My Flickr Photos of Springs

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Where there might be giants

Published 10/24/2015
Here are five places to see Manatees in the wild:
1. Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
2. Blue Spring State Park
3. Manatee Springs State Park
4. Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center
5. Lee County Manatee Park

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Robert Knight: The People’s Plan for Silver Springs

Published 8/16/2015
Staff at the Florida Springs Institute (FSI) have been active in the scientific study of Silver Springs since the 1970s. FSI’s efforts, as well as research conducted by the state of Florida, have demonstrated severe biological impairments at Silver Springs as a result of reduced flows, elevated nitrate nitrogen concentrations and lost connectivity to the St. Johns River. All of these detrimental impacts are a result of human actions, are reversible, and are contrary to Florida laws that protect the biological integrity of “Outstanding Florida Waters” such as Silver Springs.

FSI’s Silver Springs Restoration Action Plan describes a feasible approach to restore the historic flow at Silver Springs, reconnect the Silver and St. Johns rivers, and lower nitrate-nitrogen concentrations to protective concentrations.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Cooperative project to improve Silver Springs water quality and flow moving forward

Published Aug. 6, 2015
Work continues to move ahead on upgrades to the Silver Springs Shores wastewater treatment plant and to increase the distribution and reuse of reclaimed water, a partnership project among Marion County, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve water quality and flow in Silver Springs.

Silver Springs is a first-magnitude spring that forms the headwaters of the Silver River, in Marion County. Silver Springs is a group of large vents and smaller springs in the bed or in coves at the edges of the Silver River. There are 30 springs in the Silver Springs group.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Scuba Dive Club at UCF explores Fla. waters

Published 8/5/2015
The club strives to organize two dives per month, usually to reefs off the coast of Jupiter, Stuart and Pompano. But members also explore different Florida springs, such as Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest and Ginnie Springs, which is about 30 miles northwest of Gainesville.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Take It Outside Planner: Tubing on the Ichetucknee (w/video), camping and snorkeling in the state parks

Published August 5, 2015
Nine springs pump 233-million gallons of crystal clear water into the Ichetucknee River, which then flows south into the Sante Fe and Suwannee rivers. Right off the main parking lot at the north entrance to the state park, you'll find Ichetucknee Spring, also called the Head Spring. The spring has a bluish hue that makes it particularly appealing, especially on a warm summer day. During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), tubers who want to complete the entire trip of three-and-a-half hours must arrive early. Rangers limit the number of people on the river. A tram is available at the south end to bring you back to your car. After Labor Day, things quiet down a bit. To keep the Ichetucknee wild and clean, tubers may not bring food, drink, tobacco or any other disposable items on the river.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Editorial: Springs plan lacks real enforcement

Published August 1, 2015
Then those who study the science of our springs start drilling down and asking questions, and what they discover is that DEP’s impressive sounding Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) is heavy on well-intended suggestions and light on regulatory compliance.

Cool escapes: Florida's crystal clear springs

Published 7/31/2015
Geologists estimate there are more than 700 freshwater springs in Florida — the largest concentration on Earth — but only a relative few are accessible for public recreation.

De Leon Springs State Park, DeLeon Springs
Lifeguards are on duty seven days a week until school begins, then weekends through the winter.

Rock Springs at Kelly Park, Apopka
This beautiful, shaded park in the northeast corner of Orange County is one of my favorites. At the spring head, the cool water spills into a series of pools at the rate of 26,000 gallons a minute. You can wade or tube for about a quarter-mile through the crystal clear run. Outside Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run rambles for more than 8 miles through state-owned wilderness. The only canoe access is Kings Landing, a private outfitter just down the road.

Juniper Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest
Dense, semi-tropical foliage not seen anywhere else, the forest provides a unique environment for picnicking, bird watching, hiking, swimming, snorkeling and paddling down the awesome spring run fed by Juniper Spring and Fern Hammock Spring. Day use is $5 per person.

Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnelon
Be aware that the average depth is 5 feet to 18 feet, which is not conducive for small children or wading.

Peacock Springs State Park, Live Oak
There are no lifeguards, and these springs are not child-friendly. Swimming and snorkeling are limited to Peacock and Orange Grove springs and is dependent on seasonal water levels

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Spring Hill
Kids will love the waterslides and water park on Buccaneer Bay, elevating the swimming experience to theme-park fun.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

List: A guide to springs in and around Marion County

Published July 30, 2015
Alexander Springs
49525 County Road 445, Altoona in the Ocala Nation Forest. From Ocala, head east on State Road 40. Once in Astor, look for signs
Contact: (352) 669-3522

Juniper Springs
26695 E. State Road 40, Silver Springs

While there, take the Juniper Springs Nature Trail to Fern Hammock Springs, where you'll see the springs bubbling up. You can't swim there, but it's fun to watch. There also is Juniper Run for kayaking and canoeing.
Contact: (352) 625-3147

Salt Springs
14151 N. State Road 19, Salt Springs
The National Forest Service calls Salt Springs one of the "recreational jewels" of the Ocala National Forest. It is located near the intersection of County Road 314 and State Road 19.
Contact: (352) 685-2048

Silver Glen Springs
5271 State Road 19, Salt Springs
Silver Glen Springs is located along State Road 19, six miles north of State Road 40.
Contact: (352) 685-2799

Rainbow Springs (State Park)
19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon
With its entrance off U.S. 41 north of Dunnellon.
Contact: (352)465-8555

K.P. Hole
9435 SW 190th Ave. Road, Dunnellon

Though not on a spring itself, K.P. Hole is just down river from the Rainbow Springs headsprings and, thus, offers a brisk dip. The Marion County park offers swimming as well as a launch for tubing and canoeing

Ten springs within an hour's drive of Leesburg

Published July 30, 2015
Alexander Springs - 21 miles away
49525 County Road 445 in Altoona

Kelly Park / Rock Springs Run - 29 miles away
Features a free-flowing natural spring and Rock Springs, a clear, swift creek.

Wekiwa Springs
This is a second-magnitude spring that is joined within a half-mile by the smaller run from Rock Springs to form the headwaters of the 17-mile-long Wekiva River, a tributary of the St. Johns River.

Juniper Springs - 32 miles away
Huge live oak canopies provide shade yards away from the natural pool.

Rainbow Springs - 39 miles away
This is Florida's fourth-largest spring, according to Florida State Parks.

Salt Springs - 47 miles away
You'll find a natural spring rising beneath the swimming area. It gets its name from the magnesium, potassium and salt in the water.

Silver Glen Springs - 47 miles away
Boaters love Silver Glen Springs because they can take their boat up close to the swimming area and enjoy the springs.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge - 47 miles away
1502 S.E. Kings Bay Drive in Crystal River
The primary springs within the wildlife refuge are Idiots Delight, Three Sisters, and the King Springs group, which includes Tarpon Hole, Mullet’s Gullet, and Little Hidden springs. Three Sisters springs is the only one accessible by land; all of the others are boat accessible only.

