OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!

OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off! Winner of the 2016 River Friendly Yard Award

Annually, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER and Florida Native Plant Society’s Ixia Chapter 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.

How To Enter
Duval County residents must meet criteria based on the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods principles, be a member of St. Johns Riverkeeper and/or Florida Native Plant Society, and submit a photo and statement about the yard to shannon@stjohnsriverkeeper.org, or on social media (Facebook or Instagram) via #riverfriendlyyardaward. You may nominate yourself, a neighbor, family member, or business.

Winner of the contest will receive a $100 gift card and a complimentary landscape analysis with a native landscape expert, compliments of Native and Uncommon Plants. Winners also receive OUTSTANDING RIVER FRINEDLY YARD signage for your home, a recognition photo session with leaders from St. Johns Riverkeeper and Florida Native Plant Society, and potential coverage on the local news.

Deadline and Judging Process
The contest launches March 1, 2018 with judging in late April - early June. The deadline to submit a photo and statement is April 22: Earth Day. Based on the information submitted, three finalists will be selected that best exemplify a commitment to native plants and River Friendly Yard practices. A committee composed of representatives from St. Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Native Plant Society – Ixia Chapter, and Duval IFAS Extension office will then visit the yards of the finalists and select a winner using the attached criteria. 

River Friendly Yard Award recipients will meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Homeowner uses fertilizer and chemicals sparingly or not at all, waters only as needed, and is tolerant of some weeds and pests.
  • Landscaped area is maintained and attractive (does not contain excessive or overgrown weeds).
  • Landscaped area utilizes drought-tolerant, low-maintenance plant material and groundcover, preferably including 50% or more native plants.
  • Yard does not include invasive plants.
  • If home has an in-ground irrigation system, it is designed to be as efficient as possible, by utilizing water efficient components and strategies (e.g. drip or micro irrigation, soil moisture sensors, rain barrels) based on the type of plants and their individual needs. Homeowner frequently inspects, repairs, and calibrates the system and adjusts timer in accordance to changing weather patterns. 
  • Landscaping and maintenance practices are consistent with University of Florida’s Florida Yards and Neighborhoods principles:
  • Right Plant, Right Place – The plant selection matches the yard’s soil, light, water, and climatic conditions to create a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance yard.
  • Water Efficiently – Follows local irrigation ordinance and only waters as needed. Uses mulch and mows properly to increase plant health and drought tolerance.
  • Fertilize Appropriately - Sparingly uses slow-release fertilizers with little or no phosphorous, and only as needed to minimize runoff into the river or leaching into the groundwater.
  • Mulch – Uses mulch to retain moisture, slow runoff, and control weeds. Does not use cypress mulch. The harvesting of cypress for mulch destroys living trees and important habitat for wildlife.
  • Attract Wildlife – Uses native plants to provide valuable habitat for wildlife.
  • Manage Yard Pests Responsibly – Uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to spot-treat and minimize the use of toxic chemicals.
  • Recycle Yard Waste – Leaves clippings on lawn and composts.
  • Reduce Stormwater Runoff - Uses berms or swales, when feasible. Downspouts are pointed toward yard/garden and away from driveways and sidewalks. Permeable materials are used when possible for walkways, paths, etc.
  • Protect the Waterfront - Maintains a 10’ buffer adjacent to any waterway where chemicals and fertilizers are not used to minimize runoff. Is careful to keep chemicals and fertilizers away from impervious surfaces (roads, driveways, sidewalks) to avoid entering storm drains. Storm drains eventually lead to the river, meaning we all essentially live on waterfront property.


Controversial Toxic Chemical Rule Withdrawn

Controversial Toxic Chemical Rule Withdrawn

For Immediate Release

February 21, 2018

FDEP Withdraws Rule That Would Have Allowed More Toxic Chemicals in Florida’s Waters 

JACKSONVILLE, FL — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recently withdrew a dangerous state rule that would have allowed increased levels of toxic chemicals in Florida’s surface waters. Miami Waterkeeper and St. Johns Riverkeeper, represented by Earthjustice, have been campaigning against this rule since it was proposed in 2016.

“This is a major victory for all Floridians and our wildlife. This process was plagued with problems that would have exposed more Floridians to toxic chemicals in surface waters,” says Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director and Waterkeeper of Miami Waterkeeper. “We are thrilled that the DEP has finally reconsidered the risks and will reexamine its science.”

