Day 4, Friday, March 25
By Shannon Blankinship, St. Johns Riverkeeper Outreach Director
Today, we ventured off the main stem of the St. Johns River to explore the Econlockhatchee River, the second largest tributary to the river at 54 miles.
Our outfitter Adventures in Florida guided the team through low hanging trees, snags, sandy beaches and wildlife. Several gators were spotted as well as otter, herons, kingfishers and large bass. Bikers along the Florida Trail which crosses the Econ River and families fishing from the high banks shared this amazing river with us on Day 4 of the Save the St. Johns Tour.
Our next stop was the Jolly Gator Fish Camp for lunch of swamp favorites. Leslie Kemp Poole, author of “Saving Florida: Women’s Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century” and Marty Sullivan of the League of Women’s Voters – Orange County joined us along with other river lovers to enjoy the bounty of the St. Johns and to strategize how we can work better together to protect our river, her tributaries and her springs.
Next, the Tour Team hit the water on the Kingfisher and traversed Lake Harney and Lake Jesup with a leader from Friends of Lake Jesup. The river delighted until the weather turned, the clouds opened up and lightning cracked near Lake Monroe as we finished our climb north.
In the evening, Enterprise Preservation Society hosted a warm gathering of local leaders to showcase the historical significance of this community founded in 1841 on Lake Monroe at the Enterprise Heritage Center and Museum. Once known as the “Monte Carlo of the South”, Enterprise was a destination for steamboat tourism travel.
In 2011, St. Johns Riverkeeper worked with Enterprise to prevent unsustainable development of the Lake Monroe shoreline in order to preserve the city’s historic character. The land, now known as Thornby Park, is a testament to what a coalition can accomplish.
This is the fourth 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
Exploring the Econlockhatchee River
Enterprise Preservation Society at the Enterprise Heritage Center and Museum