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U.S. senator gets lesson on area's springs

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By The Staff

Sen. Bill Nelson joined Suwannee River Water Management District governing board members and staff on an educational excursion down the Suwannee River on Wednesday. The eight-mile outing began at Fanning Springs and ended at Manatee Springs.

Prior to boat departure, Nelson also attended a meeting hosted by the District in Cross City, where various environmental groups were given the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns regarding state and regional environmental issues.

"I want you to educate me," Nelson said in regard to the specific issues affecting this area.

Concerns addressed during the hour-long meeting included water transfer, protection of the springs and Suwannee River and opposition to water bottling along the Santa Fe River. Nelson listened to suggestions made by several groups, such as Save Our Suwannee, who suggested giving the Suwannee River a special designation under federal law that would make it more protected and less vulnerable to external pressures.

The meeting concluded with Nelson thanking the attendees for enlightening him on the important regional issues that directly affect our area and assuring the audience that he would do his best to assist the District with its mission.

Following the meeting, Nelson and his staff made their way to Fanning Springs to get a first-hand look of what pure beauty North Florida has to offer.

District staff explained to Nelson that this area of the state is the last piece of natural Florida that exists, and without proper preservation and protection, it will slowly vanish. Staff asked for financial and political leadership to preserve, restore and protect the area's natural resources.

At the end of the tour, Nelson said he thoroughly enjoyed the boat outing and now has a deeper understanding of the troubles affecting our area.