At a meeting in May, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) asked boating and waterways staff to reevaluate a proposal and evidence for adding in a Springs Protection Zone at Weeki Wachee Spring, as well as to a portion of the spring's associated river run in Hernando County.
According to a release shared by the FWC on Wednesday, June 7, they found that the anchoring, mooring, beaching, and grounding of vessels have caused damage to the bank, vegetation, native habitats, and aquatic grasses in and around the spring, as well as along the spring run. The proposed Springs Protection Zone would prohibit these activities within its area.
Hernando County Officials and FWC staff coordinated with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection to review whether Weeki Wachee Spring met the criteria for the creation of this protection zone, holding three public meetings for interested parties before approval — two specifically for Weeki Wachee's proposed Protection Zone.
All parties evaluated the presented evidence, opting to present a final proposed rule at a commission meeting on July 19 and 20 that would create a Springs Protection Zone, thus restricting the beaching, mooring, and grounding of vessels on the spring run of the Weeki Wachee River, extending from the spring boil within Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, all the way to the Rogers Park Boat Ramp.
A map of the proposed protection zone can be seen below:
The FWC is seeking public comment on the proposed Springs Protection Zone. A summary of the input received during this public comment period will be presented to Commissioners at the July 19-20 meeting. Public comments are being accepted through June 30. Comments can be submitted to BoatingPublicComments@MyFWC.com and via mail to:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Attn: Boating and Waterways, 1M
620 S. Meridian St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
To learn more about opportunities to provide feedback, visit MyFWC.com/boating, click on “Waterway Management” and then “Public Workshops/Meeting/Notices.”
Article by Rachael Volpe