I speak to many groups in my role as the St. Johns Riverkeeper. It's important to be able to tell them, and you, what Riverkeeper is about. I've honed my message to make it as direct and to the point as possible. We believe the St. Johns is one of most unique rivers on this planet. We believe the St. Johns River is northeast Florida's most important natural resource. We also believe that what's best for the River is best for our community.
Some people accept that message and embrace it, others don't. I've had people tell me that our vision is too myopic, too short sighted, or worse, unrealistic. One gentleman told me one can't simply put the well being of a river above all the other needs of a community. I believe you can.
Clearly, the St. Johns is one of our most important economic engines; it is worth billions of dollars annually to the communities it touches. But, it is important beyond dollars and cents.
The St. Johns River defines us as a community. Our connection to the River is beyond geography.
The river speaks to each of us in a way that is personal and important. It is our link to the natural world; it is our connection to the other creatures we share this resource with.
I've spoken with people who have lived on or near the river for their entire lives. They speak about the comfort its presence brings them. The River is their connection to a happy time with their family, or a connection with a manatee, pelican, great blue heron, or a river otter. For many people, these memories are priceless. You don't have to live on the River to experience a connection to the River. It belongs to all of us.
Soon, it will be spring, a perfect time to get out and explore our beautiful waterways. The next time you're planning an outing, think about involving the River. Take a walk on the River Walk(s), enjoy a round trip water taxi ride, go fishing, or visit one of the Preservation Project Parks.
Be creative! Think about exploring the river south of Jacksonville, south of Palatka, or visit one of the springs. Need help knowing where to go? Check out our website: stjohnriverkeeper.org. We have listed public access points, boat launches, outfitters and other attractions along the entire length of the River.
We're blessed to have the River as part of out lives. Let's all take a few minutes and be thankful.
Email me if you have a special memory of the River you'd like to share.
For the River,
St. Johns Riverkeeper