Florida Forever Acquisition Protects Fresh, Pure Spring

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, November 20, 2008 (ENS) - Governor Charlie Crist and Cabinet today approved the purchase of 54.74 acres of land bordering the Natural Bridge Historic State Park in Leon County about 10 miles south of Tallahassee.

This Florida Forever purchase protects Natural Bridge Springs - one of Florida’s 33 First Magnitude Springs - those that discharge more than 100 cubic feet of water per second.

"This important purchase is a part of the Florida First Magnitude Springs project and one of the top projects on the Florida Forever priority list,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard.

Because of the thick, water-filled limestone underlying the state, Florida has more large springs than any other state or and more than any country anywhere in the world.

The 33 recognized springs in Florida are scattered across the northern peninsula and the eastern panhandle where the limestones of the Floridan Aquifer arch close to the surface. Each day, much more water flows from these 33 springs than is used for drinking by all the people in the state.

By preserving land around springs, the Florida First Magnitude Springs project will protect them - and protect the Floridan Aquifer. The major issues impacting the health of the springs include population growth, urban sprawl, growing demand for groundwater and introduction of fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants to the springsheds.

This purchase brings the Florida First Magnitude Springs project closer to completion, with 7,844 acres of the 14,081 acre project remaining, Ballard said.

"This acquisition ensures that the geological, historical and cultural integrity of this property and the surrounding water resources are preserved for Floridians and visitors from all over the world to enjoy for years to come," he said.

By preserving the surrounding land, this project will preserve the area’s geological significance.

The newly acquired property contains many karst features such as sink holes, natural bridges, karst windows and submerged cave systems. On this property, the St. Marks River drops into a sink hole and flows underground for a quarter-mile before reemerging.

The spring rises from a point about 30 feet beneath the surface and flows along a winding limestone channel to a swallet 450 yards downstream. Just downstream of the spring vent, a small distributary meanders across a low cypress floodplain to join with the St. Marks River 400 yards above Natural Bridge. Aquatic plants are common in calmer areas along the spring run.

The adjacent state park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the site of Florida’s second largest Civil War battle.

Eventually, the property will be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as part of the Natural Bridge Historic State Park.

Originally established in 1999, the 10-year, $3 billion Florida Forever program is the largest land-buying initiative in the nation, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites.

More than two million acres throughout the state have been placed in public ownership under Florida Forever and its predecessor program, Preservation 2000.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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