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Please join or renew your membership

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FOWR membership is invaluable because you help keep us strong. Your support helps us defend the Wekiva and educate future generations who will need to take up the work of ensuring this remains one of Central Florida’s environmental jewels.

Many thanks to those of you who have already renewed your membership, and a reminder that it just takes one click (below) for those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to do so.  We would like to recognize those who have thus far renewed at our highest membership levels:

CORPORATE – -Encore Farms

LIFE — Leslie Poole

PATRON — Dick Ashby, Curtis Duffield

Friends of Wekiva River depends upon the income received from annual dues to sustain its many important activities related to protection of the river and basin. Through our efforts, we seek to minimize impacts from fragmentation and loss of habitat, declines in spring flow and degradation of water quality.

Your dues cover administrative expenses, such as paying the rental fee for monthly meetings and insurance for the activities that we lead. Your fees are also critical to programs we sponsor, such as educational materials and research we fund on wildlife and water quality in the basin.

Please click on the following link and renew your membership for 2018-2019. The Wekiva River and the wildlife who live within the basin are depending on you!!!

www.friendsofwekiva.org/membership/

FOWR Board: Who are they? What do they do?

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We’re so glad you asked!

After organizing informally in 1978 and incorporating in 1982, The Friends of Wekiva River, Inc. began with 19 members and an even smaller number sitting on the Board of Directors. Over the 40 years that have ensued, FOWR has grown to more than 300 members residing in Orange, Seminole and Lake Counties. With the most recent election conducted at the Board of Directors meeting held on May 3rd, the Board now consists of 18 members each serving three-year terms, governed by a President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.

We will be launching a series of articles in upcoming newsletters to “spotlight” and introduce each of our Directors to you, but for now we thought you might be interested in some general information about the current make-up of the Board, the different areas of expertise the Board members contribute to FOWR and its mandate, and some of the activities the Board has contributed to and is currently involved in.

Most of the Board members have lived in the Wekiva basin for many years, and several were intimately involved with obtaining designation of the river many years ago as an Outstanding Florida Water, a Florida Canoe Trail, an Aquatic Preserve, and a Wild and Scenic River. In addition to the knowledge acquired over the years from these and other activities, many of the Board members contribute technical expertise in areas relevant to protection of the river, including law, biology, engineering, landscape architecture and media.

Board members are actively engaged in programs related to water quality enhancement, black bear research, land acquisition in the Wekiva to Ocala corridor and assuring design standards for the Wekiva Parkway. We monitor and analyze projects proposed for development within the basin as well as changes proposed to local government development codes and comprehensive plans that could negatively impact the river and basin. We appear at public hearings before local government boards to advocate for the river, and participate in many hands-on projects throughout the year preparing data and analysis related to species and habitat protection, water quality issues and education.

The Board meets 6:15 pm the first Thursday of every month at:

Seventh Day Adventist Church

Markham Woods Road

Longwood, FL.

State Plan Falls Far Short of Solving Wekiva’s Pollution Problems

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Two of Central Florida’s crown jewels, Wekiwa and Rock Springs, are in danger, and a plan meant to save them is woefully insufficient.

It is well known that both springs, as well as Rock Springs Run and the Wekiva River, are suffering from high levels of nitrates and phosphorus that are causing an imbalance in the aquatic plant and animal communities, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

These nutrients have led to growth of nuisance algae and other undesirable aquatic species that are choking out vegetation that fish and other wildlife need to live.

In 2008, FDEP determined that nitrate concentrations should be less than 0.286 milligrams per liter to protect the water quality of the two springs and their runs. But the nitrate levels in Wekiwa Springs average about 3 to 4 times higher. In Rock Springs, the nitrate concentration is even higher, averaging between 4 to 5 times what DEP says it should be.

In 2016, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act which requires development of plans to protect water quality in outstanding Florida springs. These are called Basin Management Action Plans or BMAPs. The Act requires that FDEP develop strategies to reduce pollutants so that the water quality in the springs and their runs will meet the required nitrogen levels.

FDEP recently issued the draft Wekiwa Spring and Rock Springs BMAP, which identifies fertilizers and septic tanks within the Wekiva Basin as the major contributors of nitrogen to groundwater that reaches Wekiwa and Rock Springs. The BMAP estimated that approximately one million pounds of nitrogen reach the groundwater within the Wekiva Basin each year. Of that total, approximately 29% comes from septic tanks, 26% from urban turfgrass fertilizer, another 23% from sports turf fertilizer, agriculture and livestock wastes, and about 16% from wastewater treatment plants.

