Silver Springs could become Florida state park

By on January 14th, 2013

Silver Springs, a Florida attraction for more than 80 years, could be named a state park.

Dr. Robert “Bob” Knight, director of the H. T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, said with the springs colorful history and famous glass-bottom boat rides in Ocala, that the state thought it would be great to convert to a state park for years.

But the springs have seen better days. Biological factors have contributed to low, murky water. Luckily, the proposal created by the Florida Park services to make Silver Springs a state park could help renew interest in its restoration.

“The last two years the average water flow has been one-half or less of the long-term average flow in Silver Springs,” said Knight.

He said that because these factors are detrimental to the health of the springs, he hopes becoming a state park could draw awareness.

Donald Forgione, director of the Florida Park Service, is enthusiastic about plans to retain the original feel of Silver Springs and its road-side attraction theme.

Forgione said that the Park Service has previous experience converting private attractions into state parks and those projects were met with success.

Knight said definite plans are still in the works for the proposal, including getting rid of things not compatible with the state park system.

The Park Service is holding a meeting today at Vanguard High School in Ocala at 7 p.m. to get public input on the plan.

Alexa Volland edited this story online.

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