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Advocacy Internship Opening!

Advocacy Internship Opening!

Apply to be an Advocacy Intern

Please review the internship job description
Advocacy Intern | Summer 2019

If you are interested in applying for the Advocacy Intern position, submit your resume with relevant coursework and a letter of interest to Shannon Blankinship, Advocacy Director, at shannon@stjohnsriverkeeper.org. Deadline to Apply: May 10, 2019.

Support McCoys Creek Restoration!

Support McCoys Creek Restoration! Emerald Trail under the Matthews Bridge

McCoys Creek is an impaired urban tributary of the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. The creek flows through neighborhoods like Murray Hill, North Riverside, and Brooklyn. It meets the St. Johns underneath the current Times-Union building on Riverside Avenue in between the Acosta Bridge and the Haskell Building.

Groundwork Jacksonville has been working with Wood Inc. to develop a restoration plan for McCoys Creek to restore natural flow, reduce flooding, increase recreation, improve fish habitat and repair water quality. The plan repairs ecological function by restoring a meandering shoreline and expanding the floodplain with lakes and marsh. Restoration of McCoys Creek includes daylighting the mouth of the creek which is currently buried in a culvert that flows underneath Riverside Avenue and the Times-Union building along the Northbank Riverwalk in downtown Jacksonville. We are fully supportive of this plan and its connection to the entire Emerald Trail.

The Times-Union headquarters has been relocated and the owners, the Morris Company, are working on a mixed use commercial/residential development for the current site.

*It is critical that their plan allow space for daylighting this waterway by creating a multi-stage channel with a living shoreline.* The alternative is constructing a narrow channel contained by vertical seawalls similar to a deepwater canal. The deepwater canal provides minimal stream and wetland benefits, while the living shoreline system provides 0.77 acres of wetlands and 560 linear feet of stream restoration along the Morris Property. Residents along McCoys Creek want fishery improvement – which could be compromised by the deepwater canal at the mouth. Kayak recreation and safety are also compromised because of the velocity increases in this vertical system. 

We need your help! Before the renderings are made and the plans are pending approval, we need the DIA, City Council and Mayor Lenny Curry to understand the importance of this project in its entirety. Ask them to support the natural flow of McCoys Creek and a living shoreline at its mouth by having the Morris Company incorporate the Wood Inc. living shoreline proposal. Letters and emails will help increase awareness of this issue.

OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!

OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off! 2019 River Friendly Yard Award Contest Partners (Earth Works, Florida Native Plant Society Ixia and Paw Paw Chapters, DeBary and Twinflower Nurseries, UF/IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping Program, and Volusia Water Alliance)

Annually, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER partners with local environmental nonprofits and native plant experts to recognize individuals or businesses that have implemented River Friendly landscaping and maintenance practices to reduce their impact upon the health of the St. Johns River and our environment. Eligible candidates for the Outstanding River Friendly Yard Award help to protect our waterways by using low-maintenance native plants, preventing stormwater runoff, and minimizing the use of irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

WHAT'S NEW THIS YEAR
St. Johns Riverkeeper is excited to expand the River Friendly Yard Award contest and campaign to incorporate Central Florida where its satellite office is located in downtown DeLand. Two panels of expert judges - a Northeast Florida panel and a Central Florida panel will work with St. Johns Riverkeeper to choose two lucky Outstanding River Friendly Yard Award winners. 

HOW TO ENTER
Residents and businesses should meet most of the River Friendly criteria based on the Florida Friendly Yards and Neighborhoods 9 principles.

  1. Submit a photo and statement about the yard to kelly@stjohnsriverkeeper.org, OR
  2. On social media (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) using the hashtag #SJRiverFriendlyYardAward.

    Participants may nominate themselves, a neighbor, family member, or business.

Contest is open to all! Even if you're unsure, but are working toward making your yard more River Friendly - we encourage you to submit your photos so we can learn your St. Johns River story.

PRIZES
Northeast Florida:

  • Winner of the contest will receive a $500 gift card and a complimentary landscape analysis with a native landscape expert, compliments of Earth Works Jacksonville.
  • OUTSTANDING RIVER FRIENDLY YARD signage for your home.
  • A recognition photo session with leaders from St. Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Native Plant Society Ixia Chapter, and other native plant experts;
  • Coverage in the local news and in St. Johns Riverkeeper social media and communications.