Blue Spring - Orange City - 47 miles away

Also known as Volusia Blue Spring

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park - 58 miles away

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fragile Springs Map

Click Map to Enlarge

Readers rank Madison Blue Spring as top swimming hole

Published 7/29/2015
Madison Blue Spring is a first-magnitude spring shaded by hardwood and pine trees along the Withlacoochee River, as described by Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism promotion agency. The spring attracts visitors for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and certified cave and cavern diving.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wakulla Springs offers summer relief

Published July 25, 2015
The spring is 315 feet in diameter with a huge vent that is approximately 82 feet wide, 50 feet high, and 185 feet deep. The vent extends into a group of caves that measures 28.6 miles to date, and is the fourth longest explored aquatic cave system in the world.

It’s just over 20 miles from Tallahassee and in many ways it’s a blast to the past. This is where “Tarzan’s Original Treasure” was filmed in 1941 and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 1953. Also, in 1976 both “Airport 77” and “Joe Panther” were shot at the springs. Tourists can still stay in the lodge where actors from those movies hung out after long days.

Friday, July 24, 2015

State outlines plan to protect Silver Springs

Published 7/23/2015
BMAP stands for Basin Management Action Plan, and there are several around the state that aim to improve the quality of water in the Floridan Aquifer.

This particular BMAP covers the roughly 30 springs in the Silver Springs system, Mammoth Springs and the Silver River.

The specific purpose of this BMAP is to control the nitrate levels of the water that reaches the aquifer.

The BMAP includes 130 projects, and the public can comment on those until Aug. 19 by going to the DEP’s website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/bmap.htm

Editorial: Water Conservation — Restoring Florida's Springs

Published July 22, 2015
"Last year's projects were heavily tilted toward subsidies for those who are the largest contributors to the water depletion and nutrient pollution which are choking our springs," wrote council legislative chair Bob Palmer and legislative committee member Heather Culp. The cost shares "are so low that the water users are probably saving money in the long run with more effective taxpayer-funded equipment and practices," the letter said.


County ponders workshop on possible fee hikes

Published July 23, 2015
Jackson County Commissioners say they will hold a special workshop in upcoming days to consider proposed increased user fees in various departments as the board works through their planning for fiscal year 2015-16. The date for that meeting has not yet been set.

The Disappearing Apalachicola Oyster: Florida’s Fight to Save Its Prized Delicacy

Published Jul 23, 2015
The ideal oyster comes from Apalachicola Bay, a body of water about 160 miles east of Pensacola Beach and 75 miles southwest of Tallahassee, the state capital. Unlike most Gulf Coast towns that anyone's actually heard of, the city of Apalachicola is not a tourist destination. Its industry is oysters, which are pulled out of the bay and are reported to be some of the best on Earth. That's not hyperbole. The New York Times asked around in 2002 and came to that conclusion.

Below Atlanta, the Chattahoochee flows along the Alabama-Georgia state line, and then into Florida, where it connects with the Flint River and becomes the Apalachicola River. The river dumps into Apalachicola Bay, creating brackish waters that allow the local wildlife, including oysters, to thrive.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2 injured in sturgeon strike on Suwannee River near Branford

Published July 22, 2015
Two Old Town residents were injured in a sturgeon strike Monday afternoon, July 13, on the Suwannee River, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported.

They were traveling downstream between Troy Springs and the Branford boat ramp when a sturgeon jumped up and hit the windshield and both Nicholas and Jamie, according to FWC officials.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spring hopping in Suwannee County

Published July 21, 2015
Suwannee Springs
Traveling north from Live Oak on Highway 129. You will pass I-10 and the new Busy Bee. None of these springs allow alcohol consumption, so make sure your coolers are suds-free. Just after the next gas station north of the Busy Bee on 129 you will turn right on 93rd Drive. The entrance to Suwannee Springs is on your right. There is plenty of parking and a place to lock up your bicycle if you biked over from the Spirit of the Suwannee Campground.

Charles Spring
South of Live Oak off of Hwy 51. You need to turn right on 152nd Street which is just past the gas station the locals call the Taylor store. You will be heading west on this road for a long time. When the road goes from pavement to sand, you are almost there. Follow the road around to a stop sign and the entrance to Charles Springs is straight across the intersection. The coolest thing about this spring is the swim-through cave in crystal clear water. When the water level is right you can enter the spring in one part of the rock formation and exit from another.

Royal Springs
North on Hwy 51 turn right on County Road 349. Stay on CR 349 past the blinking red light and slow down when you see the sign for Suwannee Farms. You will be turning right on 198th terrace and left on Royal Springs road. The main attraction at Royal Springs (besides the crystal clear, cool water flowing out of the ground and into the river) is the wooden jumping platform. When the water level is right, it is a 20-30 foot jump into the center of Royal Spring. There is also a good boat ramp down river from the spring.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

County considers sewer and water for Indian Springs

Published July 20, 2015
Jackson County Commissioners learned Monday that they’ll be able to add a $500,000 special legislative appropriation to the bottom line for fiscal year 2015-16, and the money is for a specific proposed project that could help protect Jackson Blue Spring and Merritt’s Mill Pond.

The spring is part and parcel of the pond. Water from the spring boils into the pond. That receiving body discharges into Spring Creek. The creek discharges into the Chipla River. That river discharges into the larger Apalachicola River, which flows to the Apalachicola Bay and affects Franklin County's environmentally sensitive oyster industry.

"Year of Water" Points to Major Changes During 2015 Florida Legislature

Published 2/20/2015
The House State Affairs Committee passed a comprehensive bill on Feb. 11 with an emphasis on Florida's first and second magnitude springs (i.e., "priority Florida springs").

2015 is being called the "Year of Water" for the Florida Legislature. Springs have declined in flow and water quality, aquatic habitats have become degraded, and rivers flowing from Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries of these rivers have been negatively impacted. In general, the state of water quantity and quality has become a crisis.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DEP commits $1M to remove septic tanks at Silver Springs State Park

Published July 14, 2015
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has announced that it has committed $1,084,356 to remove septic tanks and install municipal sewer connections at Silver Springs State Park.

Nutrient pollution, or an excess of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, impacts water quality in many of Florida’s spring systems. The nutrients are naturally present in the water and necessary for the healthy growth of plant and animal life, but an excess can lead to complications such as rapid algal growth, habitat smothering and oxygen depletion.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Making a bucket list, checking it twice, just add water and ice

Published July 9, 2015 Tallahassee Democrat
Wakulla Springs State Park: Speaking of monster movies, the classic pic “The Creature From the Black Lagoon” (1954) was filmed underwater in the deep Wakulla Spring and along the Wakulla River (which easily doubled for the Amazon). The park is home to Wakulla Spring Lodge, which was built in the mid-’30 by wealthy magnate Edward Ball, whose ghost probably still haunts the time-locked place.

