My Flickr Photos of Springs

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Where can I go to see manatees?

Posted December 24, 2006
If you want to see manatees in the wild, the best time to do so is now -- during the cold winter months -- when these gentle mammals leave the cool ocean for the warmer water of spring-fed streams and rivers. Three of the most popular places to view sea cows are Crystal River and Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park in Citrus County and Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County. Another location, the Manatee Observation & Education Center in Fort Pierce, offers year-round opportunities to learn about and see manatees in their natural setting.

Great idea, but more info needed

Published Dec. 22, 2006 Opinion
One need look no further than this year's $76 million deal for the Avatar property near Silver Springs to realize the value of the state's primary conservation program, Florida Forever. That purchase fended off a major development project on nearly 4,500 acres of water recharge area just north of historic Silver Springs.

To prevent that, an array of 16 leading environmental groups - including Audubon of Florida, 1,000 Friends of Florida and The Nature Conservancy, which helped broker the Avatar deal - have joined to fight for Florida Forever's life.

In an open letter to state residents on Oct. 9, these groups, under an umbrella organization called the Florida Forever Coalition, issued a call to arms. They urged state officials to act by 2008 to extend the program, now set to expire in 2010, and to expand its reach by tripling its annual budget from $300 million to $1 billion.

County adopts springs protection amendment

Published Dec. 21, 2006
By a unanimous vote, the commission adopted a springs protection amendment to the county's comprehensive plan that will direct future development in a way that safeguards the county's drinking water supply.

The amendment as approved by the commission Wednesday calls for the adoption of new county land development regulations, known as LDRs, which contain specific requirements that must be met to ensure that development in spring protection zones is compatible with the geology and hydrology of the area.

The amendment also requires the county to establish Springs Protection Zones - both primary and secondary zones. Where those zones overlap with Environmentally Sensitive Overlay Zones, the more restrictive regulations will apply.

Wakulla Springs

Originally published December 20, 2006
Talks produce crucial safeguards
It didn't come easily and it took much longer than defenders of Wakulla Springs had hoped. But now the environmentally sickened treasure has a fighting chance of eventually recovering.

Tallahassee's agreement to spend about $160 million to upgrade two wastewater treatment plants is expected to ultimately result in lowering the high levels of nitrogen in the springs - at a cost roughly 60 percent higher than the city had planned.

Agreement on spray field signed

Originally published December 20, 2006
City agrees to improve wastewater treatment
Improving Tallahassee's wastewater is needed to protect Wakulla Springs, but it "doesn't come free," Mayor John Marks said Tuesday.

Marks and Gov.-elect Charlie Crist joined Wakulla County Commission Chairman Brian Langston and other legal challengers to the city's spray field in signing an agreement Tuesday to drop their legal challenges to the spray field in return for the city improving its wastewater treatment.

The city agreed to spend $160 million to upgrade its wastewater plants within six years to reduce nitrogen by 75 percent.

Officials emphasize need to conserve water

Published: Dec 20, 2006
Hernando County residents are using several more million gallons each month than what is allowed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District

A layer of salty groundwater underlies the fresh groundwater in the Floridan Aquifer. When the fresh groundwater is pumped out at too high a rate, the salty groundwater could get drawn up and, mix with fresh water, rendering it undrinkable.

Spring flows are affected as well. So far, the springs that are the source of the Weekiwachee River are in the normal range, Molligan said.

A stressed aquifer also increases the frequency of sinkhole development. When heavy withdrawals from groundwater remove water from underground caverns, sinkholes are more likely to form.

Wakulla to drop its spray-field challenge

December 19, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat
Wakulla County agreed Monday to drop its legal challenge to Tallahassee's wastewater spray field in exchange for the city agreeing to upgrade its two wastewater-treatment plants.

The city sprays up to 20 million gallons of treated wastewater daily on crops at its Southeast Farm on Tram Road. Scientists say the wastewater is a likely source of nitrogen in groundwater that's causing Wakulla Springs to become choked with weeds and algae.

Florida's Wild Rivers Increasingly Polluted, Experts Say

Published December 18, 2006
The pollution is threatening the health of the unspoiled Suwannee River, which runs for more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) through northern Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

One businessman in Lake City has created the Ichetucknee Promise. In this program, homeowners pledge to reduce the use of lawn fertilizer, have their septic tanks inspected, and write a letter to the local city council and their county commissioner asking that more be done to protect the Ichetucknee.

The promise is sealed with a 50-dollar contribution to fund the construction of drinking water wells in developing countries.

Into an urban state in a New York minute

Published December 19, 2006 Editorial
The first report, "Florida 2060: A Population Distribution Scenario for the State of Florida," projects that, based on current development patterns, the population of Florida will double in the next 50 years -- to about 36 million (long since passing New York to become the third largest state) -- and that the amount of urbanized land in the state also will double.

Florida Forever enables us to create and protect permanently state and local parks and greenways, and to preserve the Florida Keys, rivers and springs. It guarantees protection for sensitive watersheds and aquifers and allows for places to hunt and fish.

The Florida Forever Coalition -- comprising The Trust for Public Land, 1,000 Friends of Florida and more than a dozen other organizations -- believes that we must expand Florida Forever to $1 billion annually. This step would provide incalculable benefit to the health of our communities, environment and economy

Friday, December 22, 2006

Volunteering to be in muck & cold water

High Spring Herald
Water lettuce, an invasive species in the Ichetucknee River, is picked out manually each week by dedicated volunteers with the goal of maintaining the water lettuce by 2010.

The plants can cover vast areas of rivers with dense packs of water lettuce that prevent sunlight from reaching plants and animals below the water’s surface and consume much of the oxygen in the water.

The plants also can inhibit boats and rafts from going down a river, and that affects the tourism industry. Water lettuce becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which deters tourists from visiting as well.

Each month, Ichetucknee Springs State Park hosts clean-ups with 50 to 75 people. The upcoming dates are Dec. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 17, April 21, May 19 and June 9.
More Info

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's a long road to nuclear plant

Published December 14, 2006
A big utility could bring increased boat traffic into the barge canal, which manatees use as a birthing area.

But Helen Spivey, co-chairwoman of the Save the Manatee Club, said she doesn't expect that a new nuclear plant would necessarily attract any more manatees into the barge canal.

Local, state officials discuss agenda

Published December 12, 2006
Water was also a main topic. County Commissioner Paula DeLaney and High Springs Mayor Tom DePeter said protection of Alachua County's springs is a priority.

"The Florida Springs Protection Act was introduced in the last two sessions. It has made it through each committee only to run out of time at the end of the session," DeLaney said. "We hope that you will follow this one. We feel this is an important piece of legislation for our area in particular and the state to ensure adequate protection of our springs in the future."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finding Florida: Here There Be Mermaids

The heyday may be over but the charm remains in Weeki Wachee. Fifteen mermaids swim year around in the 72-degree water of the natural spring. A theater, built when the American Broadcasting Company owned the attraction, still provides guests with a below-the-surface view through the crystal clear water. As a natural spring, the mermaids sometimes have to compete with the occasional unexpected visitors.

Study offers glimpse into Florida's future

Published December 7, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Florida's population is expected to double by 2060, gobbling up open space and encircling Wakulla Springs with development, according to a study released Wednesday.

To the south, urban development would encircle the state park and state forest surrounding Wakulla Springs. Development also would increase in Sopchoppy and Panacea.

Suwannee marina may serve as hub on paddling trail

Published December 06, 2006
A state land acquisition council will vote this week on buying a marina in the town of Suwannee to serve as the southern hub of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

The paddling trail stretches 170 miles from White Springs to Suwannee. Hubs for paddlers to launch into the river and to get out for lodging and services in nearby towns are being located along the waterway.

