FWC Commissioners approve the first Springs Protection Zone in Florida at Nichols Spring
At its Nov. 30-Dec. 1 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a rule establishing a Springs Protection Zone for Nichols Spring and its associated spring run in Sumter County.
The Spring Protection Zone for Nichols Spring will be the first created in Florida. Anchoring, mooring, beaching and grounding of vessels was determined to have caused harm to bank vegetation, cypress trees and aquatic grasses in and around the spring. These activities will be prohibited within the Springs Protection Zone.
At its December 2021 meeting, the Commission established the criteria and process used to create Springs Protection Zones. FWC staff coordinated with Sumter County officials, the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Department of Environmental Protection to review whether Nichols Spring met the criteria for the creation of a Springs Protection Zone and held a public meeting for interested parties before approval.
The public will still be able to visit Nichols Spring but will be prohibited from anchoring, mooring, beaching or grounding a vessel within the spring or along the spring’s shoreline. The public will be able to anchor a vessel outside the protection zone and swim through the small spring run and into the spring. Tubes and rafts are not considered vessels in Florida and may still be used in the spring.