Travelogue: Save the St. Johns River campaign for a healthy river

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By NewsLine Staff
mail@floridanewsline.com

Beginning March 22 and continuing for 13 days, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman and a team of river advocates will journey the 310-mile length of the St. Johns River, from the headwaters at Fort Drum to the river’s mouth at the fishing village of Mayport on the Atlantic Ocean. The overall goal of the Save the St. Johns River tour is to unite people and organizations devoted to the river’s health and develop a unified approach to halting its degradation.

Florida NewsLine is pleased to bring you a daily travelogue, along with photos and videos, submitted to us by a Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper outreach director. Check back each day for the previous day’s update.

Day 1, Tuesday, March 22
By Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director

Our 13-day journey began with a ceremonial blessing from Sister Pat Siemen. Today’s launch coincides with World Water Day, an international day of awareness for water issues.

The tour team explored Blue Cypress Lake, headwaters of the St. Johns River and the largest concentration of Osprey in the world. Karen’s Kayaks, a local outfitter provided guided knowledge, and partners with the Center for Earth Jurisprudence joined the group for inspiration and partnership building. Middleton’s Fish Camp provided the perfect backdrop for a waterfront lunch.

After lunch, the tour team met with upper basin land managers from the St. Johns River Water Management District for a tour of Fort Drum Marsh. The marsh is 20,000 acres acquired for flood prevention and protection of the headwaters. The new boardwalk allows the public to reach Hog Island. Cattle graze on the land under a lease with the St. Johns River Water Management District..

Land managers then escorted the tour team through Fellsmere Farms, a project that directs ag water from citrus and cattle farms into 10,000 acres of dispersed water storage areas instead of allowing it to reach the C-54 canal and the Sebastian River, Indian River Lagoon.

We finished the day at Marsh Landing Restaurant in downtown Fellsmere, the former land buying office and at one time, police station. Our community events led us to connect with nearly 60 members of the public and a great chance to learn more out the headwaters of the mighty St. Johns River.

Photos courtesy St. Johns Riverkeeper

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Blue Cypress Lake

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Restaurant Meet and Greet in Fellsmere

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Fort Drum Conservation area