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Annual State of the River Report on St. Johns River to be released

shot of the water that reads - Official Release: 2020 State of the River ReportThe City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board will release the 2020 State of the River Report today, Thursday, Oct. 22. This year’s release will include a presentation featuring several of the report’s authors, including UNF’s Dr. Charles Closmann, at 4 pm. A panel discussion with representatives from the City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper will follow.   

The annual River Report is a collaborative project between faculty and staff at UNF, Jacksonville University (JU), Florida Southern College and West Chester University.  The report assesses the environmental health of the river, tributaries, and surrounding wetlands in the lower St. Johns River, based on indicators including water quality, fisheries, aquatic life and contaminants. It provides a baseline for assessing the current health of the river and for making policy decisions.  

This year, UNF faculty and staff participated in the creation of this report in a variety of ways. Dr. Charles Closmann, associate professor of history, updated the historical background section with details on new environmental laws, water quality in selected waterways, and the environmental history of the region. Closmann also edited the Report for the General Public, which was released for the first time in 2019.  The Report for the General Public summarizes key findings from the report and provides practical guidance about boating, fishing, and ways for the public to positively support the environmental health of the St. Johns River.     

Dr. Brian Zoellner, associate professor of teaching, learning and curriculum, also contributed by creating a guide with tools for K-12 educators to teach their students about the water quality, salinity, aquatic animals, invasive species, and more.  Dr. Stuart Chalk, professor of chemistry, updated the research archive related to the report and assisted with making this accessible though the UNF Carpenter Library.

The UNF Environmental Center, led by Director Dr. Erin Largo-Wight and Assistant Director James Taylor, hosts the Report on their website and provides support for the Annual Environmental Symposium. UNF’s Center for Instruction and Research Technology team, including David Wilson, Shelby Scanlon and Mike Boyles, maintains, edits, and updates the River Report website. Courtenay McLeland, with the Carpenter Library, archives past reports in the UNF Digital Commons.

The Report was first published in 2008 and over the years, UNF and JU have developed an important and successful relationship that exemplifies the best of interdisciplinary scholarship and public service to our community.

The public is invited to register for both events at