Groundwork Jacksonville—the City of Jacksonville’s nonprofit partner in building the Emerald Trail and restoring Hogans Creek and McCoys Creek—has been awarded $5,848,900 through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) National Coastal Resilience Fund. The grant 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. (View the NFWF Announcement)
“The Emerald Trail Project and the restoration of Hogans and McCoys Creeks are going to be game changers for the downtown experience and economy,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “This NFWF grant will be a significant direct investment into the quality of our community greenspaces and the health of our city’s natural resources, and I am grateful to Groundwork Jacksonville for their hard work making this revolutionary dream a reality.”
According to NFWF, the National Coastal Resilience Fund has awarded more than $144 million to 96 coastal resilience projects in 2022. Together, these initiatives will leverage additional matching contributions of more than $97 million to generate a total conservation impact of $241 million.
Preference was given to nature-based projects that show clear benefits in terms of reducing current and projected threats to coastal communities, improve habitats for fish and wildlife, benefit underserved communities, directly engage community members in project design and implementation, and can be scaled for broader impact through integration into other government plans, programs, or policies. Groundwork Jacksonville was among the largest grants awarded. (See the Full List of 2022 Grantees)
“We are thrilled to receive this major grant award from NFWF as it will enable us to accelerate and complete the Hogans Creek restoration design,” said Kay Ehas, CEO of Groundwork Jacksonville. “NFWF’s continued generous support of Groundwork Jacksonville validates our natural channel design approach and commitment to engaging community stakeholders in our work.”
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.
Much of Hogans Creek is unnatural, hardened with concrete banks that limit aquatic habitat. The stream restoration work will restore organic beds and banks and return the creek to a more natural meandering pattern and flow. Additionally, two sections that are currently buried in culverts will be daylighted. The plan also proposes the addition of two city parks along the creek.
Since December 2020 Groundwork has been working with the City and environmental engineering and architectural design firm Halff and their partners Ecosystems Planning & Restoration (EPR), Alpha Envirotech Consulting, and Ghiotto & Associates, to develop the 30% preliminary design. The 30% design was also funded by NFWF National Coastal Resilience Fun
d with support from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and AT&T, and locally, the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and private donors.
Throughout the design process, Groundwork actively engaged residents of Springfield, Historic Eastside and the Cathedral District, and 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.
In addition to significantly reducing flooding, the restoration of Hogans Creek is expected to attract a wide variety of birds, ranging from wading birds such as herons and egrets to raptors like hawks and osprey. It also will provide habitat for various amphibians, reptiles and mammals, including manatees. Likewise, restored wetland and marsh areas along the creek will provide foraging and nursery habitat for many saltwater gamefish and baitfish that are important to regional commercial and recreational fishing.