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Monday, December 27, 2010

Annie Pais: North Florida has the potential to be a prime travel destination for ‘aware visitors'

Published 12/26/2010 The Gainesville Sun
The five fastest-growing tourism genres also happen to be strongest in North Florida: eco-nature-based, culture, heritage, culinary, and romance.

North Florida's prime economic assets are a delightful mix of urban culture, authentic small towns, and wilderness areas; not to mention the largest constellation of freshwater springs in the world. These assets are linked with the best system of hiking, biking, paddling and horse-riding trails in the country.
Source

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CLINE: A hot spot to get to know manatees

Published 12/14/2010
One of their main places of refuge is Blue Springs State Park in Orange City, which houses a hot spring, the perfect spot for the manatees to stay warm. The water flowing out of the spring cavern is a constant 72 to 73 degrees, more than 10 degrees warmer than the river water outside of the springs.

On the day we visited, the chalk board at the entrance said there were 146 manatees on site. Earlier in the week, that number topped 200 as the gentle giants looked for a place to stay warm.
Source

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fanning Springs Restoration Plan

Published 12/2/2010
The purpose of this report was to develop recommendations for the restoration of Fanning Springs. These recommendations include working with stakeholders and local government to establish water conservation guidelines and direct future water, nutrient, and zoning policies. They also include making structural changes that help return the spring to its natural physical state. This includes the relocation of the floating dock to the river and the removal of the sea wall.
Source (PDF)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rainbow River's rescue begins

Published 11/13/2010 Ocala.com
Visibility at the springhead is about 300 feet. That drops to about 50 feet as the river meanders 5.7 miles to the Withlacoochee River in Dunnellon.

“Somewhere around 1960, (the nitrate levels) started to rise, and particularly in the past 10 years it dramatically started rising. And the thing is, it's still rising,” he said.

Its groundwater recharge area is 470,000 acres, or 735 square miles, covering portions of Alachua, Levy and Marion counties. Some experts estimate that ground water may take as long as 30 years to reach the spring vents from the recharge areas.
Source

Friday, October 22, 2010

Suwannee draws adventurous paddlers

Published 10/21/2010 Miami Herald
The Suwannee, which flows for about 235 miles from its headwaters in South Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp to empty into the Gulf of Mexico, always has drawn adventurous paddlers. But the creation of the Wilderness Trail in the past few years has made the Florida section more accessible.

A public-private partnership of state and county agencies and cities and towns in the Suwannee Basin designated a network of canoe/kayak launches, small lodgings, river camps, parks and town centers as hubs for visiting paddlers.
Source

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ichetucknee Springs Basin Working Group envisions three-year project for restoration plan

Published 9/15/2010
Restoration planning is the focus of the new coordinator of the Ichetucknee Springs Basin Working Group (ISBWG).

Ondine Wells, newly appointed coordinator of the group.

Wells succeeds Jim Stevenson who retired earlier this year as the leader of the working group. She is a communication specialist at Pandion Systems, an environmental science, ecology and communications company in Gainesville.
Source

Exploring the Mysterious Wakulla Springs

Published 9/15/2010
Wakulla Springs is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. The greatest outflow of water ever measured at the spring was in 1973, at almost 860,000 gallons per minute. That’s over 1.2 billion gallons a day! On the average, 250,000 to 400,000 gallons of water a minute flow from the spring’s huge single opening.
Source

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Blue Springs Recreational Area Ends With Another Record Season

Published 9/7/2010
More than 38,000 people visited the popular Jackson County attraction this year, doubling the number of visitors since 2006. Park officials are planning to open it year-round in the near future.

Hatcher says the county just received a $135,000 state grant to make several park improvements before opening next year.
Source

Monday, August 16, 2010

Camp in comfort in local cabins

Published 8/15/2010 Ocala.com
Fanning Springs State Park, U.S. 19/98, Fanning Springs: On the banks of the Suwannee River west of Gainesville, Fanning Springs is a Silver River contemporary; both came into the state parks system in the mid- to late-1990s. Fanning Springs has five cabins of the same design — as well as amenities — as Silver River's. Cabins are $100 a night; there is a minimum two-night stay on weekends.

Source

Friday, August 13, 2010

Museums offer variety of new exhibits

Published 8/12/2010 The Gainesville Sun
Opening today at the Florida Musuem of Natural History is "The Blue Path: Protecting Florida's Springs," a galleria exhibit exploring Florida's springs system with photographs, paintings and displays by artists, writers, filmmakers and others from around North Central Florida.

