I was introduced to State Parks as an employee in 1993 at Homosassa Springs, instantly falling in love at first sight with the crystal-clear ebullient waters. In fact, the first time I saw Homosassa was in 1988 on an accidental “what’s this?” stop on a road trip through north FL from my home in West Palm Beach. I was awestruck when I passed the manatee statue near the entrance, and there was a live manatee doing barrel rolls in the crystal clear spring run. I couldn’t breathe. How amazing is it to have millions of gallons of crystal clear water bursting out of nowhere, providing a sanctuary for endangered wildlife and flowing in a river to the Gulf? Springs became my thing and I have had the honor and privilege of playing a role in management of five of our glorious State Park springs since 1993.
Silver River and the surrounding 4,400 acres were acquired by the state of FL in 1985. The entire 5.4 mile river is within the state park and protected by the Department of Environmental Protection. The state of Florida became the owner of the headspring area in 1992. Ongoing long before 1985 and through 2013, ownership and then a lease agreement allowed private business to operate the 232 acre area as “Nature’s Theme Park”. Because Humans have such a hard time letting nature be itself, I found it truly remarkable that the various operators had managed to protect this spring and river relatively well from ourselves for this long. Our visitors truly appreciate the preservation that has occurred, then and now. I thank you for that!
When we became Silver Springs State Park in 2013, and the park system began managing the headsprings as well, the citizens of Florida agreed that the best thing to do was to enhance the protection that the private owners were already providing in the past. We maintained the policy of people in watercraft only, and added a paddle launch to facilitate the experience of a truly natural spring fed river. Captive wildlife exhibits and about 50 structures were removed, reducing the impacts of impervious surfaces and pollutants and inputs of sewage, and vastly reducing the consumption of groundwater to maintain those facilities. In this way we set out to truly present nature’s theme for public enjoyment. Silver Springs and Silver River are the closest you can get to an undisturbed spring fed river within the Florida State Park system. No houses are built along its shoreline, no fish gets a lip piercing, no alligators get removed. What we have is a true and honest demonstration of what Nature’s theme really is, and you can see it from a glass bottom boat or a paddle craft of your choice. Float into the truly REAL Florida here at Silver Springs.
Friends of Silver Springs State Park is a Citizen Support Organization (CSO), a non-profit volunteer organization, dedicated to preserving and enhancing Silver Springs State Park. We support Silver Springs State Park by providing volunteers, educating visitors, hosting events and raising funds for specific park projects.
Become a member
Check out our Membership Page and join the Friends of Silver Springs State Park in its mission to enhance and preserve this natural treasure. Our members meet the 2nd Thursday of most months in the Paradise Ballroom off SR 40. Social time begins at 5:30 p.m. and meetings begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. often featuring a guest speaker.