Homosassa River Alliance Homosassa River Alliance

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DO YOUR PART… BE SPRINGS SMART!

The Homosassa River Alliance is working to protect & improve the Homosassa Springs and River. The Bluebird Springs with a flow of about 1 million gallons per day is a major contributor to the Homosassa Springs and River system. A SWFWMD Community Education Grant has been received to remove exotic plants, to plant native plants; to demonstrate shoreline stormwater management features; and to soften an existing vertical seawall at the Bluebird Springs County Park (a Citrus County Park). This is a joint project with the Citrus County Parks and Recreation Division. Rodney MacRae, CEO of Dockmaster's, and Gary Maidof, Director of Citrus County Development Services provided planning and design assistance.

The project started out with the county clearing the weeds from the shoreline. Using weed removal equipment, affectionately known as the spider, they removed over four truck loads of weeds and invasive plants.

The softening of the seawall included placement of riprap at the toe of an existing vertical seawall. About 200 feet of seawall were "softened" to make it a more wildlife friendly shoreline. A great deal of work was involved to get the stones in place for the riprap as the access path was too narrow for heavy trucks. The setting of the seawall was done professionally by Jimmy Devaughn's Stonewall Rip-Rap Company.

Sand and sod were brought in to fill in on the land side of the seawall. This was placed on the land side of the wall and shaped as a berm to prevent stormwater from running directly in to the spring. A slight reshaping of the landscape was made to help retain the stormwater. Here the stormwater is captured and allowed to percolate thru the soil. In addition native shrubs were installed to provide a strong root system to help stabilize the shore area. Native plants were also planted at the waters edge and in front of the rip-rap. These planting are fish and wildlife friendly and help keep the water clean.

PROTECTING OUR COASTAL SPRINGS

Citrus County rests on a bed of limestone. Slightly acidic rainwater slowly works its way through the limestone dissolving channels to form an underwater drainage system. Sometimes the overlying rock collapses forming sinkholes or springs. Within this very porous landscape the soils are very sandy. Water passes through rapidly and is poorly filtered, so pollution from the land passes quickly into the underlying aquifer. Sinkholes, surface water and underground streams act as conduits to channel the pollution into the aquifer. These pollutants then emerge in the spring water.

The Florida Springs Imitative has concluded that three major concepts form the foundation for protecting our springs:

A spring is only as healthy as its recharge basin or springshed.
Activities within springsheds can and do have an adverse impact on the quality and quantity of ground water. This effects spring flow, water quality and the health of spring- run ecosystems.
Protection of spring water must occur before the water reaches the spring.
To protect Bluebird Springs, and all the springs that feed the Homosassa River, we must learn and practice water conservation habits. We must perform regular maintenance on septic tanks and accelerate the transition to sewers for all. We must protect against the negative impacts of stormwater runoff. And we must minimize fertilizer and pesticide use.

HISTORY OF BLUEBIRD SPRINGS PARK

Formerly known as the "Gator Hole," Bluebird Springs was dedicated to the citizens as part of the Villa Sites Addition to Homosassa when it was platted and recorded in 1927. In 1978 Bluebird Springs was acquired by the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners and designated as a county park.

Unfortunately, varying circumstances over the last twenty years have left Bluebird Springs in its own demise. Many attempts have been made to revitalize the Park, with the goal of making it a pristine, family-friendly park.

Two-thousand four is the turning point for Bluebird Springs Park. With the combined efforts of community organizations and partnerships with local and state government agencies, the Park is finally emerging into a welcoming locality. Moreover, the initiative taken on by one such organization, Springbusters, is finally seeing their perseverance come to fruition.

Currently the Park has pavilions, restrooms, grills, picnic tables and the County has plans for a children's playground. The future for Bluebird Springs Park is bright!

