River Aquatic Preserve
"The Oklawaha and Silver Rivers offer us a unique glimpse into our past that
must be protected for future generations to cherish."
Jeff Sowards, Aquatic Preserve Manager
As a member of the Silver River Working Group, we were able to successfully
sponsor a key piece of land to the Florida Forever Program to provide
protection for the Silver River recharge area.
This piece of land is managed by the Department of
Forestry and is now known as Indian Lake State
Forest and is roughly 4,500 acres of critical
recharge for Silver Springs.
As a member of the Marion County Water Resources Stakeholder Group,
preserve staff helped to draft a proposal for land use regulations for
development within the critical recharge areas of Marion County. The
proposal was presented to the Marion County Commission. Local officials
are now recognizing the need for protection of critical spring recharge
The Preserve staff are members of the Marion County
Springs Festival planning committee. Each year, the
three day event brings public and private entities
together to educate the community about issues that
affect our springs and groundwater and to promote
public stewardship. To date, thousands of people
have come to the three day event to view over 30
interactive booths and to hear presentations from
state and federal experts on issues that affect our
Florida Springs. The Marion County Springs Festival
continues to be a huge success. It was recently
awarded the 2008 Outstanding Event of the Year
Award by the Florida Park Service.
Programs to educate Marion and Citrus County students in aquatic ecology
are also conducted by the aquatic preserve throughout the year. Over 500
students from area schools were given educational presentations on wildlife
ecology during field trips by aquatic preserve staff.
The Local Connection
Being a member of the Silver River Working Group and the Marion County Water Resources
Stakeholders Group enables the Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve to be on the cutting edge
of local issues that affect the preserve. Land use and water resource decisions that
significantly impact the Silver and Oklawaha Rivers are made on the local level. Through
this partnership, the aquatic preserve can provide input to local and county officials.
Thanks to the working group’s application sponsorship and recommendations, significant
parcels of land have been purchased (Selden property) or added to the Florida Forever
Program to protect the surrounding spring-shed of the preserve. The stakeholders group
recommendations on land use changes within the two and ten year recharge area of Silver
Springs are being considered by Marion County to protect water quality and quantity.
Quick Facts about Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve
406 acres of sovereign submerged lands
Aquatic Preserve Manager
19152 SW 81st Place Road
Dunnellon, FL 34432
Download a printable version of this page.
Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve Management Plan
Cypress and marsh wetlands
Red-bellied turtles basking
Because of its location in the Central Highlands and it’s protection from
geological fluctuations in sea level, the Oklawaha River is one of the oldest
rivers in Florida.
The dark-water Oklawaha, spring-run Silver River and their flood plain swamp
support a diverse natural system of flora and fauna.
The preserve is home to 110 species and 12 families of fishes.
This area is rich in cultural resources; human habitation dates back to
43% of the federally listed threatened or endangered species rely directly
or indirectly on wetlands for their survival. (USFWS)
October 20, 2015
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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