Title: Protecting Florida's Waters - 1981-1992
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00004501/00001
 Material Information
Title: Protecting Florida's Waters - 1981-1992
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Save Our Rivers - Debbie Calleson and Erik Draper of The Nature Conservancy
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Jake Varn Collection - Protecting Florida's Waters - 1981-1992 (JDV Box 91)
General Note: Box 23, Folder 1 ( Miscellaneous Water Papers, Studies, Reports, Newsletters, Booklets, Annual Reports, etc. - 1973 -1992 ), Item 4
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00004501
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Government Relations Manager

Tallahassee Office
625 North Adams Street
Tallahassee, Florida
904 222-0199
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id they know ten years ago that they were launching one of the most successful environmental programs in
history still unmatched by the other 49 states? Could the proponents of Save Our Rivers have envisioned
the gift they were making to Florida's future?

As we chart the accomplishments of Save Our Rivers, the program's original advocates seem obscure. We know
that Governor Bob Graham championed the idea. We know there were other, less visible proponents. To those
forward-thinking people who had the vision to save our water resources by preserving the watershed, we dedicate
this report.

This document was developed for two principal audiences: the Legislature and the public. The Legislature should
recognize that some of its creations work so well that they are worth keeping and enhancing. The public should
recognize that while new problems constantly erupt, old ones are quietly being solved. We hope that the
accomplishments documented here also find their way into the consciousness of the taxpayers. They should know
that some government programs work and are worthy of continued support.

Although Save Our Rivers' accomplishments are profound, Florida's major aquatic systems still remain
unprotected. The core of the Green Swamp may still be developed. The Kissimmee River floodplain is mostly dry.
The Loxahatchee Slough is in the path of suburban sprawl. Florida's best
groundwater recharge zones are prime residential real estate. Our first magnitude
springs are up for grabs. The list goes on.

In the annual state budget, the five Water Management Districts share about $35
million for acquisition and land management. This means that only about $10
million is regularly available to protect the water resources of the South Florida
area, stretching from Key West to Orlando. Not enough to do the job. Not nearly
enough to protect our water.

Preservation 2000 is the Legislature's answer. According to the Preservation 2000 promise, each.year of this decade,
the Legislature will provide enough debt service to issue $300 million in bonds. One third of the bond proceeds go
to Save Our Rivers. For three years this infusion of funds has allowed the Districts to triple their commitment to
the permanent protection of water resources.

Ten years of Preservation 2000 will just about do the job for Florida's water. Our rivers, lakes, springs and
groundwater will have protective buffers. Our best swamps will'stay wet. Creeks and rivers will be shielded in
green corridors. Future generations will praise Preservation 2000 and Save Our Rivers. We owe it to those who
will come after us to do our best to fund these programs and make them work to save the best of what's left of
Florida's waters.




state and dictate the way we use land. Seasonally abundant rainfall
and natural storage areas including lakes, aquifers, and swamps
offer favorable conditions for farms and development. Early
settlers' ambitions, however, were impeded by the large expanses of
wetlands covering the state. Well-intentioned efforts to control flooding
and open up land created a massive hydrological restructuring of the state.
Florida's natural resources are still feeling the impacts of those attempts to
drain and fill wetlands for agriculture and development.
Population growth, agriculture, mining and development continue to place
a growing strain on our water resources. The need to exploit the water has
continued unabated during Florida's short history. Throughout the state,
government and individuals alter the flow of water. Rivers are dammed
and diverted. Sloughs are levied and ditched. Canals carry off excess water
while aquifers are tapped for irrigation and public supply.
During the last few decades scientists, planners and public officials have
recognized that attempts to control water create secondary problems. In
some cases the problem is with supplying potable water to urban areas. In
many other cases, Florida's natural ecosystems are being
wrecked. The state's environmental health is directly
linked to water resources. Without sufficient water or
*he with too much water, these ecosystems are unable to
sustain their productivity, abundance and diversity.
Florida's rich variety of plant and animal life has been
-s program seriously damaged by human changes to water systems.

lies in the ability of the

Water Management Districts

Supply is not the only problem, water quality is also an
issue. Pollutants, including excess nutrients from
agricultural runoff as well as urban waste water and
stormwater, render large quantities of water unfit for
human use and harmful to downstream ecosystems.

to quickly purchase Florida's water problems are unique at the state and
regional level. The state's boundaries contain several
natural areas. large drainage basins. The Central and Northeast parts
of the state are drained through the St. Johns River. The'
South largely drains through the Everglades, the West
drains through several rivers which seem to spring from
the Green Swamp, the North largely flows through the
Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers and the Panhandle is
sliced by rivers which flow from Georgia to the Gulf.
Florida's water policy is also complicated by the state asserting a claim over
all submerged lands. The state's ownership is directly affected by the way
people attempt to control water and make use of land beneath and adjacent
to submerged areas. Most economic activity on Florida land inevitably
touches the state's proprietary interest water.
In 1976 the Legislature created the five Water Management Districts, each
with its own Board of Governors appointed by Florida's Governor, to deal
with local problems of flood control, drainage and water use. Stormwater
runoff was later added to the list of concerns. The Districts, in conjunction

with Florida's Department of
Environmental Regulation, are
responsible for implementation of
state water policy.
A major responsibility of the Water
Management Districts is their land
acquisition programs. In 1981, the
Florida Legislature created the
Water Management Lands Trust
Fund which provides acquisition
funding for the Save Our Rivers
program. Save Our Rivers enables
the five Water Management
Districts to acquire lands necessary
for water management, water
supply, and the conservation and
protection of water resources. This

The success oft

Save Our River

visionary legislation gave the
Districts a much greater ability to
protect lands, and, in many cases,
restore their inherent water
resource features.
The Save Our Rivers legislation
provides broad authority for
acquisition of lands. Each District
has a different emphasis for
acquisition based on the unique
characteristics of their water
resource systems. Every District
sets forth its acquisition program
in a Five Year Plan. Revised plans
are submitted annually to the
Department of Environmental
Regulation and the Legislature.