The draft BMAP is set to be finalized this summer. But it recommends that nitrogen loads to groundwater within the Wekiva Basin be reduced by only about 20 percent. – certainly not sufficient to reduce the nitrogen concentrations in the springs by more than the needed 70 – 80 percent. The Friends of the Wekiva River believe that the draft BMAP must provide more specific requirements for reducing nitrogen loads to groundwater from septic tanks, fertilizers and wastewater treatment facilities by at least 80 percent.

Drilling Down on Septic Tanks

The draft BMAP would allow new septic tanks to be installed within an area designated as the Wekiva Basin Priority Focus Area – if the permit applicant can demonstrate that “sewer connection will be available within 5 years.” (Note: the draft BMAP does not specify that connection to the sewer is required, only that sewer be available). Existing septic tanks within the Priority Focus Area on lots less than an acre would be required to be either connected to a sewer system or upgraded to provide “enhanced” nitrogen removal within 20 years from the date of the BMAP adoption.

Friends of the Wekiva River urged FDEP to prohibit any new conventional septic tanks within the Priority Focus Area to prevent any additional nitrogen loads to groundwater. The Friends also urged FDEP to require “high level nitrogen removal” (removing at least 90% of the nitrogen in septic tank effluent) for new septic tanks and existing septic tanks where sewers cannot be installed within the next 15 years.

The Friends also believe that local utilities should undertake sewer construction projects within the Priority Focus Area to eliminate septic tanks in places where groundwater is vulnerable to nitrogen pollution, as identified by the Florida Geologic Survey. The Friends believe that Orange and Seminole counties and Apopka should extend sewer service to existing homes within the areas designated by the FGS as vulnerable and more vulnerable to groundwater contamination.

Spreading the News on Fertilizers

The Friends believe that the draft BMAP should require limits on fertilizer use within the springshed. At a minimum, the draft BMAP should include the following recommendations: Allow only slow-release organic nitrogen fertilizers to be sold within Orange, Seminole and Lake counties; prohibit fertilizer application during the rainy season; ban fertilizer sales within the three-county area during the summer months; establish application rates for lawns in residential and commercial areas; prohibit fertilizer application within 10 feet of water bodies, ponds, wetlands or sinkholes; make local code enforcement officials responsible for enforcing fertilizer ordinances; enforce limits on disposal of grass clippings and debris; and require public education programs on fertilization within the three counties.

Breaking Down the Flow of Wastewater Treatment Facilities

The Springs and Aquifer Protection Act prohibits new wastewater treatment facilities with permitted capacities greater than 100,000 gallons per day within the Priority Focus Area, unless the facilities reduce nitrogen in their effluent to 3 milligrams per liter or less. The Friends recommend that no new treatment facilities of any size be permitted within the springshed. Further, the Friends recommends that all existing wastewater treatment facilities in the springshed using percolation ponds or rapid infiltration basins – both of which allow wastewater to slowly seep into the ground — should be connected to sewer or provide treatment to limit effluent nitrogen concentrations to 3 milligrams per liter or less.

What Must Be Done to Save Wekiwa

The Friends are deeply concerned the draft BMAP recommendations won’t meet FDEP’s nutrient criteria for Wekiwa and Rock Springs. The Friends believe that more stringent limits on discharges of nitrogen from new and existing septic tanks and more stringent limits on use of fertilizers and wastewater treatment facilities are needed. The FDEP should rethink these issues before the plan becomes final and step up for Florida’s future.

FDEP has already committed $50 million per year for springs restoration statewide. The Friends recognize that even more money will be needed to get the job done. The Friends will work with our FDEP and our elected representatives toward obtaining more funding so that the Legislature’s goal of restoring our springs can be met within the 20-year goal.

Cleaning up our springs will take collaboration, cooperation, concessions and additional funding. But if we don’t act now, future generations could be robbed of the crown jewels we failed to protect.

FOWR Receives Grindle Foundation Grant

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Friends of the Wekiva River recently applied for, and received, from the Art and Phyllis Grindle Foundation a generous $4,980 grant to fund the continuation of an investigation of the filamentous blue-green algae, Lyngbya wollei, found in the Wekiva River basin. This algae has been a source of concern due to the rise in nutrient levels in the Wekiva River that have increased significantly over the years. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two nutrients of concern in the Wekiva River stemming from sources such as septic tanks, wastewater treatment facilities, and urban, farm and sports turf fertilizers from lands within the Wekiva basin. The proliferation of algae and exotic plants is a result of nutrient enrichment and can have the effect of choking out beneficial native plant species.

