Florida Department of Environmental Protection Florida Department of Environmental Protection
 
* DEP Home * About DEP * Programs * Contact * Site Map * Search
MyFlorida.com  
 About the Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve
View a Map
Contact
Description of Site
Established
Location
Size
Watershed
Habitat
Ecological Importance
Rare / Endangered Species
Geomorphic Features
Archaeological Features
Uses
Management Status
References

Contact

Jeff Sowards - Jeff.Sowards@dep.state.fl.us
19152 SW 81 Place Road
Dunnellon, FL 34432
(352) 465-8565


Description of Site

The Rainbow Springs run is one of the largest spring runs in the world. It averages a discharge of over 400 million gallons of water per day. The run is 5.7 miles long and joins the Withlacoochee River which is a black water river, near the town of Dunnellon. Unlike most other major spring runs in Florida the spring discharge comes from several vents that are scattered over the first mile and a half of the run. It is characterized by a high level of submersed aquatic plants. Ribbon or tape like plants are the most common.

Its waters have an average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Because of this and the high water quality, it is a very popular recreational destination.


Established

Established as an Aquatic Preserve by the Florida Legislature in 1986; Florida Statute 258.39 (32)


Location

Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve is located in southwestern Marion County, it is near the town of Dunnellon. Highways US 40 and SR 484 run west from I-75 to the Rainbow River area. US 41 transverses north and south, just to the west of the river.


Size

The river and preserve is 5.7 miles in length and approximately 150 submerged acres. The river run is only about 150 feet in width with an average depth of less than ten feet.


Watershed

The Rainbow River and spring system has its own watershed and recharge area. In terms of the National listing of watersheds it is found in the larger Withlacoochee River watershed.


Habitat

The habitat of this river is dominated by submersed plant communities common to spring runs. Other disturbed habitats or areas dominated by the exotic species Hydrilla are also common.


Ecological Importance

The Rainbow River spring run is one of the largest in the state of Florida. It is an excellent example of this type of system. However it is also being significantly altered by the exotic plant Hydrilla. Increases in the levels of nutrients coming from the springs may also potentially impact the communities of plants and algae in the river. This last issue is currently being investigated.


Rare / Endangered Species

Common Name
Scientific Name
State
Federal
       
Reptiles
     
American alligator Alligator mississipiensis SSC T (s/a)
       
Birds
     
limpkin Aramus guarauna SSC n/a
little blue heron Egretta caelulea SSC n/a
snowy egret Egretta thula SSC n/a
tricolor heron Egretta tricolor SSC n/a
bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus T E
wood stork Mycteria americana E E
       
Plants
     
cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis T n/a
State listings are taken from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or as with plants, Florida Department of Agriculture.  Federal listings are taken from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. E= Endangered; T= Threatened; T (s/a)= Threatened due to similarity in appearance; SSC= Species of Special Concern; UR= Under review; n/a= information not available or no designation listed


Geomorphic Features

Rainbow Springs is one of Florida's first magnitude springs.


Archaeological Features

none


Uses

The Rainbow River portion is a very popular recreational destination. It is readily accessible through the Rainbow Springs State Park, which surrounds the preserve, as well as a public boat ramp at KP Hole County Park. Tubing, boating, fishing and swimming are some of the common activities. It however has an idle speed boating restriction, and a prohibition on disposable containers.


Management Status

The Rainbow River was designated as an Aquatic Preserve in 1986. It is sovereign submerged state-owned land. The current designated manager is Jeff Sowards. Contact information is listed above.


References

Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserve Management Plan (draft).

Southwest Florida Water Management District; 1994. Rainbow River Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan.

Southwest Florida Water Management District; 1991. Diagnostic Studies of the Rainbow River.

Last updated: August 24, 2010

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
Contact Us 
DEP Home | About DEP  | Contact Us | Search |  Site Map