Once land is acquired, the Districts
are responsible for management.
Chapter 373.59, Florida Statutes,
provides that lands "...shall
be managed and maintained in
an environmentally acceptable
manner and, to the extent
practicable, in such a way as to
restore and protect their natural
state and condition." Management
money comes from a fifteen percent
allocation of the Districts' funding
from the Water Management Lands
Trust Fund (WMLTF). Land
management goals are described in
the Five Year Plans as a basis for
requesting these funds.

The Districts contract with other
state agencies such as the Division
of Forestry and the Game and
Fresh Water Fish Commission to
provide management and
maintenance services. This has
resulted in a large number of cost
effective partnerships between both
state and local governments and
the Water Management Districts,
and has opened large tracts
of acquired land to suitable
public use.
The success of the Save Our Rivers
program lies in the ability of the
Water Management Districts to
quickly purchase important natural

areas. Districts are preserving both
uplands and wetlands through
their aggressive acquisition efforts.
Since its inception in 1981, Save
Our Rivers has protected nearly
500,000 acres of land buffering
dozens of rivers and lakes, and
protecting irreplaceable wetlands
and groundwater resources.
The Save Our Rivers program is
one of the most effective acquisition
programs in the country. While
many states have some type of
environmental land acquisition
program, few have a program
devoted solely to water.






Nonpoint source pollution
(stormwater carried runoff
of pollutants caused by
intensive land use activities)
is the major source of waterway
degradation. Nonpoint sources are
difficult and costly to address.
Stormwater runoff accounts for
more than half of all the pollution
entering Florida's surface waters-
rivers, lakes, and streams.
By acquiring lands along the major
waterways, much of this runoff can
be kept out of the water bodies.

When development takes place
within a watershed, streets, lawns,
parking lots, septic tanks and roofs
all become sources of pollution.
Developed areas allow faster
runoff. The water washes
sediments, nutrients and chemicals
off surfaces and into drainage
Woods and marshes provide
buffers and pollutant filters.
Sediments and nutrients are
trapped and absorbed by
vegetation or settle out when
water pools. This natural method
reduces the need to invest
in costly mechanical and
chemical wastewater treatment
and remediation programs.
For example, the Northwest Florida
Water Management District is
working to save more than 7,000
acres of the Econfina Creek
Floodplain. The Econfina is the
major tributary of Deer Point Lake,
which serves as a public water

supply for much of Bay County.
The creek and lake are also major
recreational areas. Acquisition of
this area will help maintain
the high water quality of both
Econfina Creek and the public
water supply reservoir.
Restoration is also used to improve
water quality. Lands that were
once wetland in character but have
been converted to uses, such as
agriculture, can be acquired and
restored. This reduces significant
pollution discharges to water
bodies and expands the cleansing
capacity of wetland areas.
The St. Johns River Water
Management District is restoring a
segment of the Upper Ocklawaha
River to its natural state. Water
quality has suffered because of
rapid urbanization, and intensive
agricultural practices. These
processes have dramatically
increased the amount of sediment
and nutrients going into the river.


State and federal agencies list
17% of Florida's wildlife
species as endangered,
threatened or of special
concern. Rapid growth is causing
development to encroach on
habitat for many of these species.
Lands being altered at an alarming
rate include river floodplains, creek
systems, wetlands, springs, and
estuaries-all essential components
of regional ecosystems.
Each of these areas serves specific
needs for certain species. Fish and
other aquatic species use small
creeks and headwater wetlands as
breeding and nursery areas.
Wading birds, migratory fowl and
raptors use waterways to feed, nest
and reproduce. Mammals use

river corridors to move from place
to place.
Collectively, the Districts have
acquired hundreds of thousands of
acres of critical habitat with Save
Our Rivers and Preservation 2000
funds. The Suwannee River Water
Management District has preserved
manatee habitat in the Lower
Suwannee River Basin.
Also located in this basin is the
Suwannee estuary, a very
productive habitat area with many
endangered and threatened species.
The Northwest Florida Water
Management District purchases
along the Apalachicola River are
safeguarding rare and endangered
natural communities. The Aspalaga

Landing project is in a region along
the river that has been known as a
botanically rich site for more than--
150 years. This same area also
contains the highest diversity
of amphibians and reptiles in
North America.


traditionally, Florida attempted
to control flood waters
through structural methods
such as impoundments and
canals. More recently, land
managers have focused their
efforts on non-structural flood
control, including the acquisition
of land in floodplains where
development could, but should not
take place.
When development is allowed to
intrude the floodplains of the
rivers, periodic floods can cause
serious hardship and significant
serious financial losses that
taxpayers are often asked to finance
through various disaster relief
-efforts. The frequency and ultimate
impact of flooding in developed
areas is also increased due to
destruction of wetlands.


