ICHETUCKNEE TRACE CONSERVATION

Where is the Ichetucknee Trace?

The Ichetucknee Springshed Basin covers close to 400 square miles and encompasses much of Columbia County as well as small portions of Baker, Suwannee, and Union Counties. The basin includes the Ichetucknee River, an Outstanding Florida Water, and Ichetucknee Springs State Park, a National Natural Landmark, Outstanding Florida Spring, and arguably Florida’s most famous tubing spot.

The Ichetucknee Trace is a now-dry riverbed that lies within the Ichetucknee Basin and connects Alligator Lake in Lake City to the headspring in the state park. Land uses within the trace have direct impacts to the Floridan aquifer, Ichetucknee River and our springs.

Click map to enlarge.

Click map to enlarge.

How are we protecting the Ichetucknee Trace?

Alachua Conservation Trust with support from its partners is conducting outreach to land owners in Columbia County who may contribute directly to protecting our Florida springs water quality and aquifer recharge. The Trace is a direct conduit to Ichetucknee Springs; it drains directly to the springs and has many sinkholes and swallets in its footprint.  Moreover, the Trace is surrounded by an upland landscape with deep sandy soils that are necessary for infiltrating surface water that becomes groundwater, which moves through the aquifer and flows out at the springs.

Many parcels in the Trace are small family-owned properties, who are producers of timber, hay and small cattle production. ACT is working to understand the local need to help families keep their land private, preserve the rural character of the landscape and protect water quality. We are accomplishing this by strengthening partnerships to find creative solutions for land protection through agricultural land easements, conservation easements, shorter term land management agreements, and acquisition. By helping to limit the conversion of a rural landscape to a more intensified land use, we can help our state’s goals in protecting water flows of the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers and protect water quality for future generations.

Why conserve the Ichetucknee Trace?

Formed by the cumulative groundwater discharge from nine named artesian springs, the Ichetucknee River contributes nearly 212 million gallons of spring water every day to the Santa Fe River. The health of the Ichetucknee River depends upon the health of the springs and the health of the springs depends upon the health of the aquifer that feeds them.

The Ichetucknee River System is currently impaired by human activities that are causing nutrient pollution and loss of spring flow. These ongoing threats— nitrogen runoff, over pumping of the aquifer, and development pressures—directly impact the health of the Ichetucknee as well as the threatened and endangered species that rely on the watershed’s health. As an Outstanding Florida Water, Ichetucknee Springs and River have been identified as a priority focus area for restoration by the state. Protecting land in the springshed will help restore the basin by decreasing nutrients to the springs, increasing spring flows in the Ichetucknee, and ensuring connectivity between protected areas.

Current Partners

  • Ichetucknee Alliance, Inc.

  • Suwannee River Water Management District

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute

  • Florida Forest Service

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROJECT OR TO DISCUSS YOUR PROPERTY

Please contact Erica Hernandez by email at
act.erica@gmail.com or by phone at 352-373-1078