Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A message from Dan Rountree, creator of the Adopt A River program. Dan has a website for his organization "Current Problems".

It was a joy to work with the artists that came from all over the Southeast to paint North Central Florida. I consider it a pleasure to reveal to many of the artists springs, swamps and the Florida State Parks along the Santa Fe River for the first time. O’Leno State Park and Camp Kulaqua allowed the artists unique access and a rare glimpse of our area, ranging from the boardwalk following the spring run of Hornsby Springs through the quickly changing light of a cypress swamp to the banks of the Santa Fe River in O’Leno State Park were the river goes underground to mix with our aquifer before surfacing in the River Rise State Preserve.

At the O’Leno State Park swinging bridge, the Santa Fe River was not flowing and the paintings reflected a lot of rocks in the riverbed. I spoke with artists about Vinzant Siphon upstream that was capturing the Santa Fe River. Siphons (sometimes called swallets) are places where local rivers and streams either completely or partially go underground to mix or become the Floridan Aquifer. Vinzant Siphon is largest unfiltered direct contributor of surface water to the Flordian Aquifer in the Santa River Basin, possibly in North Central Florida. Protecting upstream lands is imperative! We must educate all people, kindergarten through adults, about the intimate relationship between surface water, with all its runoff, and the Flordian Aquifer - the source of our drinking water.

Although not on the list of locations provided by The High Springs Gallery, visiting artists were led by local artists to outstanding places to paint such as Japhu Springs at Rum Island and, of course, Ichetucknnee Springs. “Wow this is beautiful” was the most common response by artist experiencing these places for the first time. I also wanted to educate the artist about our unique springs sheds such as the headwaters of the Ichetucknnee River being Lake City, Florida over 30 miles away. The underlying message of this being that whatever homeowners, farmers, and businesses of Lake City pour on the ground or spray in their yards eventually flows to springs along the Ichetucknnee River.

I personally want to thank the artists and volunteers for their support of Current Problems and its program Adopt A River – with this collaboration we can continue to bring this most important water issue to light!

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