The Gainesville Sun has published the following piece about springs in North Florida. It should be emphasized that these springs are in crisis, and producing much less water than formerly.
If new and better management is not enacted soon, over-pumping and over-fertilizing will be their demise, as has already happened in many cases. Go to this link to see the entire article.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
7 popular springs to enjoy year-round
Clear, temperate water flows through limestone channels beneath North Central Florida, rising to the surface to form scores of springs that sustained early natives, amazed European explorers and delight us today.
People who have lived here for many years notice the decline of water quality and quantity, but newcomers may be in awe as they peer down from their kayaks into deep blue holes or drift downriver in their inflatable tubes. Because the water is emerging from the Floridan aquifer, it remains warm enough to enjoy year-round.
Here are some of the most popular springs in the area. Discover more at floridasprings. org.
- Ginnie Springs
On the Santa Fe River in High Springs, Ginnie Springs is one of the clearest springs in Florida. The 72-degree water is perfect for river tubing, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Under the surface is a spectacular underwater world with huge grottoes, colorful fish and millions of gallons of fresh water gushing from the Floridan aquifer. The seven natural springs of Ginnie Springs Outdoors provides some of the best Florida scuba diving, and PADI certification and training around.
Ginnie Springs Outdoors is privately owned and has been in business since 1976. It is a world renowned dive destination and campground located just outside of High Springs in Florida. Ginnie Springs receives no state or federal funding. You must be 18 or over to register for camping. Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
- Ichetucknee Springs
The Ichetucknee River is formed by the cumulative groundwater discharge from nine named artesian springs. From upstream to downstream the named springs include: Ichetucknee (Head Spring), Cedar Head, Blue Hole (Jug), Mission Group (Roaring and Singing), Devil’s Eye, Grassy Hole, Mill Pond and Coffee. Of these named springs, Blue Hole has the largest discharge.
It is hugely popular for floating down the 6-mile river from Ichetucknee State Park, 4 miles northwest of Fort White. The park entrance fee is $4 for a single-occupant vehicle or $6 per vehicle for up to 8 people. Vendors outside the park rent inflatable tubes and rafts. Visitors from Memorial Day to Labor Day who want to use the shuttle and tram service from the launch point to either of two take-out points pay $5 for a wristband that’s good all day.
- Silver Glen Springs
A front-row seat to the beauty of Silver Glen Springs could mean you are snorkeling or swimming in the aqua-hued shallows, or lounging in a lawn chair on the deck of a houseboat anchored in the spring run that flows into Lake George. The spring, with one main “boil,” sits on the edge of the Big Scrub area of the Ocala National Forest.
Canoe rentals are available at the day-use area. There are hiking trails that offer overlooks of the lake. Day-use fee is $5.50 per person.
- Alexander Springs
It is located within the Alexander Springs Recreation Area on the eastern side of the Ocala National Forest. Multiple spring vents under a limerock ledge discharge clear and nearly constant 72-degree water, forming a large spring pool. The bottom of the pool is a combination of sand and aquatic plants. One portion of the shoreline has a sand beach and stairs leading to the gently sloping spring pool; the remainder of the shoreline is the native floodplain forest of maples, sweetgum and cabbage palms.
The one-mile Timucuan Trail goes through the floodplain, sometimes on boardwalks, with two overlooks along the spring run.
A nearby concession facility offers canoe and kayak rentals and livery service for those who want to paddle the spring run, which flows approximately 8 miles until the confluence with the St. Johns River. The recreation area also includes camping, picnic areas and a bathhouse. It is open for both day use ($5.50 per person) and for overnight.
- Juniper Springs
One of Florida’s largest freshwater springs, Juniper pumps about 13 million gallons a day from a moderate-sized pool, which doubles as a popular swimming hole, reminiscent of Old Florida. The complex of swimming area, picnic grounds, campground and trails was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Today it is at the heart of the Juniper Springs Recreation Area of the Ocala National Forest maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. Day use fee is $5 per person.
- Rainbow Springs
Rainbow Springs, near Dunnellon, is Florida’s fourth-largest spring and is designated a National Natural Landmark. The surrounding land is high and rolling, providing picturesque vistas of the spring surrounded by forest. The spring pool is large (250 feet wide) and shallow, with especially clear blue water flowing over the beds of green aquatic plants and brilliant white limestone and sand.
Due to heavy popularity, Rainbow Springs State Park often reaches capacity on summer weekends and holidays by 10 a.m. Fees are $2 per person at the headsprings entrance and $5 per vehicle, up to eight people at the tube entrance. Children under 6 years old are free. Tubing fee (Separate from the park entrance fee) is $15 per person, which includes a tub and tram service from parking area.
- Silver Springs
The natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from around the world since the mid-19th century. Silver Springs, one of the largest of Florida’s 33 first-magnitude springs, is made up of a group of springs that occur in the headwaters, coves and edges of the Silver River. The Silver River is the largest tributary on the Ocklawaha River. The average water flow from the Silver Springs group is over 550 million gallons per day.
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