Chipola River/ Bear Paw: This is the tubing destination of Northwest Florida. Even though it is technically located in Marianna, most college students from Tallahassee only know it by the name Bear Paw, which is the company that runs the tubing and canoeing business on Spring Creek and the spring-fed Chipola River.

Florida springs diving with NASCAR's Ray Black, Jr.

Published 7/9/2015
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ray Black Jr. gives a demonstration at the Deep Water Training Center in Ocala, Fla., as he talks about his other career as a licensed deep-sea diver and deep water welder/salvager.

Editorial: Springs spending

Published July 9, 2015
A letter this week from the Florida Springs Council to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection made a compelling case that the level of private contributions and type of projects being funded fail to truly restore springs.

Paying farmers and other interests to cut water and fertilizer use won’t work if, at the same time, the state and water districts are permitting other users to do even more of the same.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Green Cove Springs officials: Restoration of historic Spring Park to go forward

Published Jul 8, 2015
The team will develop the design, working drawings and bid specifications for the project calling for construction of an activity building, replacement of the public swimming pool and deck as well as preservation and enhancement of the spring boil and its outfall, other site improvements, according to the city’s Request For Qualifications (RFQ) detailing that bidding process.

The spring boil is where water surges up from the sulphur spring beneath the ground at the park. The spring water feeds the park’s swimming pool then flows down a small creek — Spring Run — to empty into the St. Johns River. The estimated flow rate of the water, which originates from the Floridan aquifer, is about 2,200 gallons per minute, city officials have said.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Springs group says state process helps 'largest polluters'

Published 7/7/15
The $45 million is the most ever included in the state budget, and was touted by Governor Rick Scott when he signed the spending plan into law.

Currently the state’s five regional water management districts play a huge role in taking that money and determining what springs projects actually get funded. The council says that process is flawed.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Florida's original water parks: the springs

Published July 2, 2015
Back in the 1800s, the state's first towns popped up around the most popular watering spots, including Ocala near Silver Springs, Jacksonville near Green Cove Springs, and Daytona Beach, northeast of De Leon Springs. Today, while some springs are privately owned, there are dozens still held in the public trust, and most still serve as old-fashioned swimming holes on a hot summer's day.
Juniper Springs, which feeds a run that has been called the best paddle in Florida, is perhaps the best of the bunch.

Rainbow Springs State Park:
The headwaters are a semicircular spring with four main boils. Just 14 feet at its deepest, the river features public swimming accessed for a modest fee.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

State adds land near springs to its ‘Florida Forever’ list

Published 6/30/2015
Local efforts to protect Silver Springs got a boost last week, when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved Marion County’s application to add the Silver Springs Sandhill Site to the 2016 Florida Forever project list.

With the site potentially under state ownership and county management, the aquifer that feeds Silver Springs would also be protected from pollutants that might otherwise contaminate it if the site fell to developers and was potentially used for as many as 1,600 residential and commercial units, Couillard added.

In the late 1990s, Marwick spearheaded springs’ protection efforts that led to the state’s purchase of Indian Lake State Forest from a development company that was planning to build 10,000 houses and 1 million square feet of commercial space.

The DEP’s Acquisition and Restoration Council — which approved the Sandhill Site for the Florida Forever project — also added the Site to Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Project. The Florida Forever project is the state’s premier conservation and recreational lands aqcuisition program, according to the DEP web site.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cooling off and chilling out at Wekiwa Springs

Published 6/28/2015
Wekiwa Springs, which feeds 42 million gallons of water per day into the Wekiva River, are at a constant temperature of 74 degrees, year-round.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Editorial: Buying Blue Springs

Published June 25, 2015
As The Sun reported last week, the state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council unanimously voted to add the popular swimming hole in Gilchrist County to the list of springs slated to be bought with Florida Forever funds.

The springs and surrounding 405-acre property are located on the Santa Fe River near High Springs. The same family has owned the site since 1958, putting the property on the market in 2013.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Warm Mineral Springs: Florida's true fountain of youth?

Published 6/24/2015
n Florida, you can decide for yourself at Warm Mineral Springs in North Port, south of Sarasota. The sinkhole, which looks like a pond and has revealed bones of ancient humans and animals, fills with 87-degree water high in salt and sulfur, catnip to a nearby Eastern European community that swears by similar springs back home and moved to North Port for its spring.

More info on Warm Mineral Springs

Saturday, June 20, 2015

State adds Blue Springs to its wish list for purchase

Published June 19, 2015 The Gainesville Sun
Friday morning in Tallahassee, the state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council unanimously voted to add the swimming hole and 405-acre property on the Santa Fe River near High Springs to the list of first-magnitude springs the state is seeking to buy with Florida Forever funds.

The same family has owned the private park for nearly 60 years but have had the property on the market since 2013.

Blue Springs is a large second-magnitude spring, but there are other similar springs on the state’s priority purchase list of first-magnitude springs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Protecting the Jackson Blue Spring System and Merritt's Mill Pond

Published June 17, 2015
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is holding a meeting later this month to discuss water quality restoration for the Jackson Blue Spring System and Merritt's Mill Pond.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ecologists hint of lawsuit over Amendment 1 funding

Published 6/16/2015
"To say that $17.4 million is adequate for Florida Forever out of $750 million available isn't consistent with Amendment 1 and flies in the face of logic,"...


Monday, June 15, 2015

Despite Amendment 1, Florida Forever comes up short — again — in state budget deal

Published June 15, 2015
The state’s top environmental land-buying program, Florida Forever, was set at $17.4 million Sunday night in budget negotiations between the House and Senate.

Efforts to preserve Florida’s freshwater springs fared better, drawing $47.5 million — $32 million in new state money. The level of funding is close to what Scott has sought for water quality and conservation projects at some of Florida’s 700 known springs.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Ocala/Marion County Offers An Authentic Florida Family Vacation

Published June 12, 2015
Wild Waters at Silver Springs
A longtime family favorite that’s been newly renovated. This one-of-a-kind waterpark offers a cool time for the entire family, where you can relax by the wave pool or take a plunge down one of the high-speed waterslides.

Juniper Springs (Ocala National Forest)
Located about 28 miles east of Ocala. The forest’s springs stay at 72 degrees year round, making them a fantastic spot to cool off from Florida’s summer heat.

The Salt Springs Recreation Area (Ocala National Forest)
Its name originated from naturally occurring minerals carried to the surface from underground aquifers, providing a level of salinity not found in the other springs.

