Great news for the Santa Fe River. Recently the ten-member Acquisition and Restoration Council (ARC) made a recommendation that the Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever Project add a 565-acre land parcel in Columbia County.
This parcel, on the north side of the Santa Fe River, is approximately five miles south of Fort White, one half mile west of Gilchrist Blue State Park. and just across from Ginnie Springs. It is bordered on the north by CR 138. The parcel contains about 50 acres of cypress swamp and lots of natural hardwood forests, and 4,500 feet of river frontage.
The purchase, assessed at $1,868,922.00, would be designated as fee simple, meaning the mineral and mining rights are retained with the property.
Given that this area of southern Columbia County sits below the Cody Scarp, our Floridan aquifer is very close to the surface here, making it very susceptible to damage from development and industry. That is why this acquisition is so important to protect our river and environment.
Proposed commercial water extraction is the reason OSFR came into being, as a common interest among river lovers united them into resistance. Our Santa Fe River got its recognition internationally by stopping four water bottling permits, and this was one of them.
These four attempts at putting industry on our river were all in the close vicinity of this land parcel. After the defeat of these river-damaging commercial attempts, OSFR encouraged the DEP to buy the land for conservation to protect the aquifer. We can think of at least one other potential water bottling land use becoming a 400-acre state park in our immediate area.
Our springs need all the protection Florida can give them and keeping lands in conservation without any commercial enterprise on them does just that.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum and OSFR Advisor Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-