As the sun sets over the Wekiva, it’s impossible not to feel the presence of a remarkable soul who once made these waters a large part of her life’s work. Katie Moncrief, who passed away at the age of 98, was more than just a name in the annals of Central Florida water advocacy and conservation. She was an individual close to the heart and soul of the Wekiva River itself, a beacon of passion and dedication that has left an indelible mark on the state of Florida.
Katie’s journey with the Wekiva River began alongside her husband, Russ, in 1974. Together, they transformed a bait-and-beer fish camp into Katie’s Landing, a canoe outpost that became a gateway for over a quarter-million people to experience the magic of the Wekiva River and its tributaries. But Katie’s role was more than canoe outpost operator. . . she quickly became a fierce advocate of the river basin as a whole. She was instrumental in the formation of the Friends of the Wekiva River in 1982, a group dedicated to safeguarding the river from environmental threats, whose efforts would be pivotal in the campaign for development restrictions and the state’s acquisition of Wekiva lands.
The Moncriefs’ labor of love bore fruit when, in 2000, the Wekiva River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River, a rare federal designation that celebrates and preserves the river’s outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. This recognition was not just a victory for Katie and Russ, but for every individual who believed in protecting Florida’s natural beauty.
As we bid farewell to Katie Moncrief, her legacy remains alive in the rustling leaves of the Wekiva wilderness and the gentle flow of its waters. In her memory, let’s continue to explore, enjoy, and advocate for the Wekiva River and its surrounding wilderness. Let’s paddle through its waters, walk its trails, and remember the woman who taught us that to know the river is to love it, and to love it is to protect it.
In Loving Memory
Katie Moncrief (1926-2024): A life well-lived, a legacy forever etched in the heart of the Wekiva River.