This rule, proposed by FDEP, was rushed through the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC), despite having vacant seats that Governor Scott had failed to fill for representatives from the environmental community and local government.

The rule used a controversial method to calculate cancer risk that differed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended model and the one utilized by every other state in the nation. This resulted in toxic exposure limits that were higher than EPA recommendations for most of the chemicals examined. In short, DEP accepted the likelihood that more Florida citizens might develop cancer with these new exposure limits, using a carcinogenic “chemical risk calculation” that is 10 times (or sometimes 100 times) higher than the current rule allows for some individuals.

Because chemicals accumulate in fish or shellfish, people who eat Florida-caught seafood even just once a week would have increased their cancer risk by orders of magnitude. Subsistence fishers, who eat Florida caught fish daily, like many tribal communities, are the most at risk.

Aside from increasing our cancer risk, this rule would have also hurt the market for Florida seafood, deterring the public from choosing “Fresh from Florida” shellfish and fish.

“Florida’s economy relies so heavily on clean water. This rule would have resulted in a direct hit to the commercial and recreational fishing industry, tourism, and public health. You have to ask who would have benefited from this rule. It certainly wasn’t me, my children, or my fellow Floridians,” said Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper.

Miami Waterkeeper, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, and Earthjustice have been working with experts to evaluate FDEP’s faulty science and have submitted technical comments to the EPA. The groups also mounted a petition and letter-writing campaign, met with EPA officials, and rallied local municipalities to oppose the rule. Over 11 municipalities passed resolutions opposing the rule.

In 2016, the City of Miami joined the Seminole Tribe in a legal challenge to the rule. After initial setbacks, the City of Miami and the Seminole Tribe won their appeal at the 3rd District Court of Appeals, permitting them to have an administrative hearing on the merits of the rule scheduled for this April. Miami-Dade County also recently decided to join the fight against the rule and intervene in the administrative proceedings.

With mounting opposition and an administrative hearing looming on the horizon, FDEP formally withdrew the rule as proposed and reinitiated rulemaking. In preparation for a revised version of rule, the FDEP “intends to conduct a state-wide fish consumption survey to accurately determine the amount and types of fish commonly eaten by Floridians” before promulgation.

“It’s time for the state to go back to the drawing board and use the best science to protect Floridians from toxic chemicals in our water,” said Tania Galloni, Managing Attorney for the Florida Office of Earthjustice. “We need safeguards so that polluters don’t wreck our fishing and recreation industries.”

Click here for more information about this controversial rule. 

Motion Denied, Dredging Challenge Continues

Below is the press release that St. Johns RIVERKEEPER released on 1/22/18. 


Jacksonville, FL -- On January 19, 2018, Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued an order denying St. Johns RIVERKEEPER's Motion for Preliminary Injunction to prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and JaxPort from proceeding with plans to dredge the St. Johns River. 

St. Johns RIVERKEEPER was seeking further analysis by the Corps of potential flooding impacts and JaxPort’s revised plans for an 11-mile project before the Deep Dredge could begin.

St. Johns RIVERKEEPER will continue with its ongoing challenge of the Deep Dredge in federal court due to the unmitigated harm that will occur to the St. Johns River and its tributaries and an insufficient environmental and economic assessment of the project by the Army Corps of Engineers.

St. Johns RIVERKEEPER filed the motion due to the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate the likelihood of additional flooding as a result of the project and the economic viability of JaxPort’s publicly-announced plans to revise the scope of the dredging from 13 miles to 11 miles.

During the January 4 injunction hearing, the Corps admitted that the agency did not conduct a flood analysis to determine potential impacts, despite concluding that the Deep Dredge will increase the water level in the St. Johns by up to one foot due to increased tides and storm surge in some areas. However, the Corps had previously committed to a special City Council Task Force and federal agencies that no induced flooding would occur.

In addition, JaxPort revealed that it still plans to dredge 13 miles of the St. Johns River, backtracking on last year’s announcement that the Deep Dredge would be shortened to 11 miles. While an 11-mile project would reduce the cost of dredging, it would not reach the pivotal $230 million TraPac terminal, limiting JaxPort’s ability to attract the larger Post-Panamax ships. As a result, the Corps would need to reevaluate the economic benefits to determine if the revised plan still qualified for federal approval and funding.

