TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has purchased an additional 717 acres within the Wakulla Springs Protection Zone Florida Forever project.


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The acquisition of this property from the Ferrell family represents a successful multi-agency public and nonprofit partnership between DEP, the U.S. Forest Service, the Florida Forest Service and Conservation Florida to protect water quality within the Wakulla Springs Basin, according to a press release from the DEP.


This acquisition protects the spring shed and the land that feeds Wakulla Springs, one of the largest and deepest artesian springs in the world.


The property also buffers and protects an additional 13 karst features with hydrological connections to the Floridan Aquifer. The aquifer recharge provided by the property is essential to water quality and quantity at Wakulla Springs and the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve along St. Marks River shorelines in Apalachee Bay.


“With the thoughtful stewardship of the Ferrell family, which has owned the parcel since the 1870s, the tract is a perfect complement to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park,” said DEP Division of State Lands Director Callie DeHaven.


“This is a big win for Florida and Wakulla Springs,” said Conservation Florida Executive Director Traci Deen. “Wakulla Caves is a North Florida gem that protects freshwater resources, offers world-class scuba diving and recreational opportunities, and solidifies a conservation corridor with key habitat for native plants and wildlife.


“We’re proud to have worked with our partners to protect it.”


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