St. Johns Riverkeeper

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.

Lindsey Kilbride

A Northeast Florida state senator is trying to get more environmental dollars flowing toward the St. Johns River.

He’s proposing $35 million more for projects along the river that flows from Central Florida to Jacksonville.

Monday on First Coast Connect we were joined by Jimmy Orth of the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Quint White, head of the Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University, to talk about the documentary “Troubled Waters.” Local attorney Wayne Hogan spoke about what toys should be avoided his holiday season. Activist Matt Killen talked about his trip to video protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. 

Leonard J. DeFrancisci / Wikimedia Commons

The St. Johns Riverkeeper is investigating whether Jacksonville’s sewer system complies with state environmental regulations.

That’s after millions of gallons of partially-treated sewage leaked into the ground and waterways during Hurricane Matthew.

It’s not the first time the Riverkeeper has called out JEA for problems with Jacksonville’s sewers.

Peter Haden / WJCT

A lawsuit alleging the Florida Legislature improperly used funds meant for buying conservation land could be expedited.

Circuit Judge Charles Dodson of Tallahassee scheduled a hearing Friday. If Dodson grants a summary judgment motion, conservation groups could get a verdict as soon as the Dec. 5 hearing.

Florida Regulators To Update Water Quality Standards

Jul 25, 2016
Sarah De Nicolais

Florida’s Environmental Regulation Commission is set to vote Tuesday on new proposed levels of pollutants in surface water.

Reginald Luster

Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster is the only local candidate in the race for Florida’s open Senate seat.

Luster is joining the Democratic field of incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio’s opponents, including Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rep. Alan Grayson, and attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith.

Luster is a business owner and is also known for serving as the first, and so far only, African-American president of the local bar association.

We speak with him about his platform.

Algae Bloom

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

The first large freighter to pass through the new, larger Panama Canal arrived at JAXPORT Tuesday.

The landing punctuates an ongoing controversy over intentions to deepen Jacksonville’s channel to accommodate modern mega ships.

John Burr

A super-sized cargo ship was met with great fanfare when it docked in Miami over the weekend. The MOL Majesty is the first neo-Panamax vessel to reach Florida after sailing through the recently expanded Panama Canal.

Officials say it’s the payoff of more than $1 billion the state has invested in ports since Gov. Rick Scott took office, and in a news release, Scott hailed its arrival as the dawn of the "big ship era." 

But in Jacksonville, a St. Johns River dredging project aimed at ushering in the new, larger ships is having trouble setting sail.

St. Johns Riverkeeper

The Save the St. Johns River Tour just wrapped up, bringing together people united against the degradation of this natural resource.

Advocates for the St. Johns River traveled 310 miles, from the waterway’s headwaters at Fort Drum to the river mouth at Mayport.

We speak with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman about the trip and what advocates have planned next.

Katie Ride for Life

April is National Donate Life Month, a time to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Editor's note: This article has been modified to clarify the parties involved in the lawsuit.

On the final leg of a conservation-awareness tour, the St. Johns Riverkeeper announced Friday it’s suing to halt plans to deepen the river.

The lawsuit is challenging state environmental regulators' approval of a Jacksonville plan to accommodate larger ships at JAXPORT.

Gov. Rick Scott is expected to sign a water policy bill Thursday, despite veto pleas from some environmentalists and former governor Bob Graham.

SB 552 is a priority of Speaker Steve Crisafulli, and was one of the first bills the Legislature passed this session. It changes water policy across Florida, from springs to water supply.

In addition to Graham, a coalition of 106 environmental and civic groups delivered a letter to the Legislature asking for significant changes to the bill. One of the groups opposing the measure is the Jacksonville-based St. Johns Riverkeeper.

We speak with St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman about the bill and her group's efforts to raise awareness about the river.

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.

Ray Hollister / WJCT News

Tuesday, St. Johns River water managers nearly unanimously approved a controversial plan to handle Central Florida’s looming water shortage.

For years, a consortium of water planners took input from agricultural, residential and conservationist stakeholders to craft what they call a balanced plan.

Northeast Florida river advocates are complaining their data is wrong.

We speak with state attorney candidate Wes White about the major issues he's focusing on in his campaign against State Attorney Angela Corey.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Central and North Florida springs are getting an extra $4 million to help supplement ongoing water conservation efforts.

The St. Johns River Water Management District board voted Tuesday to allow the district’s executive director to use the funds the Florida Legislature allocated.

Some environmentalists worry the board signed away its authority to choose which projects get the funds, which could hinder transparency.

Low-Income Duval Students Get Floating Field Trips

Sep 28, 2015
St. Johns River Taxi

Some 4,500 Duval County fifth graders will be going on cruises this school year as part of their curriculum.