The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail is a $10 million joint effort by the state and the Suwannee River Water Management District. The trail provides a more organized way for people to paddle the Suwannee, said John Webb of Suwannee River Canoe and Kayak in Branford.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A creek runs through it

Published December 04, 2006
Sometimes it’s a creek. And sometimes it’s mostly a sandy path down through the woods. Officially, it’s known as Okapilco Creek that meanders through the Moultrie city limits on down to Brooks County and into the Suwannee River Basin.

The wastewater treatment plant on West Bypass is at capacity, for all practical purposes. The plant is 20-plus years old. The state allows this facility to discharge four million gallons of treated effluent into the Ochlockonee River each day. At the moment, 3.5 million gallons are being discharged, and that extra 500,000 gallons can be immediately taken up by the 700-planned residential units now being approved within the city limits, Hopkins said. That leaves no room for industry and commercial development.

It is speculated that much of the reduced flow in the Okapilco, outside of dry weather, is that many ponds have been built up stream in that watershed, stocking water for farming and recreation, thus reducing flow. That also has affected the flow of the Ochlockonee River which begins as just a creek on the Colquitt -Worth line. The Ochlockonee flows into the Gulf of Mexico at Panacea, Fla., after combining with Crooked River and Sopchoppy River just above Highway 98 as well as many creeks and branch heads along the way.

A photojournalist's family tests the waters

Published December 03, 2006
We picked out our wet suits and headed a few blocks away to Hunter Spring Park, where Faulkenberg would meet us with the boat. We had chosen Faulkenberg, who has operated Manatee Safaris for more than 10 years, because he specializes in small groups. The day of our trip, we had the boat to ourselves.

Crystal River is an important winter habitat for manatees and one of the few places were humans can interact with them in the wild. Fed by more than 30 warm-water springs, King's Bay maintains a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. So, as the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops below 70 F, manatees start migrating along the coast to warm-water havens like Crystal River.

Magnolia Springs has much deeper water and was a bit cloudier than Three Sisters Springs.

Recreational outpost hot on trail of fun

Posted December 2, 2006 Orange Sentinel
A trio of parks linked by the county's Spring-to-Spring Trail offers those and other activities, including boating and camping at Lake Monroe Park, which sits on the northern side of the U.S. Highway 17-92 bridge

The 42-acre park has a boat ramp, picnic areas, volleyball court and a small campground. It also serves as a trailhead for a 2.4-mile section of trail that meanders through cypress swamp and other habitats as it winds its way north toward the 210-acre Gemini Springs park.

The trail is expected to eventually stretch some 24 miles to link with Blue Spring State Park, Lake Beresford Park and DeLeon Springs State Park, but for now DeBary Hall is the end of the line.

Santa Over the Rainbow

Live music begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 with Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving by decorated pontoon sleigh at 7 at Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon. The Clauses will oversee two weekends of musical entertainment, concession stands, handmade crafts in the gift shop, photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and lights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 10, and 15, 16 and 17. The park will be open for quiet time to enjoy the lights from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 23, and 26 and 27. Entrance fee is $1; free admission for children younger than 6. For information, call (352)465-8555.

Wakulla Springs State Park

Florida getaways
You've heard of '50s creature feature Creature from the Black Lagoon? Well, this was where the underwater scenes were filmed. You'll learn that and more at the visitors center, down at the boat dock, where you can peruse historical exhibits about the area.

Or, jump aboard a 40-minute riverboat cruise of the Wakulla River to take in the park's sights, sounds and smells. If you're lucky, the spring's water will be clear and the glass-bottom boats will be running, too. For would-be hikers, there are several short trails from which to choose, all of which are level and easy to negotiate. The newest begins in back of the lodge and leads to several small sinkholes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

State wields heavy hand at Blue Spring

Published November 30, 2006 Commentary
For years, swimmers and manatees at Blue Spring State Park got along just fine.

During the cold months, when the waters of the St. Johns get too chilly, manatees would retreat into the warmth of the spring run, which to them is like one long hot tub.

While the manatees wintered, rangers closed the front two-thirds or so of the run to swimmers, leaving open a short section leading to the spring boil, which is a favorite among area cave divers.

Wal-Mart tells High Springs that aquifer will be protected at I-75 site

Published 11/30/06
Wal-Mart officials are going above and beyond required measures to protect the area’s sensitive water supply from getting polluted, Wal-Mart representatives said Tuesday.

The meeting centered around the area’s water supply, which many feared could be polluted from an Alachua Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for near the Interstate 75 interchange, which also is close to Mill Creek Sink.

Wal-Mart: Store won't taint water in Alachua County

Published November 29. 2006
Wal-Mart representatives gave assurances Tuesday that the company's planned store in Alachua wouldn't pollute groundwater.

But High Springs officials and residents continued to question the project. High Springs Commissioner Kirk Eppenstein said he wanted the company to commit to stronger standards for its stormwater system and studies of an underground cave system.

The focus of the debate is a wellfield intended to be used as High Spring's future water supply. An Alachua County-funded study found that dye placed in a sinkhole near the Wal-Mart site traveled within 13 days to Hornsby Springs, just north of High Springs. The wellfield is located between the store site and the spring.

Sing along to the surf rock tunes of the Big Kahunas

...and help save Wakulla Springs at the same time by paddling out to the benefit concert from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday at the American Legion Hall at Lake Ella. Cost is a $10 donation to the Friends of Wakulla Springs Organization.
Published November 29, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The tubas are coming, the tubas are coming

Published November 27, 2006
The Homosassa River Christmas Boat Parade begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 9. The parade begins near the west end of the river, goes upriver to near the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, and then turns back to finish at Magic Manatee Marina. Prime viewing spots include any of the restaurants along the river or the Magic Manatee Marina.

SRWMD declares phase I water shortage advisory

Published: November 22, 2006
Lack of rainfall has created a moderate drought throughout the Suwannee River basin in Florida and Georgia, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Most areas of the District are experiencing low or extremely low groundwater and surfacewater levels due to below-average monthly rainfall. With a cumulative 12.17-inch rainfall deficit, the year ending October 31, 2006 is the eighth driest year since 1931.

New record monthly lows were observed at the Aucilla River near Lamont, the Steinhatchee River near Cross City, and for the second month in a row, the Santa Fe River near Fort White. The end-of-month reading at the Withlacoochee River near Pinetta tied the historic monthly low at that station, after setting a new low last month.

Mapping Scenic Habitat

When Steve Dowman and a trio of friends set out to circumnavigate Hontoon Island by kayak last weekend, they had no idea they were taking advantage of a Volusia County trail. But the 10-mile route is one of nine county-designated canoe trails known as blueways.

Essentially canoe routes that feature spectacular scenery or other amenities that make them stand out, blueways are perhaps the most picturesque segments of the county's trail network. Encompassing more than 125 miles of freshwater and brackish streams and rivers, the trails traverse nearly every type of habitat found in the county.

The trail is especially rewarding during the cooler months, when paddlers are treated to close encounters with the manatees that congregate at Blue Spring.

Spring's new name honors long-ago love

Published November 24, 2006
Chris Longo, a Plant High School senior, sought the council's approval to complete the project necessary to reach the highest Scout level: Eagle Scout. Longo asked to rename the spring near the Hillsborough River behind Stetson Law School on Florida Avenue.

The spring, noted by local historians as Tampa's first water source, was named after a 19th century judge who preferred to drink out of a flask.

Setting minimum water levels, restricting development part of program now under way

Published 11/22/06
Called Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs), the program will set a limit on how much water can be withdrawn from the from the aquifer. This amount will be determined with a model that shows how much water area rivers and springs must retain so that significant harm is not caused.

