On the River

JSYO Holiday Concert
First Coast Nutcracker
Historical Society?s Gingerbread Extravaganza
Historical Society?s Gingerbread Extravaganza
Holiday Pops

by Kelly Savage, Community Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper
Looking for something to do outside? Look no further. We have events and a guide to keep you busy all summer along your St. Johns River. Get Your Feet Wet is a guidebook to the St. Johns River that highlights history, ecology, outdoor activities, common wildlife, and 45 of the best parks throughout the watershed from Palatka to river’s mouth at Mayport. July is a perfect month to get in or on the water to cool off. So pack your lunch, your guidebook and sun block and stop off at the two parks below on your way and make a day of it! Head out to your river!
July 10 Sunset Kayak Fundraiser
Always wanted to see the sunset from a kayak? Want to learn how to kayak from the experts? Join Kayak Amelia for a wonderful evening paddle one of the largest estuaries in the state located on the St. Johns River. $60 per person includes a snack. 6 – 9 pm. Proceeds benefit St. Johns Riverkeeper. Call 251-0016 for reservations. www.kayakamelia.com
Parks to see this month
Going to Huguenot or Little Talbot to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean? Stop off at the two parks below on your way and make a day of it!
Kingsley Plantation
11676 Palmetto Ave, 251-3537, 9 am – 5 pm, free! Features: canoe/kayak launch, restrooms, hiking, museum
This 1,000-acre National Park is the former home and plantation of Zephaniah Kingsley and his family during the early 1800s. The park is rich with history, culture and natural beauty. Park Rangers lead daily-narrated tours about the plantation’s history and archaeology, and kids can become “Junior Rangers” by participating in activities at the Plantation. If you love to take photographs, this wonderfully hidden plantation is a must see. It is tucked away among the oaks, and you feel as though you are walking through a time portal. You will not be disappointed.
Wildlife to look for: Sable Palm (Sabal palmetto) The plantation planted two rows of sable palms to create an entrance from the water to the front door. It is quite a sight, especially from the water. Manatees (Trichechus mantaus latirostris) If you look hard enough, especially in the summer months, you may get lucky enough to notice a manatee coming up for air, which they do every twenty minutes or so. Or you can see one swimming by, making a “footprint” in the water.
Fort George Island Cultural State Park
12157 Heckscher Dr., 251-2320, 8 am to sundown, Club Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, free!
Features: Bike trail, boat ramp, canoe/kayak launch, pavilion picnic tables, restrooms
The park is named for a military fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia during British colonialism during thein the 1730s. Today’s visitors come to boat, fish, hike and bike. A main attraction is the restored Ribault Club; once an exclusive resort, now a visitor center with excellent educational displays and a gift store. Behind the club, small craft can be launched on the tidal waters. Kids can become participate in the “Junior Rangers” by completing an activity booklet for the Ribault Club program here as well as Kingsley. Want spice up your visit? Take a Segway Tour while you are there. The guides are excellent! www.ecomotiontours.com.
Wildlife to look for: Fiddler Crab (Uca pugilator) No matter how old you are, it is still so neat to see hidden fiddlers pop out of their burrows and try to scare people away. You will see plenty down by the ramp, so go wave your claw at them! Eastern Oyster (Crassostera virginica) The banks of the estuary are home to the oyster. If you stand quietly for a few minutes you can see them “spit” water as they filter out food! But be careful not to walk around them; they can easily cut your feet.

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.