Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal

Saturday, February 16th is another Speak Up for Florida's Waters event at Wekiwa Springs State Park. Similar to the event I attended last summer at Silver Springs, speakers once again include former Florida Governor Bob Graham and newly-elected Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine. Much has happened since the first rally, and the event seems like a good marker for a review.

Newspapers across the state have documented the condition of Florida's waters and writers from Kevin Spears in the Orlando Sentinel to Craig Pittman in the Tampa Bay Times have penned multi-story series revealing how we've allowed the quality and quantity of our state's most precious resource to decline. The permit to withdraw water for a massive cattle farm in Marion County, the Adena Springs Ranch, has not been granted and  environmentalists continue to to reveal how it would threaten the health of Silver Springs. Speaking of Silver Springs, the state has decided to assume control of the grandfather of all Florida attractions and turn Silver Springs into a state park this fall. While this move alone cannot improve the health of the springs, it surely cannot hurt and many of the exotic animals on display will soon have new homes.

It is unlikely the zoo-like aspects of the Silver Springs attraction
will be continued as it transitions to a state park

My work involving Florida's springs has continued; my book is being printed and should be in my hands in a couple months (and it's now on Amazon!) I have tentatively set up three speaking gigs and continue to work on my presentation abilities. My exhibit entitled "Finding the Fountain of Youth: The Myth of Florida's Magical Waters" is currently in production and will open on March 23rd at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. Right now I'm knee-deep in the creation of companion exhibit entitled "Springs Eternal: Florida's Forgotten Fountains of Youth" featuring the works of John Moran. Another exciting component related to this project is called the "Urban Aquifer"; it features bus wraps of Florida springs on as many as nine Gainesville buses. Created by artist Lesley Gamble, the buses will highlight the Spring Eternal website that will act as a portal for all Florida springs advocacy groups and contain information about the recreational opportunities at all the springs.

This work has kept me chained to my desk for much of 2012 and the early part of this year. I have however, made several forays to Florida springs. Here are photos from some of those trips; hopefully these show some of the beauty of these sacred places and how important they are to Floridians... let us hope we collectively have the will to save these remarkable resources.

Spring-fed Whitewater Branch in Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka

Reflected clouds in the waters of a side run near Rock Springs

Fun at Rock Springs Run, at Orange County's Kelly Park

The annual cardboard boat race at Rock Springs
John Moran photographs the action 

A summer day at Rock Springs
A hidden treasure: Ginger Ale Springs in Seminole County
Ginger Ale Springs
The spring run at DeLeon Springs in Volusia County

Manatee at DeLeon Springs

Fern Hammock Springs in the Ocala National Forest
The spring-fed Little Wekiva River
Floating algae in Wekiwa Springs