The St. Johns River Center, developed as a joint effort between the City of Palatka, Fla. and Georgia-Pacific’s Palatka Pulp and Paper Operations, recently opened to the public.

The center serves as an educational resource regarding the ecological significance of wetlands, the conservation and sustainability of these areas and the need for a balanced approach to usage among all communities.

"The main reason that the St. John's river is important in the area is it's actually our watershed," says Mandi Tucker, resource manager for the City of Palatka.

Palatka is about 40 miles southeast of St. Augustine, and the St. Johns River is a major hub for its economic base. With Georgia-Pacific's help, the river center was built to promote how important the river is to the surrounding area, as well as for a place children can go to have fun while learning at the same time.

"The purpose of the center is to give our children an opportunity to experience the St. Johns River as well as the wetlands around it," says Laura France, director of elementary education for the Putnam County School District.

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