Econlockhatchee River, a major tributary of the St. Johns

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 about how we can better work together to protect our river, her tributaries and her springs.

Next, the Tour Team hit the water on the St. Johns Riverkeeper boat, traversing Lake Harney and Lake Jesup with Robert King 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 day on the water.

In the evening, Enterprise Preservation Society hosted a warm gathering of local leaders at the Enterprise Heritage Center & Museum to showcase the historical significance of this community founded in 1841 on Lake Monroe. 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 an unsustainable development project planned for the banks of Lake Monroe in order to preserve the city’s historic character. The property, now known as Thornby Park, is a testament to what a coalition of people and organizations working together can accomplish.

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