State of Florida Acquires 465 Acres to Protect Silver Springs and the Ocklawaha River

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State of Florida Acquires 465 Acres to Protect Silver Springs and the Ocklawaha River

~Acquisition will protect water quality, benefit water quantity and provide recreational opportunities~

TALLAHASEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has finalized the purchase of 465 acres in Marion County, which was approved by Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet in March. The $4.5 million acquisition will help maintain the health of Silver Springs, as well as the fish and wildlife species that depend on the springs. The property is within the Florida's First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever Project and is ranked first in the Florida Forever Partnerships & Regional Incentives Projects category

“DEP is committed to protecting Florida’s incredible natural resources, such as Silver Springs,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "We’re proud that we were able to work with our partners to complete this important acquisition, which will benefit Silver Springs and the Ocklawaha River, and look forward to continuing to build these types of partnerships to acquire additional rare and sensitive lands.”

The property will be managed by Marion County as part of Coehadjoe Park. Along with protecting water quality, the parcel will also benefit water quantity by aiding in groundwater recharge, as well as increase recreational opportunities for Floridians and visitors. The property connects Coehadjoe Park to the Indian River State Forest and will provide a significant recreational trail opportunity across these properties. The preliminary site design for the parcel proposes a paved trail, disc golf and archery courses and improved pasture.

“Marion County is thrilled that this acquisition project has now been completed,” said Carl Zalak III, chairman of the Marion County Board of County Commissioners. “We are grateful for the state’s decision to acquire this 465-acre area and look forward to managing the site in alignment with the county’s springs protection goals and our vision for an ever-growing outdoor recreation program.”

We are very proud of our work in the Silver Springs watershed,” said Lisa Gearen, president of the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF). “We appreciate the partnerships with Marion County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that made this project possible. It complements the conservation and recreation value of the adjacent 4,900-acre Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area, a CTF project completed in 2015 with the St. Johns River Water Management District. Projects that protect the health of Florida's springs are among our highest priorities, and we look forward to future projects in the region.”

Guy Marwick, executive director of the Felburn Foundation said, “This fills in a gap and is a great piece to improve the connectivity of all the public lands in this area.”