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Escambia & Santa Rosa County Coastal Region


Gulf Islands National Seashore offers nature lovers eight miles of federally protected, undeveloped shoreline – the longest continuous stretch of protected coast in Northwest Florida, perfect for sun seekers, birdwatchers and outdoor enthusiasts. This region is home to three sections of the Gulf Islands National Seashore: Fort Pickens Area, Santa Rosa Island, and Naval Live Oaks Area.

Santa Rosa Island & Fort Pickens Area: The barrier island provides habitat for wildlife and buffers the mainland from storms. Near the water, plants such as sea oats and cordgrass, which are tolerant of high salt levels, flourish. Behind the primary dunes, shrubs and some trees grow, but they stand little higher than the dunes that protect them from salt spray. In the island interiors, marshes collect fresh rainwater and support diverse communities of plants and animals. Behind these islands, waters of the sounds, bay, and bayous are less salty than the waters of the Gulf. Here creatures such as herons, egrets, alligators, shrimp, fish, and fiddler crabs reproduce and flourish.

Naval Live Oaks Area: This part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is located on the mainland across from Santa Rosa Island. The park is named after the beautiful oak trees that grow along the Intracoastal Waterway, Santa Rosa Sound. Draped at times in Spanish moss, these huge trees can grow up to 50 feet in height and live as long as 300 years. This mainland forest community offers hikers and bikers a likely encounter with wildlife.