In 2008, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection set pollution limits for nitrogen and phosphorus in the Wekiva River system as part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program. Data from numerous sources, including a 1998-2000 Lyngbya algae study, also funded by FOWR, was used by scientists who helped develop the TMDL criteria for the Wekiva River. These determinations, in turn, set the stage for other programs aimed at reducing nutrient impacts to the Wekiva River.

Receipt of the $4,980 grant will allow FOWR to provide a stipend for a Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve Intern to continue a study of the algae commenced and funded by FOWR in 2017 and to add additional stations in order to more closely replicate the original 1998-2000 study. The results will provide a better opportunity for comparison of recent and past data to determine whether an increase or decrease in algae biomass has occurred. Several key strategies aimed at reducing nutrient inputs to the Wekiva system have been in place for many years. The results of the new algae study made possible by the Grindle Foundation grant, in addition to review of water quality trend analysis, can help determine whether those strategies are working.

Many thanks to the Art and Phyllis Grindle Foundation for its generosity in making this very important work possible !!

In case you missed it: Legislative Roundup

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The Florida Legislature ended its most recent session with a March vote impacting two subjects of keen interest to FOWR members: Florida Forever funding for conservation projects and a vote that will affect the aquifer and water quality.

An effort to publicly fund conservation projects in Florida began more than 30 years ago when Governor Bob Martinez established the Commission on the Future of Florida’s Environment. The Commission held meetings around the State attended by citizens from all walks of life, and state agencies identified lands through this process that they saw as critical to acquire. Floridians made it clear they wanted to protect their environmental future by acquiring these “must have” properties, and the Commission decided to ask the Florida Legislature for a total of $3 billion funded over 10 years at $300 million per year in order to ensure the ecological health and open space needs of the state.

A program named “Preservation 2000” was originally approved by the Legislature in 1990 with funding sourced from a small percentage of the money collected from documentary stamps paid on real estate transactions recorded in the public records around the state. The successor to the program was named “Florida Forever,” created in 2001 with another $3 billion approved for conservation funding over a 10 year period also funded from the documentary stamp fee. With approximately 10 million acres managed for conservation in Florida, more than 2.5 million acres of land have been purchased for conservation and recreation use under the Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever programs.

When Florida Forever funding is appropriated by the Legislature, it is distributed by the Department of Environmental Protection to a number of state agencies and programs to purchase public lands in the form of forests, parks, trails, wildlife management areas and more. All of these lands are held in trust for the residents of Florida.

After the 2008 recession impacted funding, an overwhelming 75% of Florida voters passed Amendment 1 in 2014, which requires that one-third of the documentary taxes collected on real estate documents be used for purchasing and restoring conservation lands through programs like Florida Forever. Despite this clarion call from concerned citizens, Florida’s legislators consistently refused over the ensuing years to fund the program in the intended manner, instead siphoning off funds to pay for existing environmental programs previously paid for out of general revenue, and falling far short of the intended allocation for the purchase of conservation lands. In 2015, for example, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund collected more than $740 million. Lawmakers spent only $88 million of that sum on conservation efforts. In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, only $15 million was allocated to Florida Forever, a huge drop off from the $300 million annual budget received at its peak, and the amount allocated last year was zero.

After a coalition of environmental groups filed suit, the Legislature voted in March of this year to approve $100.8 million for Florida Forever as part of the 88.7 billion state budget. The State’s Acquisition and Restoration Council (which selects the properties deserving of preservation) has a shopping list of 32 properties ranging from panther habitat in South Florida to bat caves in the

Panhandle. Irrespective of the Legislature’s vote, the lawsuit filed by the coalition is set for a trial in July of this year.

Meanwhile, the Legislature also approved HB 1149 in the same legislative session, which would encourage pumping treated sewage into the state’s aquifer to offset increased withdrawals of freshwater. By injecting the effluent, the state could continue approving new water-use permits for developers as new residents continue flooding into the state.

Magical moments on our hike to find hidden springs

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Our discovery of hidden springs revealed some magical moments. Thanks to everyone who attended!
Here's a report from leader Jay Exum:
FOWR Ecology Field Course #6:
Hidden Springs of Seminole State Forest

On June 3, about 30 participants in the Friends of the Wekiva River’s sixth and final ecology field course trekked across Seminole State Forest in search of “hidden springs”. These diminutive, Magnitude 4 or 5 springs still emanate from relatively unaltered natural lands and provide much of the surface flow for Sulfur Run, a tributary to Blackwater Creek.

