Click on the title of each post to read the entire entry and to view images.
Text and Photos by Robert Ulanowicz, Ph.D., Ichetucknee Advisory Board Member
There was a break in the heat as the small group of Ichetucknee Alliance affiliates assembled on the Columbia County Courthouse Square in Lake City. Jim Stevenson, the “grandfather of the springs,” set up his map on an easel in the square to share his formidable knowledge and experience with the springs to introduce a tour of the Ichetucknee Trace, the pathway by which water makes its way through the county to feed the Headspring and Blue Hole Spring within the State Park.
Surrounded by government buildings, Jim recounted some of the political maneuverings in which he participated to bring county government to bear on sustaining the most valuable natural resource in the area. The county is still run by locals who grew up in the area and Jim recalled how … Read More »
On July 13, 2017, the Ichetucknee Alliance sent comments about the new unit management plan for Ichetucknee Springs State Park to the Acquisition and Restoration Council of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. To read the Alliance’s letter, click here.
As you read the letter, remember that the Alliance’s stated mission is to restore, protect and preserve the Ichetucknee River, its associated springs and ecosystems as well as the Floridan aquifer that feeds the springs and provides our drinking water. There is strong evidence that tubing on the upper portion of the river is damaging the aquatic ecosystem and underwater vegetation; see the photos below that have been supplied by Jim Stevension, a member of the Alliance’s Advisory Board.
Because of the damage that tubing is causing, the Alliance has called for a halt to tubing on the upper portion of the Ichetucknee … Read More »
“No Water No Farms No Food” is the more complete message because it restores water to its primary place of importance—to our farmers, to our springs, to ourselves, to our economy. (Scroll down to read more.)
Maybe you’ve seen them while you’re driving, those bumper stickers that say “No Farms No Food.” I doubt anyone would disagree with that logic, but that’s not the whole picture—especially when you consider that long-term trends show our groundwater levels throughout North Florida are declining. That decline is one of the things that worries those of us who are involved with trying to restore, protect and preserve the Ichetucknee, because those declining groundwater levels are hurting our springs and threatening the security of our drinking water supply.
For every foot that the level of fresh groundwater drops, the level of saltwater underneath rises by 40 feet. Yes, you read that right—40 feet. … Read More »
By Jim Gross
Editor’s Note: Jim Gross, the geologist who spoke at one of our Water Voices programs in 2016, wrote the following in an email thread I received; he has generously given us permission to print it here. When people ask, “What is causing the problems with our springs?” and “What can we do?,” the following paragraphs provide excellent answers and guidance.
What I’ve heard recently is that restoration likely involves both increased flows and decreased nutrient loading, which is not really surprising when you think about it. Springs are like organisms—they need adequate amounts of freshwater and that freshwater must be free of toxic substances.
I believe we can restore our springs to much of their former glory. We humans are perhaps the smartest species ever to inhabit Earth, but smart and wise are different aspects of our nature.
Just off the … Read More »
Earlier this year, the Alliance filed a legal challenge to the new North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan on behalf of the Ichetucknee River System. We took this action because we believed the plan was required to include an effective restoration strategy for the river and springs, which it failed to do. Unfortunately, both the St. Johns River and Suwannee River water management districts—the agencies that we challenged—questioned our legal standing and dismissed our challenge.
Our attorney, John Thomas, has now filed an appeal of that dismissal with the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. We want a court to decide if the agencies being challenged should have the ability to dismiss a challenge brought against them because the agency determines that the petitioner lacks standing. If the court finds in our favor, this case could set a precedent that might help other groups defend the health … Read More »
by John Moran
Editor’s Note: Gainesville photographer, writer, springs advocate and Lifetime Ichetucknee Alliance member John Moran visits the Ichetucknee every year on his birthday. This year (2017), he graciously agreed to share this series of his birthday trip photos. Thanks, John!
This picture report begins with a few underwater pictures shot in the short stretch between the headspring at the Ichetucknee and the canoe launch. This is the small “window” where you can remember a time when the entire river looked so healthy. The comparison to the Devil’s Eye Spring underwater photo is striking. I made the “healthy” pictures in the restricted area with permission from the park manager. This is my 31st consecutive May 17th birthday outing on the Ichetucknee and, oh the changes I’ve seen.
An inevitable Tragedy of the Commons occurs when a necessary resource becomes available free of cost to a community. Ladies & Gentlemen, this tragedy is unfolding as I speak – right beneath our feet!
Most in this room pay a delivery fee to an urban utility for their water. But the gross majority of water from our aquifer is pumped without cost by agriculture, industry and rural homeowners. Theoretically, withdrawals are regulated by consumptive use permits and minimum flow levels, which in reality are political footballs. Anyone with sufficient resources and power can subvert these controls. Our newspapers are full of examples.
We necessarily struggle to improve the efficiency of water use, but such measures are overwhelmed by increased demands. We are increasingly pumping brackish water in numerous coastal areas, a situation that is practically irreversible. Desalinization is too costly to support … Read More »
by Bob Palmer, Ichetucknee Alliance Advisory Board Member
Think back to sixth grade. Remember those pesky math tests where your teacher wouldn’t give you any credit if the question was “what’s 144 divided by 6?” and you just wrote down “24”. You had to “show your work”. If you didn’t, your teacher would suspect, perhaps with some justification, that you’d snuck a peek and copied your answer from the smart girl sitting next to you.
Well, the State of Florida – supposedly a great place for Open Government – has made NOT showing its work into a new art form. And unless citizens get sufficiently outraged, our “public servants” are going to get away with it.
Consider three recent examples from the world of environmental decision-making where State regulators have gone out of their way not to show their work.
First, there’s Sleepy Creek, … Read More »
by Eric Flagg
I was in my undergraduate program for Environmental Science at UF (1996-1998) when I first met Jim Stevenson. He was speaking to one of my classes and was at the time, I believe, director of the Florida Springs Task Force.
He made a big impression on me as someone I’d like to emulate with my career. Since then the ethos of that grand park system that he was a part of as chief naturalist has changed dramatically. Today, there is not nearly as much room to accomplish what he and other park employees were able to since the 1970s-1980s.
Years went by. I worked as an environmental consultant for about 10 years, then went back to graduate school and earned my master’s in documentary filmmaking.
Fast forward to summer 2013 when my production company partners, Isaac Brown and Ana Habib, held … Read More »