Oct. 21, 2014
~10-year management plan approved during public hearing and council meeting~
An anhinga finds a resting spot in the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve.
The Acquisition and Restoration Council today approved the 10-year management plan for Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve located in central Florida and encompassing 6,000 acres of sovereign submerged lands. These lands include a 22-mile portion of a federally designated American Heritage River and a 19-mile section of a federally designated Wild and Scenic River.
The Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve Management Plan characterizes each of its issues and delineates unique goals, objectives and strategies that set the framework for meeting the challenges presented by the issues. The purpose of this management plan is to incorporate, evaluate and prioritize all relevant information about the site into a cohesive management strategy, allowing for appropriate access to the managed areas while protecting the long-term health of the ecosystems and their resources.
Objectives include protecting and improving water quality, enhancing public experience in aquatic preserve waters by providing a variety of education opportunities, improving natural habitats by decreasing exotic species and reducing the amount of debris in the aquatic preserve.
As the public continues to enjoy this important natural resource, smart growth initiatives, science-based sustainable land-use strategies and low-impact recreational opportunities will be employed along with continued education and outreach efforts to visitors of the preserve.
“The Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve is a natural resource of historic, environmental and economic significance,” said Deborah Shelley, manager of Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve. “Striving to keep this area close to pristine is the primary goal of this management plan.”
Some of the major accomplishments completed since the approval of the previous Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve Management Plan include:
- Developed the public education and awareness program, Wekiva Promise Initiative, in partnership with South Seminole Rotary;
- Conducted a one-year algae survey, worked to eradicate and control eight invasive species and participated in and provided support for Wekiva River freshwater turtle research; and
- Participated in and co-organized numerous environmental education events, initiated and participated in numerous surveys to preserve and protect bird colonies and rookeries.
The basins and springsheds of the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve are of irreplaceable value to the quality of life and well-being of the people of the state of Florida. In addition to the aquatic preserve designation, the Wekiva and its tributaries have been designated a National Wild and Scenic River, an Outstanding Florida Waterway, a Florida Scenic and Wild River, a State Canoe Trail and Regionally Significant.
DEP’s Florida Coastal Office manages Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve along with 40 other aquatic preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Florida Coastal Office’s programs and activities are designed to help Floridians better understand and conserve the state’s resources through research, education and conservation.
For more information about the Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve and DEP’s Florida Coastal Office, click here.