Coordinated by Florida's Eden, the non-profit citizen's initiative dedicated to protecting the state's natural resources, the exhibit launches the new Blue Path campaign, a grassroots movement to protect Florida's freshwater springs. The exhibit is also dedicated to Wes Skiles, the High Springs photographer and cave diver who died while diving off Boynton Beach in July.
Source

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Diver search for Tennessee man at Vortex Springs

Published 8/10/2010
The cave is lit with a cable making it an easy trail to follow back and forth, Feulner said, and the deep part of the cave is locked with a gate at a depth of about 140 feet. To get beyond the gate, divers have to sign in with the desk and be qualified to make such a dive.
Source

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Wes Skiles: Friends recall photographer's love of Florida's underwater world

Published July 29, 2010 - Orlando Sentinel
...more than 200 people gathered to share tales about a man who never went to college but who was regarded as one of the most knowledgeable voices about the Floridan aquifer.

Friends considered him to be Florida's Jacques Cousteau, saying he explored a hidden and mysterious water world and brought his adventures to millions with powerful and stunning images in still and moving pictures.
Source

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Archaeologist finds old bones in Florida recreation area

Published 7/28/2010
The human remains, estimated to be between 500 and 700 years old, were found Monday during a excavation at Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest, about 30 miles south of Palatka, according to Jenifer Lowe with the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
Source

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Skiles’ memorial service set for July 28

Published 7/25/2010 - High Springs Herald
Memorial services for High Springs’ Wes Skiles will be held at 6 p.m. this Wednesday, July 28 at Ginnie Springs, which will be opened to the public starting in the early afternoon that day. Hundreds, if not more than 1,000 people, are expected to attend.

Skiles was particularly known locally for debuting his movie, "Water's Journey: The Hidden Rivers of Florida," at the Priest Theatre. He also did the underwater filming for the Hollywood movie, "The Cave," and had a clause in his contract that the movie debut at the Priest Theatre as well.
Source

National Geographic Photographer Wes Skiles Dies During Dive

Published 7/22/2010
Wes Skiles, an acclaimed underwater photographer, explorer and filmmaker, died on a dive off the eastern coast of Florida Wednesday after finishing an assignment for National Geographic.

The well-known freelance filmmaker, whose latest work is featured on the cover of the magazine's August issue, was 52.
Source

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Photographer Wes Skiles Brought Fla. Waters to World

Published 7/23/2010 The Ledger.com
"He brought us the awe of the Floridan aquifer, this unexplored territory right under our feet, through his eyes and his filming," said Annie Pais, a Gainesville artist who worked with Skiles on the Florida Springs Task Force, which champions the protection of Florida's springs.
Source

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gulf Oil Crisis May Drive More Visitors To Blue Springs Recreational Area

Published 7/17/2010
"Last year, we did see a record year, we had approximately a little over 35,000 people that came through the park, which was an increase of about 6,000 the year before."
Source

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Blue Springs open 7 days a week through Aug. 22

Published 6/30/2010
Blue Springs is one of 33 first-magnitude springs in Florida. It produces approximately 122 million gallons of 68-degree water daily.

Blue Springs park features a small slide in the children’s area, a floating dock, a large slide and a diving board. Out of the water, visitors can enjoy a beach, a playground and a beach volleyball court. The entire park is under constant watch by lifeguards who are certified for open water by the American Red Cross.
Source

Friday, May 14, 2010

Seven Rivers Less Paddled

Published 5/13/2010 New York Times
Dug by slaves in the 1850s to transport cotton, the canal is only five miles long, but to reach it, visitors have to paddle nine miles from Wacissa, Fla., to the Goose Pasture Recreation Area. From there, look for signs to the Slave Canal, two miles away. Finding the start can be tricky, so first-timers would be well advised to carry a GPS device or go with a guide.
Source

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shifting currents in debate over water rules

Published 4/17/2010 The Gainesville Sun
The issue began last year when EPA announced it was imposing its own rules for nitrogen and phosphorus levels because the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had failed to establish numerical standards of its own. The new standards would effect the state’s lakes, canals, rivers, estuaries and springs.

Those who oppose the standards complain that EPA’s proposals are flawed, based on bad science, and would wreak financial havoc on a state that already faces its worst recession of the past 70 years.
Source

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Artist’s work reveals changes in springs

Published 4/16/2010 Chiefland Citizen
They are rendered in broad swaths of blues and greens, sometimes suggesting the surface of the water with its play of reflections, other times revealing the sun-lit mouth of a watery cavern. “It’s all about the viewer entering the springs,” she said. “That’s what paintings do, they postulate a different world, and you want to go there. I like the idea of captivating people.” Not long after she began exploring springs as a subject, she discovered Manatee and Fanning springs

And though Tolbert insisted she does not want to be known as a historical painter, her work, featured in exhibits around the world, has become a visual narrative of the decline of Florida springs for a period of close to three decades.
Source

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ancient spring has a fuzzy future

Published 4/11/2010
The water is always a constant 87 degrees at Warm Mineral Springs, where nine million gallons of fresh mineral water bubbles forth every day. The spring may be the strangest and most unusual tourist attraction in Sarasota County.

