Survey Reveals Residents Concerns for St. Johns River Waterfront Use

Residents of Jacksonville and surrounding areas overwhelmingly feel the St. Johns River is very important to Jacksonville’s future and named protecting water quality as their top concern related to the river, according to a survey conducted in late 2009 by The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization.

When asked to rank four river-related issues, the top concern among respondents is protecting the river’s water quality, followed by protecting the water supply, protecting waterfront for wildlife and protecting waterfront for public access.

“With 95 percent of survey respondents saying the St. John’s River is very important to Jacksonville’s future, it is clear residents value the river and its benefits to the city,” said Susan Grandin, Director of The Trust for Public Land’s Jacksonville office. “This survey is part of our efforts to learn how residents want to use the St. Johns River and Jacksonville’s waterfront, including locations and types of public access points. The results will help us build a community vision of a better and more accessible St. Johns River,” Grandin said.

Area residents want to enjoy the river at a variety of locations. Downtown Jacksonville topped the list of favored sites (50%), followed by the Intracoastal (45%), Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (37%), and Mayport (27%). Waterfront places closer to home – on the creeks and tributaries that flow throughout Jacksonville’s neighborhoods – are also desired, with residents naming spots along the Ortega River, Julington Creek, Trout River and Arlington River as favored locations.

Reflecting diverse recreational interests, survey respondents would like an array of features along the river, naming parks, preserves, restaurants, boardwalks/riverwalks, hiking trails, picnic areas, outfitters and fishing piers as facilities for the future.

The online survey was available to Duval County residents through the City of Jacksonville’s web site for two months in late 2009 (October 20 – December 20). In all, 514 people responded. Funding for the survey was made possible by the Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation.

The Trust for Public Land is a charitable organization, which has been working since 1972 to conserve land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and other natural places. The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 60 places in the St. Johns River watershed, including 14 which are directly on the 310-mile river or its tributaries.