DEP Celebrates Dedication of Wekiva Wild and Scenic River Management Plan

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), National Park Service and local and state partners held a ceremony today at the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park to celebrate a management plan put in place to protect the Wekiva River System.

DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. spoke about the importance of creating a management plan through a federal, state and local partnership that is designed to protect the Wekiva River.

“One of DEP’s priorities is getting the water right and this management plan is designed to do just that for the Wekiva River,” Vinyard said. “DEP was honored to be a partner in this plan, and we will continue to work every day to protect the health of this river system and the wildlife that lives within and alongside it.”

In October 2000, the National Park Service designated the Wekiva River System based on the river’s free-flowing characteristics and its five Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) — scenic, recreation, wildlife and habitat, historic and cultural and water quality and quantity. The river provides these qualities to more than two million local residents and visitors.

A comprehensive management plan that serves as the basis for protecting the 41.6-mile river system was unveiled today. This plan outlines goals, objectives, and actions for key issues the ORVs face, such as human disturbance and biodiversity loss.

The plan also assesses ways to upkeep the Wekiva Basin, the surface water drainage basin of the Wekiva River System, which supports important species such as the Florida Black Bear, the American Alligator, the Bald Eagle, the Wood Stork, and the West Indian Manatee.

Three Florida State Parks — Wekiwa Springs State Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve and Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park sit on the river. In addition, the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve, part of DEP’s Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas, calls the river its home.

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