Save Crystal River plans to restore a whole lot of the area at the edge of Kings Bay within the next five years, .  The goal is 92.4 acres.

How Big is our Goal?

How big is 92.4 acres? The answer: roughly 70 football fields. We might have to think about huge spaces like this if we were looking at a major sports complex.  But what if all that was under water? And instead of sports, we want a place where marine life and people lived together?

These 92.4 acres are the areas within the City of Crystal River that consist of coves and canals. The source of spring flows is deep in the canals and headwaters surrounding the bay, and practically speaking, it makes sense to clean and restore those areas first.

How Does it Work?

When Save Crystal River restores an area we take some important ideas into account.  First and foremost, where is the water coming from?  Citrus County has First Magnitude (1) springs, which (according to SWFWMD) discharge of 64.6 million gallons per day or more.  By working near the locations of these spring flows, we gain a number of benefits:

  • The springs themselves keep restored areas clean.
  • The heavy water flow from the springs increases due to vents and boils that are unclogged during “muck removal”.
  • These are high impact, high visibility areas. Gaining exposure from both high residential populations and a steady flow of visitors who enjoy our waters.
  • Small areas are easier to manage.
  • Ongoing maintenance and studies after planting are achieved at a lower expense because our work areas are near the waters where we work.
  • And finally, a beautiful bay is a significant economic impact. Visitors enjoy seeing manatees, and fishing a flourishing marine life.  This work benefits the hospitality and tourism industry, adding hundreds of millions of dollars of annual economic impact for the county.

Save Crystal River is as good for the local economy as it is for the environment

Going Into High Gear

We’re now running at a rate of about 9 -11  acres per year, at a cost of $5-6 million.  We finished planting 15.45 acres through the end of 2017.  Remember, that includes removing all the material from the bottom (as much as 6 feet thick), then planting. This is followed by protecting with cages and then maintaining and monitoring the area for the next year.  The Lyngbya is not all “gone” in the first year, but if we stay at it, spot cleaning for several years, we will eventually get it fully under control.  We are committed to ensuring the project is sustainable so the grasses can expand on their own.

Our plantings from the 2015 pilot are not only established and spreading to new areas every day, but they are flowering and reseeding themselves with the tides.  Large areas where there was no grass before, and no grass was planted, now have meadows of grass.  In the next few years, we plan to finish out the 90 acres we originally envisioned.

Our goals for the future:

  • Continue to gain funding of $5 million per year, both from the Florida Legislature and the DEP Springs Restoration initiative.  We are seeking other funding from private philanthropic organizations too.
  • Advancing knowledge through science.  The entire project is based on the best science available.  We continue to engage with experts in spring flow, fresh water ecology, measurement, geographic information systems (for tracking and even letting boaters know where we are working) and a variety of other related fields.
  • Provide outreach to the local community. We will continue to partner with Duke Energy to provide a year-long, hands-on experience to all students at Crystal River Primary School on the value of protecting the environment. (See how YOU can help further education)

What’s Next:

We are working hard to find the funding to reach our goal to finish these areas by July 2, 2023 on the centennial anniversary of Crystal River. Then, we hope to turn our sights to the remaining canals to the northwest of the bay and ultimately the bay itself. We invite to you continue to follow our progress and help us in meeting these goals. Together we can Save Crystal River.

Baby alligator