“Moppin’ up McCoy’s” project adds momentum to commitment

“Moppin’ up McCoy’s” project adds momentum to commitment

Several environmental advocacy groups are banding together to hold a clean-up event along McCoy’s Creek as efforts to restore the purity of the once free-flowing waterway continue.
Moppin’ Up McCoy’s – an event that welcomes volunteers –  is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28 at eight different sites along the 3.5-mile creek, which flows through Murray Hill and numerous Riverside neighborhoods before emptying into the St. Johns River near Brooklyn. The clean-up sites include Hollybrook, Powers and Westwood city parks.

Mop_up1This month’s clean-up will be followed by the Emerald Necklace Festival, scheduled to be held from noon to 4 p.m. along McCoy’s Creek Boulevard Boulevard near Hollybrook Park.
The festival is a first-time event honoring the creek as one of the city’s many aquatic jewels, according to organizer Melissa Beaudry, a development coordinator with North Florida Land Trust. She said the festival will be a family-oriented affair that will feature live music, a food truck, awareness and education booths, exercise stations and free tours of McCoy’s Creek.
“We’d definitely like to see kids there,” said Beaudry, who grew up in San Marco. “We’d like to show them that nature is everywhere. Our point is to create awareness and education about the quality of our urban waterways.”

Dunncan Pullen of Avondale, a member of a volunteer group calling itself The Real McCoy’s for its mission of cleaning up McCoy’s Creek, drags a car bumper from the creek near McCoy’s Creek Boulevard and King Street during a recent clean-up session

Dunncan Pullen of Avondale, a member of a volunteer group calling itself The Real McCoy’s for its mission of cleaning up McCoy’s Creek, drags a car bumper from the creek near McCoy’s Creek Boulevard and King Street during a recent clean-up session

Sarah Nan, a member of the Real McCoy’s all-volunteer creek clean-up crew and the city’s Keep Jacksonville Beautiful Commission, said those two organizations are teaming with North Florida Land Trust, St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Jacksonville Jaycees to stage the two events.

Nan has been working with dozens of other volunteers who conduct monthly clean-up sessions along McCoy’s Creek and other urban waterways. She said that during the past seven years, volunteers have pulled more than 1,600 tires from area creeks and riverbanks, as well as an estimated 30 tons of trash. The estimated total includes more than 500 tires and 13 tons of trash from McCoy’s Creek in the past seven months alone.

“It’s just very exciting to see what’s happening,” Nan said. “For so long we didn’t think anyone cared, but now people are coming together to really help out.”
She also said that cleaning up McCoy’s Creek is part of a long-range plan to connect the creek to an urban greenway system that would include walking and biking trails. The system conceivably could be connected to the Jacksonville/Baldwin Rail Trail through Jacksonville’s Westside.

“There are lots of plans in the works,” Nan said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Moppin’ Up McCoy’s and the festival are being aided by a grant from Wells Fargo’s Environmental Solutions for Communities program, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Federation.

For information about volunteering for the Sept. 28 events or monthly waterway clean-ups, call St. Johns Riverkeeper outreach director Shannon Blankinship at (904) 256-7613, or go online to www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org.

By Stephen Kindland
Resident Community News

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