Day 9, Wednesday, March 30
By Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director
Today, the Tour Team paddled an eight mile section of the lower Ocklawaha River from the Kirkpatrick Dam to a takeout at Highway 19. Before taking to the water, Putnam County Environmental Council members explained the impacts of the dam on the river and why restoration would be so beneficial to the Ocklawaha, the springs, the St. Johns River and the local economy.
This stretch of braided river feels wild. We saw an abundance of wildlife including ibis, alligator, herons, water snakes and turtles. Although its natural flow is impeded and the forested floodplain is damaged as a result, this stretch is less impacted by the dam than the river above the dam. Several boaters were on the water with us as well as folks fishing from the side of the impoundment. Thanks to our partners at Adventure Outpost for leading the tour.
After our paddle, the Tour Team enjoyed a nice walk in downtown Palatka before finishing the day. We arrived at Corky Bell’s early to welcome people for a Meet-and-Greet. We want to thank our friends at Putnam County Environmental Council, Florida Defenders of the Environment, Putnam County Bartram Trail and Crystal Cove Marina for their support. We packed the house and made very strong connections. We will return soon!
This is the ninth part of an ongoing series. Florida NewsLine is pleased to bring you a daily travelogue, along with photos and videos, submitted to us by Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper outreach director.
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.
Photos courtesy St. Johns Riverkeeper