The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District), along with other local and state partners, launched the Weeki Wachee River Education Campaign to inform river visitors about the recreational best management practices that will help protect the river and reduce ecological impacts.
A recent ecologically based study found direct links between recreational use on the river and environmental damage. For example, visitors leaving kayaks while on the river have trampled vegetation and eroded riverbanks and sand point bars. Also, numerous trees have been damaged from climbing and rope swinging.
The study showed that managing the types of activities on the river is just as important, if not more important, as managing the number of visitors.
The District recently launched WaterMatters.org/ProtectWeeki, which features seven tips to help protect the Weeki Wachee River:
1. Stay in the vessel when possible.
2. If you have to leave the vessel, tie off in shallow waters.
3. Avoid docking on riverbanks.
4. Don’t trample vegetation or kick up silt.
5. Avoid climbing on banks and walking on sand point bars.
6. Don’t climb trees or use rope swings.
7. Don’t throw out litter or leave anything behind.
In addition, the campaign will be a community effort with free education materials made available at kayak shops, vacation rentals and other businesses near the river.
The education campaign is launching in partnership with Hernando County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau.