DEP Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park Campground

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DEP Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park Campground

~Ribbon-cutting ceremony held to celebrate Florida's 175th state park~

GB Ribbon Cutting

HIGH SPRINGS, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the re-opening of campground facilities at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, Florida’s 175th state park. The park will offer free admission to visitors from 8 a.m. to sundown on Friday and Saturday in celebration of Florida's newest state park.


Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved the purchase of the 407-acre Gilchrist Blue Springs property for $5.2 million in June 2017. The property was purchased with Florida Forever funding, and was ranked number 1 in the Florida Forever Partnerships and Regional Incentives project category.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida is home to an award-winning state park system, which helps protect our many unique natural treasures and attract millions of visitors to our state. Our parks are incredibly important, which is why I am proposing a record $50 million to protect our state parks for future generations as part of the historic investments for Florida’s environment. I am proud to celebrate the state’s 175th state park and encourage families to enjoy Florida’s beautiful outdoors at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park.”


“I am excited to celebrate the addition of Florida’s 175th state park,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Because of our partnerships with members of the local, regional and state communities, we, as Floridians, are better situated to educate visitors and each other of Florida’s prized properties. Gilchrist Blue Springs has been a popular spot for visitors for 60 years, and this acquisition ensures that we can continue sharing public lands with visitors today and for years to come.”


The property, which contains six natural springs and includes approximately one mile of frontage along the Santa Fe River, has been providing recreational opportunities as a private park since 1958. As a state park, Gilchrist Blue Springs will continue to offer numerous opportunities for resource-based recreation, including swimming, paddling and hiking. Florida is the only state to win three National Gold Medals for Excellence following the Florida Parks Service’s third award in 2013. 


“Thanks to the support of Governor Scott and the Cabinet, Gilchrist Blue will continue to offer incredible visitor services while we manage Florida's natural resources,” said Eric Draper, DEP Director of Florida State Parks. “Florida State Parks are destinations for visitors to make memories, unwind and connect with nature. The work we do with our partners to restore and protect these unique pieces of land gives visitors the ability to fully enjoy our park system."


Among the natural springs on the property is a large second magnitude spring that produces an average of 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 Friends of Florida State Parks are thrilled to be a part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Gilchrist Blue today," said Paula Russo, president of the Friends of Florida State Parks. "By supporting this acquisition, Governor Scott and the Cabinet have given us another opportunity to preserve Florida's natural resources and encourage community involvement." 

“The acquisition of Gilchrist Blue and addition to the Florida Parks System ensures these natural resources will be protected for the next generation,” said Traci Deen, executive director of the Conservation Trust for Florida. “We commend the state’s efforts to preserve this iconic property and facet of the local community for the benefit of people and wildlife.”

"Gilchrist Blue is a crown jewel for North Central Florida," said Tom Kay, executive director of the Alachua Conservation Trust. "This is a project that my organization has been involved in for a long time and we are proud to see this become a part of the state park system to be protected for Floridians and visitors."


“The District appreciates the efforts by Governor Scott and DEP to further protect and preserve special places like Gilchrist Blue,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District. “We look forward to working with DEP for the long-term preservation of this important resource for future generations to enjoy.”