During the regular meeting on February 22, 2022, County Administrator Jeff Rogers and the County Commissioners received kudos from a large group of citizens, most of whom have been vocal advocates for changes in law enforcement and restoration of the Weeki Wachee River and springs. Gratitude was also given to Senator Wilton Simpson who gave his support at the state level, for the letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requesting the establishment of a zone prohibiting anchoring, mooring, beaching, and the grounding of vessels along certain areas of the Weeki Wachee River.
The zones that will prohibit such activities include Rogers Park, several residential canals, and upstream to the boundary at the State Park Corridor located at Latitude 28 31 34.2 and Longitude 082 35 55.4
Most in attendance cheered the vote.
However, some residents do not applaud the effort. Asia Moore stated during Citizen’s Comments, “Just in my short time of seven years, I’ve watched the river change … I think it’s also important to protect what made that river such a calling for so many residents who call it their permanent home.” Moore went on to say that the areas of protection will likely cause frustration for homeowners who live on the river and its canals.
Moore, who stated she is of Native American heritage, also said, “The water is where I go to pray. In order to do that, that means my feet are supposed to be in that water, with clarity around my feet, for me to truly observe my cultural background. The Springs Protection Act… will prevent me from doing that…”
“You are taking the money that was given us over the BP oil spill (in 2010) and using it for other things, and nothing is being done about putting in more mangroves to filter our waters on the coastlines… it seems as if our focus is on what we can do to bring it back into our coast, instead of what can we do to protect our coastline.”
Our residents deserve better than to be told they’re not going to be able to recreate unless it’s right around their dock.”
Allison Prose welcomes the Springs Protection Act, but fears it may be limited in its objective. “My husband has literally grown up on this river and was a tree-jumper back in the days when there were just a handful of people,” she said, addressing the finding that ropes attached to trees along the river, used to jump in the river is causing distress to the waterway.
Increased activity and overcrowding of the river prompted the action, which was borne of a partnership between county officials, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In 2019, a carrying capacity study was conducted, and the findings in February 2020 reported that human activity was the largest contributor of harm to the river and its banks.