The St. Johns River system is one of Jacksonville's most visible and valuable natural assets. As one of the community's defining features, the river and its tributaries touch nearly every neighborhood. Like its past, Jacksonville's destiny is inextricably linked to the St. Johns River. Today's community and its leaders will decide upon the future of the St. Johns River - its health, how the community benefits from its use, and to what extent it is further developed.
Historically, the community's interaction with the St. Johns River has focused on using the river without considering how best to protect it. The result is a fragile system in need of care and repair. The charge of the River Dance study committee was to determine how the Jacksonville community should continue interacting with the St. Johns River and its tributaries in ways that benefit both people and nature.
The St. Johns River is a rich ecological treasure, a strong economic engine, and a joy for boaters and fisherman. As a result, Jacksonville is full with public, private, and civic groups who address almost every river-related issue imaginable, from protecting endangered species to creating a larger manufacturing base. Still, it is uncommon for groups charged with oversight of the river to work in tandem to protect, restore, gain access, and use the St. Johns River.
Different groups representing differing uses all have visions of what is best for the St. Johns River. However, the community of public and private users has yet to develop a comprehensive vision and execution strategy that serves the needs of multiple users. Other communities have accomplished this goal successfully and are benefiting economically, culturally, and environmentally.