Rainbow River
Located in Dunnellon, is the ideal aquatic sanctuary for tubing. A natural landmark, this family-friendly river shimmers with silver and turquoise hues and stays at a cool 72 to 74 degrees year-round, perfect to drift away for three to four hours of downstream relaxation. It is ideal for swimming, bird watching, scuba diving, boating, kayaking and paddle boarding as well.

KP Hole Park
Known as ‘The Tuber Ride of Generations’ and the ‘Rainbow River Classic’ has been a local and tourist go-to for more than 60 years. Water adventurers can bring their own floats (60” and smaller) or rent one for their excursion.

State could buy Blue Springs for state park

Published June 11, 2015
On June 19, the state's Acquisition and Restoration Council will decide whether to add the 405-acre property along the Santa Fe River in Gilchrist County to the list of first magnitude springs that the state is seeking to buy through the Florida Forever conservation program.

Blue Springs is a large second-magnitude spring, but there are other similar springs on the state's priority purchase list of first-magnitude springs. Houder said they are eligible because they are part of larger spring or river systems.

A preliminary state staff analysis said the projected operating costs for the first year of state ownership is $300,000, while campsites and day use of the park could generate a combined $216,500.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cave Diving Death Under Investigation In Volusia County

Published 6/10/2015
Cave diving is quite popular in central and northern Florida, where a majority of these caves are located. The area this man was diving was quite challenging and it’s clear something went wrong.

The cave diving industry is actually self-regulated. Essentially the responsibility and the risk falls to the diver. It us unclear what certifications this diver had.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

'Low' Expectations Advised On Florida Water, Land Projects

Published 6/9/2015
Sen. Alan Hays, a Umatilla Republican who chairs a subcommittee that pieced together the Senate's Amendment 1 funding package, said lawmakers are trying to divvy up about $50 million among more than $1 billion in local water-project requests from across Florida.

The ballot initiative requires for the next 20 years that 33 percent of the proceeds from an existing real-estate tax, known as documentary stamps, go for land and water maintenance and acquisition across Florida.

Florida man dies while cave diving with son at Blue Spring Park

Published June 9, 2015
The Daytona Beach News-Journal ( http://bit.ly/1JFSq4O ) reports Dervan and his son surfaced together around 3:30 p.m. Monday. But the father went back down for a final dive to a cavern about 120 feet below the surface. He never came back up.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Florida teen knocked out by fish leaping from river

Published June 3, 2015
Florida wildlife authorities say a teenager was knocked unconscious by a sturgeon jumping from the Suwannee River.

Sturgeon can leap more than seven feet out of the water. The protected fish average 40 pounds.

CBS affiliate WGFL in Gainesville reports the fish arrive in the region this time of year with a population of 10,000-14,000 annually in the region as they migrate out of the Gulf of Mexico.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

10 Jaw Dropping Springs Of Florida You Must Visit

Published May 26, 2015
1. Blue Springs, Orange City
2. Three Sister Springs, Crystal River FL
3. Ginnie Springs, High Springs FL
4. Silver Glenn Springs, Ocala FL
5. Ichetucknee River, Fort White FL
6. Juniper Springs, Ocala FL
7. Wekiva Springs, Apopka FL
8. Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon FL
9. Cypress Springs, Vernon FL
10. Fanning Springs, Fanning Springs FL

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Little Salt Spring in North Port to be taken over by Sarasota County

Published May 20, 2015
The Little Salt Spring in North Port is much like Warm Mineral Springs with one glaring difference, you won't find bathers in this water.

"The site itself would likely only remain open to those who are coming in to do educational research on a controlled basis," said Commissioner Robinson.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Amendment 1 conservation spending hangs in Florida’s budget limbo

Published May 17, 2015
To Henderson and other supporters of the Florida Water and Land Legacy coalition — which spearheaded the campaign to get the measure on the ballot and approved by voters — that means putting adequate money into the Florida Forever fund to continue acquiring conservation lands.

The coalition is pressing hard on the list of 199 unfinished Florida Forever projects, including nine projects in Volusia and Flagler counties, such as the Volusia Flagler Conservation Corridor.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Volunteers work hard to clean up Rainbow River

Published May 16, 2015
Dozens of volunteers scoured portions of the Rainbow River Saturday from kayaks, canoes and pontoon boats, picking up trash and ecology-damaging items during the annual Rainbow River Conservation Clean Up Day.

The Rainbow River runs 5.7 miles from the 400-million-gallons-a-day main Rainbow Springs at the north to the “conflux” with the Withlacoochee River at a speed of about 1.5 knots. The river has a depth from eight to 15 feet, with some deeper areasm according to the Marion County website (www.marioncountyfl.org).

Friday, May 15, 2015

SRWMD purchased Turtle Spring Tract

Purchased 5/14/2015
The Suwannee River Water Management District has acquired Turtle Spring in Lafayette County. Turtle Spring is one of ten second magnitude springs in Lafayette County. The purchase will allow the District to provide floodplain protection for the Suwannee River, Turtle Spring, and a portion of Fletcher Spring run.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Water Grab

Published May 13, 2015
Silver Springs, described as Florida’s First Tourist Attraction, is one of the largest natural, first-magnitude springs in the world. Glass-bottomed boats were invented at Silver Springs in the 1870s to wow visitors who gazed into the underwater canyon from which crystal-clear water gushed at a rate of 500 million gallons a day.

However, the spring today is not the crystal-clear wonder it once was. Water flow from the spring was down by more than half in 2012 and 2013. Environmentalists say allowing the cattle ranch to pump another 1.46 million gallons a day will only further lessen it.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Karst Underwater Research: Exploring the Sanctums Beneath Us

Published 5/2/2015
Mr. Hemphill along with the Karst Research Team has successfully mapped the Weeki Wachee cavern and spring system. They also recently discovered the elusive connection between the Weeki Wachee Spring System and a nearby spring named Twin Dees, northwest of Weeki Wachee.

In order to understand the spring systems and our aquifer, it is essential to know what karst actually refers to. Geologists have adopted the word karst to describe a landscape which features sinkholes, springs, caves and sinking springs. This type of landscape usually develops on limestone rock, but can also develop on dolostone, gypsum, and salt. Precipitation is absorbed into the ground and runs down from a higher elevation streaming to lower elevations. Naturally occurring weak acids in the rain and soil gradually dissolve the small fractures in the soluble bedrock, eventually forming a sinkhole.

Explored Weeki Wachee Springs to a depth of 407 feet. Confirming what was already suspected, that Weeki Wachee is the deepest known spring in the United States. Since then KUR explored a spring in Texas to 455 feet.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Diver dies at NCF spring

Published April 27th, 2015
Experts say it's a risk all divers take when they submerge underwater. Jurich is the third diving related death at Ginnie Springs in 2015.

