Publicly-owned springs are open for everyone to enjoy, but each year millions of visitors damage spring environments by trampling vegetation above and below water and by carelessly discarding trash.
Springs recreation and attractions are a multi-million dollar industry in north Florida. In 1999 alone, more than two million people visited the twelve state parks named for springs, contributing over $7 million in revenue. Yet, due to their immense popularity as locations for camping, swimming, tubing, diving, and canoeing, some springs are being "loved to death". During the peak summer months, for instance, Ichetucknee Springs State Park's daily limit of 750 tubers on the upper river can be reached within an hour after the park opens. Such concentrated human use can have a direct impact on the springs as well as the animals and plants that live there. Tubers and swimmers can unknowingly trample native vegetation and increase turbidity or cloudiness of water, while on the edges of the springs and spring runs uncontrolled foot traffic can increase bank erosion. Trash and other human refuse left behind at the springs can also introduce pollutants into the water and harm native wildlife such as turtles and manatees which might mistake plastic bags and wrappers for food.