BLM Director visits Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area in Florida

Story by Allison Miller, Public Affairs Specialist. Photos by Evan Williams, Intern; and Allison Miller.

Bureau of Land Management Director, Tracy Stone-Manning, traveled to Jupiter, Florida to visit the BLM-managed Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area on February 15-16, 2022. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA, part of BLM’s National Conservation Lands, is a 120-acre site that lies in south Florida’s Treasure Coast in northern Palm Beach County, Florida. 

BLM Eastern States staff and the BLM Director sitting on the steps steps of the Tindall House
BLM Eastern States staff on the steps of the Tindall House after touring the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area in Jupiter, Florida. From top left: Peter DeWitt, Robert Swithers, Allison Miller, Zachary Siegert, Mitchell Leverette, Jayson Barangan, Tracy Stone-Manning, Shayne Banks.

The ONA’s featured attraction is the majestic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The ONA is home to a remarkable array of natural and cultural resources including four sensitive habitats, 28 special status species, and an archaeological record providing evidence of human occupation dating back over 8,000 years. 

“We were thrilled to have Director Stone-Manning visit the ONA, the crown jewel of our National Conservation Lands,” said Mitchell Leverette, BLM Eastern States State Director. “It was a fantastic opportunity to give her a glimpse at what BLM Eastern States does and to get her perspective on what we are doing on the ground.” 

BLM staff and the Director standing outside the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area field office.
BLM staff outside the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area field office. From left to right: Peter DeWitt, Robert Swithers, Michal Panek, Shayne Banks, Tracy Stone-Manning, Zachary Siegert, Mitchell Leverette, Neal White, Karen Moore, Jayson Barangan.

The Southeastern States District staff worked diligently to prepare for Director Stone-Manning’s visit, which involved a two-day trip to highlight BLM Eastern States’ unique brand of public land management. Activities included touring the ONA grounds, climbing the historic lighthouse, kayaking along the shoreline, hiking trails, and visits with BLM partners. 

The first day began with a presentation on current projects followed by a tour of the grounds. During the tour, Peter DeWitt, ONA manager, explained the complexities of the site including the distance to urban areas and leveraging local partnerships. Accompanied by State Office and BLM Southeastern States District Office staff, Director Stone-Manning then had the opportunity to climb the lighthouse for a view of the moonrise. 

Peter DeWitt and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning with their backs facing the camera and looking at the Indian River.
Peter DeWitt, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area manager, and BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning stop along the shore of the Indian River during a tour of the JILONA grounds.

On the second day, the director and a group of BLM employees went on a kayaking tour of the ONA. The tour launched in the Loxahatchee River from the newly installed pier located next to the first implementation of the Living Shoreline Project, and culminated on the north side of the grounds surrounded by red mangroves. Last year, the BLM and the Jupiter Inlet District partnered to construct a living shoreline designed to stabilize a portion of the site’s rapidly eroding Loxahatchee River shoreline. The first stage of stabilizing the shoreline was completed in 2021 and plans are in place to do more in the future. During the tour, DeWitt provided vital insight on the project and the future of the ONA. The tour was followed by a meeting between BLM leadership and several local partners who discussed their roles at the ONA. 

BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning and Peter DeWitt paddling in red kayaks on the river.
BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning touring the outskirts of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area with ONA Manager, Peter DeWitt.

“The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA is a remarkable gem. It’s an incredible site in the southeastern part of our country that shows the value of our lands and our remarkable resources from wildlife to recreation,” said Director Stone-Manning. “Seeing the living shoreline from a kayak was a remarkable experience and really gave me a better perspective on the importance of the project and the future of the ONA.” 

Learn more about Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse ONA and its ongoing projects here