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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
















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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.