Day 10, Thursday, March 31
By Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director
Crystal Cove Marina, overlooking the St. Johns River in Palatka, provided a beautiful backdrop for a live remote interview at sunrise with Lisa Rinaman for a local morning show. Shortly after, we hit the water with chemist Dr. Lucy Sonneberg, the director of the Millar Wilson Chemical Laboratory at Jacksonville University, and Robert Burks, an environmental scientist and ecologist, to discuss sampling methods and the results of a recent biological study conducted to evaluate the potential impacts of the Georgia-Pacific pipeline. Our team learned more about how samples are taken and the need for more monitoring to get to the bottom of the biological changes that have apparently occurred since the installation of the pipeline.
After lunch, we picked up Pam Livingston-Way with the St. Johns River Water Management District to talk about the tri-county agricultural area: Putnam, St. Johns and Flagler counties. Many innovative projects are currently underway or in the planning stages to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous to our waterways; however, much work still remains to reduce the impacts of agriculture on the health of the St. Johns.
Later in the afternoon, we stopped at the Bayard Conservation Area just south of the Shands Bridge where Robert Burks explained the importance of this conservation land to the river’s health and studies that have been conducted by the St. Johns River Water Management District to evaluate the health and survival rate of submerged aquatic vegetation under different conditions.
In the evening we hosted a community meet-and-greet at Outback Crab Shack on Six Mile Creek in St. Johns County to meet new friends, share ideas and learn about the concerns of local residents. We were joined by St. Johns Audubon, Mike Adams of the Defenders for Wildlife and many other great partners. Most people wanted to hear more about the tour and talk about St. Johns County issues like over development and nutrient pollution.
Our day concluded at the River Park Inn in Green Cove Springs, a historic B&B and the only remaining hotel of the 17 that existed during the steamboat era heyday. The entire town is a throwback to a century ago, with a major focus on the St. Johns River and its history.
This is the 10th 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.
Photo courtesy Robert Storm Burks