Within the boundaries of this 2,241 acre park, a series of springs gives rise to the clear, enticing Ichetucknee River which flows southwest for six miles before it joins the Santa Fe River. The river winds alternately through hammock and swamp. Many kinds of fish, turtles and wading birds may be seen along its course. The quiet canoeist or tuber occasionally is rewarded by the sight of a limpkin, wood duck, otter or beaver. The name "Ichetucknee" is an Indian word meaning "pond of the beaver."

In 1972, the U.S. Department of the Interior declared the head springs a national natural landmark. The State of Florida purchased the property from the Loncala Phosphate Corporation in 1970 so that one of the state's outstanding natural wonders would be preserved and protected while still being accessible to the public.

The stream has served many. Indians hunted and fished here. A Spanish mission was once located on its banks. In the late 1800's, a grist mill was in operation here. Early travelers on the Bellamy Road often stopped at Ichetucknee Springs to quench their thirst. Soon after this century began, phosphate was extracted from small surface mines which are still visible, although now heavily wooded.

Because of phosphate mining, the logging of longleaf pines and other disturbances within the park boundary, hardwoods have inundated a part of what was once an open, grassy upland pine forest that extended almost to the banks of the river. The Florida Park service is attempting to reclaim and preserve this native plant community through active resource management techniques. The natural diversity of the park is increased by the presence of the "sandhill community" on the dry upland above the river. This pine and oak forest is control-burned periodically to maintain its open, sunny character as well as reclaim and preserve the native plant community. The sandhills are the home of fox, squirrels, gopher tortoises, wild turkeys, deer, bobcat and other small animals.

There are nine named springs within the Ichetucknee Springs group. Average total flow of all springs is about 233 million gallons of water daily. The water temperature remains a constant 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The "Real Florida" can be found and experienced while enjoying any of the park's recreational opportunities.

Source: Town of Fort White

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