Learn More About St. Marys River Watershed And Earth Day Cleanup Event

A critical waterway forming the Florida-Georgia state border here at the east coast, thousands of people (and wildlife, too), depend on the St. Marys River.

The mouth of the St. Marys River (the lower segment of the river), is located at the coast between Amelia Island, FL and Cumberland Island, GA. (Pictured above, an evening view looking across the Cumberland Sound from Fort Clinch State Park where St. Marys river flows into ocean).

24th Annual St. Marys River Cleanup — Saturday, April 23, 2022

Join environmental organizations to help clean up local Nassau County, Florida sites within the St. Marys River watershed, an Earth Day celebration event happening on April 23, 2022.

Also learn more about the river by watching an excellent aerial video further below. The St. Marys River flyover, a narrated video, provides a unique bird’s-eye view of this beautiful river (scenes along the entire length of the river, and lots of information).

St. Marys River Meanders 130 Miles Through Four Counties

Residents in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia depend on the health of the St. Marys River. Wildlife and plant ecosystems also rely on the cleanliness of the St. Marys River watershed, including 3,000 miles of streams and tributaries. The St. Marys River is 130 miles long and winds through four counties in two states (Nassau County, FL, Camden County, GA, Baker County, FL and Charlton County, GA). As the bird flies, it’s about 40 miles from the Okefenokee headwaters to the mouth of St. Marys River at the ocean.

Locally, many newcomers have moved into Nassau County, FL during the last two decades of growth and development of this northeast Florida region. Development impacts the St. Marys watershed, including the runoff from landscaping treatments (such as fertilizers and pesticides), as well as leaking septic tanks.

This region’s residents depend on the health of the river and its tributaries for tourism, recreation, commercial fishing, and safe drinking water. Wildlife and plant ecosystems also rely on the cleanliness of the watershed.

In Celebration of Earth Day 2022 — Volunteers Needed One Morning

Whether you’re a newbie or a longtime Nassau County resident, an organized cleanup happening this month is one way to honor Earth Day 2022. Consider volunteering on April 23, 2022 to help clean up a local Nassau site within the St. Marys watershed. (See list of Nassau County’s cleanup sites further below, and register online).

Okefenokee Swamp

The river starts within the Okefenokee Swamp (known as the northern prong of the river), eventually flowing into the Cumberland Sound and Atlantic Ocean. This lower area of the river (the segment from the US 17 bridge to here around Amelia Island), is influenced by tides, including this region’s marshes and Fernandina’s well-known Egans Creek (seen below).

Scenes of Egans Creek & Greenway
DATE: Cleanup Event Sat., April 23, 2022 (9 a.m. – 11 a.m.)

Join environmental organizations and partners to help in the annual cleanup event (held in April each year). The St. Marys Riverkeeper and Keep Nassau Beautiful (and partners) are leading a four county watershed-wide cleanup of the St. Marys River and its tributaries. They are looking for volunteers to help for two hours on the event date (4/23/2022). Two of the local cleanup sites around Amelia Island are near bridges (pictured below).

One cleanup site is under the A1A Shave Bridge (near VFW and Down Under Restaurant). Another cleanup site by the bridge at Egans Creek near Old Town Fernandina — the North 14th Street Bridge). A sunset view from this spot is shown, (volunteers will meet at the Leaders and Sinkers Bait Shop at marina/boat ramp.)

List of Nassau County, FL Cleanup Sites:
  • A1A Shave Bridge/Wade’s Place
  • North 14th St Bridge over Egan’s Creek
  • Lofton Creek/Melton Nelson Boat Ramp
  • Goffinsville Park
  • St. Marys River at US 17 (Blue Bridge)
  • Holly Point Boat Ramp
  • King’s Ferry
  • Sheriffs Youth Ranches Camp Sorensen
  • Tiger Island (Paddle)
Bring Supplies, Register Online To Volunteer

Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes and bring their own heavy duty gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, and a reusable water bottle. Site captains will provide gloves, trash bags, and hand sanitizer. To ensure an adequate number of supplies, please sign up in advance at stmarysriverkeeper.org or keepnassaubeautiful.org.

Earth Day Celebration & Volunteer Appreciation Lunch At White Oak Conservation

Following the event, volunteers are invited to attend the annual Earth Day Celebration hosted by White Oak Conservation in Yulee, FL. Guests will enjoy a complimentary lunch at this unique and beautiful wildlife conservation park. The celebration is from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with lunch served at noon. (Volunteers must participate in the cleanup to receive for admittance wristband.)

More About St. Marys Riverkeeper

The St. Marys Riverkeeper (SMRK) is a nonprofit environmental organization devoted to protecting and enriching the St. Marys River watershed through water quality monitoring, education and advocacy. Earlier this year in January 2022, Emily Floore became the new executive director.

Thanks to the resources of South Wings, an aerial perspective of the St. Marys River was captured from their plane several years ago. Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about this important local waterway. (Former riverkeeper, Rick Frey, narrates the excellent flyover video).

Video filmed by Pieter Jordaan and South Wings

In a past news release announcing Emily Floore becoming the new executive director at St. Marys Riverkeeper, she stated:

“We must continue to give this small but mighty river a voice through scientific investigation, education, advocacy, and engagement. The St. Marys River is critically important to our community that relies on clean, fresh water for recreation, tourism and our livelihoods. Join us and together we can preserve and protect the St. Marys River! ”

Donations Welcomed — More About Environmental Groups

St. Marys Riverkeeper (see their website), is a nonprofit environmental organization. For those busy on April 23rd, other volunteering opportunities are available. Or, consider a monetary donation. Questions? Send eMail to: [email protected].

Keep Nassau Beautiful (KNB), is a local nonprofit that also welcomes donations and has volunteering opportunities for various programs and events. KNB describes its purpose to “keep Nassau County clean and green through community engagement and educational programs.” One of various programs is Keep Nassau Beautiful’s “Planting Nassau’s Future.” Questions about events or programs? Send eMail to [email protected].