“Unfortunately, the decision by the Court allows the Corps and JaxPort to begin this risky project before fulfilling their obligation to the river and this community,” states Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper. “We can’t afford to wait until we experience more flooding or for JaxPort to make up its mind on the scope of the project before fully assessing the environmental and economic impacts of the dredging. Once the damage is done, it will be too late.”

While the Judge’s decision allows the first phase of the dredging to proceed, the order does permit St. Johns RIVERKEEPER to pursue its unresolved concerns regarding the impacts from additional flooding in the ongoing legal challenge of the Corps’ environmental study of the project.

Click here to read Judge Howard's Order.

For more information about the Deep Dredge and its impacts, click on the links below:

How Will Dredging Impact Sea Level Rise?

How Will Dredging Impact Fisheries?

How Will Dredging Impact Algal Blooms?

Expert Finds Dredging "Economically Infeasible"

JaxPort Announces New Plan for 11-mile Project

Get the Facts About Dredging Proposal

Corps Fails to Assess Flooding Impacts from Dredging

Corps Fails to Assess Flooding Impacts from Dredging

The following are comments submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers by Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, on December 29, 2017, regarding the Corps' failure to fully assess potential flooding impacts from the propsed dredging of the St. Johns River:

"On behalf of our members, St. Johns Riverkeeper (SJRK) submits the following comments regarding the December 2017 Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment – Review of Recent Storm Events and Flooding (DSEA) released on December 14, 2017.

SJRK has continually voiced opposition to the proposed Jacksonville Harbor Channel Deepening Project due to faulty, incomplete information and analyses presented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regarding environmental, as well as economic impacts. The Corps has also failed to provide a beneficial mitigation plan to offset harm to the St. Johns, its tributaries and adjacent properties.

Following Hurricane Irma, it is paramount that any increase in future flood damage potentially resulting from the proposed deepening project must be fully understood by the Corps, the City of Jacksonville leadership and the general public. Of specific interest is the probable increase in nuisance flooding which will occur in the downtown, San Marco, Riverside and Ortega neighborhoods due to a predicted increase in the elevation of tidal waters – after the deep dredge.

The Army Corps DSEA fails to acknowledge or consider relatively irrefutable adverse consequences that will occur on a high frequency (i.e. annual) basis. In contrast, the federal predictions of project “impact” have been limited to scenarios associated with low frequency (i.e. 50 and 100 year) storm events in combination with a 50 to 100 year horizon of sea level rise. Although of scientific value, these federal predictions do not portray the project’s immediate impacts that must be dealt with on an annual basis by a portion of the City of Jacksonville, including waterfront development far removed from the area of river deepening.

Hurricane Irma well demonstrated the extreme vulnerability to flood damage that exists along the riverfront within downtown, as well as the San Marco, Riverside and Ortega waterfront areas of Jacksonville. The latter occurred as a combination of hurricane related storm surge, rainfall, preceding super-elevated river water level conditions, saturated uplands, and a significant duration wind field originating from southerly sectors (blowing directly up the river).

Of specific interest is the fact that the 2017 resultant historical water levels recorded in the downtown urban core, San Marco, Riverside and Ortega were not the result of a statistical “50 or 100-Year Storm” as addressed by the USACE study. Actually, measured sustained wind speeds at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station on the St. Johns River never even reached hurricane force during Hurricane Irma.

Adding to the cumulative water levels experienced were the seasonal astronomical tides which during each hurricane season are predictably the highest of the year. For example, in September, October and November of 2017, the highest monthly astronomical tide levels predicted were .35 ft., .45 ft., and .5 feet above the elevation of mean high water, respectively, at the Acosta Bridge tidal station. These water levels combined with nor’easter effects which cause additional super-elevation of the upper reaches of the St. Johns River in the fall months, typically cause annual nuisance flooding in the San Marco, Riverside and Ortega riverfront areas – in the complete absence of the added effects of any tropical or extra-tropical storm events. A major contributory factor to nuisance flood events is the inability of the developed uplands to drain when the river is “high”. Accordingly, the assessment of risks of the proposed deep dredge to businesses and homeowners should be considered to be a “game of inches” – due to the present day vulnerability of downtown neighborhoods. Any additional water level increases during those May–November months when water levels are already higher than average can cause significant property damage and loss of physical access to both businesses and residences. To-date this type of impact analysis has not been presented to either COJ elected officials or the general public.

