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

The Preservation Jazz Band takes the stage at the frank street fair Thursday evening on Feb. 26. The band is from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Jazz Band, Street Fair Draw Crowd To Downtown Gainesville For Frank Conference

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed on Bo Diddley Community Plaza on Thursday as part of a street fair. The fair was part of day three of the 2015 frank conference.


Construction workers from Superior Construction Company Southeast work on replacing the culvert underneath the Oakleaf overpass in Clay County on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Oakleaf Overpass Closed During Culvert Construction

A deteriorated culvert failed inspection last month, closing the Overleaf overpass over State Road 23 until a new culvert is built. The construction has caused traffic issues and added to commute times.


Mishler rides Chief Free Spirit, and Cherry follows behind. Cherry, 7, is Chief Free Spirit’s daughter. Chloe Stradinger/ WUFT

Evangelical Cowboy Rides Through Gainesville As Part Of Larger Journey

Doc Mishler rides around the country on horseback preaching his Christian beliefs. He travels about 20 miles per day and rode through Gainesville on Monday.


Mike Myers, 68, illustrates how he created a notepad from an orange juice container. Myers said that the Repurpose Project is the culmination of his dream.

Repurpose Project Finds Success in New Location

After moving to its new location next to Satchel’s Pizza, The Repurpose Project has more than quadrupled in size and substance. The owners plan to expand with the additional space, adding a garden, play area for kids and an event area.


A herd of American bison gather on Dixie Sportsman’s Hunting Preserve February
21. The 320-acre preserve is currently for sale.

Future Uncertain For 320-Acre Dixie County Hunting Preserve

A wildlife preserve in Dixie County used for hunting is for sale. The current owner said he will not require the buyer to continue in the hunting business.


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