Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Friday, December 16, 2016

UNF Acquires $8.8M Parcel of Land for New Coastal Research Station

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

 The University of North Florida received a generous real estate donation of pristine saltmarsh wetlands, appraised at $8.8 million, for the William C. Webb Coastal Research Station by the Widan Investment Corporation in order for faculty and students in the UNF Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship Program to conduct research.

The 1,050-acre property spans Duval and St. Johns counties from slightly south of Beach Boulevard to the end of Harbour View Drive in Marsh Landing along the eastern bank of the Intracoastal Waterway. The southern portion of the property is adjoining to the gated community of Marsh Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach and the northern end is adjacent to Cradle Creek Preserve in Jacksonville.

“I’m proud to give this unique property to the University of North Florida Foundation in honor of my father, William C Webb. I’m excited by the University’s enthusiasm for the development of educational programs, utilizing the William C. Webb Coastal Research Station for our future leaders,” said Dan Webb, president of Widan Investment Corporation.

The University is situated near the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Johns River and the Intracoastal Waterway—no other university in the country has all of these coastal habitats in such close proximity. As a result, the William C. Webb Coastal Research Station will provide tremendous benefit to UNF students and faculty for research purposes with low-carrying costs. This research habitat will highlight the University as a positive force for the green movement in the state and as a higher education institution at the forefront of environmental stewardship.

“We are so grateful to the Webb family for their donation. This property is ideally located and situated to provide unparalleled access to coastal habitats for UNF students and faculty,” said Dr. Dan Moon, interim dean of the College of Arts and Science. “It will expand our teaching and research capabilities and enhance the University’s reputation as a leader in coastal science.”

Some of the research opportunities for UNF include aquatic preserve management in conjunction with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; sampling oyster reefs which sustain fisheries and other wildlife; development of a habitat map for tidal and submerged resources; establishing long-term baseline information about estuarine species as well as continuing and improving the invasive species control program; and coastal engineering and the study of wake energy and affects on estuarine ornithology, to name a few.

University faculty are also discussing ways to engage local elementary and high school science educators as well as their students in the UNF Coastal and Marine Biology Flagship program through sharing data from observation efforts such as tide gauges, monitoring stations and web cameras.

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.