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As Florida Readies Permit For St. Johns Dredging, Riverkeeper Plans Second Challenge

Leonard J. DeFrancisci
Wikimedia Commons

Florida is expected, before the end of January, to approve a permit to deepen the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper says it will challenge the permit because the dredging plan doesn't do enough to offset negative environmental effects.

Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says her organization is ready to open up a second front in the war against what she believes is an environmentally unfriendly deepening. The group also plans to challenge the the Army Corps of Engineers plan in federal court.

“What the Corps need to do is to offset the damage that will be done by the dredging,” she says. “They continuously say it’s going to be minimal, but history has shown us, with the years and years of dredging the St. Johns, that there has been a significant impact.”

Rinaman says those impacts include harmful increases in salt and sediment. And she’s not against the the dredge outright, but wants to see a more balanced approach, like the one used in another St. Johns River project.

“We participated in the public discussion during the planning phase for Mile Point, and the great news about that project: While there will be negative impacts, they have a mitigation plan that’s truly real,” she says.

To offset the impact of the project, the plan calls for the restoration of 34 acres of marshland. The Mile Point project is partially funded by JAXPORT to help improve navigation on the St. Johns by moving a stone wall and creates a channel to improve water flow.

Rinaman says her group’s federal and state challenges to the dredging should be filed early next year. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.