TALLAHASSEE – Today, Governor Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet approved a plan for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to purchase a tract of land in Madison County that will fill a critical gap for springs protection, flood control assistance and groundwater recharge. The Cabinet approved the Department’s $2.2 million purchase of a 599-acre property owned by the Damascus Peanut Company on the Suwannee River, located near Anderson Spring. The property will complete sections of the Ellaville Twin Rivers State Forest and will be managed by the Florida Forest Service. It is part of Florida’s First Magnitude Springs Florida Forever Project.
Gov. Scott said, “This investment signifies our commitment to acquiring critical lands for water quality improvements. A healthy environment is part of Florida’s economic engine and we depend on its health. This investment builds on our Florida Families First Budget which invests $269.5 million to improve water quality throughout the Sunshine State.”
The property marks another land purchase that aids in the Department’s goal of protecting springs throughout the state. On March 7, Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved a $1.5 million purchase of land outside Wakulla Springs and within the Wakulla Springs Protection Zone with Florida Forever money. Purchasing land near springs protects the springs, karst windows and the Floridian Aquifer from the effects of commercial, agricultural and residential runoff.
“The Department saw the springs protection, water quality and water quantity that this property offered, so we worked hard to acquire it,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. “This purchase keeps a key piece of land in state ownership and furthers the Department’s mission of land purchases that benefit springs.”
The property provides springs protection, a 100-year floodplain and surface water protection. The property lies partially within the springshed for Anderson Spring, which is located on state land directly across the Suwannee River from this property. Cave divers have mapped a connecting cave system that moves toward this property, meaning it has high spring recharge protection potential.
A large number of springs are located along the Suwannee River and this property has 1.6 miles of river frontage on the western bank of the river. Those springs are Hardee Springs, Madison Blue Springs, Falmouth Spring and Lafayette Blue Spring.