Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Annual St. Johns Celebration Cleans Up River

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Annual St. Johns Celebration Cleans Up River

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Every year about this time, hundreds of self-appointed Clay County litter police spend a Saturday morning picking up trash from the St. Johns River and its tributaries as part of a two-state cleanup effort.

For their work, they get a free T-shirt, lunch, maybe some sunburn and a few bug bites, and the assurance that they left the river and its banks better off than when they arrived.

The time has come to join the 2002 St. Johns River Celebration, which will be Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

The annual celebration, sponsored by Keep Florida Beautiful and its county affiliates, is the largest public cleanup of the St. Johns River system in Florida and the St. Marys River system in Georgia. The event was initiated six years ago by the St. Johns River Water Management District with the plan to eventually hand it off to local agencies. The handoff occurred this year, said Tania Jolley, coordinator of Keep Clay Beautiful.

"We are going to carry on," she said. "It is important."

The event was designed to give the community an opportunity to clean up the rivers and focus its attention on the need to preserve and protect them. Rather than just complaining about trash in and around the river, people can do something about it themselves, Jolley said.

"Put some work into it, help fix it," she said. "If it is bothering you, fix it. . . . Just do it."

The Clay County part of the event will be organized from three cleanup sites -- in Green Cove Springs at the Governors Creek boat ramp off U.S. 17, on Fleming Island at the Lakeshore Drive boat ramp on Doctors Lake near Eagle Harbor and in Middleburg at the Main Street boat ramp on Black Creek.

Volunteers must go to one of the sites to register and receive materials. All ages are encouraged to participate, but anyone under 18 should be accompanied by an adult. Students who need community service hours to satisfy scholarship requirements will receive double hours for the cleanup.

All volunteers should wear old clothes and protective footwear and bring a rake or trash stick, dip nets, sunscreen, insect repellent and work gloves. …

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