Duval County Public Schools is teaming up with the St. Johns Riverkeeper to provide the field trips to Title I schools that educate a lot of low-income students.


Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Northeast Florida lawmakers are opposing a plan for Central Florida to withdraw more than 150 million gallons of water from the St. Johns River every day.

The Duval County Legislative Delegation passed their mostly symbolic resolution Thursday.

Conservationists are applauding the delegation’s move.

The Central Florida Water Initiative has put forward a plan to withdraw hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns River to supply development in the Orlando area. This plan is being fiercely opposed by officials here in Jacksonville, including Mayor Lenny Curry's administration and the St. Johns Riverkeeper. We discuss this battle over water with Brian Teeple, Executive Director of the Northeast Florida Regional Council.

On Wednesday, a former employee of Roanoke station WDBJ named Vester Lee Flanagan shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward, while Parker was live on the air. We discuss this tragedy and how newsrooms handle events like this with Bob Ellis, General Manager of WJXT Channel 4, and David Luckin, WJCT Music Director and 30 year broadcast veteran.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

St. Johns River advocates and museum goers attended a first-of-its-kind symposium Saturday at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.

The event was focused on shaping the next generation of river enthusiasts.

Author and self-described springs advocate Rick Kilby took the older crowd back to a simpler time, when Kilby said the springs surrounding the St. Johns River were as clear as the memories he has of summer swimming trips. Since then, he said Florida has been too successful at attracting new residents.

Sandra Friend / US Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is pulling its support for a an environmental offset sought by the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The agreement included plans to breach the Rodman Dam in Putnam County in exchange for deepening the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.


Last week, the Riverkeeper announced plans to sue over the proposed St. Johns River dredging. Almost immediately, the JAX Chamber told the Florida Times-Union it no longer supports a compromise reached with the Riverkeeper eight months ago. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says the news came as a shock.

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union columnist; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; and Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly writer.

Topics include the Florida Legislature's special session to overhaul the state's congressional districts, the St. Johns Riverkeeper filing a lawsuit over the proposed St. Johns River deepening project, and more.

Peter Haden / WJCT

The St. Johns Riverkeeper announced Tuesday it plans to sue the Army Corps of Engineers over its proposal to deepen the St. Johns River.

The Army Corps of Engineers says dredging the St. Johns River is a positive economic move for Jacksonville, but St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says its plan ignores the project’s deep environmental impact.

Activists with the group Photography Is Not a Crime, or PINAC, have filed a federal lawsuit against Jacksonville Chief Judge Mark Mahon after he issued an administrative order banning photography and videotaping outside the Duval County Courthouse. The group calls the ban unconstitutional. Mahon issued an order on July 1 that in part banned demonstrations or dissemination of materials on the courthouse grounds that “degrade or call into question the integrity of the court or any of its judges.”  The order also banned people from videotaping “all security features” of the courthouse, includi

The "Voices of the River" event this weekend aims to spotlight the important role the St. Johns River has played in our area’s history and continues to play today. The MOSH, the Cummer Museum and the Ritz Theatre will each have programming that explores the people and perspectives that have interacted with the St. Johns River through the years. This part of the larger Cultural Fusion Year of the River initiative celebrating the St.

Tree Hill Nature Center

Supporters of Amendment 1 filed a lawsuit Monday claiming state lawmakers in a newly approved budget misappropriated more than $300 million of the money voters wanted for environmental land management and acquisition.

Also, supporters of the ballot initiative want a court to declare exactly what lawmakers can and can't do with the Amendment 1 money.

Paul Hamilton / Flickr

A Jacksonville City Council committee on Monday narrowly voted to support seismic air-gun testing off the coast.

Air-gun testing is a method for finding oil and natural gas beneath the ocean floor with loud blasts of air.

The federal government is considering applications for offshore exploration in the Atlantic.

At Monday’s Rules Committee meeting, the International Association of Geophysical Contractors sent biologist Robert Gisiner to speak in favor of seismic testing.

MOSH Exhibit Reveals Years Of Changes In Florida's Springs

May 28, 2015
Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

A Jacksonville Museum of Science and History exhibit shows Florida’s springs are changing.

On the third floor of MOSH a series of photos stand in big metal frames. All of them show Florida’s springs. But they’re not just pretty art. The pictures show the waterways before they were in distress and now.

Shannon Blankinship, outreach director for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, says she loves the springs.

The Year of the River is the theme behind this year's Cultural Fusion collaborative bringing together over 50 institutions to raise awareness of the St. Johns River as the “cultural current” of the city. We speak with Jeff Smith, Cultural Fusion Administrator, Hope McNath, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens Director, Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and studio artist Sarah Crooks Flaire.