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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Officials tour Rainbow with eye to protect

Published May 24, 2008
Protecting the delicate environment of the Rainbow River while still allowing recreational use of the stream is a tricky balancing act.

On Friday, a group of local officials, environmentalists and state resource managers took a tour along the river that highlighted the challenges of striking that balance.

While there was wildlife all around, there were also signs of growing environmental troubles for the river. Algae has bloomed at the head springs. Boat propellers have scarred the grass bed on the river's bottom. The high water mark on cypress trees along the banks is well above the river's current level. Chris Zajac, an environmental scientist with Swiftmud, said flow from the spring is 100 million gallons per day below historic levels due to an ongoing drought. He said nitrate levels have doubled in the last six years.

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