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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Jackson Blue: A cool respite

Published July 8, 2013
Jackson Blue Springs Recreational Area is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The park includes picnic pavilions, benches and grills along with tube, paddleboat and canoe rentals. Two floating docks enclose the swimming area while leaving an opening to the main water used for boating and fishing. People snorkel, swim and dive under the watchful eyes of lifeguards.

In the late 1990s, the State of Florida purchased the 202-acre reservoir that makes up the Jackson Blue Springs Recreational Area and Merritt’s Mill Pond along with nearby Spring Creek Park, located south of Highway 90 across from Merritt’s Mill Pond. Management of the properties went to Jackson County under a lease agreement with the state.

There are actually four cave systems and springs in the boundaries of the park. Jackson Blue Springs is the largest. It produces 120 million gallons of water per day and is one of 34 first magnitude springs in Florida. (A first magnitude spring produces at least 65 million gallons of water per day.) It is the primary spring that feeds Merritt’s Mill Pond, which feeds into Spring Creek and eventually the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers. The Jackson Blue Springs cave system was known to go back 7,000 feet until local diver and Cave Adventurers owner Edd Sorenson discovered a passage that goes back to 15,000 feet.

Along with Jackson Blue Springs are Shangri-La Springs (a second magnitude spring), Indian Washtub and Twin Caves each with their own cave systems.