Day 11, Friday, April 1
By Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director
Our first stop on the tour today brought us to Doctors Lake Marina, a marina that has had difficult times over the years as algae blooms and other water quality problems have impacted their business. Rusty Gardener of Boat Florida Rentals spoke with Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman today about the impact of pollution on his business and about the blooms that have shut down marina activity.
Next, the tour team headed to Julington Creek for lunch and a community Meet-and-Greet at Julington Creek Fish Camp. When we arrived at the dock, several news stations were there to interview Rinaman about the recent announcement that St. Johns Riverkeeper filed a legal challenge to the state permit for the proposed dredging project in Jacksonville. Rinaman explained that the permit does not protect the St. Johns from the damage that would be caused by dredging and tributaries like Julington Creek stand to be impacted the most.
After the interviews, we walked over to the Julington Creek Fish Camp, where the management and staff all greeted the team as we arrived, welcoming us into Duval County. We had a great turnout of local residents who came to hear more about the tour, share their concerns for the river, learn about how they can help save the St. Johns.
We left Julington Creek and headed to Walter Jones Historical Park and the Mandarin Museum for an Underwater Discoveries talk with Dr. Keith Holland. Dr. Holland focused his talk on the sinking of the Maple Leaf in the St. Johns off of Mandarin Point during the Civil War and his efforts to recover some of the artifacts from the steamship.
Rinaman spoke about how historic preservation, conservation lands and our parks are vitally important to protecting artifacts and other elements of our heritage.
The day ended at Sadler Point Marina with a Low Country Boil. Sadler was the perfect location for the boil, reminding us all of the importance of the river to the local economy and local businesses.
We enjoyed great food donated by Fisherman’s Dock Seafood and Black Hog Farm, craft beer from Bold City Brewery and Sweetwater, music from Firewater Tent Revival and wonderful fellowship with a great crowd of folks who came out to support the tour and our efforts to protect the mighty St. Johns River.
This is the 11th 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