the effects of Jim Crow are relevant today. At one time, Bruce Beach had a swimming pool located on the site which has many childhood memories for families still living in the area. Learn More [link to history that is published by local black community].
During the past twenty plus years, the site became abandoned and overgrown as the area experienced two hurricanes in 1995 (Erin and Opal), Ivan in 2004, Dennis in 2005, followed by the economic downturn in 2007, and finally the BP oil spill in 2010.

What’s Happening Now?

Citizens, conservation organizations, clubs, schools, and universities are documenting the natural history of Bruce Beach and restoring the natural ecosystem.

Restoration includes planting native plants, removing invasive species, monitoring the water quality, and oyster bed construction to promote the growth of seagrass beds by filtering the runoff from the land into the bay. Archeological activities may also occur with public participation.

Bruce Beach Project Partners

Bruce Beach can once again become a beautiful Gulf Costal habitat in which flora, fauna, and people can find sustenance and delight. Bruce Beach is a natural laboratory for aspiring biologists, horticulturalists, archeologists, historians, artists, and storytellers. Kayaking, canoeing, swimming, photography, and fishing are all possible activities at Bruce Beach.

If  you would like to volunteer for a project please fill out the form below


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