Acquisition will enhance Protection of four named springs and continue recreational access
Today, Governor Rick Scott and Cabinet members approved the purchase of the Blue Springs parcel, a 407-acre property in Gilchrist County, for more than $5.2 million. The property encompasses six natural springs and includes approximately one mile of frontage along the Santa Fe River.
“I am thrilled by this opportunity to protect this property, and the vital springs resources within it, for our future generations,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “I’m looking forward to working with Governor Scott and the Cabinet and our partners in springs protection to complete more acquisitions like this one.”
The property will be purchased from Blue Springs Properties Inc., which has managed it as a private park and campground facility, known as Blue Springs Park, since 1958.
“For decades, my family has worked to protect one of this state’s most beautiful natural treasures,” said Kim Davis, Blue Springs Properties Inc. “We’re excited that this acquisition will allow this legacy to continue.”
The property is located within Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever project, ranked number 1 in the Florida Forever Partnerships and Regional Incentives project category. With today’s acquisition, more than 60 percent of this project has been acquired by the state of Florida.
“The Blue Springs project in Gilchrist County is a terrific springs protection project with the added benefit of protecting riverine habitat along the Santa Fe River,” said Eric Draper, Executive Director of Audubon Florida. “We’re looking forward to working with Secretary Valenstein and DEP to complete more critical acquisitions and projects to ensure Florida’s natural treasures are protected.”
The property contains a large second magnitude spring that produces an average of over 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River. The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, and Johnson Spring.
“The state’s purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs on the Santa Fe River is a success for public access to our watery natural resources,” said Whitey Markle, chair of Suwannee – St. Johns Sierra Club. “This type of protection is supported by our organization.”
“Gilchrist Blue Springs is one of the crown jewels along the emerald necklace of North Central Florida,” said Tom Kay, Executive Director of Alachua Conservation Trust. “It’s protection has been the priority of many organizations for years. This is a great day for Florida and all those that love our springs.”
“Our Santa Fe River is delighted at the purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs by the state,” said Pamela I. Smith, president of Our Santa Fe River Inc. “We look forward to working with DEP to establish a healthy management plan for this unique and beautiful Florida spring.”
“Gilchrist County is very appreciative of Governor Scott, the Florida Cabinet, and DEP for the foresight to acquire Gilchrist Blue Springs,” said D. Ray Harrison, Jr., Gilchrist County Board of County Commission Chair. “This acquisition will ensure that this magnificent local jewel will be protected and enjoyed by the public today and in the future.”
“The Gilchrist County Tourist Development Council highly supports the acquisition of the Gilchrist Blue Springs Park. We consider Gilchrist County the ‘Springs Capital of the World’ with Gilchrist Blue Springs in the forefront as one of our hidden gems,” said Donna Creamer, Gilchrist County Tourist Development Council. “I have attended travel shows and introduced visitors to our hidden wonders. Most people, even some native Floridians, never knew this part of Florida exists. When I talk to them and show them photos they are drawn into the magnificent beauty of the area.”