All these springs occur in the Wekiva basin springshed and are protected within the 25,000-acre Seminole State Forest in the Wekiva to Ocala corridor. On the Forest, management is focused on restoring the historical biological diversity of scrub and sandhill habitats. Preservation of these habitats, characterized by extremely high recharge into the Floridan aquifer, has also protected the springshed for the springs that we visited during our day in the field.

The springs occur in an area referred to as Sulfur Island, a 60-foot uprising of well-drained soils underlain by limestone. At the spring vents, groundwater is forced out of these karst formations by underground pressure. The springs bubble up at the surface and form a continuous flow of clear, low nutrient water. We visited Helene, Markee, Boulder, Shark Tooth and Palm Springs. Palm Springs was dammed by previous private landowners to provide a deeper swimming hole. After acquisition, the state removed the dam to return the spring to its natural topography and hydrology. We admired the success of these restoration efforts, and the recovery of native vegetation along the slopes of the spring. Helene Springs sits in a veritable oasis of hydric hammock under a mature canopy of bald cypress, tupelo gum, water oak, sweetbay magnolia and tuliptrees that provided a cool (albeit humid) break from the adjacent longleaf pine flatwoods. Boulder, Markee and Shark Tooth Springs emerge from sandhill and scrub communities and their relatively steep slopes provided an interesting transition from sand pine scrub across longleaf pine sandhills into the wetland community created by the springs.

This field trip allowed us the opportunity to review the information learned during previous field courses. We discussed the diversity of frogs in wetlands systems across Seminole forest, the need for fire to maintain most of the upland communities in the Wekiva basin and the unique attributes of the ecological communities that we visited during the last year. Hopefully, the FOWR field course provided a primer for some, and deeper insight for others into the benefits and beauty of natural systems in the Wekiva basin.

Ecology on the Wekiva

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:

Aquatic Ecology on Rock Springs Run

 

Our fifth installment of the Friends of the Wekiva River ecology field course series related to aquatic ecology. We paddled portions of Rock Springs Run on Saturday, April 19. Recent rainfall required us to reschedule, and then modify the trip, but this portion of the Wild and Scenic River system did not disappoint. We discussed Rock Springs, a second order magnitude spring, and the contribution its 40 million gallons per day provides to the surface waters of Rock Springs Run. We discussed changes in water quality at the spring and the surface waters along the Run over the last few decades and measures that can be taken to improve them. We took special note of the plants that were flowering during this spring trip. We saw bulltongue, hemlock, pickerelweed, buttonbush, spider lily, sweetbay, spatterdock and other showy flowers during our 4-mile canoe trip. We also noted flower of less conspicuous species such as cattail, rushes, beakrushes, sedges and sawgrass. We discussed the forested floodplain associated with the Wekiva River system and its importance to migratory birds. I mentioned the various warbler species that were observed migrating through central Florida over the last month, and we noted migratory species that had now arrived and will breed here. Birds that we observed or heard included pileated woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, Carolina wren, tufted titmouse, red-eyed vireo, white ibis, little blue heron, great egret, tri-colored heron, and a female wood duck with chicks. The rain held off for just long enough for us to finish our paddle, first through the Emerald Cuttowards Rock Springs, and then downstream a couple

 

of miles along Rock Springs Run. We felt the difference between paddling upstream against the powerful flows of a second order of magnitude spring, and the benefit of allowing it to push us downstream. This section of the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River is one of the most scenic with clear water; native, mature forested canopy; and spectacular native wildflowers. Thanks to all that participated - we hope you will continue to enjoy the river and work to sustain its values.

Only a third of the job getting done to protect Wekiva waters

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The Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run have a pollution problem. Too much nitrogen and phosphorous are harming the rivers’ health. Algae is one symptom of choking ecosystems.

But there is a plan to clean up Wekiva as well as other polluted waterways throughout the state. Friends of the Wekiva River has been working to ensure cleanup efforts will be successful for Wekiva but is concerned that the state is not fully addressing the sources of this pollution.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has estimated that about a million pounds of nitrogen in the Wekiva basin enter the waters each year. And it has developed detailed estimates of where it’s coming from. The major sources include septic tanks (29%), urban fertilizers (26 %), wastewater treatment facilities (17%), farm fertilizer (11 %) and sports turf fertilizer (7 %).

