By Martie Thompson
The St. Johns River is a 310-mile national treasure that runs right through our area — and the St. Johns Riverkeeper is continuing their advocacy of it by implementing a new initiative this spring entitled “Get Your Feet Wet!”
“Our mission is to defend and restore the St. Johns River plus its tributaries and springs on behalf of all who enjoy it,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman. “We give the river a voice via advocacy, research and education.”
Rinaman said she feels it’s important to get everyone out on the river because people will want to protect what they love — which will in turn solidify the commitment to the river’s health and inspire people to be more river-friendly in everyday life.
To that end, the “Get Your Feet Wet” initiative includes partnering with other nonprofits, agencies, and businesses to offer a variety of unique outdoor experiences and opportunities to experience and learn about the St. Johns River. Offerings include eco-tours, hikes, paddling trips, and expert speakers throughout the watershed, from the headwaters at Blue Cypress Lake in central/south Florida to the St. Johns River estuary in the Jacksonville area. Highlights include:
- Paddles: Explore the river and enjoy its beauty up close from a kayak on a guided tour. These trips will be offered as far south as the headwaters of Blue Cypress Lake up to the backwaters of the Timucuan Preserve near the river’s mouth.
- Guided hikes: Stretch your legs, discover new flora and fauna, learn about the history of the watershed, and enjoy beautiful scenery on a guided hike.
- The first annual Source to Sea Celebration in Palatka on Saturday, March 12 will celebrate those who have paddled all 310 miles of the St. Johns River. The celebration includes several opportunities to explore the river, including a morning hike and paddle and an early afternoon boat trip on the Pride of Palatka II. The day will close with an awards ceremony and celebration at Azalea City Brewing Company.
- Speakers Series: On the fourth Thursday of each month, come aboard the St. Johns River Taxi to learn from experts about the history, ecology, and issues related to the St. Johns River and its tributaries. Voyages will launch from various locations in the Jacksonville area. On March 24 at 4:30 p.m., the boat will launch from the Jackson Street Dock in Brooklyn and will feature St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman as the guest speaker.
- Tiny Dock Concert Series: Enjoy outstanding music while on board your boat, kayak, or paddle board, or the St. Johns River Taxi. This year’s concerts feature local renowned artists from a variety of genres, including Jacksonville resident and finalist from NBC’s “The Voice,” Paris Winningham.
- Cleanups: Take in beautiful backdrops of the river’s tributaries alongside like-minded neighbors while making the St. Johns River cleaner for all.
Events will be hosted throughout the watershed and are family friendly. The St. Johns Riverkeeper invites you to make a day trip to another part of the watershed or see something new in your own backyard. Attendees are encouraged to bring a friend — and make some new ones along the way.
“The goal of this initiative is to connect us,” Rinaman said. “The river itself connects all of our counties and it’s important for us to protect it for future generations.”
Visit www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/events for more information about Get Your Feet Wet 2022.
Photo courtesy St. Johns Riverkeeper
Kayaking on Pottsburg Creek.