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Rock Bluff Springs preparing to open for public use, SRWMD seeking public input

The J.H. Anderson, Jr. Memorial Park - Rock Bluff Springs Tract is one step closer to opening for public use. On January 8, 2019, Suwannee River Water Management District’s (District) Governing Board approved a management agreement and plan that authorizes Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) to provide management of the tract.
The District and ACT are inviting citizens to attend public meetings to discuss and seek input on the proposed Rock Bluff Springs Management Plan. A public meeting is planned for Thursday, February 28 at Bell Community Center, located at 1219 N Main Street in Bell. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and last until 7:30 p.m. District staff will present the proposed management plan at this public meeting and seek input on recreational activities and long-range tract planning at Rock Bluff Springs.
“The District is looking forward to partnering with ACT to open the Rock Bluff Springs Tract to the public,” said Hugh Thomas, executive director of the District. “Opening the tract will provide additional recreational opportunities to Gilchrist County and the surrounding communities, along with increased traffic for businesses in the area.”
Currently, Rock Bluff Springs is only accessible by boat. The District plans to open the 170-acre tract in Gilchrist County to provide the public with access to the spring by land. Over the past year, the District has sought after an organization to manage the tract, ultimately leading to negotiations with ACT.
According to the management agreement and plan, the District will fund and manage the initial facility improvements projects, while ACT will be responsible for long-term maintenance of those facilities. The agreement between the District and ACT will be valid for 10 years with a 10-year extension if both parties agree.
“ACT plans to keep the Rock Bluff Springs Tract well-maintained to preserve the natural system, while allowing the public to enjoy the spring,” said Tom Kay, executive director of ACT. “We believe that Rock Bluff Springs will become a popular recreational spot for families in the near future.”
Rock Bluff is a second magnitude spring with a 700’ spring run to the Suwannee River in Gilchrist County near Bell.  The clear crystal spring, with its large cypress trees, is the centerpiece of the one hundred seventy-acre tract.  The property is dotted with numerous karst windows opening into the aquifer surrounded by large Live Oaks trees.  During the summers months mullet dart and jump two plus feet out of the water.
The blue-green crystal spring pool measures 250’ north to south and 171’ east to west, with several vents feeding the shallow pool. The main spring is a nearly oval cavity that is 30 feet long, six feet wide and 30 feet deep.
Rock Bluff Management Plan will also be presented to the Gilchrist County Board of County Commission at the Commissioner’s February 18, 2019 meeting between 4:00 p.m. and  6:00 p.m. at the Board of County Commission Meeting Room, 210 S. Main Street, in Trenton.
The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public.

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