Bradford County Needs to Look Carefully

OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson speaks to the commissioners in Starke

The mining melee in Bradford County is heating up with high emotions on both sides.  Tempers flared, bullying took place, a scuffle ensued, armed men manhandled a peaceful citizen who simply voiced his opinion.  The Bradford County ensemble must do better than to allow this.  The county must control its proceedings and provide a safe environment for citizens.

At an earlier meeting the Bradford County commissioners had agreed not to pursue a moratorium on new mining permits, and even discouraged open discourse with the public.

Union County, adjoining to Bradford County, just across New River, on April 18, 2016 completed the second hearing on an ordinance requiring a 12-month period in which no mining permits will be accepted, giving the planning council or department time to reconsider the land development regulations  (LDRs) which may be out of date.

However, at the April 21 meeting in Starke, the commissioners reconsidered their no-action decision and voted by a 3-2 margin to begin a process in which the planning council will have an opportunity to up-date the LDRs.  That vote was lost as they needed a super majority vote to rescind the last vote on a moratorium. Commissioner Sellers and Commissioner Thompson voted not for the moratorium. This decision was reached after it was made clear that there was no pending permit for a mine, so the county was not compromised in that respect.
After the vote, though most of the audience had left after the room, the county Attorney, Will Sexton announced that Mr. Hazen had applied for a special exception permit for mining his agricultural lands that very morning on Thursday April 21, 2016.
The procedure requires two hearings of an ordinance before the public, each at a scheduled monthly evening meeting.  We will need people to attend these meetings. Give your voice to the river and stop this new mining for phosphorus on top the New River and the upper Santa Fe River.

OSFR Policy Director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson has contributed the following information regarding the Santa Fe River, which is exposed to the threat of harm by the proposed mine in Union and Bradford Counties.

. The Santa Fe River has a list of protective legislatively defined layers that will not allow degradation. Phosphate mining has been known to cause harm to water systems in its area of excavation and production.

Upper Santa Fe River Minimum Flow and Level, 2008

Lower Minimum Flow and Level, 2013

Santa Fe River Basin Management Action Plan, 2012

Outstanding Florida Waters, Santa Fe River System, 1984

Federal Clean Water Act, Area of Critical Habitat, 2007 (please see attached report)

Water Resource Caution Area

The Citizens Against Phosphate Mining in Union and Bradford Counties and Our Santa Fe River commissioned, Dr. Richard Weisskoff, PhD. to prepare this economic report on the Lon Term Effects of Mining Communities to help you to make informed decision on our community.


Logic would seem to indicate that a natural resource with this many layers of protection by so many agencies would certainly be off-limits to nearly any type of risky commercial, for-profit venture.  If Bradford County should decide they want to allow this type of environmentally destructive ventures, with a history of catastrophic accidents,  it would seem likely the county might leave itself open to litigation from many avenues in case of damage to the river.

Even more important than the threat of litigation,  the commissioners should look beyond a few jobs and increased revenue and do the right thing for the residents and future residents of the county.  If the river is ruined, agencies and companies might be forced legally to pay retribution, but the bottom line is that the river could not be reclaimed.



  1. Bradford, Alachua and Clay counties have vulnerable water resources, Our springs, lakes rivers and streams already face the daunting challenge of multiple stressors that are causing pollution, lowering aquifer levels, high levels of nitrates, and pollution.

    As an example of phosphate mining collateral damage, Kissengen Spring in Polk County was once a gathering place for the community, a place for swimming and socializing. In 1930, it gushed out 30 million gallons of water a day. Twenty years later, it dried up completely.

    Investigations determined that it disappeared because its water was being sucked up by Polk’s phosphate mines. Over the succeeding decades, the phosphate industry found ways to cut back their water use, but Kissengen didn’t come back; it was too late and the spring was so damaged, it has never come back.

    Our legislators, water management districts, FDEP and local government, have not been good stewards of our environment, rather, presiding over a long history of over pumping, excessive permitting, allowing pollution – and favoring the most destructive and polluting industries almost every

    Usually, after a show of transparency, allowing a few speeches to give the appearance of public consideration, our representatives, our elected representatives, will make a decision that has already been reached after discussions with corporate attorneys, lobbyists and whatever other political pressure might come from Tallahassee or elsewhere – the voice of the public interest ignored, of course with great apology – democracy denied once again in favor of wealthy corporate interests, water utilities, developers, large agricultural interests, mining polluters, tract home builders, gas and oil companies.

    Let us hope that the Bradford County Commision and the other interested parties do the right thing and ignore the politics that favor pollution, overdevelopment and corporate interests, while ignoring the will of the people, the voters and residents of the counties that will be affected. Let us also hope they will give a voice to our troubled and degraded water resources that have been telling us for years that they need our help.

    Terry Brant

  2. Your maps of the wet lands and rivers would the problems if you would overlay the site of the proposed mine.

  3. They,being the BoCC,care nothing about the Santa Fe River,New River or what’s even right or wrong. They’re nothing but a bunch of hayseed hicks that pander to a few rich people cause it’s popular. Not what’s right.
    I was born and raised here and pay taxes,but my voice and others matter nothing to this BoCC that has proven they have the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle.
    Commissioner Danny
    Riddick is the only professional up there and actually gets it.

    1. Paul McDavid – I agree, but we need actual Bradford County citizens, and as many as possible, to continue to exert political pressure, and to participate in petitions, meetings, rallies, fundraising, etc. Many of us fighting this monster have no ties to Bradford County, and few contacts there. But we have learned that many BC residents haven’t even HEARD about this project yet. We really need Bradford residents with boots on the ground. Are you in any position to organize?

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