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.

On the River: Outstanding River Friendly Yard Award

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper Annually, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER and Florida Native Plant Society’s Ixia Chapter recognize individuals or businesses that have implemented River Friendly landscaping and maintenance practices to reduce their impact upon the health of the St. Johns River and our environment. Eligible candidates for the Outstanding River Friendly Yard Award help to protect our waterways by using low-maintenance native plants, preventing stormwater runoff, and minimizing the use of irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. You may nominate yourself, a neighbor, family member, or business via #riverfriendlyyardaward on social media (Facebook or Instagram). Submit a photo …

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On The River: Getting Litter Out Of Our River

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP – Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper Few waterways are spared from the seemingly endless supply of plastics and litter that dumps directly from storm drain outfalls. In northeast Florida, it is hard to find a creek or park free of these foreign invaders. Getting litter out of our river is a tough job, and few barriers exist to keep it out in the first place. However, growing accustomed to seeing plastics in our backyard creeks and streams hurts all of us, and putting an end to our litter problem should be something we all strive to do. …

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On the River: Lost Springs of the Ocklawaha

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper There are major environmental catastrophes, protests and movements getting a lot of media attention in the U.S. these days. In northeast Florida, most people know about the proposed dredging or Central Florida’s water grab from the fueled by the expansion of suburbs and green lawns. Many people may also know about the , officially called the , which was built in the 1970’s as a part of the . The canal would have connected the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean across Florida for barge traffic. The project was eventually abandoned, …

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5 Steps: How To Be A “River Friendly” Boater

We use the term “River Friendly” often. Usually, it’s a reference to actions homeowners take to conserve water and reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides that can run off into nearby storm drains and waterways. Sometimes we are referring to businesses that take steps to reduce their impact on the river or support the work of . The term also applies to boaters who take steps to be good stewards of the river while out on the water. Always Be Prepared To Pick Up Litter While it may seem simple, picking up floating debris from the water can be …

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3 Summertime Happy Hour Paddles You Can’t Miss

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper There has been a lot of talk about activating our river lately. Lots of initiatives are spinning around to revitalize and energize the tremendous waterfront Jacksonville offers. The best way to understand, explore and experience the river, is to get on the water. Here are some ways you can escape into your own backyard this summer and enjoy what we have to offer. June 21: Pottsburg Creek Happy Hour Paddle 6pm, Beach Blvd. Boat Ramp – Pottsburg Creek flows underneath Beach Blvd in between All Wet Sports and the . The exposed Cypress knees …

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Eating By Boat: 9 Places To Feast On The St. Johns

Since our boat motor gave out last year, St. Johns Riverkeeper has been relying heavily on volunteers like our River Patrol to help us investigate and communicate pollution spills and algae blooms. This summer, we are launching a fundraising campaign to purchase a new Kencraft from Sadler Point Marina, and are hoping to get back on the water soon. Having a boat is critical to the work that we do. Thinking about the prospects of a new patrol boat for got me thinking about all the great places to visit on the water for food and drinks. Rent a boat, …

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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, 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 …

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On the River – Troubled Waters: Connections and Consequences

Production for  started with a cameraman and producer on a jon boat recording pictures and sounds on Blue Cypress Lake, a marshy haven for osprey and dwarf cypress four hours south of Jacksonville. The team followed paddlers, boaters, and community leaders for 13-days along the entire 310-mile length of the St. Johns. The video isn’t a story of that journey. Instead, it captures the admiration, concerns, and frustration heard over and over again in communities along the river about the future of our water. Similar concerns are shared throughout the entire state of Florida. Confidence in the agencies entrusted to …

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On the River: Making use of river waste

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper There’s nothing like a hurricane to demonstrate that our creeks, rivers and ocean suffer significantly from our waste. Whether it is litter, debris or just items from our back yard, if it wasn’t tied down or tightly secured, it may have ended up in the river. While Hurricane Matthew was an extreme example of this regular phenomenon, it happens during even normal rainfall events. Our creeks, especially in our urban neighborhoods, continue to be depositories for everything that can be carried by wind or water from yards, driveways, and roads. The young …

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On The River: State of the St. Johns 2016

BY SHANNON BLANKINSHIP, Outreach Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper For the ninth year in a row, researchers from , , and have compiled data and analyzed trends regarding the health of the Lower . This area, from to , runs over 100 miles and is a unique ecological system. The Report addresses four areas of river health: water quality, fisheries, aquatic life, and contaminants. This year, the report also included a poll about community access to the river. The idea is that the more people on the river, the more we will respect and care for it. Here is how we …

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