Apple Rabbit Compost (Source).
Author: Alexa Andino, Downtown Vision Marketing and Events Intern
Florida is known for its diverse wildlife and complex ecosystems. As Floridians and tourists, we have a duty to keep the landscape pristine and do our best to protect our environment. Even in bustling Downtown areas, we have endless ways to make a difference and contribute to a better place for wildlife, citizens, and visitors.
In 2019, The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released its City Clean Energy Scorecard, and Jacksonville got one of the lowest scores in the U.S. The overall score was 16.5/100 (Source). The score is measured based on five categories: local government operations, community initiatives, building policies, transportation policies, and the actions of utilities. In 2020, Jacksonville slightly improved to 18.5/100 (Source).
DTJax is improving, but we have a long way to go! Here are some ways you can help the environment and enjoy nature downtown.
Go to DTJax’s Parks
St. Johns River Park is located on the Southbank waterfront between the Main Street and Acosta bridges and home to Friendship Fountain. Over the next two years, the space will undergo a major transformation including a botanical garden, a themed play park, a splash pad, concessions, and fountain upgrades. The park will tell the story of the indigenous Timucuan people, Ribault’s landing in 1562 and the Ft. Caroline settlement, and botanist and horticulturist John Bartram’s travels through Jacksonville.
This park features workout equipment and amenities including free weights, yoga mats, jump ropes, and medicine balls. Enjoy a breath of fresh air and riverfront views while getting active.
At the heart of DTJax, James Weldon Johnson Park provides an outdoor dining and performance area to enjoy live local music. The park is full of beautiful landscaping and must-see sculptures.
A common way to be environmentally conscious is to walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation when possible rather than driving alone.
Electric Scooter Program
The City of Jacksonville officially launched a one-year pilot program for e-scooters in Downtown Jacksonville in March 2021. Hop onto a scooter at any of the designated corrals Downtown and explore the area!
Art Bikes Jax
Art Bikes Jax lets you ride an electric bike and see the spectacular art and nature of DTJax. The bikes themselves are customized by local artists. Take a tour and learn more about the city!
Monitor Bird Migration
During Migration season, birds are attracted to building lights and can be injured or die due to flying into windows.
According to the Duval Audubon Society, 3.5 billion birds travel through the Atlantic Flyway twice a year which goes right through Northeast Florida. Mike Taylor, Jacksonville Zoo curator, stated that businesses, high-rise properties, and houses can reduce their electric bills and save birds by turning off their lights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the migrations (Source). This is a win-win solution for those who work and live in DTJax and the birds who fly through the city.
The Lights Out Northeast Florida initiative is a partnership between the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, the Duval Audubon Society, and the St. Johns County Audubon Society.
Here is the Volunteer Application
Participate in Clean-Ups
Creek Clean-Ups with Groundwork Jacksonville
Jacksonville has two urban creeks that are tributaries to the St. Johns River: McCoys Creek, just west of Downtown, flows from North Riverside to Brooklyn. Hogans Creek begins just north of UF Health Jacksonville and flows through historic Springfield.
Above is Groundwork Jacksonville’s vision for the restoration of Hogans Creek. They have a 10-year goal to get both creeks beautiful and clean for both the wildlife and citizens of DTJax.
Community Clean-Ups with Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR)
Springfield, founded in 1869, is Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhood! SPAR is determined to preserve the beauty of the neighborhood and ensure it is safe for both residents and wildlife. You can help them in this mission by volunteering with them.
September 18th: International Coastal Clean-Up Day. Help clean Hogan’s Creek and the historic green spaces of Springfield and Klutho Parks. 6 AM -8 AM.
October 2nd: Community Clean-Up. Monthly clean-up event.
Go to the Riverside Arts Market
Shopping local in general is a great way to be environmentally friendly and economically savvy. There is no better way to shop locally than by going to Riverside Arts Market (RAM). You can buy local produce from farmers which are fresher and safer (free from preservatives and chemicals) than anything you’ll find at a store! Supporting local businesses and artists promotes growth for DTJax’s economy and strengthens the sense of community.
Additionally, while at RAM you can bring in scraps to compost with Apple Rabbit Composting since they offer pick up and drop off services at the market. Recycle your waste and either use it for your own garden or give it to someone else who can benefit from it.
Coming Soon to #DTJax
Groundwork Jacksonville plans on having the Emerald Trail completed by 2029. Once complete, the trail will include 30 miles of trails, greenways, and parks that encircle the urban core and link at least 14 historic neighborhoods to downtown, Hogans Creek, McCoys Creek, and the St. Johns River. The trail will promote pride in downtown by having a beautiful public space to enjoy nature.
While we patiently wait for the Emerald Trail you can help the initiative by participating in the Emerald Trail 5K on October 23, 2021. Biking starts at 7:30 AM and the 5K run/walk starts at 8:00 AM. You will bike or walk along the existing trail and the surrounding neighborhoods while imagining what is to come for the trail.
Mccoy’s Creek Preservation
Phase 1: Construction began in June 2021 and is expected to take 18 months to complete. Phase 1 includes the construction of a cul de sac, inclusion of the Emerald Trail, and a footbridge along with other various lighting and landscaping projects along the creek.
Phase 2: Details are still underway but this phase focuses on daylighting of the creek.