In contrast, the types of USACE analyses associated with deep dredge effects avoid addressing high-frequency, “baseline” type impacts that consider today’s existing conditions. That is, by design and tradition the USACE analyses consider the effect of a project based upon a low-frequency, 50- or 100-year hurricane storm in the future – a storm that doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of today’s frequent nuisance flooding conditions.  Hence, the numerical simulation and accounting for the above described documented hydrological effects argues for a significantly different analysis than the type of storm surge modeling performed to predict 50- and 100-year water levels associated with the Jacksonville harbor deepening project, and in particular where those analyses seek to likewise factor into their predictions 50 years-worth of sea level rise.

The federal predictions are based upon numerical models for the simulation of open coast surge based upon techniques similar to those utilized for purposes of the federal flood insurance mapping of low frequency events. For example, predicted 50- and 100- year open coast surge levels were propagated from the ocean – through the project area – up the St. Johns River for purposes of providing water level hydrographs throughout the “Jacksonville Harbor Vicinity,” which by definition extended through downtown Jacksonville and beyond. Various calibrations of the federal model were attempted based upon simulations of Hurricanes Frances and Dora. The latter was the historical hurricane of record for Duval County which occurred in 1964. Hurricane Dora entered the State of Florida in the vicinity of St. Augustine and South Ponte Vedra Beach. Accordingly, its trajectory bore little resemblance to Hurricane Irma which generally moved up the western center of the State as it impacted Duval County.

The prescribed numerical modeling approach employed by the USACE for purposes of evaluating pre- and post-channel deepening water elevations within the area of channel deepening are in all probability realistic for that limited area of interest – only. Conversely, what the federal modeling strategically avoids is the reliable prediction of present day high-frequency storm impacts in the downtown urban core and adjacent developed waterfronts of San Marco, Riverside and Ortega – in combination with increases in tide range which are acknowledged to result from the proposed channel deepening. As noted above, the timing of these high frequency storms, tides and accompanying nuisance flooding – such as during annual nor’easter events – are synonymous with each annual hurricane season.

Executive Order EO11988, Floodplain Management requires federal agencies to avoid to the extent possible the long and short-term adverse impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of floodplains. To comply with EO11988, impacts of the proposed Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project were to be identified.

The USACE was required to:
1. Estimate the potential impacts of the proposed federal project on water levels within the St. Johns River
2. Determine if the potential impacts are significant enough to affect the flood hazard zones designated by FEMA

Without providing any analysis regarding the quantification of floodplain impacts, the USACE study simply states that “This project would have no adverse impacts to floodplain management” (GRR/FEIS ref. pg. 289). At face value, this conclusion is hard to accept when the Corps’ own modeling exercises indicate increases of water elevations of an additional 0.5 to 0.7 feet in the developed areas bordering the deepening project – for a 100-year storm with sea level rise. This includes the entirety of the Mill Cove shoreline. The damages and loss of homes, contents and businesses throughout the San Marco, Riverside and Ortega areas bordering the St. Johns River during Hurricane Irma are clear evidence that any level of floodplain increase resulting from the federal project represents significant potential financial losses and endangerment of the citizens of Jacksonville. To that end, the USACE can be considered to be noncompliant with respect to the requirements of EO11988.

It would appear that the DSEA issued by the Corps in late December 2017 is an effort to assure City of Jacksonville leadership and the general public that the occurrence of Hurricane Irma in no way invalidated the findings of the initial federal study. More specifically, the document concludes that “The Corps modeled events comparable to, or more severe than Hurricane Irma,” and that “recent storm events and flooding in the vicinity of the Jacksonville Harbor Navigation Project do not constitute new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns bearing on the project or its impacts.” Again, the Corps completely discounts or inadvertently misses the significance of the probability of high frequency flooding events in the City core due to continued deepening of the St. Johns River channel. It likewise fails to discuss additional flooding potential in developed areas directly abutting or in the vicinity of the project channel improvements.

The Corps’ modelling fails to analyze water levels and the project’s effect upon flooding in the weeks after a hurricane – during which the river levels remain anomalously high and lead to continued flooding. In fact, for the one or two days that are included in the model’s calibration after the peak storm has passed, the Corps’ model consistently and significantly under-predicts the actual water levels that were observed in the downtown and upriver areas that were included in the model.

That is, the model fails to accurately predict the elevated river levels that consistently occur in the fall, during which nuisance flooding is observed and sensitivities to increased water levels are greatest.

