PARK UPDATEBlue Spring State Park is now operating at full capacity again. The park is open to swimming, scuba diving, tubing, snorkeling, hiking, and picnicking. Due to the bank stabilization project that is currently taking place at the park, the spring run is closed to kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boarding, however visitors can still paddle in the St. Johns River or go on a guided boat tour
FUNDRAISER: UPGRADED MANATEE RESCUE & RELEASE AREA
By Cora BerchemAs many of you know, Blue Spring State Park is a vitally important warm-water winter sanctuary for the threatened Florida manatee in the Upper St. John's River. A number of manatees are rescued from Blue Spring State Park each year as part of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) for various causes such as boat strikes, 2 entanglements, cold stress, or other issues. After successful rehabilitation, many manatees are re-released at Blue Spring State Park. The current location to do so needs major upgrades to make this process as safe as possible for both staff as well as the manatees. Currently, the manatee staging area is the old canoe beach, which has eroded to the point that there is frequently no beach at all. Access to this beach is currently an old, narrow, winding boardwalk, with steep wooden steps. A wide, shallow ramp, in a straight line, potentially with very shallow steps, would make this much easier and safer for humans and manatees. Manatee rescues and releases are of great interest to the public and always draw a crowd. The current old canoe beach is somewhat derelict in appearance, especially for one of the highest-density manatee winter refuges. A well-designed staging area with interpretive displays would be ideal. The new area would provide an outreach opportunity for interpretation/education about manatees, rescues, and the partnerships that help keep them safe. The Friends of Blue Spring State Park are working with many partners to make this project a reality! And you can help! Learn more about the project and make a tax-deductible donation today!
THE MOZAIC MANATEE IS BACK!
By Cora BerchemFor those of you enjoying visits to the park, here is some good news! The mozaic manatee has undergone some much needed restoration and is now back on the boardwalk! Ranger Jasmine spent weeks working very hard to restore the manatee's beautiful appearance. Check it out next time you stop by!
By Darrell Thomas
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints This month we recognize a group of missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who come from all over the country, including places like Utah, California, Texas, Arizona, and Maine. We’ve even had a volunteer from Belize! They have chosen to leave their homes to spend a few years serving other people. Since May 2018 this group has been part of the Blue Spring State Park family. They stay in one area for a brief period and then move on to serve in other areas. Over the last three years this group has been committed to helping the park create memorable experiences for our visitors. Anywhere from picking up trash to exotic plant removal, painting cabins, trimming the roadways, helping with park programs and helping with manatee rescues and releases, this group can be found weekly somewhere in the park. When asked why they continue to come back, here is what they said: There is beauty all around at Blue Spring State Park. We love coming to serve and see the nature around us. Although our service is mostly spiritual, we do also commit ourselves to physical service. Though we must serve, there is no place we'd rather be serving than at Blue Spring! The Rangers are such lovely folks, the wildlife is majestic, and the atmosphere is fun, relaxing, and free… and that's just when we're working! It truly is a little slice of paradise. We always look forward to coming to Blue Spring each week because it is so rewarding to get to spend time outside and pass by many guests. We always have a new adventure every time we go. It is amazing when we spot new alligators, see even more manatees and fish of every size! Blue Spring truly never gets old. It is truly a pleasure having this esteemed group honor our park with their service. We have probably had over 100 missionaries from this group come to volunteer in the past three years. Every few months there is a change when missionaries change areas. Their excellence in service has not wavered even though the members have changed. They have increased their service time to twice a week and the park really appreciates the volunteer time they spend in our park. It is at the point where we don’t know what we would do without them. We are proud to have these missionaries serve at our park.
STAFF SPOTLIGHT: JAMES SCHAEFFER
By Darrell ThomasJames grew up in New Jersey. He was more accustomed to the urban lifestyle but developed a love for the great outdoors later in life. He moved to Florida after leaving the military to be closer to his family who had moved here a few years prior. James felt that being in a State Park environment would help him develop a greater appreciation for nature and showcase his maintenance skills. His role as a Park Ranger has been a great opportunity for him to learn new maintenance skills, 6 interpretive skills, and information about the Florida ecosystem, especially since this is a spring park. Having the ability to teach our visitors about our many natural resources and wildlife keeps James excited at Blue Spring State Park. You can mostly catch James performing maintenance projects around the park. One of his favorite activities is learning, interpreting, and protecting the manatees. Although he enjoys spending time with our visitors, it is great to be able to enjoy the sounds of nature before the park opens and after the park has closed. James has been a great asset to Blue Spring State Park. We are proud to have him as a member on our team!
WHO WE ARE
The Friends of Blue Spring is a non-profit Citizen Support Organization (CSO) dedicated to generate additional support for Blue Spring State Park. The funds we raise can provide additional equipment, buildings, programs and renovations according to the needs of the park.
Joining the Friends helps to ensure Blue Spring State Park remains a fun, interesting, educational, and beautiful place to visit! We have monthly meetings every second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Admin Building at Blue Spring State Park. Due to COVID19 we currently hold our monthly meetings virtually via Zoom.
NOT A MEMBER YET? JOIN US
Memberships are $15/year for individuals and $25/year for families and include 12 free visits to Blue Spring State Park per year.
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends of Blue Spring State Park
2100 W French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763.
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