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Dispatch 4 Audio Transcripts

This page contains the transcripts of audio tracks included in the Springs Expedition dispatches.

Stepping Back in Time on the Ichetucknee River

Jim Stevenson describes the creation of the Florida Springs Task Force
In 1999 Governor Bush and Secretary Struhs came to explore the Ichetucknee springs and river and learn more about it. There was a major issue just a few miles from here dealing with a cement plant that was proposed. So, they wanted to see what the springs and river were like and canoed the river. And during that trip they learned of some of the things that were happening to Florida Springs and how they were being degraded. So Secretary Struhs decided to form the Florida Springs Task Force to determine the status of the springs and determine what the State of Florida needs to do to protect them.

Jim Stevenson explains the decision to establish a carrying capacity for the river
The state park system, the state of Florida, bought Ichetucknee Springs and River in 1970. And, it was already becoming quite popular for tubing. And, as the level of interest and use increased, severe damage was being caused to the river and to a number of the springs from trampling from all these thousands of people. So, we determined in the Florida Park Service that we needed to take action to protect the river and funded a carrying capacity study that was handled by the University of Florida School of Botany. When the study was completed, we knew what we needed to and that was to establish a carrying capacity to limit use on the more fragile portions of the river, which are the shallower, narrower portions. So, we implemented that carrying capacity and the river began to heal immediately and we've had a very sensitive balance between recreation and preservation for at least two decades now.

JIm Stevenson explains the history of land use at Ichetucknee
There was timbering a couple different times. There was open range grazing by livestock that lived all over the area. There was phosphate mining. There was a plantation here at one time in the 1800's. Yet, portions of the park can be restored and look just as pristine as it was before Europeans arrived. So, it varies. Some of it has been drastically disturbed while other parts are in really good shape.

Park ranger Sam Cole describes wildlife seen at Ichetucknee
Around the Mission Springs area there's quite a bit of wildlife to see. On the Fig island, itself, is a population of beavers. Along with them there's lots of otters. Coming down to the water from the uplands, we have a pretty good-sized white tail deer population; along with them wild turkey, also bobcat, gray fox. We now have coyote here. We have had long-tailed mink. Along Mission Springs, especially in the marshy areas there's a lot of wood ducks. All around us today have been robins, coming down to feed on the dahoon holly berries that grow along the river along with American Goldfinch and several species of woodpecker.

Park ranger Sam Cole describes prehistoric wildlife of the past
I was describing earlier about the wildlife. At one time it was probably a lot greater here just because there was a river system here and a dry Savannah. There was mega-fauna here like mastodon, mammoth, saber-tooth cat, also the small species of horse. Tapir was in this area as well as bison. If you were to step back in time 12,000 years ago it would be quite a different set of wildlife that you would see.

Jim Stevenson explains how the increase in Lyngbia algae is an indication of ecological degradation
Okay, this is the worst example of an accumulation of algae on the Ichetucknee river. It may be native plants, but we believe the nutrients coming out of the springs are the fertilizer that's causing these plants to increase. So, this is our best indication of ecological degradation in this spring system and it's occurring in many spring systems throughout Florida.

A Great Blue Heron calles out as it alights from a tree

Park Ranger Sam Cole describes eel grass habitat
The main plants in the river channel, itself that you see is the eel grass and two different kinds of it. We also have an algae it's called kara. It forms along with the eel grass pretty extensive beds of vegetative cover and it provides a wonderful place for animals such as snails to feed, also fish to feed and hide from predators. And it's the... plants are actually the base of the ecosystem for the river. So having a good coverage is very

Volunteer Cathy Nagler explains water lettuce removal
It's an exotic, which means it doesn't belong here naturally and there's nothing to keep it under control. So, what would happen is it would go out of control, it will choke up a waterway. It will prevent light from getting below the surface for your plants and animals and also prevents them from coming up to the surface. It will make a very thick mat.

Park ranger Sam Cole explains role of Longleaf Pines in the sandhill recharge zone
It's important for springs because most sand hills act as an aquifer recharge area because the sands are so thick and underneath is limestone. Rainwater goes pretty much directly through the sand hills sands in to the aquifer. So, it's almost a direct connection.

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