The Port of Fort Pierce is one of 14 deep-water ports on Florida's coast. St. Lucie County is the port authority for the Port of Fort Pierce which contains about 566 hectares of land and water, including Hutchinson Island. The Port of Fort Pierce includes the entrance channel, turning basin, intercoastal waterway within the pot area, Taylor Creek, and the Fort Pierce Inlet area.
The Florida Legislature established the Port of Fort Pierce Inlet District in 1918 to fund construction and operation of a new inlet between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. The current inlet was dredged in 1921, and two stone jetties were constructed in 1926 in the Port of Fort Pierce. A channel was cut through Hutchinson Island that had separated the Indian River Lagoon and the Port of Fort Pierce from the sea. In 1935, the harbor was authorized as a federal project and was completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1938.
The Florida Legislature abolished the Inlet District in 1947, replacing it with the Port of Fort Pierce Port Authority. In 1961, the Legislature created the Fort Pierce Port and Airport Authority to operate under the auspices of St. Lucie County. In 1988, Florida law created the St. Lucie County Port and Airport Authority. Finally, in 1998, the Legislature dissolved that body and transferred its holdings and responsibilities to the Board of County Commissioners of St. Lucie County to operate and manage the Port of Fort Pierce.
Since World War II when the US government used the Port of Fort Pierce for an amphibious training base, all but 14 hectares of the Port of Fort Pierce has been privately owned. Of the total Port Operations Area of about 71 hectares, almost half of the waterfront areas continue to be undeveloped in private ownership.
In 1996, St. Lucie County purchased about eight hectares of waterfront property in the northeast corner of the port area (known as Harbour Pointe) to be used for tourism, recreational, and marine commercial uses. The county also operates a public boat ramp in the southern port area.
Land uses within the Port of Fort Pierce planning area are a mix of public property for recreation, community support services, and conservation.
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