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
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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