The December 2017 DSEA document re-explains the federal modeling approach by which it predicted potential future effects to the City of Jacksonville downtown urban and residential core. However, the federal analysis and discussion seek to portray the impacts of the project solely in combination with low frequency (50- and 100-year) storm events and future sea level projections. Since the latter occur over a long period of time (say 50 years or more into the future), such a comparison fails to relate or address in any meaningful way the present day probability of exacerbated higher-frequency flooding which will occur annually after channel deepening and which should be the greatest concern to the City of Jacksonville given the documented flooding caused by Hurricane Irma.

Any increase in the severity of high frequency seasonal flooding in the San Marco, Riverside and Ortega areas (even if only a few inches) can be highly impactful to private and public properties and infrastructure, as well as physical access to residences and businesses alike. The USACE acknowledges a predicted increase in the elevation of high tide of at least 0.2 feet in the San Marco and Ortega areas after channel deepening. That should be of significant concern to both the citizens of Jacksonville and their elected leaders in the impact evaluation of any proposed channel deepening project. Attempting to dilute that acknowledged increase in water level by comparing it to surge levels from a 50- or 100-year storm in the ocean and 50+ years of sea level rise does a disservice to those desiring a meaningful analysis of project impacts.

It is an undeniable fact that decades of federally sponsored deepening and channelization of the St. Johns River has “invited the ocean downtown.” As such, dredging has incrementally exposed the City’s riverfront interior to increased fluctuations in ocean water level, by making the downtown river more tidal. At the same time, the downtown urban core and adjacent waterfronts are 120+ years old – developed at a time when the sea level was at least 1 foot lower than present. As sea level continues to increase, and storm water drainage problems intensify, and the surge and tides of the ocean can more readily reach upriver, it is evident that every inch of water level rise is important when expressed in the context of the low-elevation areas of the St. Johns River waterfront that are already subject to high frequency flooding.

Accordingly, increases in river water levels caused by further river deepening cannot be dismissed as trivial in the context of urban flooding.

It is the responsibility of USACE to provide the public a thorough and honest assessment of the potential benefits, impacts, risks and costs of the proposed deepening of the Jacksonville Harbor and a transparent and open decision-making process. Anything less, fails to meet the minimum thresholds set by Federal Law.

USACE fails to adequately assess the environmental impacts, fails to provide a beneficial mitigation plan to offset harm to the St. Johns and its tributaries, and fails to articulate the need for this project.

The USACE release of this important yet inadequate assessment on December 14, 2017 with comments due on December 30, 2017 is a further disservice to the citizens of Jacksonville.

We request a 30-day extension for public comment period to allow citizens and the City of Jacksonville time to assess and discuss this critical issue. A sixteen day comment period over the holidays is simply inadequate.

We also request a USACE public meeting with City of Jacksonville officials to discuss flood risks resulting from the deep dredge prior to completion of the DSEA.

We cannot afford to roll the dice with the future health of our river or the surrounding riverfront communities until the flood risk has been fully vetted."

Click here to download the comments. 

2017 RIVERKEEPER Awards Announced

2017 RIVERKEEPER Awards Announced Scott Sowell of Darnell Cookman Middle/High School named as 2017 Educator of the Year

2017 Educator of the Year
Scott Sowell, Ph.D

Each year, a school, group of students, program or teacher stands out through our work in schools. This year, Dr. Scott Sowell, the AP Environmental Science and Senior Capstone Research Teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School, School of the Medical Arts was that person.

Scott has been teaching for 21 years working with elementary, secondary, and college level students, with a focus on increasing science literacy, maximizing students’ understanding of the nature of science, as well as researching issues of equity within science education. He was named Duval County Teacher of the Year in 2012 and has since been involved in developing local teacher leaders and maximizing their impact on public education here in Jacksonville.

Each year, Scott encourages is AP Environmental Science students to compete in the Envirothon, a field-oriented, problem-solving, natural resource education program where high school students conduct hands-on investigations about environmental issues. I always describe it to people like a math league competition for the environment. Scott’s teams took first place in 2016 and placed 1st in 3 of the 5 categories in 2017. Scott was also a keynote speaker at ‘March for Science’ in Jacksonville where he advocated for the role that science education plays in the development of a scientifically literate citizenry.

