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Recreational Impacts

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.

 

 
Image of Like the parking lot of a popular shopping center, boats crowd into the spring run at Silver Glenn Springs. Boat props and anchors and foot traffic damage fragile underwater plants contributing to increased cloudiness in the water.Zoom+ Like the parking lot of a popular shopping center, boats crowd into the spring run at Silver Glenn Springs. Boat props and anchors and foot traffic damage fragile underwater plants contributing to increased cloudiness in the water. © SJRWMD

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.

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Good Neighbors

Image of Don Bennink is helping both his business and the aquifer by using "high absorption" grasses like Tifton-85 to take up nutrients from the soil and protect the groundwater.

Read Stories about people working to protect springs. Go »

 

How You Can Help

Image of At the Citrus Country Extension demonstration garden, signs explain to visitors the principles and practices of a "spring friendly" yard while volunteers help with maintenance and getting the word out.

Steps you can take to help protect our springs. Go »

 

Learn About The Aquifer

Image of spring_flow

View an interactive presentation to learn more about our aquifer and human impacts on Florida's springs. Go »

 
 
 
My FloridaFlorida Department of Environmental Protection