FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Vanessa Fultz, Office of Communications
Suwannee River Water Management District
386.362.1001 or 800.226.1066 (FL)
LIVE OAK, FL, April 11, 2014 –
The Ichetucknee is a fascinating system. Located within the Suwannee River Water Management District (District) near Ft. White in Columbia County, the river meanders six miles through hammock and swamp before joining the Santa Fe River.
The Ichetucknee River receives nearly all of its flow from the springs. Nine named springs and many unnamed springs discharge an average of 230 million gallons of groundwater per day into the river. Because of the prevalence of springs along the Ichetucknee River, the entire river maintains a cool spring-like temperature year round, and it supports habitats for aquatic plants and animals typical of springs and springruns. Additionally, parts of the river boast the blue and aqua color due to the significant spring inputs.
The Ichetucknee is rich in history and culture. It was home to one of the major interior missions serving the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, the Mission de San Martin de Timucua, established in 1608. The Ichetucknee served as the lifeblood for Native Americans and later for settlers and the surrounding communities. It eventually became a popular gathering place for the locals. In the 1950s, tubing the river gained popularity.
In 1970, Loncala Phosphate Company sold the property surrounding the Ichetucknee to the state of Florida to be developed as a state park, and in 1972 the U.S. Department of Interior declared the Ichetucknee a National Natural Landmark.
Today, locals and visitors alike are drawn to these crystal clear waters to be refreshed and enjoy recreation. In fact, the Ichetucknee is one of the most popular tubing destinations in the world, drawing an average of 140,000 or more visitors annually, according to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities.
The District is actively taking steps to improve spring flows and water quality in the Ichetucknee through aquifer recharge and water quality improvement projects throughout the region. Also, the District measures water quality and spring flow along the Ichetucknee to monitor conditions and trends. Additionally, the District is working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the St. Johns River Water Management District to establish cross-boundary minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs.
The District has joined with the Florida Legislature in recognizing April as Springs Protection Awareness Month to increase public awareness of springs and the need to protect them. In conjunction with that effort, the District is highlighting various keystone springs to promote spring protection and restoration through a series of articles.
For more information about springs visit www.mysuwanneeriver.com. For more information about recreational opportunities at the Ichetucknee visit www.floridastateparks.org and search for the Ichetucknee Springs State Park.