Members of International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery unit, assisted by sheriff's deputies, responded to the springs - recovering the body hours later.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Florida discoveries: Caverns and mastodon bones at Wakulla Springs

Published 4/25/2015
People have been taking boat rides to see the springs since the first half of the 19th century. The mastodon bones were spotted in the 1850s. In 1934, Edward Ball, a financier, purchased the property as a wildlife sanctuary and built the Wakulla Springs Lodge. The state bought the land in 1986 and established Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Wekiva River 'bridge to nowhere' still stands after nearly 60 years

Published 4/25/2015
The 160-foot-long concrete overpass spans the Wekiva River connecting Seminole County with Wekiwa Springs State Park in Orange County near Apopka.

Brett Blackadar, Seminole County's engineer, said demolishing the bridge would be tricky because of the environmental impact it would have on the river. The Wekiva River is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and an Outstanding Florida Water, giving it special protections.

Friday, April 24, 2015

In Florida, should the manatees swim alone?

Published 4/23/2015
For animal softies, the swimming-with-the-manatees program in Crystal River, Fla., is an irresistible opportunity to observe and commune with the endangered marine mammals in their natural habitat. Between November and April, more than 700 manatees leave the chilly Gulf of Mexico for the balmy waters of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, a 177-acre jigsaw puzzle of springs and sanctuaries in Kings Bay, an hour and a half north of Tampa. The temperature in the springs holds steady at 72 degrees, just right for the cold-averse critters.

Lars Andersen founded his eco-tour company, Adventure Outpost, in 1997. Three years later, he cut manatee swims from his programming to protest acts of harassment he had witnessed in the water. In January, he discontinued kayak tours in Three Sisters because of the swelling crowds. And last month, he joined an intent-to-sue filed by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit with a history of fighting for stronger manatee protections. The group claims that Fish and Wildlife is violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to safeguard the manatees in the refuge. It also wags a reproachful finger at the swimming outings.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bill to protect Florida springs seen as possible threat to existing safeguards

Published Apr 19, 2015
“I don’t expect that anything will emerge from the 2015 legislative session that will materially improve the condition of Florida’s springs,” said Bob Palmer, a retiree who is chairman of a legislative committee for the Florida Springs Council, after the Senate bill (S.B. 918) changed.

The Senate bill’s current version still requires agencies to set minimum limits for water withdrawals, but it ties those to levels that are “significantly harmful” to waterways or the area’s ecology.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Springs bill in Senate disappoints some environmentalists

Published Apr 17, 2015
The Florida Springs Council said SB 918 needed strengthening but instead was weakened as it went through the committee process. The springs council said the bill relies too much on existing regulatory tools, which have been shown not to work as communities watched their springs become choked with weeds and algae.

Partnership project to benefit Volusia Blue Spring, water supply (Press Release)

Published April 17, 2015
Work has begun on a $6 million project to connect the reclaimed water distribution systems of Volusia County and the cities of DeLand, Deltona and Orange City. The interconnection will help conserve fresh groundwater and benefit Volusia Blue Spring.

Projects to improve the health of Florida's springs and their ecosystems are a major focus of the District's Springs Protection Initiative. These include reclaimed water projects that decrease nitrate pollution by reducing or eliminating wastewater discharges and protect spring flows by reducing demand for groundwater withdrawals.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Manatee Harassment On Rise At Florida Springs, Environmentalists Say

Published 4/16/2015
On Monday, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, called on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to ban swimmers from using the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and 30-odd neighboring springs known as the Kings Bay Manatee Protection Area to prevent the harassing of manatees, a crime in Florida that is punishable by six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Dumais said Crystal River and Kings Bay have the largest concentration of manatees in the state between November and March, the peak tourist season.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Taking the Plunge in Florida’s Springs

Published April 10, 2015
The Lodge at Wakulla Springs has a beach, glass-bottom boat tours and horseback riding (from about $95 a night, wakullaspringslodge.com). In High Springs, the 250-acre Ginnie Springs Outdoors has campsites, cottages and a full range of activities (three-bedroom cottages from about $175 a night, ginniespringsoutdoors.com). For a quieter stay, there’s the comfortable Grady House Bed and Breakfast (from about $140 a night, gradyhouse.com). Great Outdoors, in an 1895 Romanesque Revival opera house, serves up good food and live music. High Springs outfitter Adventure Outpost can customize paddling adventures throughout northern Florida (adventureoutpost.net). You can snorkel with manatees on the Homosassa River from November to March or year-round in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. American Pro Diving (americanprodiving.com) and River Safaris (riversafaris.com) offer tours.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Water Bill Critics Can't Fathom Some Changes

Published 4/8/2015
“It requires monitoring of groundwater withdraws above 100 thousand gallons or more per day. It requires BMAP (bee-map) to have 5, 10 and 15-year milestones to achieve the TMDL.”

The translation, according to Audubon of Florida executive director Eric Draper, is a lot of words and not much cleanup or protection.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Beyond Destin: Pitt Springs Recreation Area

Published April 7, 2015
Pitt Springs Recreation Area is within Econfina Creek Water Management Area is perfect for a laid-back afternoon of picnicking, hiking and swimming.

Instead of the long hike, we followed the paved walkway and boardwalk and found a dock into Econfina Creek, and an overlook of Sylvan Spring. An informational panel explained that Sylvan Spring is not a swimming hole because the aquifer beneath it is unstable. However, Econfina Creek and Pitt Spring are swimming areas and both have dock accesses.

The park is free to the public and open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from April through September. For more information call 539-5999.

Guest column: The science involved in the Rodman dam dispute

Published Apr 7, 2015
With controversy on the removal of the Rodman dam in full swing, I would like to examine the science that makes up our understanding of the water flow in the Ocklawaha River basin, the St. Johns River and the Rodman dam pool itself.

Karst is a word geologists use to describe limestone that has been partially dissolved through time by slightly acidic rainfall and have numerous small and large (cave-sized) cavities.

This water was a combination of water from flow farther up the Ocklawaha River (the upper Ocklawaha River Basin, and Silver Springs), spring water discharging into the river from now submerged springs, rainfall and the creeks and spring runs entering the river channel.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Spring at Wekiwa Springs State Park

Published April 05, 2015
"For every 20 minutes you go down river, the water is pushing behind you as you come out of the springs. It's going to take you 30 minutes to paddle back up against that,” Brooks warned.

For those not wanting a workout, the head of Wekiwa Springs is open to bathing. A large grassy area overlooks the place where the fresh water boils up from the Florida aquifer. A hiking trail and scenic boardwalk is also available

One Tank Trip: Weeki Wachee Springs

Posted 4/2/2015
The name means "Little Spring" or "Winding River."

Nestled at the corner of U.S. 19 and Cortez Boulevard in Hernando County, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a haven for wildlife and an all-around water-themed attraction.

