Groups aim to clean up Santa Fe — Interview in the Lake City Reporter

Merrillee makes a point at North Central Florida Regional Planning Council. Photo by Jim Tatum.

Movers and shakers take a back seat to Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson who plans things and gets things done. Additionally she is the foremost spokesperson for OSFR, frequently consulted by the authorities on water issues.  Following is an interview with Tony Britt of the Lake City Reporter, where this article appeared today Sept. 2,  2020.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


Groups aim to clean up Santa Fe

By TONY BRITT [email protected]
September 2, 2020

FORT WHITE — Several area environmental groups are banding together to fight pollution on the banks of the Santa Fe River with a two-day cleanup effort. Trail Trash Outdoors is spearheading the clean-up effort along with help from the Our Santa Fe River and Current Problems environmental groups.

Tony Britt

Rum 138, a kayak outfitter and art gallery, is providing four vessels/canoes to carry trash in and also is offering discounts on vessels for people who want to participate in the clean up. The cleanup effort will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12-13.

Individuals interested in participating in the cleanup are asked to meet at Rum 138, Our Santa Fe River’s headquarters, at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, to strategize logistics for the day’s clean up.

Merrillee Jipson, Our Santa Fe River board member and owner of Rum 138, said the effort will start at Rum Island Park between 9-10 a.m. to float downstream and begin removing rubbish. “We’re going to be cleaning up whatever we can scour out of the river all the way up 47 bridge*  where there will be dumpsters provided by Current Problems,” she said. “We’ll be cleaning up shortly past there to Hollingsworth Bluff boat ramp.”

Rum 138, headquarters for OSFR.  Photo by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.

Organizers specifically planned the cleanup work on the heels of the Labor Day holiday. “Those are always the worse times, after holiday weekends, and we know that, so we want to hit this hard right after the holiday weekend,” Jipson said, noting they plan to continue the clean-up effort each day for several hours.

She said the efforts are self-directed and people who choose to participate can clean for however long they desire before leaving. “It’s self-directed where we can stick with the group because there will be divers down, but we can also, if we’re just scouring the surface of the water, just continue to paddle down,” she said.

All the trash collected will be weighed. As a state environmental organization, Current Problems has a rigorous program using the weight to quantify all of the trash the organization hauls out of natural spaces. Our Santa Fe River traditionally averages about four cleanup efforts annually along the Santa Fe River.

“We’d like to do more, but it all depends on the volunteer activities,” Jipson said. Organizers are hoping for at least 30 people to participate in the event. “It’s so important to have these clean-up efforts because the natural spaces get trashed by regular recreational use on the Santa Fe River,” Jipson said. “It’s shameful. People that use the river should know that what you take in, you take out.”

Jipson said clean-up efforts benefit the community because they let like-minded people who love the Santa Fe River and it’s springs come together, clean and see the fruits of their labor. “When you paddle away and there’s no trash behind you, everybody knows how good that feels,” she said.

*Dumpster location has changed to Hollingsworth Bluff boat ramp.