The water district is required to set a MFL for all first magnitude springs and all second magnitude springs that are not on private property. This includes the Ichetucknee group of springs, Hornsby Spring, Poe Springs, Devil's Ear Spring, Columbia Spring, Rum Island and others.

A gift that gives: Adopt a manatee this holiday season

Published 11/22/2006
There are 31 manatees to choose from in the Club's three Florida adoption programs at Blue Spring State Park near Orange City, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, and in the Tampa Bay area. Manatees can live up to sixty years of age, but hundreds are injured or killed by boats every year, which are the leading known cause of their mortality.

Around 3,000 manatees exist in Florida waters today. They are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Funds from Save the Manatee Club's adoption programs go toward education and conservation efforts.
For information on manatees, and to adopt one, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, call 1-800-JOIN (5646), or visit their web site at www.savethemanatee.org.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Florida's Thirst for Water Pressuring Wild River, Experts Say

Published November 21, 2006
In water-starved Florida, the Suwannee River is a treasure more precious than gold.

Without any dams, it is the only undisturbed major river system in the southeastern United States.

But Florida's explosive population growth—and the unquenchable thirst that comes with it—has some wondering how long the Suwannee can keep flowing at its current levels.

Situated 160 driving miles (260 kilometers) south of where the Suwannee reaches the Gulf of Mexico, the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area is home to more than 2.5 million people.

That area has depleted its groundwater supplies and must now find new water sources.

No swimming at Blue Spring

Posted November 21, 2006
With manatees returning to their winter refuge at Blue Spring State Park, park officials have closed the spring run to swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and boating.

This is at least the second time that such activities have been barred from the spring run during the winter manatee season, according to state Department of Environmental Protection officials.

The season runs from Nov. 15 to March 1

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Homosassa Spring Wildlife Park serves as a halfway house for the manatee. They come here to recover. When the temperature rises, you will find these guys coming up for a little fresh air...and sunshine.

Come check it out for yourself. The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is located in Hernando County, off U.S. Highway 19 in Homosassa Springs.

Land buy shelters Silver Springs

Posted November 15, 2006
With state land conservation funds largely depleted this year, in part because of the massive Babcock purchase, the state will only have to come up with about $45 million next month for the initial phase of the purchase.

Then in July, when a new budget year begins, the state will need another $31 million to complete the purchase. In the meantime, the nonprofit conservation group will hold the remaining property, waiting for the second transaction.

Once fully acquired, the property will be managed by the Division of Forestry as a new state forest.

State to protect land near Silver Springs

Published November 15, 2006
The state has more than 700 freshwater springs -- many impacted by encroaching development. A top priority is to protect about 14,000 acres around Florida's largest springs. Before Tuesday's decision, 1,721 acres had been acquired.

But the property provides essential recharge for the underground aquifer feeding the spring, which spews 530 million gallons a day into the 4-mile Silver River. State officials say groundwater from the site, which has 13 sinkholes, can reach the springs in a relatively short time -- about two to five years.

Silver Springs Purchase Approved

Published November 15, 2006
Florida officials agree to allow group to buy the land, then sell it to the state.
In an effort to protect one of Florida's most significant natural wonders, state officials agreed Tuesday to spend more than $76 million to buy 4,500 acres near Silver Springs to prevent the property from being developed into homes and businesses.

State environmental regulators and local officials said the purchase represents a major advance in the long-term protection of the Marion County site, which is the third largest natural springs in the state and yields some 530,000 gallons of water per day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bush, Cabinet OK $76 million land buy near Silver Springs

Published November 14. 2006
A land purchase approved Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Cabinet will prevent construction of about 11,000 new homes that would have contributed to pollution problems at nearby Silver Springs, one of the state's most storied tourist attractions.

Silver Springs is Florida's third largest springs and the biggest that is above ground.

In recent years, it has been clouded by thick, brownish algae, the result of rising nitrate levels that have blamed on runoff from residential, agricultural and other development.

One Tank Trip: Deleon Springs State Park

Posted 11/14/2006
There are more than 50 Florida State Parks within a one tank trip of Jacksonville but there's only one where you can flip flapjacks right at your own restaurant table. Breakfast is served all day at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House at Deleon Springs State Park just north of Deland. A staple here since 19-61, it's the ultimate serve-yourself breakfast. You cook pancakes and eggs right on your own tabletop grill.

This gastric delight complements the other activities at the park. Deleon's tranquil setting is only interrupted by the occasional splash of swimmers in the constant 72 degree water. 20 million gallons bubble up from the underground aquifer every day. Most of the visitors are tourists like Leann Dominguiz from Colorado. "It's kind of neat when you see the temperature. It's really cold then you swim and it gets warmer," says Dominguiz.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A battle over the Rainbow

Published Nov. 12, 2006
A new Dunnellon City Council brings new hope

Rainbow River Conservation Inc., which has about 250 paid members and has been in existence since 1962, is a non-profit corporation registered in Dunnellon. RRC's sole objective is to protect the river and its resident wildlife from harm. RRC has been instrumental in influencing the state to establish Rainbow Springs State Park and to purchase the Griffitts' property to add to the park. RRC has also been instrumental in getting the Rainbow River classified as a Florida Outstanding Water, an aquatic preserve, and to be listed under the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan, all of which should afford it special protection.

Wakulla: Did you hear?

Published November 13, 2006
Holidays at Wakulla Springs
Holiday Cruise and Dinner, 5 p.m., Dec. 16; Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, 550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla; 224-5950.

New Year's Eve Party, 4 p.m., Dec. 31, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, 550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla; 224-5950

The new nature of tourism

Published November 12, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Big Bend area using natural beauty to draw more visitors
.... Wakulla Springs State Park alone generated more than $21 million annually for the area's economy, including 347 jobs in Wakulla County.

Our view: Saving Silver Springs

Published Nov 11, 2006
State, Nature Conservancy make smart deal to safeguard natural treasure
One of Florida's natural treasures will be safeguarded, thanks to a $76 million deal that has been struck to help clean-up Silver Springs near Ocala.

The large artesian springs is one of Florida's earliest tourist attractions, known since the late 19th century for glass-bottom boat tours over deep clear waters and marine wonders.

Springs supporters suggest license plate

Published November 12, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Some Florida springs supporters are proposing a new specialty license plate to raise money for springs research and protection efforts.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has spent $2.5 million a year on springs research and protection since 2001. Supporters of the springs license plate say their goal is to raise up to $700,000 a year for other protection efforts.

State seeks input on Manatee plan

Published November 11, 2006
State officials released a new proposed plan this week for managing manatees now that the status of the endangered animal is being downgraded a notch.

Now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to know what the public thinks and will accept written comments between now and Jan. 11. The final plan is expected to be approved in April or June.

The plan is available at myfwc.com/manatee/. Comments can be sent to Manatee Management Plan Comments, DHSC, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 S. Meridian St., Mail Station 6A, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 or e-mailed to manatee_plan@MyFWC.com

Manatee protection plan is criticized

Posted on Nov. 10, 2006
The state's new manatee plan puts stronger focus on preserving winter havens, but environmentalists contend it falls short on protection goals.

The plan urges protecting water levels in natural springs and working with electrical utilities considering closing aging coastal power plants. Springs and power plants' discharges create warm-water havens for many of the state's 3,000 or so manatees.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wildlife commission proposes new manatee management plan

Published November 9, 2006
Florida manatees depend on warm water during the winter for survival, and the state should prepare a contingency plan to avoid a catastrophic die-off if their habitat goes cold, according to a draft plan released Thursday by state wildlife officials.

"We will be meeting with power plant companies themselves to prevent this possible catastrophic death situation," Frohlich said. "Many of these plants are old and energy technology changes, and it's naive to think things just stay the same."

