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!
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