The Districts recognize the benefits
of non-structural flood control and
are using their acquisition dollars to
purchase floodplain areas. The St.
Johns River Water Management
District plans to acquire more than
145,000 acres of land in the Upper
St. Johns River Basin. In this
project, restored wetlands, rather
than traditional flood control
structures, are relied upon to hold
and slowly release flood waters.
Acquiring acreage along the
Withlacoochee Riverine Corridor is
a top priority for the Southwest
Florida Water Management
District. Public ownership will
prevent the encroachment on
to the floodplain and protect
environmentally sensitive wetland


charge areas are crucial for
the replenishment of ground
water in an aquifer. As
the state develops, more
and more areas are covered
with pavement, buildings and
impervious surfaces. The water
which would normally percolate
through the soil in these areas is
instead drained offsite and lost.
Ultimately, a lack of recharge areas
means limited water resources.
.Therefore, as water supply needs
continue to grow, aquifer recharge
areas must be protected.
Areas of high recharge cover about
15 percent of the state. An example

'S -

of these high recharge areas is the
well-drained porous sand ridges of
Central and West Central Florida.
SOR funds have allowed the South
Florida Water Management District
to purchase parcels of the Lake
Marion Creek portion of the
Kissimmee Lakes Watershed
project. This area is of critical
importance to the recharge of the
Floridan Aquifer because the sand
allows water to infiltrate, rather
than run off.
Ironically, these flood-free, sandy
hills and ridges are considered
ideal for development and citrus
groves. These uses deprive the
aquifer of recharge while
dramatically increasing the
withdrawal of water.
The Southwest Florida Water
Management District has taken the
lead in protecting the Green
Swamp and its associated river
corridors through its acquisition
efforts. This "Area of Critical State
Concern" has been compared to
the Everglades in terms of its
importance as a water resource
system. It is considered a major
source of replenishment for the
ground water and creates a
potentiometric high pressure zone.
If the water from the Green Swamp
is channeled away to allow
development, one outcome would
be increased saltwater intrusion in
coastal counties.






I n addition to providing
important water resource
benefits, lands acquired
through the Save Our Rivers
program also create valuable
recreation areas. The Water
Management Districts work with
local governments, state agencies
such as the Game and Fish
Commission, Department of
Natural Resources, and Division of
Forestry, and with federal agencies
to provide a wide array of outdoor
recreational activities throughout
the state. Approximately 85% of

Water Management District lands
are open to the public for
recreational purposes, and more
lands are being opened every day
as management plans are executed.
Fishing and hunting are the most
popular uses of District lands. The
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission (GFC) plays an
important partnership role in this
activity. In Northwest Florida, the
Apalachicola, Choctawhatchee, and
Escambia Water Management
Areas are available for hunting
with an appropriate resource area

.0. A *~* *



Birding, Nature Study 96.50% 99.30% 89.60% 100.00% 99.30%

Hiking 62.00% 84.90% 84.00% 100.00% 99.30%

Fishing 86.50% 68.20% 86.70% 100.00% 95.00%

Hunting 69.50% 49.70% 82.20% 96.00% 39.20%

Horseback Riding 15.80% 49.00% 30.60% 100.00% 34.20%

Canoeing 50.20% 87.40% 87.00% 100.00% 85.30%

permit. SFWMD works closely
with the GFC, designing hunt
programs that provide a quality,
hunting experience while
maintaining healthy populations of
game species.
Hiking provides an inexpensive
way for the public to view and
enjoy, in a tranquil setting, many of
Florida's natural areas. For this
reason, it ranks near the top for
public use of SOR lands. The
Districts work in conjunction with
the Florida Trails Association to
plan the development of hiking
trails on SOR lands.
Parts of the Florida
Trail, a popular
hiking trail throughout
Florida, are located on
District lands.
Large tracts of land
along rivers are kept in
pristine condition
which helps to
maintain their high
water quality. This in
turn yields abundant
fish populations, as
well as settings of
scenic beauty. Fishing
and canoeing are
allowed on practically
all of the SOR properties, including
areas of the Green Swamp and
Upper St. Johns River basin.
SOR lands are also available for
environmental education, research,
youth wilderness experience
programs, horseback riding,
boating, and bird watching. The
Districts are working to provide
lands for public uses that are
compatible with the protection of
the water resource goals for which
the lands were primarily acquired.


public land brings great
benefits to local communities.
Save Our Rivers land adds to
the quality of life and saves
local governments money that
would be spent on recreational and
park land. However, some rural
counties have raised questions
about the impact of public land
acquisition on local tax rolls. A
legislative study showed that every
parcel listed on current Five Year
Plans would have no more than a
$2 million statewide annual impact
by the year 2000.
Nevertheless, the 1992 Legislature
enacted a system for payment in
lieu of taxes to rural counties which
suffer actual tax losses. This should
help solve problems concerning
the impact of public land
acquisition on local tax bases.

