To assist the user of this document, each full spring description begins with a photograph and a quick summary of important features. The opening, "encompassing" photograph attempts to capture, as much a possible, the spring as a whole. Most springs, however, cannot be "captured" in a single photo or from one perspective. Subsequent thumbnail photographs highlight other significant, unique, appealing, or revealing spring features and aspects. Over half of the spring descriptions have photographs.
Standardized terms will be used across most feature categories to rate important aspects of individual springs. The general feature rating scale is as follows:
Feature Rating Scale
- Not Applicable (N/A)
- Very Good
Summary of Features
- Scale'”1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc., magnitude'”the amount of average flow from the spring, from no longer flowing to more than one billion gallons per day.
- Scenery'”from poor (denuded, cleared, polluted, eroded, badly developed, etc.) to outstanding (exceptional aesthetic or natural beauty, striking natural features, diversity of flora and fauna, grandeur, etc.).
- How Pristine?'”from completely degraded (covered in concrete, filled with garbage, flow capped, devoid of life, toxic, clear-cut, badly eroded, choked in exotics, etc.) to completely pristine (no visual evidence of the hand of man).
- Swimming'”from poor (too shallow, water murky or polluted, trash in the water, very deep, sharp rocks, water full of vegetation, etc.) to outstanding (clear water of varying depths, sunny and open swim areas, beach areas, safe, easy access into and out of water, facilities at site, etc).
- Wildlife'”provided only for certain springs, this is a very inexact rating based on observations and on potential for seeing wildlife at or around springs. Many spring environments have rich and abundant wildlife, but that richness and abundance varies with the seasons, time of day, and number of people at the site. The are otters and manatees at several springs, for example, but there is no guarantee a visitor will see them on any given day. A rating of excellent means not only that there is abundant wildlife at or around a spring, but that the visitor is likely to see wildlife.
- Protection'”from poor (either no protection or no enforcement to keep site from being abused/degraded) to outstanding (not just being in public or well-meaning private hands, but regular and proactive enforcement to protect the site).
- Crowds'”from none (visitor will usually be the only person on the site) to heavily populated and overused (overcrowded, resulting in diminishment of everyone'™s enjoyment or limited access).
- Access'”If on private property with no access, this will be noted. Otherwise, this feature rates how easy or difficult it is to get to a spring, from excellent access (off major roads and very easy to find, well sign-posted, etc.) to poor (arduous, strenuous labor required to reach a very remote or difficult-to-find spring). For example, some springs are adjacent to private property, and no landfall may be made. Others can only be reached after hours of walking or canoeing upriver. A spring might lie in dense floodplain forest and require extended wading in waist-deep water and mud. Visitors are advised to respect private property and not trespass.
- Facilities'”from poor or none to outstanding (clean restrooms, changing rooms, lodging, places to eat, good parking, recreational equipment on the site, interpretive trails, etc.).
- Safety'”a general observation only of safety at/near a spring, from poor (a very real chance of encountering dangerous conditions, animals, or people) to outstanding (constant or very regular supervision in the form of lifeguards, rangers, or police). The authors assume no responsibility for a mishap that might befall a user of this Guide.
- Scuba'”yes or no. This online document is not a guide for scuba diving. Other publications and web sites provide excellent information for those who wish to scuba in springs and spring caverns.
- Cost'”the cost of getting access to/into the spring is noted, at the prices that were current when then authors visited the sites. Costs are subject to change.