JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Groundwork Jacksonville has received its largest grant to date: more than $5.85 million.
The money is from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s National Coastal Resilience Fund and will complete the design and permitting for the ecological restoration of Hogans Creek.
The goal of the project is to reduce flooding, improve water quality, create habitat for fish and wildlife, and provide nature-based recreation along the planned Emerald Trail.
Action News Jax spoke with CEO Kay Ehas on Thursday.
“I didn’t know if we would get it,” Ehas said. “And so when I saw it, I was like, ‘We’re so thrilled!’ We’re so thrilled. It is the largest grant we’ve received so far.”
According to Groundwork Jacksonville, Hogans Creek is a 2.6-mile tidal and freshwater urban creek that begins at the CSX Railroad, just north of the S-Line Rail Trail, and flows south to the St. Johns River at the Shipyards. Hogans Creek frequently floods and is a top priority for the city’s Local Mitigation Strategy, just behind McCoys Creek.
Groundwork Jacksonville is the city of Jacksonville’s nonprofit partner in building the Emerald Trail and restoring Hogans Creek and McCoys Creek.
Finalizing the Hogan’s Creek design, taking it from 30% to 100%, is expected to be a three-year project. After that, construction can begin.
“The restoration will widen the creek,” Ehas said. “It’ll meander the creek, which helps with flooding. It’ll add living shoreline, so it’ll be attractive to fish and wildlife and birds. And it will also maintain the existing park space because that was important to the Springfield residents.”
Throughout the design process, Groundwork actively engaged residents of Springfield, Historic Eastside and the Cathedral District along with other stakeholders in Task Force meetings, creek walks, public meetings, and the Hogans Creek Fest to gather community input that was incorporated into the restoration plans.
The Emerald Trail will link at least 14 historic neighborhoods to downtown, Hogan’s Creek, McCoys Creek and the St. Johns River. It’ll also link 16 schools, two colleges and 21 parks.
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The entire Emerald Trail is expected to be complete by 2030.
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