Category Archives: Environment

New Reclaimed Water Transmission Line Helps The Springs

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Water Management Districts have funded 26 springs projects with more than $40 million, that will result in $82 million for spring improvement projects after local matching funds.

Hernando County will invest $6 million in a reclaimed water transmission line along US19 that will provide up to 1.7 million gallons of reclaimed water per day to the Timber Pines Subdivision and Golf Course for irrigation use. Both Hernando County and SFWMD will each contribute an extra $3 million, for a grand total of $12 million.

The Weeki Wachee Springs springshed should benefit from this project through reduced nutrients and reduced potable water use. It will enable long-term sustained growth in the area by reducing environmental pressure on the Weeki Wachee River and Springs.

The project should be completed by spring of 2017.

Prescribed Fires for Hernando County

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of October through March at two preserves in Hernando County.

weeki wachee preserveApproximately 400 acres at Weeki Wachee Preserve will be burned in small, manageable units. The property is located west of US Highway 19 between Spring Hill and Hernando Beach. Some trails may be temporarily closed during prescribed burn events.

Approximately 300 acres at Annuteliga Hammock will be burned in small, manageable units. The property is comprised of several blocks and is located east of US Highway 19 and north of Centralia Road and south of the county line.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

Greenways And Trails Projects

The Florida Greenways and Trails Council will start two days of meetings and consider numerous projects for designation as parts of the Florida Greenways and Trails System.

The Florida Greenways and Trails Council (FGTC) was established pursuant to 260.0142, Florida Statutes. Among its duties, the Council serves to advise the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on greenway and trail related issues, promote intergovernmental cooperation and private partnerships for developing the greenways and trails system, recommend priorities for critical links in the system, and provide funding recommendations for developing and managing the system.

The council typically meets four times a year at various locations throughout the state.

The next meetings will be held at:
weeki wachee preserve

  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
    6131 Commercial Way
    Weeki Wachee

    Tuesday, July 7, 2014 – 1 PM
    Wednesday, July 8, 2015 – 8 AM

Continue reading Greenways And Trails Projects

Bay Scallop Season June 27-September 24

For three months of the year Bay Scallop Season allows local residents and visitors to harvest these delicacies on the West coast of Florida from Aripeka, Hernando County northwards. In 2015, open harvest season for bay scallops along Florida’s Gulf coast runs from June 27 – September 24.

scallop zone mapIts popularity may be the cause of its decline as a natural resource. The 2015 Annual abundance survey from the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission finds the local scallop population ‘vulnerable’ with less than 1 scallop per 12 square yards.

Reasons for the decline can be attributed to environmental events such as hurricanes, major tropical storms and El Niño or a decline in water quality, polution or overfishing.

The daily bag limit is 2 gallons whole bay scallops in shell or 1 pint of bay scallop meat per person (max. 10 gal. of whole bay scallops in shell or 1/2 gal. bay scallop meat per vessel).

For more information: Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission

April designated Springs Protection Month

April has been designated Springs Protection Month by the Florida Legislature. The intent of this resolution is to raise public awareness on the importance of springs protection and to bring attention to one of Florida’s greatest resources, our springs.

Florida’s concentration of springs is possibly the greatest worldwide, and springs protection should be a vital component of our water policies. Lately the Legislature has funded many springs restoration and protection projects, with investments of more than $106 million.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District places a high priority on the five first-magnitude spring groups and Springs Awareness Month gives opportunities to engage the public in protecting and restoring our springs.

Southwest Florida Water Management District News Release – April 1, 2015

Hernando County Tourism and Education Center

2014 was the 6 million dollar year, that wasn’t. It was a year full of misdirected intentions, unresearched locations and vaguely described plans for something that would be a tourism center, an education center, a swimming area or any combination of the three. The State of Florida allocated $3 million of matching funds for Hernando County and ever since, the county has struggled to find the right location for a building, that nobody seems to want.

