|P.O. Box 8670, Fleming Island, FL 32006|
Major Public-Private Partnership Established to Promote Restoration of the St. Johns River
By Don Loop
After decades of discussion, a unified effort has been established to promote restoration of the St. Johns River and provide protection for the 310 mile long St. Johns River. The establishment of the St. Johns River Alliance, a nonprofit public-private partnership, is one of the major developments taking place this year in how government and private groups are organizing to protect the health and future of the St. Johns River.
The unification effort to protect the 310 mile long river calls for the Alliance’s board to be comprised of the chairs of the two regional planning councils, the Mayor of Jacksonville and the chairs of the eleven commissions in the river basin. This group will also include nine additional board members from the upper, middle and lower basins. These board seats may include representatives from the environmental community, industry, agriculture and other interested parties. The Stewards of the St. Johns River Inc. are represented on the Alliance’s board of directors.
Brevard County Commissioner Sue Carlson is the Chair of the St. Johns River Alliance (SJRA) Board of Directors. Mayor John Peyton will serve as Vice-Chair of the SJRA. The management strategy creates the basis framework to launch new restoration efforts and provides a permanent management structure for restoration activities such as setting annual funding priorities, developing a comprehensive plan, organizing legislative initiatives and seeking public input on environmental issues.
More than 290 projects, totaling
$2.4 billion have been identified by the river community. According to the
SJRA strategic plan, a detailed restoration plan will be developed by July
The restoration plan will outline specific, quantifiable objectives for river restoration as well as further refine the projects, costs, and responsibilities for achieving the SJRA mission.
The new organization will be, in some ways, a continuation (and expansion) of the five year River Agenda restoration work that began after the first River Summit in December 1997. Under the leadership of Mayor John Delaney, the initiative developed projects over a 5 year period aimed at reducing point and non-point pollution, restoring degraded habitat, reducing bacteria in tributaries and improving water quality compliance and enforcement.
The Stewards of the St. Johns River are excited about the potential for the SJRA to achieve the long needed, comprehensive restorative planning for the St. Johns River. The goals and objectives of the SJRA charter reads as follows: “The goals of the St. Johns River Alliance will be to foster appropriate action to conserve, restore and enhance the St. Johns River and improve the quality of life in the communities along its banks. As appropriate, the federal and state partners will assist the community in identifying possible funding and/or cost-share sources to support projects and programs identified by the river community to improve the river, provide technical support to the river community; coordinate federal and state efforts through a partnership to support the vision and goals of the river community: and facilitate outreach and information on American Heritage River projects.”
The organization and mechanisms are
now in place to achieve positive improvements in the St. Johns River. As
with all such organizations with well founded initiatives and structure only
over time will and evaluation of its success be demonstrated. The Stewards
strongly support the SJRA and all its objectives. We sincerely hope that
this organization provides the much needed leadership and implementation of
the stated goals and objectives.
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