The sustainability of natural warm water springs also needs study, because increasing development is decreasing the aquifers, Frohlich said.

Setting limits on water usage is topic of meeting Tuesday

Published November 10, 2006
The first steps in determining just how much water can be withdrawn from the aquifer, rivers and springs in the area before significant harm is caused will be the focus of an upcoming special meeting by the Suwannee River Water Management District.

The public meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14 at the Fort White Community Center to discuss "MFLs," an acronym for minimum flows and levels.

Minimum levels already have been established for the Lower Suwannee River, as well as for Manatee, Fanning and Madison Blue springs. Determing those levels came after a number of public meetings, such as the one planned for Fort White.

Annoying algae

Published: Nov 8, 2006
Thick, hair-like algae called lyngbya clings to limestone submerged in the spring. Gone is much of the grassy vegetation that grew from the spring’s bottom. The silky algae hinders light from getting to other aquatic plant life and often spreads to create dense mats at the floor of the water body it inhabits.

It’s estimated that there’s about 1,000 cubic yards of lyngbya in the head spring and another 5,000 cubic yards of sediment and other “organics” that have settled at the top of the river near Buccaneer Bay, according to Swiftmud spokesman Michael Molligan.

It’s unclear when the nuisance algae began choking out native vegetation or how it ended up in the spring. In some areas where lyngbya thrives, experts believe it’s because of slow-moving water. In other areas it may be attributed to recreational impacts or disturbance, Craw said. Still, some people think it’s because of increased nutrients in the water from things like fertilizer in water runoff.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wakulla: This week

Originally published November 6, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Septic-tank talk: The Wakulla Springs Basin Working Group's Septic Tanks Committee will meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Pavilion in Wakulla Springs State Park. For more information, reach Jim Stevenson at florida_springs@comcast.net or 562-5716.

Virginia Daniel and Buddy Camp recall growing up in White Springs Virginia Daniel and Buddy Camp

Published: November 01, 2006
The town was named for the White Springs, which was known for its healing power. By the mid-1800s, visitors came to the springs to bathe in and drink the water. Luxury hotels, boarding houses, tea rooms, health sanitariums, movie houses, skating rinks, livery stables and boardwalks were built for the visitors.
Virginia Daniel and Buddy Camp recall growing up in White Springs Virginia Daniel and Buddy Camp

Those Were the Days: Treasured Memories of Historic White Springs, Florida, On the Suwannee River takes the reader back to the town before it became the first tourist destination in Florida. Virginia Johnson Daniel, a retired school teacher who lives in White Springs, and John Council “Buddy” Camp, a retired turpentine and timber man who lives in Jasper, were both born in White Springs in 1915. In the book, the two authors tell how their families came to the area and recall their memories of growing up in White Springs.

Florida's only Springhouse - Auction on e-bay

News Article

e-bay auction

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Florida's first-magnitude springs

Click image to enlarge
Florida's first-magnitude springs


First Magnitude Springs of Florida Open file Report No. 85 (OFR-85) (PDF - 65 MB)

PC Notes:
2) Jackson Blue Springs (Blue Springs Recreation Area, County Park)

3) Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

5) St. Marks River Rise Requires a boat to visit.

6) Wacissa Springs Group Most of these springs require a boat to visit.

8) Madison Blue Spring State Park

11) Falmouth Spring (Karst Window)

12) Lafayette Blue Springs State Park

13) Troy Springs State Park

14) Ichetucknee Springs State Park

16) Part of Ginnie Springs Outdoors

17) Part of Camp Kulaqua Retreat and Conference Center

23) Fanning Springs State Park - Now Considered a "Historic" First Magnitude Spring

24) Manatee Springs State Park

25) Rainbow Springs State Park

27) Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

29) Weeki Wachee Springs (Attraction - may become State Park, but still runs as a business in late 2008)

30) Silver Springs Group (Attraction)

31) Silver Glen Springs (Ocala National Forest)

32) Alexander Spring (Ocala National Forest)

33) Blue Spring State Park

'Plumbing' Concerns at Springs

Published Oct 26, 2006 The Wakulla News
The flow of water at Wakulla Springs has nearly doubled recently, apparently pulling water that otherwise would have flowed to Spring Creek.

..Wakulla Springs had formerly flowed at around 400 cubic feet per second. That has recently increased, he said to 600, 700 even 800 cubic feet per second.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Guaranto Spring (Dixie County)

The Florida Geological Survey - Bulletin #66 on pg 84 refers to this spring as Guaranto Spring even though locally it is also known as “Gronto” or “Gornto” Spring (as sign had it).

(This spring is located inside of a county park and has a boat ramp leading to the Suwannee River)

FlickrMore Photos

More Info:
Florida Springs Database

Saving our springs

Posted October 30, 2006
Conservation is key in keeping the water flowing

Some of Central Florida's springs may grow drier if the increasing human demand on the region's underground water supply continues.

In Rock and Wekiwa springs, which are surrounded by booming development in Orange and Seminole counties, flows are expected to decrease by close to 10 percent by 2025.

Officials Plan to Keep Counties Wet

Published October 30, 2006
Regional water officials are banding together to figure out how to supply water to fuel exploding population growth without causing serious environmental damage or spending years in court.

The evaluations are intended to avoid further environmental damage that could affect such things as spring flow and maintenance of natural wetlands.

Mystery of Florida's Giant Jumping Sturgeon Solved?

Published October 30, 2006
Ken Sulak, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, Florida, thinks he has found the answer.

The sounds jumping sturgeons make are distinct from the sounds of other jumping fish, Sulak says. He believes the jumping is a form of communication that sturgeons use to connect with larger groups and maintain community cohesion.

Hart Springs Park (Gilchrist County)

(A Gilchrist County Park)
4240 SW 86th Ave, Bell, FL
(352) 463-3444
Cost $2 per person ages 5-59, $1 per person age 60 and over
Excellent, very family friendly.
Hours Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.
Rest of the Year: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pictures taken 10/30/2006

2nd opening

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More Information:
Florida Springs Database - Hart Springs

Hart Springs Website
Hart Springs Diving & Guide Information

Springs Fever:
A Field & Recreation Guide...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Otter Springs (Gilchrist County)

(Part of the Otter Springs RV Resort)
6470 SW 80th Ave.
Trenton, FL 32693

Pictures taken 10/30/2006

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More Info:
Otter Springs RV Resort Homepage

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Capturing 'rural America'

Published October 27, 2006
After each event day and on Sunday, the artwork will go on sale at the High Springs Gallery, where part of the proceeds will go to Current Problems, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the area's natural waterways.

"We're trying to make people aware of our water systems," said Dan Rountree, the president of Current Problems, better known by its most recognized program, Adopt-A-River. "It's especially important to this area since we're surrounded by places like Ginnie Springs, Poe Springs, Blue Springs."

Commission ponders preservation of springs

Published Oct. 25, 2006
Enhanced septic systems could reduce nitrogen pollution.

"The conventional household septic system puts out about 24 pounds of nitrogen each year," said Troy Kuphal, the water resource manager at the Planning Department. There are 100,000 septic systems in Marion County and 100,000 other vested properties, which would need septic systems.

Marion County land buy bars development plans

Published October 24, 2006
A 4,500-acre swath of environmentally sensitive land north of Ocala that developers once planned to flatten and carve into a 14,000-home subdivision will be spared that fate.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials announced Monday they struck a deal with Avatar Properties Inc. to buy the mixed farm and forest land for $76.2 million and turn the area that helps replenish the pristine Silver River into conservation land.

Deal protects Silver Springs site

Posted October 24, 2006
The state's $76 million agreement would halt development near the famous bubbling waters.

