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Local environmental organization hits the springs for their first kayaking event of 2021

Published: Jan. 2, 2021 at 8:43 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - WWALS Watershed Coalition is an organization in North-Central Florida and South Georgia dedicated to conservation and education about natural springs. Their goal is to bring focus to problems like excessive water withdrawal. They do that by bringing people out to the springs to see the issues first hand and recognize the beauty of the natural waters.

“More exposure is great because the more people that see the rivers are there and that they are all great like they are and especially the people that get on them. The more they’ll help take care of them,” said John S. Quarterman, the Suwannee Riverkeeper.

The group was forced to alter their regular plans this year because of the pandemic. In a typical outing, they would put in their kayaks at the north entrance of the Ichetucknee Springs and travel to the first public boat ramp of the Santa Fe. However, that requires a shuttle and people to be in close quarters.

“What we have done to change this is, to prevent being in a shuttle we’ve come here, we put in at this landing, paddle all the way up to the north. Then we’ll jump in; I’ll jump in. Then we will paddle back down to the south takeout. We will use the tube trails to walk back to our vehicles and pick up the kayaks,” said Bobby McKenzie, the event organizer.

McKenzie believes outings like this allow people to explore the beauty of Florida.

“Aside from the crystal clear water in the middle of Florida that people wouldn’t expect, the state park covers the length of it, but when you go past the state park, you can go all the way down the Santa Fe,” said McKenzie. “A lot of manatees like to hang out there. A big takeaway is enjoying the nature, enjoying the surroundings, and seeing it firsthand.”

Luckily, the group was able to adapt, ensuring they continue their mission of bringing light to the importance of preserving the area. To find out more about WWALS, click here.

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