The first site was in Hernando Beach, a place where the regular tourist isn’t found and the swimming area wasn’t part of the plans.
After a major upset of the locals, the county decided to up its plans by picking a venue in the Weeki Wachee Preserve and adding the incentive of a public swimming area. All this in an area that was previously set aside to prevent development and to form the southern end of the coastal corridor, where the protected, threatened and endangered Florida Black Bear finds its home.
Subsequently, locations were found next to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and one close to the I-75 in East Hernando County, where swimming areas and education centers were suddenly less important.
Most recently, the county reverted back close to the original location in Hernando Beach at the old Hernando Beach water tower, a site that the county already owns, but with the same opposition of the locals.

After almost a year of trying to spend the “free money”, the Hernando County Commission voted to return the $3 million the Florida Legislature allocated for the project last year.

Is this however the end of the story or are we waiting for another allocation from the Legislature this year? If so, we should hope that need is at the basis of those plans and locations are appropriate, realistic and don’t interfere with current designations.

SWFWMD Purchases Boat Springs

The Southwest Florida Water Management District has closed on the purchase of Boat Spring, which is part of the headwaters of Hammock Creek spring system, located in the historic community of Aripeka, on the Gulf of Mexico at the Hernando and Pasco County line.

The Hammock Creek spring system includes Boat, Magnolia, Aripeka 1 and 2 springs which all flow into Hammock Creek that connects with the Gulf of Mexico. The acquisition property also includes the spring run from Magnolia Spring. The District already owns adjacent property as part of its Weekiwachee Preserve project.

aripeka springs

The acquisition consists of 81.69 acres, with approximately 53.4 acres in Hernando County and 28.2 acres in Pasco County. The property is a mosaic of unusual physical features including springs, a spring run, a natural sand ridge with elevations approaching 40 feet together with freshwater swamps that support the adjoining saltwater estuary of Hammock Creek.

Boat Springs will protect the water resources of the Hammock Creek spring system, link existing District ownerships and enhance the natural systems of the Weekiwachee Preserve. The property will also provide passive recreational opportunities to the public.

The acquisition cost of $1,318,779, was funded through the District’s remaining balances of prior year Forever Trust Fund allocations.

Prescribed Fires

The Land Management Section of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns during the months of November through March at Annuteliga Hammock in Hernando County. The property is comprised of several blocks and is located east of US Highway 19 and north of Centralia Road and south of the county line. Approximately 300 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

The District will also be conducting prescribed burns at Weekiwachee Preserve in Hernando County. The property is located west of US Highway 19 between Spring Hill and Hernando Beach. Approximately 400 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

According to Will VanGelder, the District’s land management supervisor, burns are implemented to mimic natural fire cycles under a controlled situation. The objective is to avert uncontrolled wildfires and enhance the area’s natural conditions by maintaining the ecological and wildlife habitat values. Prescribed burns are only conducted when weather conditions are optimal to meet the desired objectives and to minimize impacts to the public.

Although every effort will be made to assure that smoke does not affect homes or highways, vehicle operators should exercise caution if smoke reduces visibility on the area’s roads or highways.

November 4, 2014 News Release

“Boat Spring” Purchase

THE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT HAS APPROVED THE PURCHASE OF 85 ACRES ALONG THE HERNANDO AND PASCO COUNTY LINE.

The property lies in Aripeka and includes springs, the spring run from Magnolia Spring, a 40-ft natural sand ridge and freshwater swamps that flow into Hammock Creek.
aripeka springs
The second magnitude Hammock Creek spring system includes Boat, Magnolia, Aripeka 1 and 2 springs which all flow into Hammock Creek that connects with the Gulf of Mexico.

magnolia springThe parcel is situated at the southern end of the coastal conservation lands corridor, that stretches all the way to Tallahassee, where the endangered Florida Black Bear still roams free. It will help connecting public lands and keep water resources and habitats safe from development.

The $1,370,000 bill is funded by the District’s Florida Forever Trust Funds.