According to a study commissioned
by the Suwannee River Water
Management District, "the
economic enhancement of ai area
through a program such as Save
Our Rivers will greatly exceed any
losses of revenue from property
taxes on these relatively low-
value lands in fast growing
counties, SOR land acquisition is
often welcomed or encouraged as a
means of providing water resource
protection, open space, and public
recreation". Often, lands adjacent
to public land increase in value and
are seen as more valuable
for development because of
permanently protected greenspace.
Alachua County is particularly
grateful to Suwannee River for its
donation of land along the Santa Fe
River for Poe Springs Park. The

Park and its springs are a popular
recreation site and help Alachua
County meet its comprehensive
plan objectives.
The study also points out that "over
the long run, ecosystem restoration
and water resource protection
may lower local taxes when the
natural system performs valuable
functions, such as flood control and
water supply, which government is
now providing. Restoration could
result in enhanced property values
for adjacent owners, and taxes on
these increased values could
mitigate some of the tax loss
resulting from acquisition".

acquisitions. All five members of
the Polk County Board of
Commissioners traveled by bus to
West Palm Beach for the South
Florida meeting to personally
endorse the Lake Marion/Reedy
Creek project. Orange County
set aside millions of dollars
and entered a partnership with
the St. Johns River WMD to
protect the headwaters of the
Econlockhatchee River. The City of
Tallahassee recently agreed to share
purchase and management cost of a
Northwest Florida project.

The clearest proof of the value
of Save Our Rivers to local
government is the aggressive
local endorsement of specific


Rivers program comes from
an allocation of documentary
stamp tax revenue that is
placed in the Water Management
Lands Trust Fund (WMLTF) and
administered by the Department of
Environmental Regulation. This
portion of the excise tax on real
estate deeds, stock certificates, and
other official documents totals
almost $40 million a year.
In addition to the funds originally
provided for Save Our Rivers, for

two years the program has received
a 30 percent ($90 million) allocation
of Preservation 2000 funds.
Save Our Rivers and Preservation
2000 dollars are distributed among
the five Water Management
Districts according to a statutory
formula: 30% SFWMD, 25%
SRWMD, and 10% NWFWMD.
This formula is based on an
approximation of documentary
stamp tax revenue generated by
each of the Districts.




SFWMD $380,000,00 544,527

SJRWMD 515,714,400 429762

SWFWMD 410,000,000 410,000

SRWMD 49,946,103 65,979

NWFWMD 53,500,000 104,000

The Districts may use their regular
SOR allocations to back bond issues
and supplement funding needs.
With the exception of Southwest
Florida, each District has used
bonding and pledges part of its
state collected funds to pay debt
Although the majority of funding
goes toward acquisition, money
from the WMLTF also goes
toward the cost of management,
maintenance, and capital
Improvements on acquired lands.
Management plans are included
within the Five Year Plans filed
by each District. In 1992, the
Legislature provided for the cost
of administration of the fund
to be charged against each
Districts allocation.
The original base funding for SOR
has been recently decreasing due to
the economic slump and the
Legislature's reduction of the
percentage allocated from the
documentary stamp tax. Currently,
the cost of purchasing all projects in
the Five Year Plans outweighs

annual funding levels. This
situation is exacerbated by the fact
that the plans are revised annually,
with new projects and expanded
project areas.
The Districts also face a shortage of
management funds. Prior to this
year, they were authorized to use
no more than 10% of their SOR
revenue for management purposes.

Recognizing the need for additional
dollars, the 1992 Legislature
increased this allocation to 15%.
However, the responsibility of
managing previously held and
newly acquired land requires
annual increases in management
The original funding source for
Save Our Rivers is secure. The

status of the Preservation 2000
program remains uncertain.
Without continued funding for
Preservation 2000, the Districts
would lose a $90 million annual
allocation and would not be able to
meet their goals of protecting
Florida's water resources.


component of the Save Our
Rivers program, has been
extremely successful for the
Districts. Each District pursues a
well-defined acquisition strategy.
Water resource protection through
wetlands restoration is a major goal
of South Florida and St. Johns
River District. The Suwannee and
Northwest Districts have focused
almost exclusively on buying the
river corridors of the primary rivers
within their boundaries. The
Southwest District has also
acquired river corridors and has
invested in lands that have
significant water recharge potential.

Land acquisition needs are
identified from three general
sources: plans for specific water
management projects to be
implemented by the Districts;
general surveys of conditions
and trends within each of
the District's surface water
-basins; and evaluation of
proposals for District acquisition
submitted by individuals and
other organizations.
Once a project in the Five Year Plan
has been approved by a District's
governing board, staff begins
to evaluate parcels within projects
using specific acquisition criteria.
Districts accept public input during

this process. After a thorough
evaluation process, negotiations
begin, offers are made and with
luck, deals are dosed. Title work,
appraisals and surveys must all be
completed before ownership is
conveyed to the Districts.
Funding for acquisition is released
by DER following receipt of a
resolution adopted by the
governing board identifying the
lands being acquired and certifying
that such a purchase is consistent
with the plan of acquisition and
other provisions of SOR legislation.
Once the funds are released from
the WMLTF, staff moves quickly to
dose the deal.

Northwest Florida
Water Management

St. Johns River
Water Management

Suwannee River
Water Management H

Southwest Florida
Water Management

South Florida
Water Management


After a thorough

evaluation process,

negotiations begin,

offers are made

and with luck,

deals are closed.

Acres Cost
Northwest Florida
Water Management 97,471 $30,177,115
Suwannee River
Water Management 51,885 $42,374,762
* Southwest Florida
Water Management 92,094 $105,164,686
St. Johns River
Water Management 116,749 $135,696,766
South Florida
Water Managment 137,723 $109,448,868

The Districts use joint acquisitions
with federal, state and local
agencies to expand their buying
power. Districts work closely with
the Division of State Lands to
purchase properties that are
mutually beneficial to both SOR
and Conservation and Recreation
Lands (CARL) program goals. A
number of local governments have
developed land acquisition
programs, and they look to the
Water Management Districts to
pursue joint acquisitions. This
partnership allows Districts to
acquire properties on their Five

Year Plans, and local government
acquisition programs to purchase
their priority conservation areas.
The streamlined acquisition
process used by the Districts allows
them to purchase land at a much
quicker pace than any other state
program. This is just one of the
many reasons the Save Our Rivers
program is considered the most
effective land acquisition program
in the state and one of the best in
the nation.





SFWMD $63,214,220 $50,290,361 156,178

SJRWMD 61,041,471 79,833,845 119,612

SWFWMD 101,510,091 -0- 92,788

SRWMD 27,374,762 15,000,000 51,885

NWFWMD 9,672,085 20,505,030 97,471



protection of Florida's
important natural areas
doesn't end with acquisition
-it begins. Developed as
part of the Five Year Plans, land
management plans are required for
each project area. Land
management policies are subject to
public review, and must be
approved by the governing boards.
SOR legislation requires that lands
be managed and maintained in an
environmentally acceptable
manner, and designates the
following as land management
priorities: conserve and protect
water resources, protect or restore
ecosystems, and provide for public
use where it is compatible.
The alteration of Florida's
hydrological environment has been
occurring for many years. These
changes have had a negative
impact on the state's water
resources and the ecosystems
which depend on these resources.
The Districts, through the Save Our
Rivers program, are working to
reverse these effects.

Protection of flow ways,
watersheds and wetlands is an
important part of water resource
management. As previously
discussed, wetlands play a crucial
role in improving water quality,
storing surface runoff and
contributing to aquifer recharge.
Restoration of wetlands to natural
conditions is one of the Districts'
primary management goals.
Much of each District's management
activity focuses on restoration and
stewardship of complex natural
systems which have been adversely
impacted. Habitat enhancement,
an essential component of
ecosystem protection and
restoration; includes a combination
of hydrologic restoration in
wetlands, prescribed burning for
maintenance of native plant
communities, and control of exotic
species. Upland restoration is also
used to convert clearcut pine
plantation lands to naturally
regenerating pine forests and to
restore native ground cover.
A critical step in managing lands
for public use is assessment of the

environmental sensitivity and
suitability of those lands. SOR
legislation states that lands must
be made available to the public
unless the District governing
Boards can demonstrate that such
activities would be incompatible
with the purposes for which the
lands were acquired.
Most land is available to the public,
therefore a specific plan must be
put in place to keep these areas
managed in a way that does
not damage the resource. Districts
maintain roads and trails to
permit access for appropriate land
management and recreational
purposes. Staff is needed to
perform duties including resource
protection, resource management,
recreation supervision and
Districts implement public
awareness programs to inform the
public of recreational activities that
are available on SOR lands. In
addition, environmental education
programs are used to inform
people about the importance of
maintaining water resources and
environmentally sensitive lands.
Although acquisition is a one time
expense, Districts are responsible
for ongoing management for these
SOR lands and management does
have a cost. The Districts are
currently experiencing a shortage
of management funds. Inadequate
funding for land management
activities restricts the Districts'
ability to provide for increased
public recreation, habitat and
hydrologic restoration, and other
activities that are mandated by
Florida law.
District partnerships with federal,
state and local agencies go beyond
acquisition. Districts utilize the


expertise, knowledge and staff of
other agencies in management
of SOR lands. Although the
Districts delegate management
responsibilities, they cannot
always provide adequate funding.
Cooperating agencies suffer some
of the same funding constraints as
the Districts.
The notion that agencies would
restore and protect entire water
systems is so new that most

Floridians have not yet realized the
unique benefits accruing for current
and future generations. In fact,
throughout Florida the Water
Management Districts are
protecting the systems that allow
all of us, from farmer to retiree,
to prosper.
Millions of people visit, learn and
recreate on Water Management
District lands. This public use
helps Florida live up to its

reputation as the nation's playland.
The land protected by Save Our
Rivers includes some of the most
beautiful places in Florida. It is a
tribute to the five governing
boards and to the Legislature
that Florida continues to offer
its citizens and visitors such
outstanding opportunities.

T H E'







River is just one of many Save
Our Rivers objectives. The
South Florida WMD and
other agencies, conservation
groups, and private citizens have
been working for almost 20 years to
reach that goal. More than 21,000
of the estimated 68,000 acres of
land required to achieve the
restoration have been acquired.
Save Our Rivers funding was used
for many of these purchases. The
Kissimmee Valley, Kissimmee
Chain of Lakes and Kissimmee
Lakes Headwaters are all SOR
priority acquisition projects.
The Kissimmee's water eventually
flows into the Everglades. The
District's next priority under the
SOR program is to acquire lands
intended to help preserve
the Everglades. Projects include:
lands along Canal-1ll, Water
Conservation Areas, Strazzulla and
East Everglades. The combined
area is more than 85,000 acres.
The District is working to protect
and preserve a globally threatened
community in the Florida Keys,
The land in the Big Pine Key project
contains standing fresh water in
wetlands as well as upland

recharge areas. These help to
recharge a large fresh water lens
under Big Pine Key. Thirty-nine
wildlife species designated as
endangered, threatened or of
special concern are found at
this site.
The northwest fork of the
Loxahatchee River is the only
surviving example of a subtropical
cypress forest river system in South
Florida. South Florida, the Florida
Department of Natural Resources
and local governments have taken
steps to protect this resource
through designation as a National
Wild and Scenic River. With
Save Our Rivers, the District
acquired floodplain areas along
the Loxahatchee.
The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem
Watershed includes more than
50,000 acres of land representing
one of the few remaining large
intact wetland ecosystems in
Florida. Part of the project, the
Corkscrew marsh, serves as the
headwaters for Bird Rookery
Swamp, Flintpen Strand, Camp
Keais Strand and the existing
Audubon Corkscrew Swamp
Sanctuary. The eastern portion of
the project forms a connection with

Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve,
the Florida Panther National
Wildlife Refuge and the Ten
Thousand Islands National Wildlife
Refuge. Not only is this project
crucial to saving wildlife habitat, it
protects a significant source of
water for Lee and Collier counties.
Realizing the importance of
preserving these areas, both
counties are working closely with
the District on acquisition projects.
The goal of the SFWMD is for Save
Our Rivers projects to function
in concert with other state and
local conservation corridors
throughout the 16-county District.
The Kissimmee River, Lake
Okeechobee, and the Everglades
make up the backbone of the
District's regional ecosystem from
which other environmental
corridors are-formed. By working
cooperatively with other agencies
and private organizations to link
such projects together, the District
can enhance their natural resource
values, share the acquisition
costs, and create unified,
comprehensive water resource
management programs.

1 Big Pine Key
2 Canal 111 Basin
3 Corkscrew Regional
Ecosystem Watershed
4 Dade Broward Levee
5 DuPuis Reserve
6 East Everglades
7 Everglades Buffer Strip
8 Fisheating Creek
9 Kissimmee Lakes Watershed
10 Kissimmee River
11 Lake Forest Preserve
12 Loxahatchee River
13 Loxahatchee Slough
14 Model Lands Basin
15 Nicodemus Slough
16 North Fork St. Lucie River
17 Pal-Mar
18 Savannas
19 Shingle Creek Swamp
20 Six Mile Cypress I
21 Six Mile Cypress II
22 South Fork St. Lucie River
23 Stormwater Treatment Areas
24 Strazzulla
25 Telegraph Swamp
26 Water Conservation Areas






ave Our Rivers is being used
to help restore the St. Johns
River. The Upper St. Johns
River Basin project will
restore more than 145,000 acres of
marshland. This will double the
functional wetlands in the river's
headwaters. The project is being
touted as a national model for flood
plain management.
Save Our Rivers funding has
acquired more than 50,000 acres of
the lands required for project
completion. When it is completed
in 1995, the project will reduce
damage from floods, improve
water quality, curtail freshwater
flows to the Indian River Lagoon,
restore fish and wildlife habitat,
and increase public recreational

In the Upper St. Johns River Basin
91,535 acres are used as a Type II
Wildlife Management Area in
cooperation with the Game and
Fish Commission. The project
includes eight enhanced recreation
sites to support a broad range of
recreational activities including
fishing, hunting, boating, nature
study, hiking and camping. An
outstanding recreational feature of
the project is the 20,000 acre Ft.
Drum Marsh Conservation Area in
Southwest Indian River County.
The St. Johns River Water
Management Area has quickly
developed into one of the top sport
fisheries in the state.
Save Our Rivers has helped acquire
land along the Ocklawaha, the
major tributary of the St. Johns

River. Since the early 1900's,
agricultural operations have diked
and drained the sensitive
Ocklawaha flood plain to make use
of the highly productive muck soils
that developed in this historic
marsh. The elimination of wetlands
and introduction of tons of fertilizer
and other agricultural chemicals
annually has contributed to water
quality degradation throughout
the system.
Sinceits inception, Save Our
Rivers funds have purchased
approximately 18,200 acres of muck
farms in Lake and Marion
Counties. Lake Apokpa, the
Emeralda Marsh, Sunnyhill Farm,
and Ocklawaha Farm have
been the focus of the District's
restoration efforts in this important
Restoration of the farms to
wetlands contributes to water
quality improvement, wildlife and
fish habitat, flood storage and
outdoor recreation opportunities.
The 5,000-acre Lake Apopka
acquisition, 4,000-acre Sunnyhill
Farm acquisition and 4,465-acre
Ocklawaha Farm acquisition are
cooperative efforts with the
District's Surface Water
Improvement and Management
(SWIM) program. These projects
have helped restore Florida's third
largest lake and over sixteen miles
of the historic Ocklawaha River
which was channelized in 1910. ,
The District is now focusing
its efforts on the Lower St. Johns
River, recently nominated as a
National Estuary.

Save Our Rivers Project Areas a Nassau 0 Femandina
1 Ft. Drum Marsh Conservation Area--- E Beach
2 Blue Cypress Conservation Area /Duval
3 St. Johns River Marsh Conservation Area
4 Bull Creek Conservation Area Baker Jacksonville
5 River Lakes Conservation Area *
6 Canaveral Marshes Conservation Area Macenny Clay
7 Seminole Ranch Conservation Area FE m
8 South Indian River Project Area Green Cove
9 TurnBull-Scottsmoor Marsh Conservation Area S rings St.
10 Econlockhatchee Conservation Area Johns* St. Augustine
11 Lake Jesup Conservation Area Gainesville Palaka
12 Lake Monroe Conservation Area Alachua Putnam Bunnell
13 Wekiva River Conservation Area *m 0
14 Green Swamp Conservation Area
15 Lake Apopka Restoration Area Marion Flagler
16 Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area
17 Sunnyhill Restoration Area Ocala
18 Heather Island Conservation Area DeLand
19 Paynes Prairie Conservation Area Volusia
20 Lake George Conservation Area
21 Caravelle Conservation Area
22 Dunns Creek Conservation Area Lake Sanford
23 Haw Creek Conservation Area Leesburg Seminole
24 Etoniah Creek Conservation Area Orlando
25 Bayard Point Conservation Area Orange Titusville
26 Upper Black Creek Conservation Area
27 Julington-Durbin Conservation Area
28 Twelve Mile Conservation Area
29 Durbin Swamp Conservation Area Oseola
30 St. Marys Conservation Area a
31 Clapboard Swamp-Black Hammock Conservation Area I *M
32 Upper Nassau River Conservation Area

