Celebrating Florida's 175th State Park: Gilchrist Blue Springs 

Community Conservation in Action 

 Officials (including Paula Russo, Traci Deen, Kim Davis, Noah Valenstein, Eric Draper, Kevin Brown, Cliff Maxwell, Gabby Paxton, and Jason Vickery) gathered on Feb. 9 to mark the grand opening of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. Photo by DEP

Officials (including Paula Russo, Traci Deen, Kim Davis, Noah Valenstein, Eric Draper, Kevin Brown, Cliff Maxwell, Gabby Paxton, and Jason Vickery) gathered on Feb. 9 to mark the grand opening of Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. Photo by DEP

CTF's executive director Traci Deen was invited to speak at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service ribbon-cutting ceremony in February at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. It was a special opportunity to talk about the connection between conservation and the health of our springs. 

Prior to its purchase and protection, this privately-owned property was for sale and was at risk of being closed to the public. Thanks to Florida Forever funding, it is now a new gem in our incredible state park system. 

We commend the state’s efforts to preserve this iconic property and facet of the local community for the benefit of people and wildlife.
— Traci Deen

The 407-acre park contains six natural springs and includes approximately one mile of frontage along the Santa Fe River. As a state park, Gilchrist Blue Springs will continue to offer swimming, paddling, hiking and other recreation opportunities for our state’s residents and visitors. 

 Visitors jump into Gilchrist Blue, which is a second- magnitude spring that discharges north into the Santa Fe River. Photo by JOHN MORAN

Visitors jump into Gilchrist Blue, which is a second- magnitude spring that discharges north into the Santa Fe River. Photo by JOHN MORAN

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein highlighted the enormous value of partnerships with members of local, regional, and state communities. As part of CTF's vision, we strive to serve as a trusted community partner to support statewide land conservation and we actively seek projects that help to replenish and safeguard Florida’s freshwater supply. 

In order to protect the water, you must protect the land.
— Jim Stevensen

Special thanks goes to springs expert Jim Stevenson for sharing facts for this article from his paper “Ten Things Everyone Should Know about Florida’s Springs.” 

Conservation Florida