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OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off!

OUTSTANDING River Friendly Yard Award kicks off! Bonnie Sinatro, winner of the 2018 River Friendly Yard Award in Jacksonville

Annually, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER, Florida Native Plant Society's local chapters, and other native plant experts 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.

WE'RE EXPANDING!
This year, we're excited to expand our River Friendly Yard Award contest and awareness campaign to incorporate Central Florida where our middle basin office is located in DeLand. We'll have two panels of judges: one in the Jacksonville area and the other in the DeLand and surrounding area.

There will be TWO lucky winners this year - a Northeast Florida and a Central Florida River Friendly Yard Award winner.

HOW TO ENTER

  1. Residents and businesses should meet most of the criteria based on the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods principles.
  2. Submit a photo and statement about the yard to kelly@stjohnsriverkeeper.org, or on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) using the hashtag #SJRiverFriendlyYardAward. You may nominate yourself, a neighbor, family member, or business.

This 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 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 launches March 1, 2019 with judging in late April - early June. The deadline to submit a photo and statement is Earth Day on April 22, 2019. Based on the information submitted, three finalists will be selected that best exemplify a commitment to native plants and River Friendly Yard practices. Our NEFL and Central FL committees will then visit the yards of the finalists and select a winner using the attached criteria.

RIVER FRIENDLY YARD AWARD CRITERIA
River Friendly Yard Award recipients will meet most, if not all, of the following criteria based on the University of Florida's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods principles:

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. Here are two great websites to help you find the right plants for your yard – www.floridayards.org and www.fnps.org (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 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 native 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.

CLICK HERE for more information and tips about River Friendly landscaping practices.

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

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. 

Ask Candidates to Sign the Pledge

Ask Candidates to Sign the Pledge Credit: Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Jacksonville is holding unitary elections for City Council and Mayor on on March 19, 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 has asked all of the candidates running for Jacksonville City Council and Mayor to sign a Resiliency Pledge and complete our Candidate Survey. 

HAVE YOUR CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR TAKEN THE PLEDGE TO CREATE A MORE RESILIENT JACKSONVILLE?
Ask candidates if they have taken the pledge to support a City-led analysis of flood risk and public infrastructure vulnerability, and the implementation of an action plan to protect our waterways and citizens from property damage and rising waters.

CANDIDATES WHO HAVE SIGNED THE RESILIENCY PLEDGE!
Also, read the linked Candidate Surveys to know where your candidates stand on river issues.

  • Omega Allen, Mayor
  • Jimmy Hill, Mayor - Candidate Survey
  • William Bishop, City Council District 1 - Candidate Survey 
  • Scott Wilson, City Council District 4
  • Celestine Mills, City Council District 10 - Candidate Survey
  • Reginald Blount, City Council District 10
  • Charles Fetzer, City Council District 10 - Candidate Survey
  • Sunny Gettinger, City Council District 14
  • Jimmy Peluso, City Council Distrcit 14 
  • Connell A. Crooms, City Council At Large Group 1
  • Lisa King, City Council At Large Group 1 - Candidate Survey
  • Darren Mason, City Council At Large Group 2 
  • Matt Carlucci, City Council At Large Group 4 - Candidate Survey
  • Don Redman, City Council At Large Group 4 
  • Chad Evan McIntyre, City Council At Large Group 5
  • Niki Brunson, City Council At Large Group 5 - Candidate Survey

CANDIDATES WHO HAVE ONLY TAKEN OUR CANDIDATE SURVEY 

We need your help! Take Action Today.

1. Call your candidates and ask them if they will 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 below). Sign up with St. Johns Riverkeeper to pass out flyers and have a Riverkeeper information table at this event. (See our list of Candidate Forum Questions you can ask your candidates).
4. Encourage candidates to complete St. Johns RIVERKEEPER's City Council and Mayoral Candidate Surveys.

UPCOMING CANDIDATE FORUMS

Feb 17 | Women's March Candidate Meet & Greet 
IBEW Local 177
966 N. Liberty Street 32206

Feb 20 | Jacksonville Young Democrats
Willowbranch Library
2875 Park Street 32205

Feb 25 | Distict 2 Forum by North Jax Organizations (6pm)
Florida State College North Campus @ Jacksonville 
Auditorium, 4501 Capper Road 32218

Feb 28 | Mandarin 
Mandarin Community Club
12447 Mandrain Road 32223

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

Vote for the River: Candidate Survey and Pledge

Vote for the River: Candidate Survey and Pledge


Jacksonville is holding unitary elections for City Council and Mayor on on March 19, 2019.  According to the Duval County Supervisors of Election, "The first election is held with a single ballot for all voters within each electoral district, regardless of political party affiliation. Candidates appear on the ballot with party labels and campaign as party candidates. Any candidate winning a majority of votes in the primary is elected; if no candidate for a position wins a majority, the general election serves as a runoff between the top two winners, regardless of party affiliation." 

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 has asked all of the candidates running for Jacksonville City Council and Mayor to complete our Candidate Survey and sign a Resiliency Pledge

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER does not endorse candidates. However, we will do our best to let you know where the candidates stand on key river-related issues.  Once completed surveys and signed pledges are received, we will post them on this website. 

Here's what you do leading up to the election:

LEARN MORE about the Candidate Resiliency Pledge and why we need our elected leaders to take action to address rising waters!

Click here to visit the Duval County Supervisors of Elections website to learn more about the upcoming elections. 

Early voting begins on March 4, 2019.  Make sure to VOTE FOR THE RIVER!

2018 By the Numbers

2018 By the Numbers

We are sincerely grateful for your commitment and membership support. Because of you, our St. Johns River has a strong voice and a dedicated team of passionate professional advocates working tirelessly every day for its protection.

With your help, we are making progress for the St. Johns and its watershed:

- Earlier this year, a judge ruled in favor of St. Johns Riverkeeper and our co-plaintiffs, finding that the constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2014 requires funding to be used FOR land conservation and NOT other purposes.

- We helped stop a dangerous state rule that would have allowed increased levels of toxic chemicals in Florida’s surface waters.

- St. Johns Riverkeeper led a coalition of organizations and individuals that successfully protected Julington-Durbin Preserve from a developer planning to build 1400 homes in the middle of the preserve.

- We launched a series of community town hall meetings to raise awareness about the impacts of dredging and rising waters. More than 700 people attended eight town halls and over 900 postcards were mailed to local leaders urging action.

- Our efforts led to a moratorium on the use of sewage sludge at one of the biggest polluting farms, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection formed a Biosolids Technical Advisory Committee to address this serious problem.

- In 2018, we have provided educational boat trips for over 3,000 5th grade students and programs for over 8,200 students throughout the St. Johns River watershed. And we awarded a $25,000 National Geographic education grant to enable us to reach even more students in 2019!

- From Jacksonville to DeLand, we activated over 500 volunteers who helped our education, outreach and advocacy initiatives, cleanups and more. 

- Thanks to our Rising Tides young professionals and our cleanup volunteers, we removed over 350 bags of trash from McCoy Creek and our river's waterways! 

These are just some examples of the successful work we are doing on behalf of you, your family, and our beloved river. However, there is much left to do in 2019 and beyond! 

Please help us as we defend, advocate and activate others to protect the St. Johns.

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Latest Blog Posts

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!
Ask Candidates to Sign the Pledge
Ask Candidates to Sign the Pledge
Vote for the River: Candidate Survey and Pledge
Vote for the River: Candidate Survey and Pledge

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