WUFT News

Family Business Joins County to Save Otter Sink Tract

By on April 28th, 2014
The Otter Sink Project works to reverse decades old drainage practices and canals in order to restore a more natural wetland environment.

Suwannee River Water Management District

The Otter Sink Project works to reverse decades old drainage practices and canals in order to restore a more natural wetland environment.

This fall, the Suwannee River Water Management District will begin restoring and rehydrating the Otter Sink tract, a 12,000-acre expanse of land west of the Suwannee River.

The water management district agreed to the $65,000 restoration project this April, marking the first time the district’s governing board has partnered with a private business.

Anderson Land and Timber Co., the district’s private partner, has owned the tract since last September. The Anderson family has owned a hunting camp on the tract since the 1920s, Anderson Land spokesman and project manager Chuck Farmer said.

When the plan to restore the entire tract initially surfaced last fall, the Andersons bought the rest of the expanse to help replenish the area.

“We can help nature take control again,” Farmer said. “We just want to get some water back into the ponds.”

Named after the land’s notorious sinkholes, Otter Sink tract is about three miles from the Gulf of Mexico in southern Dixie County.

The partnership between Anderson Land and the water management district will save taxpayer money by making use of privately owned land, which doesn’t require public maintenance, said Steve Minnis, water management district spokesman.

The district will provide construction materials, funding and engineering assistance to the Otter Sink project. Anderson Land will manage construction, operation and maintenance, Minnis said.

Construction will begin this fall, water management district executive director Ann Shortelle said. It will take about 45 days to complete.

Shortelle said the project is a cost-effective way for the county to rehydrate about 2,000 acres of area wetlands and restore natural habitats.

“It’s really low tech,” Shortelle said. “There’s no pumps involved or high-end engineering involved. The material costs are quite modest compared to building reservoirs or pumps to restore the wetlands.”

Shortelle said the project will produce about 240 million gallons of annual aquifer recharge. That’s the same as filling about 40 Ben Hill Griffin Stadiums full of water annually, Minnis said.

The water management district hopes the Otter Sink Project is the first of many restorative public-private partnerships in the county.

“The whole state of Florida has been ditched and drained for the last 150 years,” Farmer said. “We’re trying to help put the water back where God intended it to be.”

 


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Construction On Main Street Causes Inconvenience

The S Main Street northbound lane closed on Nov. 10 for construction at its intersection with Depot Avenue. The construction proved to be an inconvenience for motorists, business owners and residents alike.


Parents of Gainesville High School students line up at Planet Fitness to pick up their students after a bomb threat. Students and staff were evacuated from GHS after a threat was called in around noon.

Gainesville High School Receives Two Additional, Identical Bomb Threats

Gainesville High School received a bomb threat and subsequently evacuated all students and staff to a nearby Planet Fitness parking lot on Wednesday. GHS received two additional, identical threats Thursday morning, but the school has not been evacuated.


Commodore Mullet and his dog Missy share a sleeping bag to keep warm. Temperatures reached 20 degrees below average.

Alachua County Homeless Seek Relief From Cold

Homeless individuals in Alachua County find ways to cope with the cold weather. Some choose to sleep inside at shelters like Grace Marketplace, while others prefer to stay outside with their possessions, rely on friendship to stay warm.


Victoria Warfel, shows dog owner, Beverly Gilbertson, techniques on how to relax her dog Peedee, before releasing him from his kennel.

Finding Your Dog’s Zen

Peedee Gilbertson had a knack for launching off the ground and jumping onto beds, and the hyperactive terrier-mix’s owners were running out of answers on just how to keep up with him. “We’ve had him in classes before to no [...]


The fountain in the garden of the Historic Thomas Center is in need of repair. The Center has applied for a $75,000-grant to make the necessary improvements.

Thomas Center Applies For Grant To Restore Historic Fountain

Because of years of deterioration, the Thomas Center has applied for a $75,000-grant from the Division of Historical Resources Bureau of Historic Preservation to restore a fountain some say dates back to 1928. The Thomas Center had to match 25 percent of the requested funds in its own budget to be considered eligible by the Florida Department of State.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments