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State Recognizes June as Florida Rivers Month

June 5, 2009

-Florida’s rivers play a crucial role in state’s ecological and economical health -

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist recently signed a proclamation honoring June as Florida Rivers Month, recognizing the importance of protecting the more than 50,000 miles of rivers and streams flowing throughout the state. Florida’s famed waterways include the historic Suwannee River made famous by folk musician Stephen Foster, the 310-mile St. Johns River, one of only a few rivers in North America that flows north, and Northwest Florida’s Apalachicola River, which helps supply 90 percent of Florida’s oysters by feeding Apalachicola Bay.

“From our rivers and streams, to our lakes, aquifer and coastal waters, Florida is blessed with some of the world’s most magnificent waterbodies,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole. “We remain committed to restoring and protecting our precious waterways, and encourage all residents and visitors to do their part in protecting our waters.”

Floridians can help protect Florida’s treasured rivers and streams by practicing water conservation habits in their homes and yards, which can be as simple as turning off the faucet while brushing or not running sprinklers on rainy days. By practicing “green” gardening techniques, such as reducing fertilizer use or spreading mulch to prevent erosion, residents can improve the quality of the waters near their homes.

To provide more information on the state’s ongoing efforts to protect its waterways, DEP recently launched an interactive Web site for citizens to learn more about the waterbodies in their communities, the ongoing restoration activities associated with them, and ways each and every one of us can help protect these waters. Visit www.ProtectingOurWater.org for more information on Florida’s initiative to protect its rivers and streams.

Through its nationally recognized water quality restoration program, Florida is using the best science available to identify and restore impaired rivers based on the first state law of its kind in the nation. Demonstrating stringent water quality standards, rigorous environmental permitting requirements and a strong commitment to reuse, the state has eliminated nearly 300 discharges of industrial and domestic wastewater into Florida’s rivers in the last twelve years. In addition, Florida has invested $2.7 billion in the last six years to protect the state’s rivers by cleaning up stormwater pollution and improving wastewater treatment.

In addition, since 1990, Florida has acquired more than 2.4 million acres of environmentally-sensitive land to protect water quality in rivers, lakes, estuaries and streams through Florida Forever and its predecessor, P2000. The acreage includes the acquisition of 117,460 acres of natural floodplains and more than 510,000 acres of functional wetlands since July 2001.

During the summer months, residents and visitors alike can go outside and enjoy some of Florida’s most famous rivers, such as:

  • Florida’s famed Suwannee River meanders 235 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. The Suwannee is the second largest river in Florida in terms of flow, size of drainage basin and length, and supports more than 60 species of freshwater fish. In 2002, Florida launched the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, a five-year, $10 million public-private partnership to boost the economies of rural communities along the river. The Trail provides visitors an opportunity to navigate 207 miles of the historic Suwannee with convenient rest stops located at one-day intervals along the way. To learn more visit www.floridastateparks.org/wilderness
  • Running through one of the top six biodiversity “hot spots” in the U.S., the Apalachicola River in Northwest Florida supports a remarkable collection of habitats and wildlife. The largest river in Florida in terms of flow, the Apalachicola River stretches 112 miles from the Georgia border to Apalachicola Bay. Together with its tributaries, the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, the entire river basin drains a 20,000-square-mile watershed. The Apalachicola Bay supplies ten percent of all oysters harvested nationally and is the second largest National Estuarine Research Reserve in the nation.
  • A natural wonder, the St. Johns River is one of only a few rivers in all of North America that flows north. From its marsh beginnings in east-central Florida to its estuarine waters at the Georgia border, the St. Johns River stretches 310 miles, making it the longest in Florida. The Wekiva, Econlockhatchee and Ocklawaha rivers are its major tributaries, helping support populations of alligators, large-mouth bass, blue herons and bald eagles. In addition, the St. Johns River plays a key role in Florida tourism and commercial fishing markets.

To learn more Florida’s waters visit www.dep.state.fl.us

To view Governor Crist’s Florida Rivers Month proclamation visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2009/05/files/florida_rivers.pdf

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