"The spring is a constant 72 degrees year-round, 99.8 percent pure spring water, and out of the aquifer pumps 117 million gallons of water each and every day," said Athanason.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

North Port looking at 10-year contract for Warm Mineral Springs

Published March 31, 2015
The company charged with keeping the gates open at Warm Mineral Springs might get a chance to do so for the next 10 years.

City commissioners have approved negotiating a long-term management agreement with National and State Parks Concessions, Warm Mineral Springs Inc.

Dr. Grigory Pogrebinsky's plan to make the area a medical tourism destination relies on the lure of the springs, touted by users for its healing properties.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Seminole County day trip offers something for everyone

Published 3/26/2015
...one of the best places to catch sight of a Florida gator is Wekiwa Springs State Park, where I began my recent day trip across Seminole County. The state park, which hugs the Orange and Seminole border near Apopka, offers all the sights and sounds of natural Florida. There are canoe rentals and a variety of well-maintained trails.

Springsfest is Saturday

Published March 26, 2015
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Silver Springs State Park will host the Florida Springs Fest, where 30 to 35 non-profits, governmental agencies and artists from around Florida will provide information and display artwork related to the springs.

This is the 14th year of the festival, and the first year it features springs from around Florida instead of only those in Marion County.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Streak the Manatee released at Blue Spring after 3-month recuperation

Published March 25, 2015
Streak, a manatee rescued at Blue Spring State Park in December, was returned to the park in Orange City on Wednesday after a three-month recuperation at SeaWorld Orlando.

To report an ill or injured manatee, call 888-404-3922 or *FWC on a mobile phone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What's in the water? Warm Mineral Springs!

Published March 23, 2015
Florida's only naturally formed warm water mineral spring in Northport is known for giving soothing comfort. but those waters, many say have healing properties, and provide symptom relief.

Dr. Lieurance explained, when people soak in the mineral springs, the heat vasodilates a lot of the blood vessels, Which is going to enhance a lot of benefits with regards to circulation through the body. "This allows the body to absorb many of the minerals." said Dr. Lieurance, "Which is alkalizing. When you stress your body and muscles acid is produced, and your body needs to neutralize this acid with something that's alkaline." He continued, "Minerals are alkaline, and those are incredibly beneficial for the body to recover and for the body to regenerate itself."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is Tourism Endangering Florida's Manatees?

Published 3/19/2015
The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which is concerned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allowing too much human interaction at the expense of the animals.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

State Purchases Conservation Lands in Washington County State Purchases Conservation Lands in Washington County

Published March 18, 2015
The project, which cost $781,545, was ranked No. 1 in the Florida Forever Partnerships and Regional Incentives project category, and contains a third magnitude spring known as Brunson Landing Spring. It also includes two small unnamed seeps, which flow into Holmes Creek.

Holmes Creek is primarily a spring-fed creek containing a total of 51 springs within a 25-mile radius. The acquisition will ensure greater spring protection, while maintaining the current public access for fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, boating and hiking. The Choctawhatchee River Water Management Area and Glover Conservation Easement are adjacent publicly-owned properties.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amendment 1 spending plan lands mixed reviews

Published Mar 17, 2015
While touting a desire to provide funding on a recurring basis for Everglades restoration and springs maintenance, Scott during the upcoming fiscal year wants $150 million for the Everglades, of which $122 million would cover work already underway. He also wants lawmakers to allocate $50 million for springs and $178 million for debt service on bonds tied to the Florida Forever and Save Our Everglades programs. Another $20 million would go for land purchases and restoration of the Kissimmee River.

Look but don’t touch? Tourists rub Florida manatees whether they like it or not.

Published 3/17/2015
Lumbering in the cozy waters of their habitat, they look like big, soft, squishy gray pillows. Anyone who wants to get in and swim alongside them is in luck at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on the central gulf coast of Florida. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials who manage the refuge say go ahead, they don’t bite.

Florida’s manatee population topped a record 6,000 this week in the state’s latest survey, nearly 1,000 more than the previous high. The numbers are so high that some are calling on the service to remove the manatee’s protection under the Endangered Species Act, where they’ve been listed since it began in 1973. A review that might downgrade them from endangered to threatened is in the draft stage.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Florida manatee count tallies record high

Published 3/16/2015
In an annual survey, state biologists counted more than 6,000 manatees - almost 1,000 more than previous high.

ast spring, a group of boaters in Crystal River, where manatees drawn by the 72-degree spring-fed water winter by the hundreds, joined forces with the Pacific Legal Foundation to appeal to federal wildlife managers to consider changing the status of manatees from endangered to threatened. The groups say federal officials need to act on a 2007 review that found manatees were rebounding.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lawsuit targets more protection for Florida manatees

Published 3/10/2015
The lawsuit notice alleges that the USFWS is violating the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Refuge Administration Act, which governs management of federal wildlife refuges. Today’s notice gives the Service 60 days to take action before the PEER-group is eligible to file suit in federal district court.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Florida House likely to pursue buying land for conservation purposes

Published Mar 9, 2015
The House approach appears to at least partly conflict with the Amendment 1 priorities of environmental groups. The group Florida's Land and Water Legacy, which led the amendment drive, has presented lawmakers with an outline that includes using $90 million for land management, $150 million for Everglades and South Florida estuaries and another $150 million for the Florida Forever program for land acquisition, springs and trails.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Lawmakers Join Forces For Protection Of Florida Springs

Published March 7, 2014
“They’re acting as if this renewable resource is something you can simply mine and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Guest, head of the Florida office of Earthjustice. “It’s been there for thousands of years, and only recently have we had this attitude that you just take it and the future generations just don’t get anything anymore.”

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Florida House passes comprehensive water policy bill

Published March 6, 2015
The Florida House of Representatives today passed CS/HB 7003 relating to water resources. The bill is a comprehensive approach to addressing Florida’s water policy initiatives.

The bill makes a number of revisions to Florida’s water policy. All first magnitude springs in the state and all second magnitude springs within state or federally owned lands will be designated as Priority Florida Springs (PFS). The bill requires water management districts (WMDs) to develop new or revise existing recovery or prevention strategies concurrently with the establishment or re-evaluation of minimum flows and levels (MFLs).

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Parks, campsites offer inexpensive spring break options

Published 3/4/2015
Rock Springs in Kelly Park in Apopka.

The spring, or what some call the "lazy river," takes you afloat on its current through the green landscape secluded in nature. Entrance to the park is $3 per vehicle for one to two people or $5 per vehicle for three to eight people. With grills and picnic tables, camping is a popular option and is $18 to $23 per night.

Rock Springs in Kelly Park: 407-889-4179

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

With environmental issues looming, Alan Hays won’t haggle over Amendment 1 spending

Published Mar 3, 2015
In addition to Amendment 1, both House and Senate leaders have said comprehensive water policy is a priority after the Senate passed a springs bill in 2014 but it died after the House didn’t take it up.

