Springs Fever: A Field & Recreation Guide to 500 Florida Springs.
3rd Edition by Joe Follman and Richard Buchanan

How to Adopt a Florida Spring, and What You Can Do to Protect Florida Springs

Adopt-A-Spring Program

The purpose of this informal program is to empower citizens to provide maintenance, restoration, and protection of Florida springs that landowners, both public and private, are unable to provide.  Volunteers may adopt a spring with the permission of the landowner, or work with officials who manage springs that are on city, county, or state land.  Activities can also raise awareness of and appreciation for this unique and valuable resource.

Guidelines for Adopting a Spring

  • Identify the spring to be adopted and compose directions to the spring and a physical description.
  • Identify and describe needs at the spring.
  • Identify the owner of the spring.  Obtain name and address.
  • Obtain the owner's permission to "adopt" the spring.
  • Determine tasks that are needed to enhance protection and management.
  • Organize the adoption group.  It is important to involve people who live near the spring--proximity is a key factor in providing ongoing protection and obtaining and keeping local support.
  • Contact the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP--see below) to register your project.
  • Plan the first activity.
  • Conduct a planning trip to the spring to identify activities to be conducted, determine the number of people needed to work, required tools or materials, any potential hazards, and other pertinent information.
  • Schedule a date and time (e.g., a Saturday morning from 9 a.m.-noon).
  • Have volunteers bring any food they might need, or see if a local restaurant or grocery story might donate food.
  • Optional: Prepare a press release for public awareness or to recruit volunteers.
  • Hold a reflective activity at the end of the project to discuss/process how things went and identify potential next steps.
  • Inform the owner of your accomplishments and thank the owner for his/her cooperation.
  • Inform the Florida DEP of activities that are planned or that have taken place.

  • Potential Adoption Activities and Tasks:


  • Collect and remove litter and other manmade debris from the water and uplands of the spring.  Do not disturb or remove old walls or structures that may be historic.
  • Modify surface drainage to reduce or stop stormwater erosion of the slopes and shoreline.  Obtain guidance from experienced land managers before undertaking this activity.
  • Protection:
  • Can take many forms, including recommending restrictions on certain activities (jumping out of trees, climbing banks, fishing, boating), or restricting negative-impact acess through placement of fences, gates, poles, retaining walls, berms, terraces, diverters, buldheads, docks, ramps, boardwalks, bars in caverns, observation platforms, boardwalks, floating docks, etc.
  • Install barriers to block vehicle access.
  • Install compatible fencing to direct foot traffic to prevent trampling of vegetation and erosion of slopes.
  • Build steps from the bank to the water to reduce erosion.
  • Install signs to direct traffic and encourage responsible recreational use.
  • Restoration:
  • Fill eroded areas with compatible soil and plant native plants to stabilize slopes and enhance the aesthetics of the site.  Obtain guidance from spring managers experienced in erosion control and restoration before undertaking this activity.
  • Remove exotic plants that may be growing in or around the spring.  Obtain guidance from experienced land managers before undertaking this activity.
  • Remove debris and sediments from the spring vent that were deposited by vandals or from human-caused erosion.  Permits may be required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the regional water management district, or the Florida Department of State.
  • Education:
  • Encourage local users/residents to protect the spring.  Explain how they can help through the use of an interpretive kiosks, signs, or leaflets or by personal contact. Strive to win local cooperation.
  • Use signs and/or leaflets to provide information and history on the spring.  Describe the role of the spring in the natural and human communities and detail the threats it faces.
  • Create a web site on the spring.
  • If a class or school is working at the spring, students can be given a range of assignments related to the project, including researching history, conducting oral histories, water testing, creating brochures, giving tours, constructing picnic areas and kiosks, creating photo or video records, mapping, conducting flora and fauna surveys, giving public presentations, etc.
  • Research:
  • Conduct interviews of long-time local residents to develop a written, video, or oral history of the use of the spring.
  • Research archival information on the spring and its history.
  • Take before-and-after photographs relating to restoration efforts, or historic photographs of the site.
  • Monitoring:
  • Conduct water quality testing as well as tests of water depth, flow, clarity, dissolved solids, etc.
  • Conduct flora and fauna studies.
  • Conduct surveys and interviews to gather data on usage.
  • Report findings to appropriate authorities (water management district, state park officials, municipal hydrologists, etc.)
  • For more information:
    Florida Department of Environmental Protection
    2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL 32399

    For information on how schools and students can get involved:
    Dr. Joe Follman
    E-mail: joefollman@gmail.com

    What You Can Do to Protect Florida Springs

    Jim Stevenson, founder and former head of the Florida Springs Task Force, enumerated a series of steps/activities/actions that individuals and communities can take to protect and preserve springs:

    The bad news:  Those of who live or work in spring recharge areas in north and central Florida unknowingly contribute to the pollution of our springs.

    The good news:  There are important things we can do to help keep our springs healthy (and some of them will save you money too)

    Protect spring water quality

    Protect spring flow Thank you for doing your part to protect Florida's springs!

    www floridasprings org

    Note:  The Florida Departments of Community Affairs and Environmental Protection have produced an excellent document:

    Protecting Florida's Springs:  An Implementation Guidebook (www.dep.state.fl.us/springs/reports/files/springsimplementguide.pdf)

    This manual provides a wealth of information, ideas, strategies, and examples of ways to address issues of development, pollution, agriculture, and other land use around springs.  Chapters include sections on best management practices, comprehensive planning, managing development impacts, golf course siting/fertilization/management, agriculture/silviculture, and public recreation.  This document is a necessary resource for developers, land managers, city and county planners, farmers, water bottlers, and others whose activities impact springs.  The publication provides a number of steps to undertake or consider to plan for springshed protection: