This 835-acre preserve protects one of Florida's last remaining tracts of wet prairie, including the largest community of pitcher plants in the state. The carnivorous plants flourish here, passively trapping insects in specialized tube-shaped leaves and absorbing nutrients from the decomposing prey.
Garcon Point has a long history that includes the first settlement of Spanish Florida.
During the 1700s, Yamasee Indians, a blend of coastal Georgian tribes, fled the St. Augustine area after English raids to live alongside Apalachee tribes in the Presidio Isla de Santa Rosa located on the mouth of present-day Escambia River. The Yamasee moved in 1749 across the Pensacola bay to the southwestern end of peninsular Garcon Point and established the San Antonio de Punta Rasa mission. These Spanish allied forts engaged in trade with the English allied Upper Creek tribes of Alabama.
In 1757, a Yamasee chief named Andrés Escudero was chosen as Governor General of the region of Garcon Point. His duties required him to engage in high-profile trading negotiations. Despite having established trade with the Creek Indians and supplying the Spanish with cavalry horses, tension grew between the Creek Indians and Spanish traders.
On February 12, 1761, three Creek Indians attacked the San Antonio de Punta Rasa mission, killing the garrison leader, his family and two other soldiers. The Creek raids would continue through the western Florida countryside until the Yamasee abandoned the mission and moved to mission San Miguel in Pensacola until the turnover of Florida to the British in 1763. The British held land grants of Garcon Point that would soon be turned back over into Spain’s possession during its second occupation of Florida.
Count De Galvez awarded a land grant on Garcon Point to Antonio Garzon following his 1781 Siege of Pensacola in consideration of “his good services rendered as an interpreter to the Indians of Pensacola." The grant was held for 35 years before Maria Garzon, who survived husband Antonio, sold the land they called Garzon’s Point to Joseph (Jose) Bonifay.
The land uses were favorable for cattle grazing and turpentining through the 1800s. Many more pioneer families moved into the area and began their own business in the booming industrial opportunities of western Florida. It came to be known as Yellow River Marsh State Buffer Preserve on June 12, 2000, when it was purchased by the state of Florida to protect rare and environmentally sensitive lands, plants and animals.
Through generous donations, Preservation 2000 and the Florida Forever Program, more land was added to protect contiguous habitat of the Garcon Ecosystem.
Today Yellow River Marsh Preserve State Park provides recreational opportunities for hiking and nature study along the Great Florida Birding Trail among rare and endemic plant species and within one of Florida’s oldest multi-cultural frontiers.The preserve is located in Santa Rosa County on Garcon Point, which separates Escambia Bay from Blackwater Bay.
Nearly 20 rare and endangered species of plants and animals make their homes along the bay and its wet prairies, dome swamps and flatwoods.