On Monday, state officials announced an agreement with help from Marion County and The Nature Conservancy environmental group to safeguard a huge area just north of Silver Springs.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DeLeon Springs Clean-up

Date: October 28, 2006
Come out and plan to clean up the community and springhead of DeLeon Springs. Meet at the Wachovia Bank, 5065 N. U.S. Highway 17, De Leon Springs. Participants will be assigned an area to pick up trash in the DeLeon Springs area. After the clean up, participants will be provided free admission to DeLeon Springs State Park, where a complimentary lunch will be served. Participants are encouraged to wear sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, work gloves, and comfortable clothing. For more information, or to register on line (required), go to Volusia Clean Up This clean up is being held in conjunction with National Make A Difference Day.
Fees: Entrance fees are waived for participants
Contact: Tom Carey 386-736-5927 ext. 2073

Residents: Spring Creek Not Flowing

Published Oct 19, 2006 The Wakulla News
The largest spring in Florida has reportedly stopped flowing. Or at least it's discharging a lot less than normal.

Spring Creek, as the dozen or so submarine springs that produce more freshwater than any ohter springs in the state are called, have not been flowing for the past several weeks according to nearby residents.

The springs that once boiled up water into the bay are now apparently running like a vortex at high tide, drawing saltwater underground.
See Spring has mystery drought - Tallahassee Democrat Article

County to consider land purchase

Published 10/21/06
On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners will mull the purchase of three contiguous parcels of environmentally sensitive land located in Warm Mineral Springs. Each consisting of .23 of an acre, the parcels border Warm Mineral Springs Creek near the intersection of Granada Drive and Isabel Street in the unincorporated area of Sarasota County near North Port.

Manatees Seek Power Plants, Warm Springs as Safe Havens

Published October 20, 2006
Some manatees seek shelter here in the Suwannee River, which runs through northern Florida into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the only undisturbed river system in the southeastern United States. The river's thick mats of sea grasses and temperate springs, which stay at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) year round, provide refuge for hundreds of manatees.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Manatees Seek Power Plants, Warm Springs as Safe Havens

Published 10/20/2006 National Geographic
Some manatees seek shelter here in the Suwannee River, which runs through northern Florida into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is the only undisturbed river system in the southeastern United States. The river's thick mats of sea grasses and temperate springs, which stay at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) year round, provide refuge for hundreds of manatees.

Thanks in part to strong protection efforts, Florida's manatee numbers today have been boosted to about 3,500 animals

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Manatee Collisions Won't Get Law-Abiding Boaters Citations

Published 10/18/06
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said today, boaters who comply with manatee speed zones won’t get citations if they strike manatees.

Officials said cooler weather will cause manatees to begin their annual migration from open water to warm-water springs and power plant discharges, leaving the slow-moving sea cows vulnerable to speeding and even slow-moving vessels. Law-abiding boaters who strike a manatee or observe a manatee hit by another vessel can call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922 without fear of a citation. Boaters should be prepared to provide the incident location, weather conditions, boat specifications and other relevant information.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rainbow Springs State Park (Marion County)

19158 S.W. 81st Pl. Rd.
Dunnellon, Florida 34432
Phone: 352-465-8555
Cost: $1 per person
Note: Water depth was at least 5 feet or more near swimming area. Not recommended for small children.

Driving Directions:
From I-75, exit at the second Ocala exit onto State Road 40. Take State Road 40, west. Drive until it deadends at U.S. 41. Turn left, the park entrance is on the left-hand side of the road

Pictures taken 10/5/2006

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More Info:
Rainbow Springs State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Citrus County)

4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, Florida 34446
Phone: 352-628-5343
(1st Magnitude Spring)

Pictures taken 10/7/2006

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

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Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Hernando County)

6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, Florida 34606
Phone: (352)596-2062
(1st Magnitude Spring)

Pictures taken 10/6/2006

FlickrMore Photos

More Info:
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee Spring 2007 Exploration Report

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ichetucknee River, its beauty will be focus of Save Our Suwannee meeting with presentation by artist

Published October 16, 2006
The free meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Ichetucknee Springs State Park Education Center. The building is located just inside the southern entrance to Ichetucknee State Park, four miles west of Fort White on U.S. 27.

For more information, call Loye Barnard 386-497-3536.

Regional water policy is more stick than carrot

Published 10/13/06
The vast majority of potable water used in Charlotte County comes from one source, the Peace River via the DeSoto water treatment plant operated by the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority

It's called regionalization. In the coming decades, the extent to which local governments "buy into" the concept will determine how much they have to invest in water projects.

The final word on our water

Published Oct. 13, 2006
In what is being reported as an unprecedented step and a monumental level of cooperation, three of the state's five water management districts have tentatively agreed to adopt new regional regulations that will force Central Florida water providers to develop alternative sources in less than a decade or forget about increasing their future withdrawls from the Floridan aquifer, the underground source of almost the entire state's fresh water supply.

On Tuesday, the St. Johns River Water Management District became the first of the trio - along with the Southwest Florida and South Florida districts - to approve the plan, which pertains to all of Polk, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties plus the southern portion of Lake County and the city of Cocoa in Brevard County. In essence, all of Orlando and its sprawling suburbs, where the three districts come together.

Nature flows on tour of discovery

Published October 14, 2006
If you're in the mood for a nice boat tour of an outstanding waterway, head over to the "Discover Your Wildlife Refuge Festival" in Crystal River today .

This is the first of the fall outdoors festivals, and the mood is relaxed, mainly due to the picturesque waterfront setting, the cool weather and the live music.

Water district set for aquifer vote

Posted October 10 2006
Environmentalists worry that manatees will suffer if the flow rate at Blue Spring is reduced by aquifer pumps.

Volusia utilities have already started discussing construction of a plant that would convert the St. Johns River into drinking water. District officials want to require them to have that plant in operation by 2018.

Panel urges septic-tank standards

Published October 12, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
An advisory committee is recommending that advanced septic tank systems be required in southern Leon County to protect Wakulla Springs.

The springs have become choked with weeds and algae in recent years. Scientists say nitrogen from septic tanks and Tallahassee's wastewater spray field are likely feeding the plant growth.

Blue Spring minimum flow set over manatee protest

Published October 11, 2006
The St. Johns River Water Management District approved a minimum long-term flow for Blue Spring Tuesday, vowing to restore the spring's flow to its long-term average.

The district, required by state law to set the flow, will phase it in by five-year increments until it reaches the long-term average of 157 cubic feet per second in 2024. That allows for a 15 percent decrease in the spring flow until 2009. But, district officials say that won't have negative impacts on the manatees, even though their numbers are expected to continue rising.

Blue Spring water can flow less freely

Posted October 11, 2006 Orange Sentinel
Less-stringent limits balance needs of man and manatee, leaders say.
The Blue Spring flow was decided on a day when officials with the St. Johns River Water Management District also wrestled with how to curb Central Florida's addiction to underground water supplies.

The Blue Spring regulation, which establishes a legal minimum for the average spring flow, should be used as a clear limit on how much groundwater can be used for Volusia utilities, district officials said.

Water district launches plan to cap aquifer withdrawals

Posted October 10, 2006 Orange Sentinel
The St. Johns River Water Management District today launched an ambitious plan to cut off increases in pumping of underground water by 2013.

Environmental experts worry that taking too much water from the Floridan Aquifer -- more than the roughly 600 million gallons daily pumped by Central Florida utilities -- will dry out springs and wetlands.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Checking in on our sea cows

Published October 9, 2006
A virus has kept park manatees in quarantine for nine years. Two that are being studied at an Ohio zoo are showing improvement.

Manatee experts have long theorized that the Homosassa manatees could be showing the virus because they live all their time in relatively fresh water from the springs and cold water. The headwaters of the Homosassa River remain around 72 degrees year round.

