Seeing the thriving community of Merritt Island today, with its huge variety of shops, restaurants and businesses and population of 43,852, it is hard to believe that its initial economy was based on cattle, pineapple, sugar cane and citrus. Yet some areas of Merritt Island still retain their natural beauty and remain unchanged since the early settlers first recognized the area’s potential.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one such place. Established in 1963 and owned by NASA, approximately one-half of the refuge’s 140,000 acres consists of brackish estuaries and marshes. The remaining lands consist of coastal dunes, scrub oaks, pine forests and flatwoods, and palm and oak hammocks. The refuge borders Kennedy Space Center, probably the area’s most famous attraction.
In common with most of Brevard County, the favorable climate encourages outdoor recreation of all kinds. Merritt Island offers numerous opportunities to enjoy the Florida sunshine, with boat ramps, golf, tennis courts, and water sports plus a diverse selection of parks each with its own distinct personality.
Most residents of Merritt Island are middle-aged couples with school-aged and adult children. They are comfortably settled in single-family homes in older neighborhoods. Many Merritt Island residents are working couples earning more than $50,000 annually. Nearly 20 percent receive retirement income. They typically spend their income on home improvement projects, home furnishings, and outdoor equipment.
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