St. Johns RIVERKEEPER has received a $150,000 matching challenge grant from the Delores Barr Weaver Fund for our Save the St. Johns Campaign. As we celebrate our 15-year anniversary, we are launching the Save the St. Johns Campaign to engage and activate citizens throughout the watershed, more aggressively defend the St. Johns, and advocate for the river’s protection and restoration.
The campaign seeks to raise $300,000 for the technical, scientific, legal, and public relations support that is necessary to adequately address the many looming threats to the health and future of our river. The Delores Barr Weaver Fund will match every dollar donated to the campaign up to $150,000. CLICK HERE to donate to the Save the St. Johns Campaign Fund.
We are standing at an important crossroads. Existing pollution problems have not been resolved, while additional threats to the river’s health are on the horizon. The challenge grant will allow us to acquire the resources we need to defend the river and advocate for sensible solutions.
“I am pleased to provide this challenge grant so that St. Johns Riverkeeper can be an even stronger advocate for our river,” said Delores Barr Weaver. “The St Johns River is such a beautiful and vital natural resource for our communities–we must do all we can to strengthen and protect it. I am grateful for the role the Riverkeeper plays in safeguarding our river and hope many more supporters will step forward to help!”
John Ragsdale, the Chairman of the St. Johns Riverkeeper Board of Directors, added, “The significant challenges that lie ahead make the role of St. Johns RIVERKEEPER that much more important. Thanks to Mrs. Weaver’s generosity, the St. Johns will continue to have a powerful voice and advocate for restoration.”
Several major projects that would have significant impacts on the St. Johns River will be addressed with funds raised through this campaign, including the following:
Sleepy Creek Lands
Sleepy Creek Lands, a massive cattle operation, is seeking permits to withdraw millions of gallons of water a day from an over-tapped aquifer. This project poses a significant threat to the health of Silver and Salt Springs and the Silver, Ocklawaha, and St. Johns Rivers, as a result of over-pumping from the aquifer, nutrient loading from the manure of 9,500 head of cattle and the use of large quantities of fertilizer.
Central Florida Water Withdrawals
Central Florida is seeking to withdraw millions of gallons of water a day from the St. Johns to meet its future water needs. The initial Draft Regional Water Supply Plan released by the Central Florida Water Initiative calls for potentially withdrawing more than 150 million gallons of water a day (mgd) from the St. Johns. The Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary of the St. Johns, is also a target for potential withdrawals.
St. Johns River Harbor Dredging
JAXPORT is seeking to increase the depth of the St. Johns from 40-feet to 47-feet. This would cause salinity to move farther upstream, impacting critical freshwater wetlands, submerged aquatic grasses, and fisheries. St. Johns Riverkeeper continues to work to minimize the impacts of this project.
St. Johns RIVERKEEPER has also become one of the leading voices and advocates for the restoration of the Ocklawaha River. Restoring the river’s natural flow and 15,000 acres of floodplain forests and wetlands will improve water quality in the St. Johns, increase wildlife habitat, and restore the migration patterns for numerous species of fish. As a result, the St. Johns RIVERKEEPER has assembled a team of scientists to evaluate previous restoration studies, conduct additional analysis, and assist with the creation of an updated restoration plan.
Near the headwaters of the St. Johns in Osceola County, Deseret Ranch is seeking approval to develop 133,000 acres for up to 500,000 people by 2080. Deseret has proposed damming two tributaries that flow to the St. Johns to create a huge reservoir to supply water for this sprawling new community.
Through the Save the St. Johns Campaign, St. Johns RIVERKEEPER is reaching out to advocates, scientists, and organizations throughout the watershed to facilitate the creation of a comprehensive Restoration Plan for the St. Johns River. Our goal is to stimulate dialogue, challenge the status quo, focus attention on the comprehensive needs of the river and identify the full scope of policy changes and actions that must take place. By doing so, we hope the Save the St. Johns Campaign will serve as a catalyst for the creation of a shared vision and the eventual restoration of the St. Johns River.
The Campaign also involves plans for a 13-day boat tour of the entire 310 miles of the river in March 2016. The Save the St. Johns Boat Tour will include scheduled stops and organized events along the way to connect with local residents and activists, raise awareness about the importance of the St. Johns, assess the major issues impacting its health, and advocate for the solutions necessary for a clean and healthy river. Click here for a factsheet about the Tour.
More details will be posted soon at www.savethestjohns.org.