District and partners to formally open Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area May 27

PALATKA, Fla.,May 19, 2016 — Just in time for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, the St.Johns River Water Management District is formally opening the Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area to the public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 27.

The public is invited to attend the official opening of the property at the equestrian trailhead.

  • Who: Special guests, recreational user groups and members of the public
  • What: Ribbon-cutting ceremony, self-guided equestrian trail ride, interpretive hike
  • When: 9 a.m., Friday, May 27, 2016
  • Where: Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area Equestrian Trailhead — 7699 NE 58th Ave.,Anthony, FL 32617 — (County Road 35, approximately two miles north of County Road 326)
  • RSVP: Teresa Monson, 904-730-6258 or tmonson@sjrwmd.com by May 23

Equestrians are invited to bring their horses and enjoy a self-guided trail ride, starting at the equestrian trail head following the ceremonial grand opening. To ensure ample parking for all guests, equestrians are asked to park horse trailers at the Indian Lake State Forest parking lot across the road.

Also, hikers are welcome to join district staff on an interpretive hike starting from the County Road 326 entrance after the ribbon cutting, weather permitting, or to set out on their own.

Participants should be prepared with insect repellent, drinking water, sunscreen and a hat. Long pants,long-sleeved shirts and appropriate shoes are recommended.

The district, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Conservation Trust for Florida partnered to purchase the 4,900-acre tract, located directly north of Silver Springs State Park in Marion County, in December 2015. Funding also was contributed by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program administered by the Florida Forest Service.

Putting Silver Springs Forest into public ownership protects the headwaters of Half Mile Creek and an unnamed tributary that flow into the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers, which are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters. The property links Indian Lake State Forest,Silver Springs State Park, the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway and district-managed lands to the Ocala National Forest. Linking thousands of acres of public lands provides additional recreational opportunities in the region and creates a 20-mile ecological greenway that will enhance wildlife habitat. Acquisition also allows for hydrologic restoration that will result in water quality improvement and will create opportunities for water storage.