This past September, Scott invited Riverkeeper into his classroom to test out new equipment focusing on eutrophication and algae blooms in the St. Johns River. Through multiple sessions, we worked with students to understand how nutrients enter the river, how to test for them, and what the ecological consequences can be from too many nutrients in our waterways.

Scott truly cares about his students’ education and molding a generation of citizens that are well-informed and care about the world around them. He is an inspiration to what a science teacher is capable of doing with the encouragement from his Principal, support of his family, and the love of teaching.

2017 Volunteer of the Year
Steve Cobb

The Volunteer of the Year is rarely a person who has impacted our organization for only one year – and this year’s recipient is no exception. Steve Cobb, a Riverkeeper member since 2010, has been a dedicated leader of the St. Johns Riverkeeper River Patrol Steering Committee since 2014, but his leadership in 2017 has stood out, and is the reason we are recognizing Steve.

Steve Cobb, inventor of the River Patrol Geocache Trail, has continuously worked to develop new ideas and initiatives that introduce folks to the St. Johns River, the River Patrol, and St. Johns Riverkeeper. In 2017, Steve Cobb has served as one of the primary Captains of the Kingfisher, working to decorate and “bling” the boat for the many boat parades we are joining this season. Upon purchase of our new Kingfisher, Steve took leadership to ensure the vessel is safe, legal and equipped with the proper instruments to be ready for water adventures. Before completion of this important purchase, Steve helped ensure Riverkeeper presence on the water by captaining his own boat at cleanups, powerboat races, and other local water events. 

Outside of being a great Captain and river steward, Steve utilized his time at CSX, Steve procured a CSX Grant called Dollars 4 Doers. Behind the scenes, he has served as food coordinator at our annual Low Country Boil, chopping potatoes and corn for everyone to enjoy and timing delivery of the steamy entrée for 200+ guests. Steve created a Cleanup Scavenger hunt, being unleashed on Sunday, December 17 at our monthly McCoys Creek Cleanup, to make cleanups fun and interactive learning experiences.

Steve is a wonderful asset to our organization and the River Patrol family. It has been a pleasure to work with him over the years and now that he’s recently retired, we are excited to utilize his newly found “freetime”.

2017 Advocate
Robert Storm Burks

Rob Storm Burks is our 2017 Advocate of the Year for his generous dedication of time and expertise.

After years of field work while at St. Johns River Water Management District, Rob fully understands the threats to our mighty river and is committed to being part of the solution. Rob has served our members and our community in many capacities that have assisted in many of our advocacy issues in 2017.

Rob Storm provided expert technical guidance in our efforts to protect the St. Johns from the deep dredge and future water withdrawals. He also provided training to our team and volunteers to identify and to respond to harmful algal blooms and led Science Cafes to do the same for Clay County communities. In addition, he developed scientifically defendable protocols for our sampling program, which not only provided important data, but resulted in more sampling and more information sharing by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. He worked directly with a Boy Scout Camp located on the banks of algal-plagued Doctors Lake to ensure that the camp had appropriate steps in place to keep their scouts safe from toxins.

In addition to this direct work, Rob also utilized his contacts with state agencies in an effort to improve communications with the public and to explore solutions. Rob shared his passion for Northeast Florida’s ecology with organized hikes through threatened areas along the St. Johns identifying flora and fauna while pointing out signs of distress. His photography captured the beauty of the St. Johns and was featured in the Fall Edition of Arbus magazine. His photos also held polluters accountable by documenting violations following Hurricane Irma. During a post-storm flyover, Rob’s keen eye spotted heavy discharge from the Georgia Pacific pipeline. His photograph lead to a shut-down of the paper-mill until the problem was corrected.

Rob was a featured scientist in Troubled Waters, our most recent documentary, and participated in multiple panels following local screenings. In early 2017, Rob represented Northeast Florida in the Washington, DC March for Science and Climate March.

The work that Robert Storm Burks has done to protect the St. Johns River is why we are honoring him with the 2017 St. Johns Riverkeeper Advocate award.

Special thank you to Paul Garfinkel for the fantastic images used in this years' volunteer awards, and Ryan Buckley at Gallery Framery for framing. 

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OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!
OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!
Controversial Toxic Chemical Rule Withdrawn
Controversial Toxic Chemical Rule Withdrawn
Motion Denied, Dredging Challenge Continues
Corps Fails to Assess Flooding Impacts from Dredging
Corps Fails to Assess Flooding Impacts from Dredging

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