The Head Spring
Friends of Blue Spring State Park Newsletter
Meet our Board Members
Donna Cobb is a long-time member of the Friends of Blue Spring State Park. Her roles include chair of the bingo committee, adviser for the Junior Ranger program, instructor for visiting school classes, and past vice-president. Donna helps out at Blue Spring because she enjoys the outdoors and likes to share it with others. She kayaks with her grandkids, and is a member of the 37th Alabama Civil War reenactment group. Donna is also a board member for the Orange City Historic Preservation Society.
The bricks have arrived and are ready to be installed! The date for installing the bricks and the distribution of the small souvenir bricks will be determined soon. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates.
All of us have heard the words “volunteers needed”, but have you ever wondered about what volunteers actually do? Or who they are? Volunteers are often the unsung heroes that keep your favorite events and places running smoothly. The Friends of Blue Spring need volunteers like you – individuals, families, professionals, retirees, scout groups, and church groups. You are the backbone of our group and the state park! If you don’t think you have a lot to offer, just remember the words of tennis great Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Everyone has something to offer, and we welcome all the help we can get. Volunteering is a great opportunity to not only help the park and spend time in an incredible natural setting, but to meet visitors from around the world. Would you like to get involved?
Our Annual Membership Meeting will be Saturday November 5th from 2-4 pm in the Roadside Pavilion in the lower parking lot. Learn all about the Friends of Blue Spring, meet the members and explore our various committees. This is a fun, social event. Beverages and light snacks will be provided. You do not need to be a current member to join, but pre-registration is required.
As the summer season comes to an end and we get ever closer to manatee season, interpretive programs are increasing in the park. There are many opportunities for volunteers to get involved including tabling, boardwalk tours, children’s activities, fall birdwatching tours, as well as tours of the historical Thursby House. For these events, park staff often looks for 1-2 volunteers to assist when they are expecting large groups. For additional questions, interested volunteers can contact Park Services Specialist Connor Wagner.
Manatees will soon be returning in large numbers to Blue Spring State Park. The park is the largest aggregation site for manatees along the St. Johns River and a protected warm-water sanctuary for manatees where they can rest and go about their natural behaviors without being disturbed by boats, paddlers, or swimmers. Last season a record number of 721 manatees was seen in the spring in one single day (!!) and over 800 individual manatees visited the spring during the winter season. For the winter months, the park is looking for Manatee Rovers, who provide interpretation to visitors along the boardwalk. Many visitors come back to see the manatees year after year, but for others this is their first time seeing a manatee, so they have lots of questions. A training session for interested rovers will be held Saturday November 5th at 3:30 p.m. Interested volunteers should register with Park Services Specialist Connor Wagner.
Keep an eye on the newsletters and website for more events, and we hope to see many of you this winter and throughout the year!
This year’s annual Orange City Christmas Parade will be on Saturday, December 10th at 5 pm, and as every year the Friends of Blue Spring, alongside Save the Manatee Club, will be participating! We need volunteers to help us decorate the float in the afternoon and walk alongside the parade. Contact Connor to sign up!
Our local armadillos (“little armored one” in Spanish) actually have between 7-11 bands of armor-plating. Although the armor helps protect them from predation, they can’t roll up into a ball (only three-banded armadillos can do that). Armadillos like warm wet climates, and can swim or walk along the bottoms of streams to get where they want to go. They will eat hundreds of different food items, including cockroaches, yellow jackets, fire ants, spiders, and grubs. Armadillos have a reputation as a carrier of leprosy, and although they are the only animals besides humans that can get leprosy, cases of humans contracting leprosy from handling an armadillo are rare. Fun facts about armadillos are that they always give birth to identical quadruplets, and when scared they will jump straight up in the air! Jumping straight up isn’t such a great idea when they are scared by an approaching car on a highway and it often ends badly.
Manatee Rescue/Release Ramp
We are continuing to make good progress raising money for the Manatee Rescue/Release Ramp, even though Hurricane Ian slowed everything down. Look at how high the water is! Dark water from the river is now touching the main walkway turning the steps that we normally take as we carry manatees into the spring into a hidden hazard. With that being said, we are ramping up our Ramp fundraiser this winter to have the new ramp build next fall after the next stage of the bank restoration is finished. You can help us reach our goal by make a donation.