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JU, UNF researchers release full sixth annual River Report findings

The full Sixth Annual State of the Lower St. Johns River Basin Report, written by a team of scientists from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Valdosta State University, has been released, with two new features also launched.

Key findings described in the River Report include a slight reduction in unwanted nitrogen concentrations, but harmful algal blooms are not yet declining. Copper, lead and silver concentrations continue to be elevated. Also, submerged aquatic vegetation is expected to slow its decline due to high rainfall last year. The River Report brochure, a quick reference guide on river health and ways the public can help the river, is available at www.sjrreport.com.

Two new aspects of the report also are being kicked off. First, three online interactive Web pages describing the Arlington River, Julington Creek and Peters Creek have been launched at www.sjrreport.com/tribs. These creeks were chosen due in part to the large number of residents living near them. Each creek’s Web page contains a description of the health of the creek and any identified problems, a color map of the creek as well as its general location and land use. The Arlington River has been identified as impaired for nutrients and mercury based on fish advisories. Both Julington and Peters creeks exceed water quality criteria for fecal coliform bacteria.

Additionally, the River Report is being adapted to K-12 curriculum content, particularly for field studies in middle school biology. The report has been found to support teaching approaches advocated by major policy documents, including the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The goal of this work is to make ecological issues real to local children through experiences in their neighborhoods.

“The River Report is being tailored to new formats to reach more people in the community, and we welcome feedback from the public on our website,” said Dr. Radha Pyati, UNF associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry.

The State of the River Report is a collaboration among UNF, JU and Valdosta State University and is supported by the Environmental Protection Board of the City of Jacksonville. UNF River Report team members include Pyati, Dr. Stuart Chalk, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Brian Zoellner, assistant professor and Graduate Program director; and Dr. Pat Welsh, retired civil engineering professor. JU team members include Dr. Lucinda Sonnenberg, director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research; Dr. Nisse Goldberg, associate professor of biology/marine science; Dr. Gerard Pinto, research scientist; and Kim Mann, marine science graduate student.

The Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University is the premier biological and environmental research and education facility on the St. Johns River. The two-story, 32,000-square-foot “certified-green” building has classrooms, laboratories, offices for the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and areas for teaching Duval County public school students. For more information, visit www.ju.edu.

The mission of the Environmental Center at UNF, founded in 2004, is to establish, develop and support cross-disciplinary education and research related to the environment. The Center fosters programs for students, faculty and staff to pursue environmental activities through academics, research and extracurricular activities.

UNF Media Contact:                                      JU Media Contact:

Joanna Norris, Associate Director                  Phillip Milano

Department of Public Relations                      Director of News & Publications

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