Northeast Florida government, business and environmental leaders yesterday unveiled a historic partnership to balance economic interests while aggressively working to protect the health of the St. Johns River.
As part of a larger river restoration plan and led by JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis, a former Florida legislator, the initiative partners plan to work with the state to pass legislation and secure funding to restore the Ocklawaha River, once the largest tributary to the St. Johns River.
The project to deepen the shipping channel in Jacksonville to 47 feet is a critical economic development project, and this initiative aims to maintain the project’s progress while ensuring mitigation for potential impacts.
With the agreement, the St. Johns Riverkeeper pledged not to legally challenge the project’s Environmental Impact Statement – as long as the Ocklawaha River Restoration is authorized and funded.
The partnership also includes working to increase state and federal funding to enhance water quality to meet federal guidelines.
“We stand together in the spirit of partnership,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. “Both the St. Johns River and JAXPORT are vital community assets. This is a special opportunity for our community to work together to protect and strengthen the health of our river as we move forward to deepen the harbor. We will all share in the environmental and economic benefits.”