Many voice concerns about health of St. Johns River

Volunteers at Memorial Park gather to discuss pollution problems

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The St. Johns River was the main topic of discussion Saturday at Memorial Park as concerned residents gather to voice their concerns to the executive director of the St. John's Riverkeeper.

"I kayak and paddle a lot, and spend a lot of time on the intercoastal in Guana. Pollution is a thing a lot of people don't think about, and its not a renewable resource. We have to take care of it," said Michael McLaughlin.

He said he enjoys the river and hopes people will start taking better care of it. He said over the past 18 years he hasn't seen much improvement.

"Pollution is still the same. (I'm) finding plastic, debris, garbage. For anyone that does spend time on the water just put a garbage bag in your kayak or boat, and pick up what you find and haul it out. It may not seem like much, but every little bit you can do helps a lot," said McLaughlin.

Trash could be seen floating in the river just off Memorial Park on Saturday, something that's become too common according to officials, who stressed the importance of keeping the river clean.

"We talked about fertilizer use and things we can do in our yard, and also using our right to vote and voting for candidates who want to protect our environment," said Jimmy Orth, executive director of St. John's Riverkeeper.

He added pollutants are deteriorating the water quality, and the health of people, as well as wildlife. 

Some of those pollutants are pesticides and herbicides, which are all preventable.

If you want to help make a difference, the Duval Audubon Society is partnering with St. Johns Riverkeeper and the city of Jacksonville to clean up Reddie Point Preserve Sunday from 8 to 11 a.m.

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