...the only hot spring in a state with the world's largest concentration of cool springs has lured spiritual seekers. These days, it also draws scientists, real estate speculators, tin-can tourists and European hot springs enthusiasts.

Warm Mineral Springs is the lone hot water exception in Florida, and the only major natural spring south of the Orlando area.

"The archaeology in the springs is of world-class significance," said Steve Koski, a research assistant with the University of Miami who has explored Warm Mineral Springs and serves as site manager for another archeologically important site, nearby Little Salt Springs.
Source

Florida's natural springs in crisis: Which ones are cleanest, most polluted?

Published 4/11/2010 Orlando Sentinel
Fanning's waters ... has earned recognition as among the state's most polluted and a prime example of what's killing ecosystems at many of Florida's best-known springs.

Bob Knight, University of Florida professor and springs researcher for 30 years, and other aquatic scientists have documented how rising nitrate levels initially act as a growth booster for a spring's plants and then wreak havoc.

Alexander Springs, deep in Ocala National Forest, is possibly the state's cleanest — nearly what Mother Nature originally designed — with a nitrate level of far less than 1 part per million and measuring consistently at about 0.05 parts per million. That tells scientists healthy springs have extremely low levels of nitrate.
Source

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Environmental group vows suit to stop swimming with manatees in Kings Spring

Published 3/30/2010 St. Petersburg Times
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a notice of intent to sue on Monday giving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 60 days to close the spring or face a lawsuit.

Annually, an estimated 100,000 tourists swim with manatees in and around Kings Spring at the headwaters of the Crystal River in Kings Bay. The spring is one of the primary sources for the river for the warm water that manatees seek when temperatures fall.

In a related matter, because of the continuing cold gulf temperatures, the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on Monday issued a request for people to voluntarily stay out of the marked Kings Spring and Three Sisters Springs manatee sanctuaries until April 14. The sanctuaries typically end at the end of March but two weeks ago there were still almost 300 manatees in Citrus waters.
Source

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ways to help manatees survive a unusually harsh Florida winter

Published 2/28/2010
Through Feb. 12, there have been more than 300 deaths from all causes. Of these, 167 have been attributed to cold stress. Another 116 deaths have been labeled as undetermined or not recovered, many of which were also likely caused by cold stress because of their location and timing.

Florida's springs provide natural winter habitats for Florida's manatees. Reduced spring flows caused by increased human demand for water have decreased these available habitats, while access to others has been reduced or eliminated by weirs or dams. One such area is Silver Springs in Marion County, the largest of Florida's springs. Manatees have lost access to this spring due to the Kirkpatrick dam. Restoration of the Ocklawaha River and removal of the dam would restore access to the spring. Unfortunately, this restoration would be delayed at least another 50 years if the Jim King State Reserve bill passes. Ask your legislators to support the Florida Springs Protection Act this session (SB568) and vote against the Jim King State Reserve bill (SB466/HB695).
Source

Nonprofit Divers4Heroes offers disabled veterans a chance to scuba dive

Published February 27, 2010 - St. Petersburg Times
Through their nonprofit company, Divers4Heroes, the Lakeland couple for two years have offered free introductory diving lessons to any wounded veteran who wants to give the activity a try.

Other than permission from their doctors, participants in Divers4Heroes need not bring anything with them to dive. Pool time, tanks and wet suits are provided. As many 10 participants can take part in each class session.

Beginning dives are held in pools, but as divers gain more experience they are welcome to take part in open dives held at various locations around the state, including Ginnie Springs, Living Seas aquarium in Orlando as well as Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
Source

No Swimming In Blue Spring As Manatees Try To Stay Warm

Published February 28, 2010
More cold weather in Central Florida has prompted a change at Blue Spring State Park.

Swimming and snorkeling is banned during the winter, when dozens of manatees show up at the spring for the warmer water.
Source

Wakulla Spring Basin Working Group Meeting

The next quarterly meeting of the Wakulla Spring Basin Working Group will be April 29. During the afternoon, we will have a field trip in the Wakulla Spring Basin. Please mark your calendar.

Jim Stevenson, coordinator
556-3072

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Group Meets to Resolve Water Wars

Published Feb 26, 2010
The group called the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee- Flint Stakeholders Incorporated met along the forgotten coast Friday. Their goal is to put an end to the H2O battle by finding a way to share the water coming out of Lake Lanier.

This is the second meeting of the Apalachicola- Chattahoochee- Flint Stakeholders Inc., which was formed last year. It's made up of more than 50 people who represent an area of the ACF Basin.
Source

Friday, February 26, 2010

St. Johns district looks to strengthen water reuse programs

Published February 25, 2010
The St. Johns River Water Management District board is looking to squeeze the most out of water conservation and will meet next month to develop rules that could require its 16-county members to strengthen water reuse programs.
Source

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is Jacksonville draining Ichetucknee?

