St. Johns River
The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida and one of only three rivers in the nation that flows north. The river begins as a broad marsh at its headwaters south of Cape Canaveral and ends up as one of the largest deep water ports on the Atlantic at its mouth in Jacksonville. During its entire 310-mile course, the river drops only 30 feet, making it one of the laziest rivers in the world.
Recorded history on the St. Johns River is among the oldest in the United States. The first outpost on the river was established by the French in 1562 --50 years before the first English settlement in Jamestown, VA. Later, the Spanish controlled the river and named it the Rio de San Juan, which was translated to the St. Johns River after English acquired Florida in 1763. Today, 3.5 million people living in communities along the river.
The St. Johns provides a major route for commercial shipping and has one of the largest ports on the East Coast, in Jacksonville. Commercial and sportfishing on the river is a multimillion dollar industry. Boating of all kinds flourishes along the river, creating one of the region's most viable industries and recreational opportunities. Many hiking and jogging trails, including the Florida National Scenic Trail, wind their way along the river.
The river supports a diverse array of wildlife, from bald eagles to blue herons to the endangered manatee. The lower stretch, where river water mixes with saltwater from the Atlantic, forms an estuary supporting shrimp and oysters. Dolphins often make their way 20 miles upriver, and can be spotted by office workers in Jacksonville high-rises.
Community Action Plan
Major plans are being developed and implemented for the three major basins within the St. Johns River --called the Lower, Middle, and Upper Basin Projects. These projects include water quality, flood protection and watershed restoration efforts along the entire length of the river, and represent unprecedented cooperation among cities and counties along the St. Johns. The American Heritage River designation will enable the communities to sustain existing programs and plan future initiatives for the St. Johns.
The American Heritage River designation includes the entire length of the river, excluding the sixth and fifteenth Congressional Districts.
Gordon Speed, Office of Mayor John Delaney, Jacksonville, FL (904) 630-1786