HB 7003, among other things, emphasizes reliance on basin management action plans to clean up Lake Okeechobee and has backing from agriculture, business and industry groups. The bill also requires DEP to complete a water quality assessment for Florida springs by Dec. 1, 2018.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Planet Hollywood unveils redesign for Disney Springs

Published 2/26/2015
Disney contractors have already removed the lake that fronted Planet Hollywood. The restaurant will be located at the beginning of a series of springs that winds through the development.

Clarity for Florida's Springs

Published February 26, 2015
Twenty-five years ago, the striking blue waters of Florida’s Peacock Springs were as clear as glass, “like a fantasy,” recalls environmental scientist and cave diver Pete Butt. Snorkeling at the surface, he could see through the water to the limestone bottom and its craggy portals to one of the longest underwater cave systems in the nation.

Algae clump on the surface in smelly mats, smother native aquatic vegetation with slime or grow along the bottom in hairy, green strands. “Amorphous goo,” Butt calls it. “Atrocious.”

Last year, state environmental protection and agricultural agencies added real-time monitoring on the web, in addition to a project they started in 2013 with farmers, to try and tie specific land-use changes to water quality. For the first time, scientists will have an instant read on how springs respond to all sorts of factors, from fertilizer application to drought or heavy rainfall, says Brian Katz, a geochemist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Clearer science, says Katz, “will eventually lead to clearer springs.”

Rules to control crowds of swimmers, manatees in Florida springs

Published Feb 26, 2015
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes the measures will control crowding in the springs, where hundreds of manatees seek refuge during cold snaps, often drawing equally large numbers of snorkelers and kayakers.

Now even on days when the springs remain open, swimmers will be prohibited from two popular areas within the 1.5 acre springs, which are part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, located north of Tampa. Source

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Legislature to tackle water woes

Published February 21, 2015
One message was clear from business leaders during a recent legislative hearing on water policy: Florida’s economy depends on abundant water.

Of the state’s 33 first magnitude springs, 26 have excessive levels of pollution.

Friday, February 20, 2015

United States: "Year Of Water" Points To Major Changes During 2015 Florida Legislature

Published February 19, 2015
2015 is being called the "Year of Water" for the Florida Legislature. Springs have declined in flow and water quality, aquatic habitats have become degraded, and rivers flowing from Lake Okeechobee and the estuaries of these rivers have been negatively impacted. In general, the state of water quantity and quality has become a crisis. Because of this, the 2015 legislative session is likely to adopt laws addressing these and many related problems, and the bottom line for water users will likely be increased expenses.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Manatees, fans flock to Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River

Published 2/18/2015
Stamatakis, his wife Marsha and their fellow visitors were lucky that day. They didn’t get shut out of the 1 1/2-acre spring as hundreds of others have when refuge officials closed Three Sisters numerous times since December. When too many manatees congregate in the warm-water refuge, people are kept out. The situation changes daily, so the refuge has set up a Facebook page with real-time updates. Visitors can still observe manatees that gather around the 70 other springs scattered around adjacent Kings Bay, but those waters are green and murky — not optimum for viewing and photography.

More than 265,000 people snorkeled, paddled or viewed manatees from private, guided and rental boats in the Crystal River refuge last year, according to the USFWS. The huge congregation of visitors and manatees prompted the agency to propose new rules for Three Sisters: kayaks and canoes would be blocked from two-thirds of the spring and only admitted to the remainder of the area between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and flash photography would be prohibited except by special permit. Those measures are still awaiting approval.

For updates on openings and closures of Three Sisters Springs, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/crystal-river/

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Silver Springs protection plan includes land swap

Published February 16, 2015 The Gainesville Sun
Central to the district's protection and recovery plan is a wetland recharge area that would increase spring flow as well as treat the water before it travels underground to the springs.

To that end, the district has agreed to pay $1 million and convey 625 acres of its Bear Track Bay land, east of State Road 315, in exchange for land that could be used for the needed Silver Springs recharge.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Environmentalists plan to 'rally in Tally'

February 14, 2015
Environmentalists stretching from the Panhandle to the Keys will descend on the state capital Wednesday for a “Rally in Tally” urging lawmakers to protect the state's water resources and natural lands.

Like the original version of a bill filed last session in the Senate, the bills would also include new requirements for establishing MFLs and BMAPs -- while giving 20 years to restore a water body after those plans are in place -- put in place more stringent rules for fertilizer application and also require the establishment of springs protection zones.

Friday, February 13, 2015

House water policy starts to flow

Published February 12, 2015
Among changes worked into the proposal over the past week is to include best-management practices from the Department of Environmental Protection for second-magnitude springs. The initial draft had the regulatory process only for larger, first-magnitude springs.

However, the changes removed springs-protection zones, which are designed to regulate the impact of septic tanks and the flow of storm water and agricultural runoff into springs.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Water Policy Takes A Step Forward in Florida

Published Feb 11, 2015
Water Policy in Florida took a step forward at the state Capitol today, and the legislation makes it clear that money set aside by voters in Amendment One will not be used to repair local water supply and sewer pipes.

Wakulla Springs in North Florida hasn’t been able to run glass bottom boat tours for more than a year….and only sporadically over the last few years, all because the once pristine spring just isn’t clear enough.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Florida House Water Policy Starts to Flow

Published 2/11/2015
The policy, in part, would impose what are known as “best management practices” for natural springs, the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. Also, it would direct water-management districts to implement a water-management plan across Central Florida.

“Look, at the end of the day, we’ve got oysters that are dying, springs that are suffering, a Kissimmee River basin that needs more help in depleting some of the phosphorous, nutrients that are going into the lake,” Pafford said. “You’ve got tremendous outcry over the last number of years for the estuaries east and west of the lake (Okeechobee), and you’ve got a restoration plan for the Everglades that hasn’t been completed.”

Gov. Scott highlights $1.6 billion to restore Florida springs

Published February 10, 2015
Governor Rick Scott highlighted a dedicated source of revenue that will provide $1.6 billion for Florida springs restoration over the next 20 years as part of his proposed 2015-2016 “KEEP FLORIDA WORKING” budget. If passed by the Legislature, $50 million will go toward springs restoration next year.

Governor Scott said, “Florida’s springs are one of the many natural treasures that bring families, visitors and job creators to our state. Over the last two years, we have championed record funding for Florida’s springs, and we are committed to building on that success going forward. By making these important investments now, we will be protecting and restoring our great springs for generations to come.”

District staff discuss restoration efforts that will take place at Charles Springs in Suwannee County

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Florida Springs Impose Stricter Rules As Manatee Numbers Rise

Published February 9th, 2015
Now a captain and in-water tour guide for River Ventures Manatee Tour Center, what Daugherty doesn’t remember is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) shutting down some of the city’s springs as often as it does now.

