JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you've lived in Jacksonville during hurricane season -- or just a strong thunderstorm -- you've probably caught on that McCoys Creek is prone to flooding.
So much so that when the rains hit, it's one of the first places News4Jax checks to get flooding video.
Groundwork Jacksonville is hoping to make us look elsewhere -- and we're fine with that. We're guessing the nearby residents are, too.
The local environmental trust announced Thursday that it was awarded a $357,280 grant through the community-based restoration program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.
The grant will take Phase 2 of the McCoys Creek restoration plan from 30% to 100% design, the trust said.
That includes daylighting the creek under the Morris Publishing Group property and replacing the existing ditch with approximately 4,000 feet of open, soft-bottom channel and living shoreline. The restored creek inlet, from the mouth of the St. Johns River to Myrtle Street, will increase water flow, allow fish passage and promote natural habitat for fish, plants and wildlife, Groundwork Jacksonville said.
"This is our second significant grant for McCoys Creek within the last nine months, further validating our natural channel design approach to creek restoration, flood prevention, habitat renewal and water quality improvement,” said Kay Ehas, Groundwork CEO.
In November, Groundwork was granted $250,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and NOAA through the National Coastal Resilience Fund for creek restoration design which is being used for the north and south branches of McCoys Creek between the Beaver and Edison Street bridges. Groundwork is currently raising an additional $450,000 to complete the branches design, including trail and recreational amenities.
As part of the NOAA grant, GWJax will work with Jacksonville University on a fish study focused on Atlantic sturgeon, summer flounder, sheepshead, red drum, pink shrimp, brown shrimp, white shrimp, American shad and American eel populations. GWJax will also work with the Environmental Quality Division of the City of Jacksonvill on water quality sampling.
“Our hope is to prove the effectiveness of stream restoration in improving water quality as a best practice for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” said Ehas.
NOAA’s community-based restoration program supports habitat restoration projects that promote productive and sustainable fisheries, improve the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and promote healthy ecosystems and resilient communities.
“Through our strategic investments in habitat restoration, we support a multitude of benefits for both eco-systems and communities,” said Pat Montanio, director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation. “Projects like Groundwork Jacksonville’s work restoring McCoys Creek not only support valuable fish species, they also boost local community resilience and economies through protection from flooding, improved water quality, and increased recreational opportunities.”
The NOAA grant will supplement funds already earmarked by the city for the project.
“My administration values our partnership with Groundwork Jacksonville as we work together to restore McCoys Creek to a beautiful natural resource and recreational amenity for our citizens,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “Groundwork's success in securing highly coveted national grants such as this supports the city’s goal of developing innovative, resilient solutions that will protect our quality of life for generations to come.”