Conservation Florida working to protect 717 acres near Wakulla Springs
Conservation Florida is actively working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Legacy Program, and landowners to acquire 717 acres in the Florida Forever Wakulla Springs Protection Zone. The protection of this property is the last opportunity to create a landscape-scale conservation corridor between Apalachicola National Forest and Wakulla Springs State Park.
The property known as “Wakulla Caves” is located within Wakulla County two miles north of Wakulla Springs State Park and seven miles from Tallahassee. Protection of Wakulla Caves will significantly benefit the springs’ headwaters. Wakulla Springs is a National Natural Landmark and one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. The land also provides essential aquifer recharge benefits to the Wakulla Springs springshed and the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve.
Acquisition of Wakulla Caves by the State’s Florida Forever program would permanently protect at least 13 karst sinks providing direct access to the Wakulla-Leon Sinks Cave System. Greyhound, Meeting House Cavern, and Ferrell Sink are all located on the property and are considered world class cave diving sites. The vast underground cave and tunnel network accessible from the Wakulla Caves property is of global significance and a truly premiere cave diving destination. The sinks are hundreds of feet deep and connect for miles, attracting cave divers from around the world to experience the magnificence of the system.
In addition to public recreational values, Wakulla Caves contains habitat for species found only in the region, including the Woodville Karst cave crayfish. It is also home to longleaf pine ecosystem species such as the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, and Southeastern fox squirrel.
The protection of the property has additional national significance, ranking 7th in the nation for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Legacy Program. Conservation Florida submitted the project for U.S. Forest Legacy funding and $2.5 million has been committed toward its acquisition.
“Conservation Florida is thrilled to work in partnership with the landowners, DEP, the Florida Forest Service, and the U.S. Forest Legacy Program to acquire and protect Wakulla Caves forever,” said Traci Deen, Conservation Florida’s executive director. “This property is a North Florida gem, and we’re proud to be working to preserve it for future generations.”