River City Eco Festival

River City Eco Foundation is the brainchild of local outfitter Joe Crespi of First Coast Outfitters. On May 17, 2014, for the third year in a row, a regional paddling championship competition will take place on the St. Johns River downtown. What separates this event from others in the region is the combination of recreation, music and craft beer. The “Floating Free” portion of the River City Eco Festival involves a community driven visioning plan for Exchange Island, one of the only uninhabited islands in the middle of an urban city of our size in the United States. Ideas for the island include a kayak launch, bike trails, zips lines, primitive camping and swimming. While Exchange Island is a great “gone wild” feature in our downtown, the St. Johns River is wide and tidal, leaving only short windows for open water recreation. “I’ve been a guide for paddling trips on and around Exchange Island for almost 5 years, and I can’t wait to see something awesome happen on the site,” says Joe Crespi of First Coast Outfitters. Utilizing Exchange Island from the Arlington River allows for easy access to a protected aquatic area ripe for recreational possibilities. Learn more about “Floating Free” on the St. Johns River, and vote for Project No. 20572 to recognize the possibilities! www.beonespark.com/discover/creator_projects/floating-free

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.