Riverkeeper Starts Two Weeks Of River Awareness Tours

Mar 15, 2017

Save the St. Johns River Tour, March 22-April 3 2016
Credit Jesse Hanson

The St. Johns Riverkeeper is hosting a two-week event to acquaint Northeast Florida residents with the river.

Riverkeeper spokeswoman Shannon Blankinship said many people see the river when driving over a bridge, but not many actually get up close and personal with the water.

“We want to get more people on the river because the more people that we have on the river, the more people are going to know how the river works, how it functions, where it is, what it looks like and why they should respect it, protect it and preserve it,” Blankinship said.

Blankinship said the Riverkeepers want to highlight recreational uses of the river through eco tours.

Save the St. Johns River Tour, March 22 to April 3, 2016.
Credit Jesse Hanson

Starting Saturday, residents can go to places they normally wouldn’t explore. Guided tributary and creek tours will bring visitors to preserves and recreational areas the river runs through.

But because the St. Johns River is 310 miles long, they will also witness areas experiencing issues related to low water levels— like higher levels of bacteria and salinity— which Blankinship said can kill both animal and plant life.

Other issues the river faces are pollution, buildup of nutrients from water runoff and dredging, according to the Riverkeeper website.

There will also be riverboat tours and cleanup events in different areas along the riverbed.

Blankinship hopes people will share their experiences to raise awareness of issues along the waterway. While she said there’s already a lot of support for river conservation at the grassroots level, it would be nice to see city officials more involved.

“This is something that we care about. This is something important to us as Floridians and to people who have chosen to call Northeast Florida home,” Blankinship said.

Intern Serena Summerfield can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904.358.6317, or on Twitter @sumserfield