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Release Date: 03/13/2002
Contact Information: Carl Terry, EPA Media Relations (404) 562-8325
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the selection of Dr. Anne Keller as the new Navigator for the St. Johns River. The St. Johns River is one of only 14 rivers designated as American Heritage Rivers. The River Navigator provides assistance by helping river communities identify and access federal and state resources needed to carry out locally designed plans to enhance environmental, cultural and economic development.

Dr. Keller has a long history in and connection to north Florida. She attended graduate school at the University of Florida, taught high school and junior college in several Florida cities, worked for the St. Johns River Water Management District in the early 1990s, and was a research scientist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey until moving to EPA in 1997. Dr. Keller will assume a full-time role dedicated to facilitating the continued success of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative along the St. Johns River. Dr. Keller will relocate from her current residence in Athens, Georgia to Jacksonville within the next few months.

Without any new regulations on private property owners, state, local and tribal governments, the American Heritage Rivers Initiative, begun in 1997, is about making more efficient and effective use of existing federal resources, cutting red-tape, and lending a helping hand. Specifically, the Initiative seeks to improve the coordination and delivery of federal financial and technical assistance, improve collaboration of federal agencies with state and local agencies, revitalize waterfronts, protect natural resources and environmental quality, and preserve historic and cultural resources of river communities.

During the first two years of the Initiative for the St. Johns River, an Eco-Heritage Corridor was designated to highlight significant historical, ecological and cultural points along the river; funds were secured to hire a planner who will facilitate the development of the Corridor's attributes; the City of Jacksonville and the National Park Service have secured wetland areas near the Timucuan Preserve that will improve water quality and provide recreational access, and a number of priority projects have been identified in each of the river's basins. The City of Jacksonville, the St.. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and North East Florida Regional Planning Council, along with each of the Basin Advisory Committees have played substantial roles in the establishment and success of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative in northeast Florida.