River Vero Beach






Preservation and protection of
the Green Swamp River
Systems is a top priority for
Southwest Florida. Fee
simple acquisitions are being used
to protect these important water
resource areas. Expansive
headwater areas including swamps
and surrounding uplands; miles of
corridors along major rivers, and
forested flood plains are being
preserved with SOR funds.
The majority of these lands
represent high.quality natural areas
of regional importance to water
resource protection and wildlife
populations. Many of the lands
protected through District
ownership include showcase
examples of natural Florida and
some of the more strikingly
beautiful natural areas available for
public recreation in the region.
In recent years funding for
acquisition has been possible
through Save Our Rivers and
Preservation 2000. However, early
protection and acquisition efforts
pre-date both of these programs. In

the mid to late 1960's the District
began acquisition of headwater
swamps in the Green Swamp
region as part of proposed flood
control projects. Those projects
never became a reality, but the
headwater swamps and other lands
in the Green Swamp were
recognized as vital to the protection
and management of regional water
resources. These early acquisitions
remain in public ownership and
form the core for an expanded
system of protected lands
purchased through SOR and
Preservation 2000.
To date, a total of 125,287 acres
have been acquired throughout
portions of the Green Swamp River
Systems. Because of the water
resource values, the Withlacoochee
River and'adjoining lands have
been a primary target for protection
and acquisition. More than 52 miles
along the course of the
Withlacoochee River have been
protected. This includes the
majority of the headwaters, main
channel and tributary creeks and
areas in the vicinity of the Tsala

Apopka Lake/marsh system.
The Hillsborough River, like the
Withlacoochee, has its source in the
swamps of the Green Swamp
region. Wetlands, adjoining
uplands and wildlife habitat along
the Hillsborough River have been
protected by acquisition of more
than 6,500 acres including six miles
along the upper Hillsborough
River. These lands complement
downstream portions of the
Hillsborough 14,975 acres. The
downstream lands stretch from the
Lower Hillsborough River Flood
Detention Area east of Tampa to
the Hillsborough River State Park.
Together, protected lands along the
Hillsborough River system total
nearly 21,500 acres and include 20
miles along the course of the river.
Protection of the Green Swamp
River Systems remains an
integrated regional land acquisition
plan, whereby land is managed
for water resources and
environmental values to maintain
natural functions and habitat


1 Green Swamp
2 Withlacoochee Riverine System
3 Flying Eagle
4 Carlton Tract
5 E. Lake Panasoffkee
6 Panasoffkee/Outlet Tract
7 Upper Hillsborough
8 Lower Hillsborough FDA
9 Alston Tract
10 Hillsborough Riverine Corridor
11 Cypress Creek
Brooker Creek Riverine System
12 Corridor "A"
13 Corridor "B"
14 Addition
15 Chassahowitzka River & Coastal Swamps
16 Weekiwachee Riverine System
17 Jack Creek
18 Prairie/Shell Creek
19 GDC/Peace River
20 Upper Lake Marion Creek Watershed
21 Myakka River
22 Lake Manatee Lower Watershed
23 Upper Myakka River Watershed
24 Ringling MacArthur
25 Alafia River Corridor
26 Little Manatee River
27 Marion 1
28 Charlie Creek
29 Charlotte 1
30 Crooked Lake
31 Gum Slough
32 Highlands Hammock Addition
33 Horse Creek
34 Lower Myakka River
35 Marion/Levy 1
36 Myakkahatchee Creek
37 Peace River Corridor
38 Polk 1
39 Sumter 1
40 Sumter 2
41 Three Corners
42 ELAPP Parcels 1 through 5
43 Pasco 1
44 Starkey Addition
45 Hidden Lake
46 Anclote Water Storage Lands (Starkey)
47 Sawgrass Lake





pressures in the Suwannee
River has left nearly all of the
river systems in relatively
good health. Although each river
has distinct value, the Suwannee
River is one of the south's great free
flowing treasures creating an
urgency for protection above
the rest.
Acquisitions along the Upper
Suwannee River basin protect a
large diversity of resources. After
leaving the Okeefenokee Swamp
and crossing into Florida, the rare
Ogeechee Tupelo lines the
Suwannee as it meanders through
vast pine flatwoods. As the river
cuts progressively through layers of
sand, clay and limestone, the bluffs
along the river grow higher. At Big
Shoals, just upstream from White
Springs, the top of the bank may be
thirty feet above the water. Spring
floods, however, can swiftly erase
this difference in elevation. At
almost any river level, Big Shoals,
the region's only whitewater
rapids, challenge downstream

