SANTA FE RIVER PRESERVE PRESERVE:
The Santa Fe River Preserve is a cooperative effort between Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) and Alachua County to protect and restore stretches of the upper Santa Fe River near Worthington Springs. The Santa Fe River Preserve is a project that has grown significantly over the last five years. What started with the acquisitions of 96 acres in 2012 has grown into a 926-acre preserve including 6 miles of river frontage. The preserve opened in Fall 2017 with presentations by Alachua County Commissioners Hutch Hutchinson and Lee Pinkoson and ACT's executive director Tom Kay; a ribbon cutting ceremony; and the opportunity for those attending to explore the new hiking trails, paddle the river, and ride about the preserve on two wheels lead by ACT board member Howard Jelks.
Santa Fe River Preserve includes high bluffs overlooking the river and an interesting mix of floodplain forest where the New River converges with the Santa Fe River – containing mature stands of uncommon trees such as water elm and river birch, and a profusion of flowering shrubs including wild azalea. Above this juncture, the floodplain narrows and the Santa Fe River becomes a blackwater stream, ideal habitat for Oval Pigtoes, Swamp Darters, and Sailfin Shiners. On the west side of the preserve, another drainage called Santa Fe Creek also harbors an impressive diversity of trees with towering swamp chestnut oaks and spruce pines interspersed along its slopes. The Santa Fe River continues to act as a key east-west link connecting conservation lands in north central Florida with other parts of the Suwannee River watershed, and is used by Florida Black Bear, River Otter, Beaver, Bobcat, Grey Fox, and migratory birds.