In 2008, FDEP set pollution limits, which are known as Total Maximum Daily Loads, for the Wekiva River, Wekiwa Springs and Rock Springs. For science types, here are the actual numbers: The TMDL is 0.286 milligrams per liter for total nitrogen and 0.065 milligrams per liter for total phosphorus. But nitrogen concentrations in the springs range from 0.8 to 1.4 milligrams per liter – about four times higher than what’s allowed. Phosphorous concentrations are about two to three times higher than the limit. Because of these violations, the state has designated the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run as “impaired due to total phosphorus and nitrate-nitrogen based on imbalance of aquatic flora…” (Wekiva Basin Management Action Plan, October, 2015).

The Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act of 2016 requires FDEP to take action. One of the first steps is updating plans known as Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) for all first order magnitude springs and springs of regional significance, which includes the Wekiwa.  The plans outline projects that should be done to reduce pollution. The state also must identify Priority Focus Areas for each springshed and adopt a remediation plan for on-site treatment and disposal systems (septic tanks). For the Wekiva Basin, all of these elements must be completed by July 1, 2018.

FDEP started an update to the original 2015 Wekiva River BMAP in February 2016.  For the Wekiva BMAP update, the priority areas include places within the Wekiwa springshed where the travel time of groundwater within the Upper Floridan aquifer to Wekiwa and Rock Springs is one year or less.  Rainwater can take from days to thousands of years to work its way through our underground limestone labrynth and emerge in springs and rivers.

FDEP has asked stakeholders within the Wekiva Basin to propose projects that will reduce nitrogen pollution from sources such as wastewater treatment plants, septic tanks, fertilizers, etc.  However, FDEP’s current approach does not address the entire nitrogen load to the basin.   Instead, the state is focusing only on the nitrogen discharged directly from Wekiwa and Rock Springs, approximately 300,000 pounds per year, which is less than one-third of the total nitrogen load to the Wekiva Basin.

The FOWR disagrees with FDEP’s approach and has recommended that officials revise it to address the entire nitrogen load to the basin because ntrogen entering the groundwater will eventually reach the springs.  FOWR believes that the BMAP update must identify strategies to reduce the entire load to reduce the nitrogen concentrations in the groundwater that is discharged from Wekiwa and Rock Springs.

FDEP has used the same approach in draft BMAPs for other springs.  The Florida Springs Council, which is a non-profit group composed of springs experts and advocates, has expressed concerns similar to ours. To date, FDEP has not indicated that it will change the approach. This is a disservice to the Wekiva and all Floridians. The uniqueness of our springs and rivers draws locals and tourists from around the world. Yet the state is putting our valuable environmental assets at risk. FOWR will continue working with the Florida Springs Council on strategies to persuade FDEP to change its approach and do what’s right for Florida’s environment, citizens and future generations.

GOOD NEWS: Wekiva Protections Still Strong After Interchange Threat

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GOOD NEWS: Wekiva Protections Still Strong After Interchange Threat

Friends of the Wekiva River members recently worked hard to oppose an additional interchange on the Wekiva Parkway being proposed by Lake County that would threaten the compromises made to conserve the Wekiva basin when the road was planned. The Wekiva Parkway Protection Act, which was approved by the Florida Legislature in 2004, is helping to safeguard our basin lands, waters, aquifer recharge, wildlife corridors and rural communities. The interchange proposed by Lake County threatened all of this.

A huge thank you to all of our members and friends who wrote emails and letters and made calls to help our efforts!

For those not familiar with the controversy or the history of the Wekiva Parkway, local and regional planning agencies began considering construction of a toll-road expressway surrounding metropolitan Orlando more than 40 years ago. A plan formulated in the mid-80’s proposed a segment that would travel through portions of the Wekiva basin (which consists of the Wekiva and portions of the St John’s Rivers along with their tributaries and associated lands) located in northwest Orange County, the City of Apopka, and Lake and Seminole counties. The Wekiva basin is part of a vast wildlife corridor that connects portions of Orange, Seminole and Lake counties with the Ocala National Forest.

Concerns related to expressway-associated development pressure, exacerbation of existing nutrient pollution problems in the springs and river system and potential decline in spring flow led the conservation community to rally for protective legislation related to the section of the expressway proposed to travel through the basin.

