Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Matanzas State Forest was created from the Matanzas Marsh Northeast Florida Blueway Florida Forever Project. The forest protects the last remaining undisturbed salt marsh within the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The initial acquisition was completed in 2003 from Rayonier (a timber company). Since then, additional parcels have been acquired, including a 20-acre linkage to Moses Creek Conservation Area. Matanzas State Forest currently comprises 4,699 acres.
Using sound ecosystem science, the Florida Forest Service manages for multiple uses of forest resources. The forest is managed for timber, wildlife, natural resource-based recreation, and ecological restoration.
Located in St. Johns County, Matanzas State Forest is owned by the state of Florida and managed by the Florida Forest Service in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and St. Johns River Water Management District.
Situated north of Faver-Dykes State Park and south of Moses Creek Conservation Area, the forest is bounded on the west by U.S. Highway 1 and on the east by the Intracoastal Waterway (Matanzas River).
Matanzas State Forest is part of a 16,000-acre continuous conservation corridor beginning with Moses Creek (managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District), and continuing south through the forest into Faver-Dykes State Park (managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection), Pellicer Creek Conservation Area and Flagler County’s Princess Place Preserve.
The forest is home to songbirds, wading marsh birds, bald eagles, deer, otter, turkey, hogs and gopher tortoises.
About 75 percent of the forest is upland and made up of pine plantations. The remaining 25 percent of the forest is wetlands, including bay and cypress swamps. Slash and longleaf pines dominate the upland forest. The majority of the pine stands range in age from about 10 to 30 years old.
There is an archaeological record of possible Native American settlements in the area. Historic features include remains from turpentine camps. More recently, timber companies and hunt clubs shared the land that is now the forest.
Recreational features include roads for horseback riding, hiking and bicycling; water access for canoeing and fishing; and abundant wildlife and diverse ecosystems for nature study, viewing, and photography. Camping is available at the Cedar Creek Campground, and youth groups are welcome at the Matanzas Group Camp.
The Florida Forest Service began managing this parcel in 2003. We are currently making improvements to the forest so that visitors can take full advantage of all it has to offer. A day-use permit is required for entrance and can be acquired at no charge by contacting Matanzas State Forest.
Hunting requires a license and permit, and is allowed only in Matanzas WMA during appropriate seasons. Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for licenses and permit information for hunting and fishing.
In keeping with its mission to protect and manage Florida's forest resources, the Florida Forest Service has developed rules that apply to all state forest visitors. Find out more about state forest fees and rules.