Apalachee Audubon is asking that you attend a public hearing to show support for maintaining the current policy prohibiting recreational diving at Wakulla Spring State Park. The policy restricts cave diving at the Park to professional divers doing scientific research.
The Public Hearing will start at 7 pm at the Wakulla County Extension Office, 84 Cedar Avenue, Crawfordville, FL 32327.
Justification for Retaining the Current Policy Prohibiting Recreational Diving in Wakulla Spring:
Policy: The current DEP/FPS 26 year policy prohibiting recreational cave diving is a time tested, proven, rational policy.
Pristine Cave: This is the only remaining pristine underwater cave in the state park system. Recreational diving in the other caves has caused abrasion of cave features and vandalism by unregulated use.
Scientific research: This spring and cave system has been a high priority research area for two decades and should continue to be restricted for scientific research. More DEP Springs Initiative funding has been provided for research and monitoring at Wakulla Spring then for any other spring cave. Tampering and/or vandalism of the scientific equipment in the cave is sure to occur.
Dye trace studies have confirmed the connection of the City of Tallahassee wastewater sprayfield and the Woodville septic tanks with Wakulla Spring. Such studies have contributed to the protection of Wakulla Spring and further justify reserving this spring and cave as a scientific research area.
Prehistoric artifacts and mastodon fossils lie undisturbed on the floor of the spring and cave. Disturbance and/or theft are sure to occur.
Safety is a major concern. The highly skilled and experienced Woodville Karst Plain Project (WKPP) cave divers have had no deaths during 18 years of Wakulla Spring cave dives. The extreme depth, huge diameter of the caves and frequent poor visibility make this a dangerous dive. (A WKPP diver died in a cave over 3 miles south of Wakulla Spring.) Cave diver deaths will result in negative public opinion and cause landowners to prohibit access to their caves which will impact further exploration.
The Florida Park Service allows cave diving in Emerald and Clear-cut Sinks five miles north of Wakulla Spring. By comparison, Wakulla Spring is 200 feet deep and quickly drops to 300 feet which is a significant depth requiring a team of divers.
Boat Tours: There will also be a risk of mixing divers and tour boat propellers in the spring.
Cave diving opportunities: There are about a dozen cave diving springs, sinks and karst windows within an hour drive of Wakulla Spring; therefore, divers are not deprived of cave diving opportunities.
Achievements: WKPP exploration, mapping and underwater videos persuaded the Wakulla County Commission to establish the Wakulla Spring Protection Zone, the first in the state. Governor Chiles presented the WKPP a Letter of Commendation in 1995 and the Governor and Cabinet presented the WKPP with a Resolution at the Capital in 2009 for their significant contributions to the protection of Wakulla Spring.