JAX2025 Ten Targets Series: Environment
As part of our JAX2025 Ten Targets Series, we’ll be bringing to you each one of the Ten Targets selected as priorities by the community for our city over the next twelve years. To see the entire list of Targets and the accompanying vision statement for each,
Issues raised at the past JAX2025 community visioning events in regards to the Environment Target have included:
The finalized vision statement for the Environment Target is as follows:
In 2025, Jacksonville is a Clean and Green city.
Jacksonville is a national leader in sustainability, stewardship, preservation and conservation by integrating environmental ethics in our everyday life. Our naturally lush environment is preserved, as the St. Johns River and its tributaries, the ocean and beaches, and Jacksonville’s green spaces are accessible, interconnected, and interwoven into the fabric of our community.
We spoke with local community leaders and activists in the Environmental sector to get a sampling of what kinds of steps are currently being taken to align Jacksonville environmental service organizations with this vision statement. All of the bold links are live, so to learn more about the different organizations highlighted in this article, please visit their respective websites.
What kind of bright, bold ideas are happening in Jacksonville right now?
The St. Johns Riverkeeper began serving as an independent and trusted voice for the St. Johns River in 2000. St. Johns Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization that serves as a full-time advocate and “watchdog” for the St. Johns River, its watershed, and the public to whom it belongs. We spoke with Lisa Rinaman, the current St. Johns Riverkeeper, who says it is her job to give the river a voice in order to promote its protection and restoration. Rinaman began her work by volunteering for the organization during 2005’s “The Green Monster,” a massive green algae outbreak which brought to her attention the importance of protecting the river. She now serves as the chief advocate and voice for the St. Johns. “The strength of the St. Johns Riverkeeper is our army of volunteers, advocates and members,” says Rinaman. “We have numerous educational programs for children and adults designed to develop strong river stewards by celebrating the river and working together to live a River-Friendly lifestyle. Being River-Friendly means that you minimize your use of fertilizers, plant native plants, use water wisely, conserve energy, and allow only rain down the storm drain.”
The Sierra Club is a national organization dedicated to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet. The local Northeast Florida Group organizes and participates in outdoor adventures, environmental education, and lobbies our local and state government for pro-environmental policy and legislation. Speakers at Sierra Club meetings discuss diverse subjects such as snake and insect bites, the importance of barrier islands, manatee habitat, creating walkable communities, and encroaching urban sprawl. We spoke with Janet Stanko, the Chair of Sierra’s Northeast Florida Group about her involvement. Stanko had always been interested in environmental protection, but being a working mother of two children left her little extra time. “Do you believe in signs?” she asks, as she speaks of a magazine card falling out inviting her to join Sierra Club. “I joined Sierra Club in 1992,” Stanko says, “and I must say that my greatest heroes are Sierra Club people. I am constantly inspired by the knowledge and commitment of fellow Sierrans and others I have met through environmental engagement.” In support of Sierra Club's mission “to preserve protect and enjoy the wild places of the planet”, they educate the public through monthly meetings as well as conduct nature outings. “Through Sierra Club, we’ve conducted outings with inner city children to introduce them to our natural areas,” says Stanko. “Many of them have never previously been to the beach or to the woods. It is a highly impactful experience for these children.”
Between The St. Johns Riverkeeper and The Sierra Club, it’s easy to draw parallels as to what local environmental groups are looking to provide Jacksonville: the ability to protect and preserve our local natural environment, and engaging citizens so they become natural protectors and stewards.
And in regards to the JAX2025 Target vision statement?
“The St. Johns Riverkeeper’s mission is to work on behalf of the community for clean and healthy waters in the St. Johns River, its tributaries and its wetlands, through citizen-based advocacy,” says Rinaman. “That mission is accomplished by all of us living "River-Friendly" lifestyles that nurture preservation and conservation of our river and our natural resources. We strive daily to further develop strong environmental ethics through celebration and education of the role we each play in protecting the St. Johns.”
“It starts with an appreciation of our environmental attributes in Jacksonville such as the St. Johns River, water quality, natural areas and coastal areas,” says Stanko. “‘Appreciation’ doesn't just mean we ‘like’ these attributes, but that we recognize their importance to our health, quality of life, emotional and economic well-being.”
Finally, we asked the representatives of these environment-related organizations what their priorities are for Jacksonville by 2025. What would they like to see happen?
“For us to truly protect our natural resources, our environmental ethics must drive our decisions for everyday life as well as our decisions on who we elect to office,” says Lisa Rinaman of the St. Johns Riverkeeper. “My priority is that we as a community elect pro-environment candidates that: understand the value of our natural resources, have a commitment to protect our environment, and will develop sound water and environmental policy that focuses on the long-term health and sustainability of our unique and amazing environment.”
“I would love to see Jacksonville recognize the impact of climate change related sea level rise, provide realistic water supply planning because we are running out of water, and protect the water quality of the St. Johns River, streams and springs,” says Janet Stanko of the Sierra Club. “Also I’d like to evolve the conserved lands in Northeast Florida from the biggest into the best park system for the use of our citizens, and develop realist growth management processes to encourage in town development and re-development instead of sprawl.”
Here is a sampling of other bright, bold ideas happening in Jacksonville right now:
Keep Jacksonville Beautiful
Tree Hill Nature Center
Arboretum & Gardens
Garden Club of Jacksonville
Do you know of another bright, bold idea happening in regards to the EnvironmentTarget?
Email Daniel@jcci.org with your information!
JAX2025 is committed to promoting and connecting Jacksonville's best practices on Target as we all progress together to our shared future.
What specific strategies would YOU like to see implemented in regards to the Environment Target? To put your voice in the discussion, join the next JAX2025 community visioning event on Saturday, April 27th.
The next JAX2025 meeting discussing strategy implementation will take place Saturday, April 27th from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. Parking and entrance is free, with coffee provided. For more information and to register for the event, visit www.JAX2025.org.