Fullerton Island: Jupiter’s Hidden Gem
Once proposed for luxury properties, Fullerton Island was 12 acres of prime Jupiter real estate ready to be sold to the highest bidder. Fullerton Island is a piece of land right off Jupiter’s Sawfish Bay Park that remained vacant for many years over legal disputes. Before 2013, the island was infested with invasive species and required a major make over to dispose of the non-native plants like Australian Pines and Brazilian Pepper Trees. Fullerton Islands history begins in the 1920’s when the School District of Palm Beach County gave a selection of unsurveyed land to local attorney, B.F Hampton. In that selection, 2 spoil islands would be available to him, one of them being Fullerton Island. In lieu of legal fees, Hampton would choose Fullerton as his compensation. In the 1950’s, Hampton gifted the island to his grandson, Richard Fullerton as inheritance. The Island was named after Hampton’s grandson and until the 1990’s, it would remain practically untouched. As Jupiter began inhabiting more and more people between the 80’s and 90’s, Fullerton Island was noticed by local real estate as being a prime location for luxury homes on the water. Michelle Alexander, a Jupiter developer, proposed to buy the property for 2.2 million dollars but was intercepted by the Town of Jupiter stating that the land was designated for conservation and not for residential development. Alexander then filed a suit with the Town of Jupiter for refusing the permit which would last over a decade until the court favored the town and her contract with the Fullerton family was voided. In 2003, the island was bought by engineer Herb Kahlert and Ed Oliver for 2.6 million dollars and once again proposed for luxury residential homes, going against the islands conservation zoning designation. After much backlash from residents and the town, the two withdrew the plan for development. In 2008, the island was finally purchased by the Town of Jupiter for 2.9 million dollars in an effort to turn the island into a conservation land and increase eco-tourism in the area. Clearing of land, dredging, removing exotic plants, building docks and planting mangroves and other native plants would begin in 2013 with a hefty price tag of 3 million dollars. Backhoes were used to dig 3 foot deep channels meandering through the island, only deep enough for kayaks, paddle boards, and maybe a small skiff. This would make the island fully accessible from both sides by small watercraft. The 55,000 cubic yards of sand collected from the island would be hauled down to Lake Worth near Bryant Park to be reused for the construction of the Snook Islands preserve project. Mangroves and other native species were added to the island to create a flourishing environment for local sea and land creatures. The added foliage would create a perfect habitat for many different species of native birds, making it the perfect place for any ornithologist. Fish and other species to see at Fullerton Island include Florida manatees, Rays, Porpoise, Snook, Snapper, Sheepshead, and Mullet as well as birds like Blue Heron and Spoonbills. The island is now a thriving estuary promoting conservation as well as eco-friendly tourism in the Jupiter and has influenced locals, visitors, and businesses to utilize the hidden jewel. Jupiter Outdoor Center is proud to be the committed adoptive parents of Fullerton Island through Palm Beach County’s Adopt a Park Program.