How to Adopt a Florida Spring, and What You Can
Do to Protect Florida Springs
The purpose of this informal program is to empower citizens to provide maintenance,
restoration, and protection of Florida springs that landowners, both public
and private, are unable to provide. Volunteers may adopt a spring
with the permission of the landowner, or work with officials who manage springs that are on city, county, or state land. Activities can also raise awareness
of and appreciation for this unique and valuable resource.
Guidelines for Adopting a Spring
Identify the spring to be adopted and compose directions to the spring
and a physical description.
Identify and describe needs at the spring.
Identify the owner of the spring. Obtain name and address.
Obtain the owner's permission to "adopt" the spring.
Determine tasks that are needed to enhance protection and management.
Organize the adoption group. It is important to involve people who
live near the spring--proximity is a key factor in providing ongoing protection
and obtaining and keeping local support.
Contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP--see below)
to register your project.
Plan the first activity.
Conduct a planning trip to the spring to identify activities to be conducted,
determine the number of people needed to work, required tools or materials,
any potential hazards, and other pertinent information.
Schedule a date and time (e.g., a Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-noon).
Have volunteers bring any food they might need, or see if a local restaurant
or grocery story might donate food.
Optional: Prepare a press release for public awareness or to recruit volunteers.
Hold a reflective activity at the end of the project to discuss/process
how things went and identify potential next steps.
Inform the owner of your accomplishments and thank the owner for his/her
Inform the Florida DEP of activities that are planned or that have taken
Potential Adoption Activities and Tasks:
Collect and remove litter and other manmade debris from the water and uplands
of the spring. Do not disturb or remove old walls or structures that
may be historic.
Modify surface drainage to reduce or stop stormwater erosion of the slopes
and shoreline. Obtain guidance from experienced land managers before
undertaking this activity.
Can take many forms, including recommending restrictions on certain activities
(jumping out of trees, climbing banks, fishing, boating), or restricting
negative-impact acess through placement of fences, gates, poles, retaining
walls, berms, terraces, diverters, buldheads, docks, ramps, boardwalks,
bars in caverns, observation platforms, boardwalks, floating docks, etc.
Install barriers to block vehicle access.
Install compatible fencing to direct foot traffic to prevent trampling
of vegetation and erosion of slopes.
Build steps from the bank to the water to reduce erosion.
Install signs to direct traffic and encourage responsible recreational
Fill eroded areas with compatible soil and plant native plants to stabilize
slopes and enhance the aesthetics of the site. Obtain guidance from
spring managers experienced in erosion control and restoration before undertaking
Remove exotic plants that may be growing in or around the spring.
Obtain guidance from experienced land managers before undertaking this
Remove debris and sediments from the spring vent that were deposited by
vandals or from human-caused erosion. Permits may be required by
the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the regional water
management district, or the Florida Department of State.
Encourage local users/residents to protect the spring. Explain how
they can help through the use of an interpretive kiosks, signs, or leaflets
or by personal contact. Strive to win local cooperation.
Use signs and/or leaflets to provide information and history on the spring.
Describe the role of the spring in the natural and human communities and
detail the threats it faces.
Create a web site on the spring.
If a class or school is working at the spring, students can be given a
range of assignments related to the project, including researching history,
conducting oral histories, water testing, creating brochures, giving tours,
constructing picnic areas and kiosks, creating photo or video records,
mapping, conducting flora and fauna surveys, giving public presentations,
Conduct interviews of long-time local residents to develop a written, video,
or oral history of the use of the spring.
Research archival information on the spring and its history.
Take before-and-after photographs relating to restoration efforts, or historic
photographs of the site.
Conduct water quality testing as well as tests of water depth, flow, clarity,
dissolved solids, etc.
Conduct flora and fauna studies.
Conduct surveys and interviews to gather data on usage.
Report findings to appropriate authorities (water management district,
state park officials, municipal hydrologists, etc.)
For more information:
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL 32399
For information on how schools and students can get involved:
Dr. Joe Follman
What You Can Do to Protect Florida Springs
Jim Stevenson, founder and former head of the Florida Springs Task Force,
enumerated a series of steps/activities/actions that individuals and
communities can take to protect and preserve springs:
The bad news: Those of who live or work in spring recharge
areas in north and central Florida unknowingly contribute to the pollution
of our springs.
The good news: There are important things we can do to
help keep our springs healthy (and some of them will save you money too)
Protect spring water quality
Protect spring flow
If we are to save and restore our magnificent springs each of us must take
responsibility for our own pollution
We must reduce the quantity of nutrients that get into the groundwater
beneath our homes farms and businesses
The nutrients that are contaminating spring water come from fertilizers
applied to lawns golf courses pastures and croplands as well as human and
animal wastes from septic tanks wastewater sprayfields dairies and poultry
How you maintain your lawn makes a difference! Reduce the use of
fertilizers and pesticides and always use slow release fertilizer Both
of these steps will save you money
Insure that your septic tank and drainfield are properly maintained.
In the long run, this will save you money (and headaches)
Encourage the county and city commissions to make decisions about land
use and stormwater management that will safeguard the groundwater flowing
to our springs
Encourage landowners to protect sinkholes from dumping and erosion
Direct stormwater away from sinkholes
Thank you for doing your part to protect Florida's springs!
Our groundwater is not limitless. Use less water!!
Encourage your Water Management District to protect the historic flow of
our springs from pumping
Educate your family about our springs Educate your family about our springs
Take a child (or a parent) to see a spring. You'll see it through new
www floridasprings org
Note: The Florida Departments of Community Affairs and Environmental
Protection have produced an excellent document:
Protecting Florida's Springs: An Implementation Guidebook (www.dep.state.fl.us/springs/reports/files/springsimplementguide.pdf)
This manual provides a wealth of information, ideas, strategies, and
examples of ways to address issues of development, pollution, agriculture,
and other land use around springs. Chapters include sections on best
management practices, comprehensive planning, managing development impacts,
golf course siting/fertilization/management, agriculture/silviculture,
and public recreation. This document is a necessary resource for developers, land managers, city and county
planners, farmers, water bottlers, and others whose activities impact springs.
The publication provides a number of steps to undertake or consider to
plan for springshed protection:
Use Florida's comprehensive planning process effectively
Establish a working group
Adopt a resolution of support for springshed protection
Collect data and map the resources
Establish springshed protection zones
Create an overlay protection district
Use other appropriate land use planning tools
Use acquisition and easement strategies to protect the most sensitive
Establish voluntary stewardship programs
Adopt comprehensive plan policies for springshed protection (2002,