Hurricane Sally Update
Park staff continue to work diligently on hurricane recovery efforts at Big Lagoon State Park from Hurricane Sally. The majority of the park is reopened but the following areas remain closed: the East Beach day-use area, small portion of the Estuary Nature Trail, hand kayak launch and observation tower. Please adhere to all posted signage and avoid closed areas.
Big Lagoon State Park was acquired by the Florida Park Service in 1978, making it 43 years old this year.
This area has evidence of prehistoric and historic occupation and visitation dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Changing water levels and glaciation impacts have created the altered topography throughout the park ranging from historical dune ridges and coastal scrub to scrubby flatwoods. Woodland (800 BCE-1000 AD) and Mississippian (1000 AD-1600 AD) period occupation is evident.
One shell midden from the Woodland period was found in the park in 1983 after it had unfortunately been disturbed by prior park development. Native Americans utilized the fertile waters in this maritime habitat foraging on abundant shell fish. Another prehistoric shell scatter mostly consisting of oyster shell was found during coastal surveys in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The site dates back to an unknown prehistoric period.
Recent history includes a 20th-century site where Miss Ivey lived in a wood-built home in the area that would later become Big Lagoon State Park. She ran one of the first fast-food restaurants in the area out of a mobile home - serving burgers to local anglers and beach visitors.
Historic 1950s aerial photography shows most of this area as basin swamp or marsh. Stormwater ditching changed the hydrology, making much of the northeastern area of the park a denser baygall habitat. This change in water flow was due to the increase in developed neighborhoods surrounding all three landward sides of the state park.
Tropical systems including Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and multiple near-misses in 2005 led to saltwater inundation that was documented to depths of 10 feet or more in the basin swamps. This led to an extreme change in the habitat with many trees not able to survive the increase in saltwater in the water table, which is evident by the number of snags throughout the park.
Park staff continue to work to preserve, protect and restore the Real Florida at Big Lagoon State Park with the use of many land management tools, including multiple types of surveying, conducting prescribed fires, and exotic plant management and control.