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The Silver Springs Alliance sponsored a forum on the health and well-being of Siver Springs last night at the CenterPoint Church on Silver Springs Blvd/Hwy 40 in Ocala. Approximately 200 people gathered to hear eight prominent speakers discuss the state of the iconic attraction near Ocala.
Dr. Robert Knight, recognized expert in water science, and long a protector of the springs, spoke of the harm the springs system has suffered, and about what must be done to rectify the damage, while there is still time. Dr. Knight, founder of the Howard T. Odom Florida Springs Institute and of Wetlands Solutions of Gainesville, says the solution is simply to stop the excessive water withdrawals and stop issuing new permits.
Legendary nature photographer John Moran presented a slide show, along with a text that was poetry, illustrating many “before” and “after” or “then” and “now” images. In each case, the “now” images show horrible deterioration of once beautiful springs throughout Florida, not just Silver Springs.
Mr. Douglas Ray, executive editor of the Ocala Star-Banner and the Gainesville Sun, emphasized the importance of the springs to the Gainesville and Ocala region. His newspapers recently published the outstanding and widely acclaimed series called “The Fragile Springs.” His newspapers have both been strong and consistent friends of the endangered springs and river systems.
Felburn Foundation director Guy Marwick also spoke about Silver Springs. Local teacher, historian and founder of the Silver River State Museum, he has devoted his adult life to furthering education and preserving the history and springs system of the Silver River.
An important and tireless worker confronting the threats to the springs is Karen Ahlers, executive director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment. She has been a leader in the fight to stop the excessive withdrawal proposals of Adena Springs/Sleepy Creek, which according to the St. Johns River Water Management District, which significantly damage the headsprings. She emphasized the important role the many concerned citizens have had in this endeavor.
Another featured speaker was Whitey Markle, of the Suwannee St. Johns Sierra Club and Ryan Smart of the Florida Conservation Coalition, who has an intimate knowledge of the workings of Tallahassee and its relationship to environmental protection.
Last but not least was the living legend Jim Stevenson of the Wakulla Springs Alliance, author and long time servant of Florida’s parks and springs while serving the Florida Park Service for 25 years. Stevenson mixed humor with fact in his informative recount of the history of some of the parks.
Fred Hiers has written an extensive article in today’s Gainesville Sun covering the forum Follow this LINK to see the original article.