passage. In addition to a corridor
along this northernmost reach of
the river, the District's land
acquisition program targets three
tributary streams, Rocky Creek,
Deep Creek, and Falling Creek.
Below White Springs, the river
crosses the Cody Scarp, a geologic
feature marking the end of the thick
clay layer that separates the
Floridan and surficial aquifers. The
"sWiss cheese" geology of the
region below the scarp allows both
the upwelling of springs and the
rapid disappearance of rain water.
Vegetative communities reflect the
volatility of the hydrologic regime.
Unique plant associations form
within sandhill scrub communities
that must periodically withstand
both droughts and flooding.
A recent District acquisition in this
area is the 2,300 acre Holton Creek
Tract. It includes Holton Spring,
one of the 27 first magnitude
springs in Florida. Aside from the
large volume of water discharged
by the Spring, it is distinctive

for its dark tannic waters
originating from the Alapaha River.
The rolling topography of this
region promotes highly diverse
hardwood hammocks.
With future acquisitions, the
District will attempt to protect
highly erodible lands along the
Suwannee River and steep-banked
streams. Besides protecting the
river's water quality, public
management may provide the best
chance for preservation of two
biological relics of Florida's
geological past.
Save Our Rivers has enabled the
District to take advantage of the
forest products industry's trend
toward disposal of lands with a
relatively low economic return.
Over the ten year history of
Save Our Rivers, the pursuit of
complementary objectives by the
public and private sectors in the
Upper Suwannee River Basin has
produced extraordinary long-term
benefits for the people of Florida.



Santa Fe


Completed Acquisitions

1 5 10 15 20,000 acres

Proposed Acquisitions

1 5 10 15 20,000 acres



\ l K






Northwest Florida has
acquired over 106,000
acres, predominantly river,
bottomlands scattered across the
Panhandle These lands were
purchased for an average price of
less than $280 an acre, and are
mostly large and contiguous tracts
that have a significant impact on
preserving and protecting the
water resources along major
portions of the region's main rivers.
The District originally focused only
on acquiring the annual floodplains
of the largest rivers. While
acquisition of such major wetlands
remains the top priority, attention
has shifted to include many of the
tributary valleys, groundwater
recharge areas and sloping
transition lands that are vital to
complete protection of the water
Land acquisition activity in
Northwest Florida has been
active particularly during times
when Florida has been

experiencing a depressed real estate
market. Some 90,000 acres of prime
forested bottomlands were initially
acquired in two major purchases in
1984 and 1985 at prices far below
the average for wetlands of any
type in Florida.
In late 1991, the District purchased
Garcon Point, an 1,864-acre
estuarine wetland near Pensacola.
This parcel last sold in 1986 for
$4,410,000; the District purchased it
from the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation for $800,000. So far in
1992, some 15,590 acres have been
purchased from the Mutual
Insurance Company of New York
at an average cost of $303 per acre.
Scattered across four counties, these
lands include the upper one-fourth
of the Chipola River Basin, more
than two complete sections in the
uppermost watershed of the
Econfina Creek, numerous parcels.
bordering and protecting District
lands along the Choctawhatchee,
and more than seven miles of
floodplain along Holmes Creek.

Approximately 665 acres of
forested uplands protecting the
eastern margin of Lake Jackson in
Leon Counfy were purchased in
cooperation with the City of
Tallahassee this year.
The focus for future acquisitions is
largely on major wetland
properties that have the potential to
significantly protect regional water
resources and which are owned by
a single or a few willing sellers.
Notable among the priority projects
currently being pursued are large
holdings on the Yellow and the
upper Escambia Rivers, major parts
of the drainage basin bordering
Apalachicola Bay, and some
64 miles of forested flood plain
along the upper Apalachicola
River. Other key projects include
Econfina Creek, the Blackwater,
Yellow and Shoal Rivers, and
a large floodplain property near
present District ownership along
the Choctawhatchee.

Lands Acquired
1 Escambia River Water Management Area
(17,998 acres)
2 Choctawhatchee River Water
Management Area (35,198 acres)
3 Apalachicola River Water Management Area
(35,509 acres)
4 Garcon Point (1,864 of 2,270 acres)
5 Mutual Insurance Company of New York (15,592) acres
6 Phipps Property (670 acres)
Priority Acquisition Projects

7 Middle Chipola River (17,000 acres)
8 Upper Apalachicola River (21,000 acres)
9 Big Juniper Creek (1,600 acres)
10 Yellow River Ravines (12,500 acres)
11 Yellow and Shoal River Basin (20,000 acres)
12 First Magnitude Springs (2,300 acres)
13 Econfina Creek Floodplain (7,000 acres)
14 Aspalaga Landing (1,000 acres)
15 Blackwater River (19,400 acres)
16 Escribano Point (4,800 acres)
17 Champion International Additions (26,000 acres)
18 Tate's Hell (110,000 acres)

SLands Acquired
* Priority Acquisition

This report was written
by Debbie Calleson
and Eric Draper of
The Nature Conservancy

The following staff of the five
Water Management Districts
provided valuable input for
the report:
Charles Hardee, George Fisher,
Northwest Florida Water
Management District

Charlie Houder, Richard Rocco,
Suwannee River Water
Management District

Ron Daniels,
Southwest Florida Water
Management District

Fred Davis, Lee Henderson,
South Florida Water
Management District

John Hankinson, Jack Eckdahl,
St. Johns River Water
Management District
Ruark Cleary,
The Florida Department of
Environmental Regulation
Melva Macfie and Cara Cannon
of The Nature Conservancy
edited the report and guided
Derek Dugan Design &
Electronic Production
For more information on Save
Our Rivers contact the Districts.
For more information on
Preservation 2000 and ways
you can support the program,
contact Eric Draper at
The Nature Conservancy.
625 North Adams Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301


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