Published 2/12/2010 The Gainesville Sun
The river has lost about a quarter of its flow since 1900, with most of the decrease happening in the past 45 years, according to U.S. Geological Survey figures.

Hydrological maps show that hundreds of square miles of groundwater that once flowed through springs into the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe and Suwannee rivers now are being drawn to northeastern Florida - and the area of the aquifer being diverted there is growing.

Hydrological maps show that in 1980, an area of the aquifer roughly 1,200 square miles in size that used to flow to the Suwannee River basin instead was flowing toward those counties. Grubbs said more recent maps show the area has grown larger.
Source

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Flood warnings continue for Ochlockonee, St. Marks, Aucilla rivers

Published 2/7/2010 - Tallahassee Democrat
Flood warnings remain in effect for the Ochlockonee River near Havana, affecting Leon and Gadsden counties; the Aucilla River at Lamont, affecting Jefferson, Madison and Taylor counties; and the St. Marks River near Newport and Natural Bridge, affecting .Wakulla County.
Source

Stimulus funds to improve public access to Suwannee River Sill

Published 2/7/2010 - The Florida Times-Union
...refuge officials are preparing to spend $1.5 million in federal stimulus money to breach the dam in three places and remove the two deteriorating water-control structures. The goal is to restore the natural hydrology and improve public access to the popular fishing and boating area on the west side of the refuge.

Wilderness canoe trails will not be significantly affected, but one of the 12 trails, Craven's Hammock Wilderness Canoe Trail, will be limited to periodic use only during high water levels
Source

Rally for the Rivers - Feb 13th, 2010

Saturday, Feb. 13 join us on the banks of the St. Johns at Palatka’s Riverfront Park for a day of music with outstanding Florida folk musicians; Florida Storytelling Association; Florida Heritage Experience; conservation workshops, activities, and displays; free rides on the river with St. Johns Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon; great food from Blue Water Bay; and an evening fundraising dinner and concert.
Source

Senate Select Committee on Florida’s Inland Waters Public Hearing - Feb 12th

February 12, 8:30-10:30AM
Quality Inn Riverside
201 N. First Street
Palatka, FL 32177
386-328-3481
Let legislators know that Florida Forever protects springs, springsheds and the quantity and quality of our state’s drinking water.

That afternoon Rally workshop presenters include Wes Skiles and Dr. Bob Knight. You can be sure we will be talking about springs!
Source

Ichetucknee Springs Basin Working Group Meeting - Feb 9th, 2010

We will learn new information about the Ichetucknee and ways that we can enhance protection of this extraordinary spring system.

See you Tuesday.
Jim
850 556-3072

More Info

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

SRWMD purchases conservation easement on Santa Fe River

Published 2/1/2010 Suwannee Democrat
The Suwannee River Water Management District has purchased a conservation easement on 443 acres of land on the Santa Fe River adjacent to O'Leno State Park in Columbia County.

...it will provide for springs and surface water protection and preserve the habitat of wading birds, waterfowl and other wildlife.
Source

Florida's waterways: Journalist takes stock of Bay County

Published 1/31/2010
Florida's usage generally exceeds rainfall rate and the demographic is uniquely taxing on the water table for many reasons: 1) Usage increase spikes in the summer months as lawns and golf courses are watered in the hot Florida sun; 2) Retirement community residents -- who comprise 23 percent of Florida's population -- traditionally use more water than more junior dominant demographics and 3) As development continues, more and more drainage ways are disrupted and polluted.
Source

Florida Springs Rally - Feb 16th, 2010

This is our opportunity to demonstrate that the people of Florida want our springs protected. Springs advocates from across north and central Florida will donate their entire day to travel to the Capitol for the Rally. At a minimum, those of us living in Leon and Wakulla Counties should be able to show our support by attending during our lunch hour. Please inform your friends and associates.

Let me know if you would like additional information.

We hope you will join us at 12:00 noon, February 16. Florida’s springs are silent; they need your voice.

Jim Stevenson
556-3072

Saturday, January 16, 2010

EPA Proposes Freshwater Nutrient Limits for Fla., a National First

Published 1/15/2010 New York Times
The EPA proposal sets limits on nitrogen and phosphorous for freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals. The agency said it would propose a rule for estuaries and other coastal waters in January 2011.
Source

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Manatee rescued at Silver Glen Springs

Published 1/1/2010 Ocala.com
Silver Glen is off Lake George. "It is very unusual for a manatee to be found in Silver Glen Springs, and this one is stressed in some way," according to the commission.
Source