In response to these concerns, Governor Jeb Bush created the “Wekiva Basin Area Task Force” which was charged with evaluating and making recommendations concerning the most appropriate location for the portion of the expressway that would travel through the basin (which will connect SR 429 to I-4). In 2004, the Florida Legislature adopted the “Wekiva Parkway Protection Act” implementing the recommendations of the task force. The legislation requires that the 25-mile segment of the expressway to be constructed within the Wekiva basin and to be known as the “Wekiva Parkway” follow the task force design criteria.

The task force design criteria recommends, and the legislation therefore limits, the number of primary interchanges to be constructed on the Wekiva Parkway to the following three locations: Kelly Park Rd in Orange County SR 46 in Lake County I-4 /SR 417 in Seminole County The stated purpose of limited interchanges by the task force is “to assure that any proposed highway route does not result in added growth pressures within or affecting the Wekiva basin.”

Construction of the Wekiva Parkway began in 2015, and the first section completed by the Florida Department of Transportation in 2016 consisted of a 3.14-mile stretch of road located from CR 435 to SR 46. FDOT received a waiver to allow construction of temporary ramps at CR 435 to allow the public an opportunity to access and use the completed segment while the remainder of the road was being constructed. The temporary ramps are slated to be closed in 2018 once additional construction of the Wekiva Parkway is completed because they will no longer be needed at that time. The temporary ramps recently became the subject of debate because Lake County has sought to make their location an additional permanent interchange.

Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione, who represents the district in which Mount Plymouth is located, recently began advocating that the temporary CR 435 ramp location be made into a permanent interchange because she believes that motorists traveling from Apopka seeking access to the Wekiva Parkway will cut through Mount Plymouth using CR 435 as a shortcut to the SR 46 interchange that is being constructed in Lake County. She is concerned that this potential new traffic pattern will turn the local roads of the 4,000-resident Mount Plymouth community into a “superhighway.” In response to these concerns, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution on October 24, 2017 asking that the Florida Legislature authorize an additional permanent interchange at CR 435.

Because the temporary ramps were not designed to highway interchange standards, construction of a permanent interchange at the CR 435 location would not only require approval by the Florida Legislature, it would necessitate the acquisition of additional right-ofway, resulting in delay in completion of the Wekiva Parkway, and the accrual of additional construction costs that could exceed $20 million.

When news of Lake County’s plans became public, the City of Apopka passed a resolution on October 14, 2017 opposing the additional permanent interchange and urging any governmental entity that might consider the idea to firmly reject it. The Orange County Board of County Commissioners also discussed the topic at its November 14, 2017 meeting and declined to support a resolution making the CR 435 ramp location a permanent interchange. Although the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners has not formally considered the matter at one of its meetings, Commissioner and former State Senator Lee Constantine has vowed to fight against the additional interchange on the basis that any such construction would violate the public trust.

The area in question is located in Orange County and sits on the edge of the Wekiva River watershed that feeds dozens of lakes, springs and the Wekiva River. Charles Lee of the Florida Audubon Society has informed various governmental boards considering Lake County’s proposal that the task force specifically determined that an interchange at CR 435 would not be viable from an environmental standpoint. Historically, interchanges are magnets for development, and no community over time is capable of preventing the impact of traffic and land values from causing increases to denser land uses.

Commissioner Campione made a presentation requesting support for the CR 435 permanent interchange at the Central Florida Expressway Authority meeting conducted on December 14, 2017, and the proposal was soundly rejected. As part of the discussion by members of the Authority, the Lake County Commission representative who sits on the Authority made a public announcement that Lake County has decided to pursue funding for traffic calming measures on CR 435 instead of the additional permanent interchange. The traffic calming measures will consist of a series of round-abouts costing in excess of $1 million.

Lake County’s newly-announced plans to pursue an alternative to the additional permanent interchange at CR 435 is good news, but we must remain vigilant to ensure that the protections afforded by the Wekiva River Protection Act always remain in place. These protections underpin the very foundation of our community – the land and water that we rely on and hope to leave in pristine condition for generations to come.

Go Wild!

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Wilderness Experiences

Go Wild!

Wilderness experiences are good for the mind, body and soul.

By Jay Exum

Jay is a featured columnist on environmental issues for 2017 editions of Seminole Magazine.

Wilderness. The very word conjures mixed emotions, particularly in our ever-urbanizing world. Is the term positive? Does it connote a place where you would go to experience a variety of wildlife, exquisite natural scenery and true peace? Or is frightening? Is the idea of exploring a wilderness area so inherently dangerous, so remote, so unrelatable that you wouldn’t consider it without a satellite phone and an emergency support team?

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