Wekiva Wild and Scenic River Management Plan Unveiled
SANFORD – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a dedication ceremony for the Wekiva Wild and Scenic River comprehensive management plan during on Thursday, May 17, in Sanford.
The National Parks Service designated the Wekiva River System a National Wild and Scenic River in 2000, making it only the second Florida river to get the national designation. It joined the Loxahatchee River, which was designated in 1985. The Wekiva River System is northwest of Orlando and is within Orange, Seminole and Lake counties.
Excerpt from the new Management Plan:
Over the past thirty years, human actions and an increasing population have created challenges to managers of the Wekiva River System’s outstanding values. Wildlife habitat has been fragmented, and numerous exotic species have invaded natural areas. Diverse recreation demands have created conflict between users and threaten the ecological integrity of the natural resources people come to enjoy. Water quality and quantity have also been affected by land use within and around the Wekiva River System. Important cultural resources have been degraded by visitors who are unaware of their value or who deliberately seek to loot artifacts.
Despite these challenges, resources of the Wekiva River System remain relatively intact. Resource managers, the public, and all those who enjoy the river system must be diligent in protecting these resources. Without adequate protection, areas of the river system may lose their values when the sights and sounds of modern life intrude upon the back country of the Wekiva River System.
In the face of these challenges, this plan offers an integrated program of goals, objectives, and actions for protecting and enhancing each outstandingly remarkable value. A coordinated effort is needed to implement this plan. Many public agencies and entities share jurisdiction over or interest in the Wekiva River System and will need to pool their staff and resources to achieve the goals and objectives described. Fortunately, public agencies and local governments in the basin have a long history of partnership and cooperation that will provide a solid foundation for implementing this plan. The goals, objectives, and actions are separated into five sections, one for each ORV as well as a sixth section covering educational needs. The action program prepared for each objective should be considered a tool to guide the completion of that objective, rather than an absolute set of instructions. Priorities are subject to change based on direction of the AMC and available resources.