On the River: Activate the St. Johns River

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper

The St. Johns River is huge. The biggest river in Florida, it drains nearly a sixth of the state. Most of us only know a small part of the river: the section right in front of us. This month, St. Johns Riverkeeper is working with partners from the headwaters to the mouth to create opportunities for you to explore this incredible river and get your feet wet somewhere new.

The 2017 Save the St. Johns: Activate the River project highlights the local businesses and partners who are doing great work along the entire river. We are also sounding the alarm about the threats facing the St. Johns and the issues shared by communities throughout the watershed.

The idea is to get people out on the river to save the river. Eco-tours, paddling trips, and outings will be scheduled throughout the St. Johns River watershed to introduce people to the wonders of the St. Johns, show support for clean water and a healthy river, and demonstrate what we stand to lose if we don’t stand up for the St. Johns.

From March 18 to April 2, 2017, kayak outfitters, tour boat operators, local governments, nonprofit organizations and civic groups are joining forces to activate the river by offering you options to get outside. The campaign website www.savethestjohns.org will serve as a clearinghouse for paddling trips, eco-tours, and other opportunities for the public to experience the wonders of this magical and imperiled waterway and show support for its protection.

Day 9 - Ocklawaha below the dam-20

Here are a few of the paddling trips you can register for:

3/18 Paddling Goodbys Creek & Cleanup (Jacksonville)

3/19 Paddling Blue Cypress Lake (Melbourne)

3/21 Paddling the Econlockhatchee (Orange County)

3/24 Paddling Trout Creek (St. Johns County)

3/25 Paddling Black Creek (Clay County)

3/26 Paddling the Ocklawaha River (Palatka)

3/31 Paddling the St. Johns at Sunset (St. Johns/Duval)

4/1 Paddling the Wekiva River (Seminole County)

4/2 Paddling the Marshy Estuary (Jacksonville)

Day 6 - IMG_9726

Here are some of the boat tours (daily or monthly) you can take:

St. Johns River Taxi (Jacksonville) – Eco Tours, Zoo Trips, Narrated Guided Charters

St. Johns Eco Tours (Astor) – Explore Blue Creek and Lake George

Blue Heron River Tours (DeLand) – Nature and Wildlife Tour around Hontoon Island

St. Johns River Tours (DeBary) – Eco tour on the St. Johns near the Wekiva River

Fountain of Youth Eco Tours (Volusia) – Exploring the history and ecology of DeLeon Springs

Plus, join guided hikes and other outdoor events along our waterways with partner organizations like Duval Audubon Society and Explore Volusia. Details are at www.savethestjohns.org.

The Save the St. Johns: Activate the River initiative will only be successful with your help and support. Join us on the water during one of our scheduled journeys. Or, explore the river on your own and find some place new to visit. We are asking participants to share their photos from the campaign with us on social media, using #activatetheriver. By activating the St. Johns, we can make a powerful statement about the river’s importance, while introducing new audiences to the wonders of this magical waterway. Through these experiences, we have the opportunity to inspire others to join the effort to save the St. Johns!

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.