Water managers reviewing Blue Spring water-flow goals

Published October 09, 2006
After taking another look at long-term conservation goals for Blue Spring, regional water managers have decided to speed up their timeline for increasing the average water flow because the spring is so popular with manatees.

The St. Johns River Water Management District has been trying to set a minimum average flow mark for the spring for 10 years. The targets are required by state law to help water districts review water use requests. The districts are charged with making sure the state's groundwater supplies aren't overused to the point that it causes environmental damage.

Jumping Jehoshaphat! Beware Leaping Fish

Published: Oct 8, 2006
The recent case of two Plant City residents injured when their boat crashed after a sturgeon nearly jumped aboard on the Suwannee River is not nearly such an isolated incident as it seems.

The incidents are likely on the rise because gulf sturgeon have now been protected from all harvest since 1991, and appear to be making a strong comeback on a number of north Florida rivers. The species was commercially harvested to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s, with the slaughter including destruction of a large population in the Hillsborough River.

Spring cleaning

Published October 8, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat
Wakulla sets a great example

In a unanimous vote, Wakulla County commissioners put new environmental safeguards into place to protect Wakulla Springs, which is not just a local and regional asset, but a state and national treasure whose protection is an obligation of responsible stewardship.

In so doing, Wakulla became the first Florida county to adopt tough spring-protection standards, which Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thaddeus Cohen hailed as "by far the strongest yet adopted by any Florida local government." The new rules require the state's blessing, but given the DCA's enthusiasm, that's probably only a formality.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New policies boost spring safeguards

Published October 4, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat
The Wakulla County Commission unanimously approved policies requiring setbacks from some sinkholes and springs. New developments also must use advanced septic-tank systems that reduce nitrogen seeping into the groundwater.

State officials heralded the Wakulla County Commission's unanimous vote Monday. They said Wakulla became the first county in the state to adopt standards to protect springs.

Wakulla moves to protect groundwater

Published October 3, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat
The County Commission approved policies requiring setbacks from sinkholes and springs for new development. Those developments also must use advanced septic tank systems that reduce nitrogen seeping into the groundwater.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bottled water workshop Tuesday

Published October 2, 2006
Wakulla Springs Bottled Water is holding a workshop Tuesday on its proposal to build a water-bottling plant near Wakulla Springs State Park.

The workshop will be held at the Wakulla Senior Center at 33 Michael Drive from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 926-7439.

Sinkhole free of its Gremlin

Published October 2, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Beneath 33 feet of water, logs, leaves and debris sat a Honda Civic. To celebrate National Public Land Day on Saturday, Cal Jamison and the Concerned Citizens of Wakulla got it pulled out.

The word is that years ago, a Wakulla County Sheriff's diver identified the vehicle as an AMC Gremlin, which is why it's called Gremlin Hole.

Jamison, the Wakulla Springs ambassador, .. has detailed and cataloged 460 sinkholes in the park and plans more trips and projects like this in the future. .... his mission to protect the sinkholes because they're connected to the aquifer, which supplies drinking water.

The faithful gather for Ichetucknee baptisms

Published October 02, 2006
Almost 400 years ago in 1616, Columbia County's first church held baptisms in the Ichetucknee River

On Sunday, parishioners from several churches revived the tradition by coming out en masse to reaffirm their faith.

Years ago when the springs were polluted, such a ceremony would have been much less likely. In cleanups over the years, Ichetucknee Springs State Park staff have uncovered bricks, bottles, even an old revolver on the floor of the water body. Their work to clean and protect the springs continues.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Three blooms are bad news for Florida

Published 10/01/2006
Researchers at the Florida Department of Health's harmful algal bloom seminar this week tackled policy ques- tions, talked about what they've learned and discussed the focus of future research into the blooms...

Underwater Lion

Photographer, philanthropist honored Mozert's work called 'pivotal' to park success
Published Oct. 1, 2006

Bruce Mozert has helped people see for about 70 years, either through his lens or a pair of their own.

As the official publicity photographer of Silver Springs Attraction during its heyday, Mozert is credited with inventing underwater photography. His lens introduced an international audience to the Springs' crystal clear waters and the park's "mermaids" - attractive swimsuit models posed underwater in an array of everyday activities like swinging a golf club or playing cards.

Researchers worry about algae toxins in water supply

Published October 01, 2006
Florida is home to more kinds of toxic algae and cyanobacteria than anywhere else in the United States and perhaps the world.

Better known as pond scum, cyanobacteria can look like green hair or like someone dumped bright green paint on the water.

Blooms of several species are showing up more and more in Florida's springs, lakes and rivers, and along its coasts, mostly where rivers bring runoff to the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

The River Wild

Published October 01, 2006
Nothing could be more intimidating than the bumper sticker on the station wagon in front of me Saturday. I followed the threatening slogan into Blue Spring State Park for Paddle Battle, the area's first-ever kayak and canoe race.

Paddle Battle was organized by Erik Peterson, a 24-year-old AmeriCorps service volunteer, as a chance to appreciate parks on National Public Lands Day. A lighthearted but energetic group of 25 kayakers and one canoe duo took up the challenge.

Friday, September 29, 2006

State cancels announcement on Avatar

Published Sep. 28, 2006
Friday's public ceremony was to seal the deal on thousands of acres near Silver Springs.

The state's Florida Forever program, which buys land for conservation, has spent money in this year's budget for other projects, Baxley said. So, the state did not have ready funds to buy the more than 4,000 acres of environmentally-sensitive land near Silver Springs owned by Avatar Corp.

The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit land conservation organization, stepped forward with offers to buy the land and hold it in safekeeping until the state's new budget is approved and Florida Forever has money to buy the land from the Trust, Baxley said

Road Trip Leads to Gators, Birds and Otters

Published Sep 28, 2006
One person's family experience during a recent trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Volunteers vow to weed out invasive plants at park

Published September 27, 2006
Exotic invasive plants are on the most wanted list of dangerous vegetation at DeLeon Springs State Park and this weekend, staff and volunteers will work to eliminate some of the worst non-native plants that cause problems at the park.

The invasive exotic plants are threatening the park's native plant life, as they are in other parts of the state, according to Donna Collins park, service specialist. She will coordinate the exotic plant cleanup, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday in honor of National Public Lands Day.

State close to deal for Avatar land

Published Sep. 27, 2006
Local officials are optimistic that a deal for the state to buy thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive land near Silver Springs could be completed this week.

Two things must happen first, according to Marion County Commissioner Randy Harris. The governor and Cabinet have to approve the deal, the price of which is still undisclosed, and the board of Avatar Corp., the property owner, would have to accept the state's offer.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wekiwa is Disneyland of nature

Published September 25, 2006
The largest spring alone releases 42 million gallons of water annually from the underworld, and it might be an even safer place to swim than a chlorinated backyard pool.

But while the broad Wekiwa Springs swimming hole draws the great majority of visitors, another smaller spring on the other side of the park has an entirely different character yet is no less spectacular.

Rock Springs is located within the small, county-owned Kelly Park, adjacent to Wekiwa Springs Park, but the stream flows on to form the northern border of the larger preserve.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Fall Field Trips in Wakulla

The Concerned Citizens of Wakulla (CCOW) will kick off its fall field trips with a work ‘n play adventure at Gremlin Sink on Saturday, September 30

Cal Jamison, Wakulla’s resident Springs Ambassador, will meet participants at 9:00 a.m. on New Light Church Road just west of Crawfordville Hwy (319) in northern Wakulla County. While equipment is readied for the main event, participants will walk to the sinkhole (~ ½ mile) and pick up trash and pull mimosa seedlings on the way.

