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Environmental Postcards

St. Johns River

Small map showing location of St. Johns RiverThe St. Johns River, running 310 miles, is the longest river in Florida. It is one of the few major rivers in the nation that flows north, from its start in marshes southwest of Cape Canaveral to Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. In between, it evolves into a series of lakes and emerges into a river averaging two miles wide for its final 100 miles.

In early 1596, Don Pedro Menendez explored the St. Johns River and found it, "a likeable spot, full of goodly fish, and the forest inhabited with all kinds of birds and beasts." Royal naturalist John Bartram and his son visited the river in 1765 to study its vast plant and wildlife habitats and called it "a true garden of eden."

Today, the St. Johns River provides the backdrop for all of Northeast Florida; it is a vital and critical part of the economy and quality of life. In December 1997, a "River Summit" was held to assess the current state of the river and plan for improvements. This led to the riverís appointment as an "American Heritage River" on July 30, 1998, recognizing its ecological, historic, economic and cultural significance.

Federal, state and river community partners are working to restore the great river. Efforts include the restoration of thousands of wetlands acres and their habitats, ecosystem management, waterfront redevelopment, and a development plan to link environmental, historic and cultural sites. The legislature has allocated more than $30 million to address these initiatives.

A St. Johns River Celebration is held each March to clean the riverís shores. In the past six years, 33,900 volunteers have collected two and a half million pounds of garbage. The commitment of citizens, government agencies, environmental groups and legislators is ensuring that the St. Johns River will be fully restored and enhanced for the enjoyment of visitors and citizens.

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St. John's River post card