Sunday, November 4, 2007

Eco-Heritage Boat Trips

This afternoon, we completed our most recent 3-day St. Johns River Eco-Heritage Boat Trips between Sanford and Jacksonville. We had 36 passengers on the trip from Jax to Sanford and 38 passengers on the return trip from Sanford to Jax. Despite the ominous weather predictions and the approaching Tropical Storm Noel, we were fortunate to be able to explore the St. Johns and learn about its rich history, culture and ecology without too much foul weather or discomfort. We experienced some rain, sunshine, and a passing cold front. We learned about Trout Creek from Naturalist Beverly Fleming, the steamboat Maple Leaf from Shorty Robbins, the river culture of West Volusia County from Bill Dreggors,and the history and ecology of the St. Johns from author Bill Belleville. We saw manatees, bald eagles, gators, and numerous wading birds. We were immersed in the St. Johns and experienced the rhythms and essence of one of the great rivers on this planet.

Bill Belleville talks about the importance of establishing and developing a sense of place and connnection to our natural world. These trip hopefully help to bring the passengers and the staff of Riverkeeper closer to realizing that goal and understanding the importance of protecting the health and integrity of the St. Johns River.

The picture above was taken from the balcony of Blair's Jungle Den motel in Volusia just south of Lake George. You can see that the river narrows significantly and does not look anything like the river that flows through the Jacksonville metropolitan area. Seeing the river as I did in this picture makes me realize how fragile it is and how troublesome the proposals to withdraw water from the river just south of here really are. There will be more to come about the trips and the water withdrawal proposals soon.

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