CCOW is co-sponsoring this event with Wakulla Springs State Park to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Find books about Florida Springs in WorldCat

Copy and paste the link below:


Florida Springs Task Force Leader to Speak at Chipola

Jim Stevenson, former Chief Biologist for the Florida Park System, will discuss the work of the Florida Springs Task Force, Thursday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Chipola College Arts Center.

Stevenson coordinates the Wakulla Springs Basin and the Ichetucknee Springs Basin Working Groups. During his 20 years with the Florida Park system he developed the educational and the land management programs for the park system. Jim retired in 2003, after 38 years with the Department of Environmental Protection.

For information, call 850-718-2301.

Officials concede protecting water will be challenge

Published September 21, 2006
From pitch-black runoff flowing into Silver Springs to nutrient-rich fertilizers greening the Santa Fe River with algae, the region's drinking and recreational waters are under dire threat, officials said Wednesday.

The summit was held by the Santa Fe Working Group, an initiative by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to protect and improve the water quality of springs. It was at Camp Kulaqua, home of Hornsby Spring.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Task forces are dedicated to restoring our waterways

Published September 20, 2006
In response to concerns for the health of Citrus and Hernando County waterways, the 2003 Florida Legislature created the Citrus/Hernando Waterways Restoration Council.

Charged with developing restoration plans for the Citrus County Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes and for the Hernando County Weeki Wachee River and Springs, the council has 12 voting members appointed by the president of the Florida Senate and the speaker of the House.

Wakulla Springs Bottled Water Facilitated Public Workshop

Published on September 19, 2006.
Wakulla Senior Center - 33 Michael Drive (Next to Department of Health Building)
Tuesday, October 3, 2006 6:00 – 9:00 PM

The purpose of this workshop is to provide an opportunity for the citizens and leaders of our county to learn more about the plan and process to locate a locally-owned and operated water bottling plant in Wakulla County. It will also provide the public and commissioners an opportunity to ask questions and raise any concerns they may have with this project.

For more Information call 926-7439.

State park to start St. Johns canoe, kayak races

Posted September 20, 2006
Blue Spring State Park will put on a canoe and kayak race Sept. 30 along a 3-mile stretch of the St. Johns River from Blue Spring to Hontoon Island State Park.

The inaugural running of the St. Johns Paddle Battle Canoe and Kayak Race is in conjunction with National Public Lands Day and is designed to redefine the St. Johns as a paddle-friendly river. The race will be broken into a variety of classes based on age, experience and gender.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quantifying Wakulla Springs

David E. Loper, September 11, 2006
PPT Presentation 5.23 MB (PDF)

Wildlife's welfare is main concern
Published September 19, 2006
A new center at a Homosassa Springs state park will allow staffers to better meet the needs of animals.

Ellie Schiller, director of the Felburn Foundation. ... has donated $1-million to the park in the past two years, with half of that earmarked for the new wildlife care building that got its official start on Monday.

Land lease crux of Weeki Wachee's issue with Swiftmud

Published: Sep 18, 2006
Swiftmud owns the land that encompasses the mermaid attraction. Weeki Wachee has an active lease.

However, Swiftmud would like the attraction, which is owned by the City of Weeki Wachee, to sign a new version of the lease. Weeki Wachee officials refused to sign the new lease due to several clauses they said were unreasonable.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Water specialists urge action before Marion's beautiful springs become a

Published Sep. 15, 2006
"We know that because of the population growth that the water quality of a large number of our springs, including Silver and Rainbow, have been affected," Scott said. "When you see a lot of algae in water that was not there 20 years ago, you wonder why." He said researchers are looking not only at the nitrates but the phosphorus levels, which also come from fertilizers and waste water

The Marion County Commission has been working on developing a springs protection program, which would set goals and objectives to be incorporated into the comprehensive plan and land development codes that regulate how property may be developed in spring shed areas.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Boat Accident Caused By Jumping Fish

Published: Sep 15, 2006
Jesse Carr, 51, was traveling about 40 mph along the river in Dixie County when the sturgeon jumped in front of his boat, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said in a news release issued Friday. Carr swerved to avoid the fish and the boat crashed into a concrete support piling of a trestle bridge, the release said.

Fish change eating habits as autumn approaches

Published September 15. 2006
Leaping Suwannee River sturgeon have made the news lately in a negative light, having seriously injured boaters on the Suwannee. Each was just doing what they do - boaters boat and sturgeons jump. The sturgeon population seems to have grown greatly of late, and the U.S. Geological Survey is performing a census of Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee River.

The group spends Wednesdays on the river near Fanning Springs, and is looking for volunteers to help temporarily capture, measure, weigh, and tag the big fish.

A red mark on springs protection

Published Sep. 15, 2006
This weekend marks the fifth annual Marion County Springs Festival, a chance for us to get a renewed perspective on and appreciation for these natural wonders. The event features arts and entertainment, but the real value is the educational experience, the chance to learn about the springs, what we've done to them and what needs to be done to keep them thriving.

As Stevenson said, "we look at that pretty water flowing out of the ground and think it's got to be pure, and it's not anymore."

And despite the fact that Bush and the Legislature have set aside $2.5 million a year for springs protection, he added, "It just goes to show that we're very poor housekeepers. We're sloppy with our fertilizer and our sewage disposal. We need to do better."

Marion County Springs Festival

First tourism conference succeeds

Published September 15, 2006
The first-ever conference of several area chambers of commerce brought about 100 people together Sept. 11 so that they could share insight about networking with other business interests and improving their services for customers.

Florida's Pure Water Wilderness, which is also known as the Dixie-Gilchrist-Levy Tourist Development Board, coordinated the event held in a large church in Levy County just south of Trenton.

Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs state parks ... are a couple of the keystone parts of a complete Nature Coast eco-tourism area, which stretches out to the beaches of Cedar Key as well as inland to the many other springs in the area, and along the Suwannee River.

Ichetucknee Springs: Best time to go is now!

Published Sep 15, 2006
On summer weekends, as many as 3,000 people wedge themselves into inner tubes to float a 3-mile section of North Florida's Ichetucknee Springs State Park near Fort White. Pushed by the Ichetucknee River's gentle 1 mph current, the ride takes almost 3 1/2 hours, often in very noisy company.

But after Labor Day the crowds thin and only the 1.7-mile southern stretch of the Ichetucknee remains open -- a 90-minute float. This is my favorite time for tubing the amazingly clear stream, which is so pristine that in bright sun the sand bottom almost looks like it's sparkling. The river's remarkable clarity is due to the 233 million gallons of 73-degree water poured into it daily by nine springs.

Lecture Series Slated with River Exhibit at Chipola

Published September 15, 2006
The series opens with a meeting of the Blue Springs Working Group, Thursday, September 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Chipola Arts Center. The public is invited to attend. For information, call Vicki Mathis at 850-718-2289.

On Thursday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m., Jim Stevenson, former chief biologist for the Florida Park System, will discuss the work of the Florida Springs Task Force.

On Friday, September 29, at 10 a.m., Edd Sorensen, certified cave diver and dive shop owner on Merritt’s Mill Pond, will discuss Blue Springs and underwater caverns.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Anderson Spring (Suwannee County)

Not a good place for swimming for little children.

Steep incline leads down to Suwannee River

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County looks to take steps to protect springs

Published September 13, 2006
Stricter regulations on development in parts of Alachua County will likely be needed to curb pollution of springs and groundwater after dye testing showed how quickly water travels underground to the Santa Fe River, county officials said Tuesday.

Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird said it is likely regulations will be sought eventually. Bird said a first step will be taken next week with a multi-county summit on spring protection that will bring together scientists, public officials and others to discuss worsening water quality.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Suwannee Springs (Suwannee County)

Suwannee Springs was one of Florida's original tourist destinations. The springhouse was probably established around the time of the Civil War. People came from all around the east coast to partake the "healing spring waters" which were rumored to cure everything from go to marital problems. From the Civil War to the 1920's the site had a succession of 4 wooden hotels, a bath house, and many private cottages. A special spur railroad line was established just to handle the tourists to the springs. The last hotel burned in 1925 and with the decline of the railroads the resort faded away. Today, the springhouse and some private cabins on adjacent property is all that is left of the site. (From sign in park)
Pictures taken 9/9/2006

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fanning Springs State Park (Levy County)

18020 N.W. Highway 19
Fanning Springs, Florida 32693
Phone: 352-463-3420
Hours: Open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year
Cost: $4 per vehicle
Located on U.S. Hwy. 19/98 in the town of Fanning Springs.

Video taken 9/3/2006 (Requires Flash Player Ver. 8.0 or higher)

Pictures taken 9/3/2006

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More Info:
Florida Online Park Guide

A River in Danger -- Algae killing Ichetucknee Springs

Published September 7, 2006
Experts attribute the changes to development - particularly spray fields, septic tanks and stormwater that carry nitrates - in and around the Ichetucknee Springs Basin.

Up to 5,000 tubers per day float the river, adding up to 200,000 people per year who bring about $23 million to the area.

Week shines light on water conservation

Published September 6, 2006
Save Our Waters Week, established in Citrus County in September 1996 by Citrus 20/20 Inc., promotes public awareness, education and consensus to save the county's treasured waters. Save Our Waters Week is committed to focusing public attention on preserving Citrus' aquifers, springs, rivers, lakes and coastal estuaries.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Irwin's Silver Springs visit remembered fondly

Published September 05. 2006
Steve Specht, marketing director of Silver Springs, said he joined Irwin when he filmed a segment of "The Crocodile Hunter" at the park in 1999. Specht said he watched Irwin swim alongside an alligator in the Silver River.

In and around Silver Springs, Irwin also found a large snapping turtle, searched in vain for cottonmouths and tapped Sobek, a 15-foot-long crocodile weighing 2,000 pounds, the largest American crocodile in captivity, on the nose, Specht said.

FWC officers crack down on wildlife management area

Posted on 8/14/2006
Near Weeki Wachee, Florida - Florida Fish and Wildlife officers are cracking down on a problem in a state wildlife management area in Hernando County.

People have been abusing part of the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area along the Weeki Wachee River.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Florida, not valley, warned of leaping sturgeons

Folks boating on the Suwannee River in Florida will now be greeted by signs with this message: Warning: Fish May Jump. The Suwannee has had six sturgeon jumping accidents this year — probably a record. The gulf sturgeon in Florida are the closest relative of the Atlantic sturgeon we have in the Hudson River, and both can reach eight feet and weigh close to 200 pounds.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Manatee Springs State Park (Levy County)

11650 N.W. 115th St.
Chiefland, Florida 32626
Phone: 352-493-6072
Hours: Open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year
Cost: $4 per vehicle
Located at the end of S.R. 320, off U.S. 98, six miles west of Chiefland.

According to a sign in the park Manatee Springs is the largest spring flowing directly into the Suwannee River. Canoe rentals are available within park.

Video taken 9/3/2006 (Requires Flash Player Ver. 8.0 or higher)

Pictures taken 9/3/2006

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More Info:
Florida Parks Online Guide

Thursday, August 31, 2006

National Geographic releases Suwannee River Wilderness Trail map

Published: August 30, 2006, Suwannee Democrat
Travelers along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail can experience nature at its best along the 170 miles of sandbars and rocky banks from the small eco-tourism town of White Springs to the town of Suwannee on the Gulf of Mexico. The river can be traveled by canoe, kayak or boat on self-guided tours or with the help of an outfitter. There are plenty of places for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing along the way.

National Geographic - Suwannee River Wilderness Trail

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WaterWays, a course in water resources...

...designed to help students understand the need for the proper management of this precious resource.
Lesson 1 The Water Cycle
Lesson 2 Water, It's Special
Lesson 3 Water Above the Ground
Lesson 4 Aquifers
Lesson 5 More About Water Below the Ground
Lesson 6 Our Important Wetlands and Uplands
Lesson 7 Our Rivers and Streams
Lesson 8 Abundant Lakes
Lesson 9 Along Our Coast
Lesson 10 The Water We Use
Lesson 11 Potable Water
Lesson 12 Landfills, Leaks and Spills
Lesson 13 Too Much...or Not Enough?
Lesson 14 Water Management in Florida

Springs discussion revives debate over growth

Published August 26, 2006, Tallahassee Democrat
A session at Saturday's Wakulla Springs forum on how to manage growth produced a familiar debate: how to make sure growth pays for its impacts without making homes unaffordable.

Sparkman touted Wakulla's tough wetlands ordinance now making its way through approval channels to become county law. It will be one of the most restrictive, protective laws in the state aimed at protecting watersheds from irresponsible development and resulting wastewater and stormwater pollution, he said.

Dunnellon development still under gun

Proposed Rainbow River Ranch is officially off the table; developer will resubmit.
Published Aug. 29, 2006
Dunnellon area residents who derailed a proposed 350-home development along the Rainbow River say they will dig in their heels yet again and fight the developer's next plan.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Our View: Pollution problems worsening

Published August 28, 2006
The natural springs that bubble up from Florida's underground aquifer have been called pools of liquid light because of their mesmerizing clarity and beauty.

But like so much else of the state's environment, they're under worsening assault by development-triggered pollution.

Travails of the mermaid mayor

Published Aug 26, 2006
It all started in 2003 when the park was donated to the City of Weeki Wachee. The attraction was rapidly deteriorating and faced being shut down. When the park was offered, city officials jumped at the chance to salvage what was left. What they didn’t know is that they would be slammed with more than $1 million worth of repairs.

A tumultuous legal battle with Swiftmud ensued over the legalities of the handover (see info box for details). Anderson was mayor of the city and thus became manager of the park. So it fell to her to head up the fight and come up with the means to bring the park back to its original splendor.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jackson Blue Spring (Jackson County)

(Inside the Blue Springs Recreational Area)
5461 Blue Springs Hwy
Marianna, FL 32447
Phone: 850-718-0437
Hours: Tues-Sun 11-6 Closed Mondays
Cost: $2 per person
From I-10 Take Exit 142 Heading North on SR 71 for about 2 miles
Take a left on US-90 Heading West for about 2 miles
Take a Right onto SR-71 North and go about 1 mile
Take a right on Blue Springs Road (CR-164) and head about 3.2 miles
The park entrance is on the right

I believe this is one of the best springs out there to take your family to. This spring is managed as a local county park. They have a roped off section for small kids, concession stand, picnic area close to spring, big slide, diving board, playground ...

This park is openes on Memorial Weekend and Closed Labor Day. Call for Hours.
They are closed on Mondays. General hours are usually 11-6.

Video Taken 8/26/2006 (Requires Flash Player Ver 8.0 or higher)

Pictures taken 8/26/2006

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Cave Adventures
5211 Limestone Lane
Marianna, Florida 32446
Contact: 850-272-2346 Edd Sorenson (Owner)
Air Fills - Continuous Blend Nitrox, Oxygen and Argon
Rentals - Pontoon Boats, Scooters and Tanks

Boat Ramp - Merritt's Mill Pond (#110)
Travel north of Marianna on SR 71 for 1.0 mile, then right on Blue Springs Road (CR 164) for 1.5 miles. Right on Hunter Fish Camp Road for 0.8 mile to ramp.

Single-lane ramp with unimproved parking lot capable of accommodating 10 vehicles.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

More Info:
Florida Springs Database
Info from Jackson County Chamber of Commerce
Springs Fever ...