ABOUT SEAWALLS

Seawalls are perhaps the worst type of construction that can occur on the shoreline of a river or spring. They create a barrier for wildlife, cause erosion, disrupt plant communities and are a visual eyesore. Seawalls adversely affect critters such as turtles that need to lay eggs in uplands. On waterfronts where there is wave action from boats, rip-rap walls help absorb the wave energy whereas vertical seawalls cause that wave action to erode the soil from the base and deposit it out further into the lake. Often you can actually see the soil that has eroded out into the waterways, creating wide flat areas. In many cases this soil makes it harder to get boats in and out during low water periods. Vertical seawalls also disrupt the natural patterns of wetland vegetation that occur on normal shorelines. Under natural conditions, trees, shrubs and their root structure pr
Posted on 30 Sep 2019 by homosassa
by Irene Ivory



When my grandfather and father fished, they called their net boats “skiffs.” The outboards (if you were lucky enough to have one) were referred to as “kickers.” The kickers were placed on the bow of the skiff, the net was piled on the stern, and fisherman motored the boats backward. Before Grandpa had a kicker he and his fisherman crew would tie their skiffs behind his launch called the “Gopher” until they found signs of fish. Once they found fish the excitement would begin and they'd proceed to circle up their catch.

The majority of the net-spreads were located past the three fish houses on the left if you were inroute down the Homosassa River. To your right (where Gasparilla Cay stands today) more net-spreads stood along the banks of the river, among the water grass, oak and cedar trees. Narrow planks ran beside the net-spreads giving room for the men to stand and mend their nets. The fisherman who lived down on the islands along the river had their own spreads. I'm not aware when the spreads were removed… when nylon replaced cotton would be my guess.

The fisherman had no choice but to hang their nets to dry. They were woven out of the whitest cotton when they were delivered. The process was to dye the nets with a product by the name of lamp black which helped preserve the cotton and it also made the nets less visible to fish. Before the lamp black was applied, the nets had to be hung in a lead line and a cork line had to be sewn to the net using a long flat needle. The needle that my grandfather George Shiver used was carved out of cedar wood. As time progressed the needles changed from natural cedar wood to modern day plastic. These needles were also used for mending holes where crabs and large fish would either chew or tear the nets.

After the net was hung and dyed, a long round wooden staff with lead molded into it was attached to one end of the net. The fisherman could then stand on their skiff, throw the staff, row or motor their boat in a circle, and wait for the fish to get trapped in the net. The spreads were built with cedar or cypress poles. More net-spreads could be seen as you made a let leaving the main Homosassa river and entering Otter Creek. The flow of water passed yet another fish house (Cedar Key Fish Co.) and ended at the natural bridge on Mason Creek Road.

The townspeople who lived on Otter Creek were almost all “fisherpeople”. Several more fish-houses and, of course, bundles of net-spreads were located on your travels to the natural bridge. The locals (myself included) referred to this area as Boogar Bottom.

And that's the story as I recall…

Irene (Esnard) Ivory was born on an island off the Homosassa River. She spent many years watching her father and grandfather earn a living off he crystal clear bounty provided by the river and its estuaries.
Posted on 30 Sep 2019 by homosassa
by Stephanie McLeod



Each time I drive across the bridge I say my blessings for the opportunity I had to grow up in such a remarkable community. With wonderful people and a pristine environment, Homosassa provides a healthy atmosphere for the enrichment of its citizens.

However, such notable attributes have been changing. The tremendous growth our community is experiencing has placed a strain on our most distinguished resource, water. You have read time and again the statistics reminding us how much water we don't have, or even how we are polluting our own rivers, but what do you do about it?

As a citizen, you should feel obligated to help make a difference. I'm not asking that you go door to door serving as an advocate for our number one resource (although that would be nice). I'm asking that you turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or shaving your legs. I'm asking that you use water-friendly fertilizers on your grass and only water your lawn when you are supposed to. I'm asking that you join the Save The Homosassa River Alliance and the Homosassa Civic Club. I'm asking tha tyou make a difference.

To make a difference, we all need to work collectively in building a sustainable environment for Homosassa. The community and the individual must mutually reinforce each other. Being part of the ideograph “Gem of the Nature Coast” will not be warranted if we don't work together and save our water, specifically our rivers. So, get out there and get involved … make a difference! After all, a community is only as strong as its individuals.

Stephanie, a native of Old Homosassa, is a Graduate Student at the University of Florida. She is writing a thesis on sustainable development, focusing on Citrus County.

Posted on 30 Sep 2019 by homosassa
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