Central Florida:

  • Winner of the contest will receive a $150 gift card from DeBary Nursery, native plants from Twinflower Nursery, and complimentary landscape analysis with a native landscape expert.
  • OUTSTANDING RIVER FRIENDLY YARD signage for your home
  • A recognition photo session with leaders from St. Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Native Plant Society Paw Paw Chapter, Twinflower Nursery, and other native plant experts;
  • Coverage in the local news and in St. Johns Riverkeeper social media and communications.

DEADLINE AND JUDGING PROCESS
The contest runs from March 1, 2019 - April 22, 2019. The deadline to submit a photo and statement is Earth Day on April 22, 2019. Based on the information submitted, three finalists from each geographic region (Northeast Florida and Central Florida) will be selected that best exemplify a commitment to River Friendly Yard practices. Our two partner committees will visit the yards of these finalists to select a winner

WE'RE LOOKING FOR YARDS THAT USE RIVER FRIENDLY PRACTICES: 
Right Plant, Right Place – your plant selection should match the yard’s soil, light, water, and climatic conditions to create a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance yard. Landscape your yard with drought-tolerant plants and groundcover, including at least 50% or more native plants. Avoid invasive plants. Find the right plants for your yard at Florida Native Plant Society.

Water Efficiently – Follow your local irrigation ordinance and only water as needed. If your home has an in-ground irrigation system, ensure it is as efficient as possible by utilizing water efficient components and individual plant needs. Inspect and repair the system in accordance to changing weather patterns.

Use Fertilizer and Chemicals Sparingly – or not at all. Only use slow-release fertilizers (50% or more of Nitrogen is slow-release or water-insoluble) with little or no phosphorous to minimize runoff into the river or leaching into the groundwater. Adopt Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to spot-treat, use natural products, and minimize the use of toxic chemicals.

Use Mulch – Mulch retains moisture, slows runoff, and controls weeds. Don’t use Cypress for mulch as the harvesting of cypress for mulch destroys living trees and important habitat for wildlife. Recycle your yard waste and leaves by using as mulch and compost.

Attract Birds and Bees – Use right plants to provide valuable habitat for birds, pollinators, beneficial insects and other wildlife.

Protect Waterfront - Maintain a 10’ buffer next to waterways or directly adjacent to impervious surfaces where chemicals and fertilizers are not used. Also, use berms or swales when feasible. Point downspouts toward yard/garden and away from driveways and sidewalks. Use permeable materials when possible for walkways, paths and patios. All of these practices can help reduce runoff that can pollute our waterways.

Benefits of a River Friendly Yard include:

  • Reduces the exposure of people, pets and wildlife to harmful chemicals.
  • Reduces nutrient pollution and helps prevent algal blooms and fish kills.
  • Provides important habitat for wildlife.
  • Conserves water.
  • Creates beautiful yards, while saving time and money by reducing the need for water, fertilizers, chemicals, and mowing.

Questions? Please contact Outreach Director Kelly Thompson at (904) 256-7614 or kelly@stjohnsriverkeeper.org

2019 RIVER FRIENDLY YARD AWARD CONTEST PARTNERS:  

Earth Works
Florida Friendly Landscaping Program
Florida Native Plant Society Ixia Chapter
Florida Native Plant Society Paw Paw Chapter
Twinflower Nursery
DeBary Nursery
Volusia Water Alliance

Ask Governor DeSantis for a Moratorium on Sewage Sludge!

Ask Governor DeSantis for a Moratorium on Sewage Sludge! The algae in Blue Cypress Lake contains microcystin at a rate of 4,700 parts per billion. Levels above 10 parts per billion are considered hazardous to humans. Photo: Barb Burr

This week’s release of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Biosolids Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Report does not live up to the higher standard set by our new Governor in his Executive Order: Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment.  Governor DeSantis stated that expediting progress towards reducing the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years is a priority.

WHY FDEP'S BIOSOLIDS REPORT IS BAD
The report ignores significant financial, health and environmental risk presented by the St. Johns River Water Management District and other TAC members.

  • The annual disposal of more than 89,000 tons of Miami’s sewage sludge (biosolids) within the Upper Basin of the St. Johns River is fueling harmful algal blooms and undermining public investment in nutrient pollution removal downstream.
  • This transfer of pollution from South Florida to Central and North Florida saddles local governments with loss of revenue due to toxic green algae blooms and a clean-up liability of up to $200 million annually.
  • Instead of providing the same protections as South Florida waters, FDEP is ignoring the urgent need to stop pollution at its source and is continuing to support the disposal of Miami’s sewage sludge in the Headwaters of the St. Johns River.

