The second event Beyond the Trail: A River Runs Through It took place in October with Groundwork Jacksonville. The featured speaker was Kay Ehas, the CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville. Groundwork Jacksonville is a local non-profit that focuses its efforts in the historic Springfield area and the Eastside neighborhood towards restoring Hogans and McCoys creeks and creating parks and trails in areas that were previously contaminated land. Recently, the organization has taken on creating the Emerald Necklace – an urban trail system that connects multiple neighborhoods in the urban core of Jacksonville. The emerald necklace was originally thought of for Jacksonville by the famous architect Henry Klutho in the 1900’s.
Ehas took participants to a few locations along McCoys Creek including Hollybrook Park and The Times Union Center for the Performing Arts. Hollybrook Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been plagued with flooding from McCoys Creek during rainstorms for years. The channelization of the creek caused problems with flooding and decimated many ecosystems in the area. Groundwork Jacksonville is working to restore this area by returning the creek to its natural flow. This will help reduce flooding and pollution and increase the wildlife population. The goal is to work with nature instead of against it.
Groundwork Jacksonville has recently unveiled the plans for the Emerald Necklace. This plan has the potential to bring significant economic and social growth to Jacksonville. The goal of the project is to create a safe “outdoors” space to bring the community together in a variety of ways. The trail will feature a walking and biking path, parks, playgrounds, connection to restaurants and local businesses and will hopefully be a place for farmers markets and festivals. Ehas told participants about the planning process, the importance of speaking with the impacted community, and the positive impact the plans could bring to the city.
After the walking tour of McCoys Creek, participants joined Groundwork Jacksonville’s monthly cleanup of Hogan’s Creek at Confederate Park. The group helped clean up litter found in and around an important tributary to the St. Johns River. Groundwork Jacksonville holds monthly cleanups of in different areas of Hogans Creek.
The next event will take place in November at Julington- Durbin Preserve. The group will hear from the St. Johns Water Management District. The rest of the 2018-2019 Beyond the Trail will feature a paddle on the St. Johns River, speakers from UNF’s history department, Ixia Native Plant Society, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and much more!
I joined the Environmental Leadership Program to aid in my growth both professionally and personally. The program allows for a community of like-minded students to help one another gain valuable skills and achieve their goals. Through the program I hope to gain the skills needed to become a strong leader and advocate for the environment while making a positive impact in our community.