According to the FWS, Crystal River has over 70 springs located in Kings Bay Springs/Crystal River and is home to about 600 manatees from November to March, making it the largest natural winter refuge for manatees in the world.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Editorial: True conservation

Published February 8, 2015
Protecting the aquifer will require tough policies such as statewide, mandatory water conservation measures and stricter controls on pollution. In the absence of political will for such steps, lawmakers must at least protect and restore land that has the biggest impact on our water supply and springs.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Florida spring closes when 300 manatees suddenly swim up

Published 2/4/2015
Florida’s Three Sisters Springs got a little crowded this week when more than 300 manatees swam quickly into the springs, prompting park officials to close the springs to human swimmers and kayakers. Up to 600 manatees winter in Florida Kings Bay and Crystal River from November to March, but the population drops to 30 manatees the rest of the year. The warm waters of Three Sisters Springs, are a part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

Three Sisters Springs is the only “confined-water body in the United States” open for the public to see wintering manatees, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Paddling Florida's Iconic Springs with the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

Published 2/3/2015
Rainbow Springs and the Rainbow River became popular in the late 1880s when hard rock phosphate was discovered in the area. A small community called Juliette flourished near the springs during this "boomtown" era. In the 1930s the spring was developed as a tourist attraction.

The Florida Park Service officially opened Rainbow Springs State Park on a full-time basis on March 9, 1995.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Nature photographer presents Springs Eternal Project

Published January 31, 2015
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will host two presentations of Florida nature photographer John Moran’s Springs Eternal Project exhibition “Florida’s Fragile Fountains of Youth” this month.

The Springs Eternal Project documents the beauty, history and increasing ecological devastation of Florida’s springs and aquifer.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Diving Into Florida’s Springs

Published January 30, 2015
Florida is said to have the highest concentration of freshwater springs on Earth. The Florida Wildlife Corridor #Glades2Gulf Expedition is traversing springs country near the Gulf of Mexico and recently explored several of these wonderful windows into the underground aquifer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fish and Wildlife reopens Three Sisters Springs

Published January 28, 2015
Three Sisters Springs has been reopened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service despite low temperatures and a high number of manatees.

"When visitors come in swimming or paddling and there's resting animals there's an immediate change in behavior where some animals leave the area some animals find other areas in the internal spring to rest when you have too many animals the disturbance is inevitable just by allowing one swimmer in," said Vicente.

Governor's budget recommends nearly $1.6 billion to protect and preserve Florida's natural resources

Published 1/28/2015
The Governor’s proposed budget creates a dedicated source of revenue for Everglades restoration that will provide nearly $670 million over the next four years and more than $5 billion over the next 20 years. In addition, a dedicated source of funding will provide more than $220 million over the next four years and $1.7 billion over the next 20 years to ensure the continued protection of Florida’s springs. The budget also proposes a 10-year, $500 million program to ensure Florida’s water supply remains adequate to support a growing economy while still ensuring the environment is protected.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Warm Mineral Springs earning big bucks for North Port

Published January 26, 2015
In the three months since taking over operations of Warm Mineral Springs, the city has collected more than $270,000 in revenue. According to the city's finance department, around $144,000 of that has gone to the management company overseeing operations. That leaves roughly $126,000 in profits in three months.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cool temps have manatees, visitors flocking to Orange City

Published January 25, 2015
Rangers at Blue Spring State Park said as many as 133 manatees showed up Sunday morning in search of warmer waters.

Attendance has increased as weather conditions improved from Saturday. Also, conditions at the 72-degree spring are better for viewing the sea cows.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Georgia flatly rejects Florida’s water wars arguments

Published January 24, 2015
The 33-page document, filed this month in the U.S. Supreme Court, denies that Georgia’s demand for water is causing “serious harm” to Florida’s Apalachicola Bay and “serious declines” to the state’s fisheries.

The filings are the opening maneuvers of the latest phase of what will likely be an even longer and costlier fight over the resource after the High Court surprised state leaders by agreeing to hear the last-ditch challenge from Florida. It was a rare setback for Georgia, which has won a series of court victories in a fight with Florida and Alabama that began in the 1990s.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Environmentalists on Disney Springs fake spring: really?

Published 1/17/2015 Orlando Sentinel
The theme-park giant aims to transform Downtown Disney into Disney Springs by next year.

"Disney Springs and the experience we are creating honors Florida's rich natural heritage," spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said. "We hope that the name will raise awareness of the importance of springs and waterways to Florida's past and its future."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Six authentic Florida destinations for 2015

Published January 11, 2015
Ocala National Forest:
Located just north of Orlando
Second largest National Forest in the U.S.
Home to four major springs, referred to as the "jewels of the Ocala National Forest.
Juniper, Alexander, Silver Glen and Salt Springs offer unique and lovely retreats.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Springs groups unite to strengthen their voice

Published January 10, 2015
In December, representatives of nine groups, including four from North Central Florida, established the Florida Springs Council. Together, they plan to advocate for "comprehensive" springs protection legislation during the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee, as well as potentially mount legal challenges against groundwater pumping permits, water supply plans and minimum flows and levels that they feel harm or do not do enough to protect the state's springs and the aquifer.

Other member groups from this area include the Ichetucknee Alliance and Our Santa Fe River Inc. From other parts of the state, the Save the Manatee Club, Wakulla Springs Alliance, Kings Bay Springs Alliance, Friends of Warm Mineral Springs and Withlacoochee Aquatic Restoration Inc. were also organizing members.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Second manatee rescued from Magnolia River doing well after being evacuated to SeaWorld Orlando

Published January 07, 2015
She was the second rescued from the area of Baldwin County's Magnolia River known as the "cold hole," located where water from Magnolia Spring flows downhill from a narrow drainage and into the main river.

Magnolia Spring is the largest of many natural springs that feed Magnolia River year-round with cold water that makes the hole attractive to swimmers hoping to escape warm air and water temperatures of summer and also freshwater dwellers such as fish hoping to escape falling water temperatures of winter.

Surface water temperature Monday in the Magnolia River near the largest spring averaged about 65 degrees while a National Weather Service reading at the mouth of the Mobile River was a dozen degrees colder.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Postcards from Florida - Celebrate manatees in January

Published 1/5/2015
On Jan. 17 and 18, the 28th Annual Florida Manatee Festival (gomanateefest.com) will unfold in Crystal River, about 90 miles northwest of Orlando on the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to sea-cow spotting, the event also features music, an art show, crafts and food at the festival site at Citrus Avenue and U.S. Highway 19.

Closer to home, the 30th Annual Blue Spring Manatee Festival in Volusia County (themanateefestival.com) offers the same mix Jan. 24 and 25 at Valentine Park and Blue Spring State Park in Orange City.