CALL TO ACTION
Contact Governor DeSantis today! By Email or Twitter @GovRonDeSantis

*Use your own language or copy and paste our ask below.*
 

Read more findings in the SJRWMD report.
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has observed:

  • Increased Total Phosphorous trends
  • Increased incidence of Microsystis (freshwater cyanobacteria which includes the harmful algal bloom Microcystis aeruginosa) 
  • No evidence of land use driven changes and no other known sources of phosphorous loading
  • Strong relationship between cumulative biosolids application and Total Phosphorous concentrations
  • Potential for algal blooms, especially toxin producing taxa, such as Microcystis
  • Impacts to Upper Basin water quality impact habitat conditions, recreation, and aesthetics 

What's going on with biosolids? Watch this video by TCPalm for a visual recap on the issue. 

Vote For the River!

Vote For the River! Credit: Johnny Milano for The New York Times

The runoff election for Jacksonville City Council will be on May 14, 2019

Voters need to know which candidates will make the St. Johns a priority and lead the charge to address the problems that degrade our river's health. As a result, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER asked all of the candidates running for Jacksonville City Council to sign a Resiliency Pledge and complete our Candidate Survey. 

HAVE YOUR CANDIDATES IN THE RUNOFF ELECTION TAKEN THE PLEDGE TO CREATE A MORE RESILIENT JACKSONVILLE?

Also, read the linked Candidate Surveys to know where your candidates stand on river issues.

MAY RUNOFF ELECTION
District 8

  • Ju'Coby Pittman - Signed Pledge
  • Tameka Holly - No Reply 

District 10 

  • Brenda Priestly Jackson - No Reply
  • Celestine Mills - Signed PledgeCandidate Survey

District 14 

  • Sunny Gettinger - Signed PledgeCandidate Survey
  • Randy DeFoor - Signed Pledge

At-Large Group 1 

At-Large Group 3

  • Tommy Hazouri - Signed Pledge
  • Greg Rachal - No Reply


MARCH UNITARY ELECTION WINNERS

Mayor

  • Lenny Curry - No Reply

At-Large Group 2

  • Ron Salem - No Reply

At-Large Group 4 

At-Large Group 5

  • Sam Newby - No Reply

District 1 

District 2 

  • Al Ferraro - No Reply 

District 3 

  • Aaron Bowman - No Reply

District 4 

  • Scott Wilson - Signed Pledge

District 5 

  • Leanna Cumber - No Reply

District 6

District 7

  • Reggie Gaffney - No Reply

District 8

  • Garrett Dennis - No Reply

District 11

  • Danny Becton - No Reply

District 12 

  • Randy White - No Reply

District 13 

  • Rory Diamon - No Reply


We need your help! Take Action Today.

1. Contact the remaining candidates and Council Members who have not responded and ask them to sign the Resiliency Pledge.
2. Share and pass out the Resiliency Pledge Flyers to your friends, family, and colleagues.
3. Attend a Candidate Forum in your district. (See our list of Candidate Forum Questions you can ask your candidates).
4. Encourage candidates to complete St. Johns RIVERKEEPER's City Council Candidate Surveys.

WHY WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION:

Hurricane Irma was a wakeup call for Jacksonville and the State of Florida.
The historic flooding was shocking. The property loss, economic impact, and human toll were heartbreaking.

Unfortunately, scientists are predicting slower and more intense storms, further increasing the risk to low-lying communities like ours.

  • Northeast Florida Regional Council recommends planning for rising waters of 1 to 3 feet by 2060.
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects an increase in water levels in the river by up to 12% during smaller, “high frequency” storms within the next 5 years.

Other major cities throughout the country are focused on becoming more resilient and better equipped for a future of rising waters.

Jacksonville's time to act is now by:

  • Protecting our natural defenses (wetlands and buffers) and restoring tributaries;
  • Implementing green stormwater infrastructure, such as bioswales, rain gardens, and urban trees;
  • Improving the permitting process to reduce and mitigate flooding impacts to neighbors, waterways, and public infrastructure

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Latest Blog Posts

Advocacy Internship Opening!
Advocacy Internship Opening!
Support McCoys Creek Restoration!
Support McCoys Creek Restoration!
OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!
OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!
Ask Governor DeSantis for a Moratorium on Sewage Sludge!
Ask Governor DeSantis for a Moratorium on Sewage Sludge!

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