Springs Outing: Chassahowitzka River Paddle
Chassahowitzka Springs are the headwaters for the Chassahowitzka River, one of the most pristine and scenic rivers in Florida, accessible only by boat or canoe. Endangered West Indian manatees frequent the springs and river year-round but are especially common in winter. This swampy area of the Springs Coast Basin along Florida’s west coast several thousand years ago was home to Native Americans who left behind evidence of their campsites in high, dry locations. The area is as rich in history as it is springs, the two are undoubtedly connected.
Chassahowitzka Springs, which are located 5.8 miles (9.3 kilometers) southwest of Homosassa Springs on the Chassahowitzka River, comprise the river’s headwaters. As many as five springs flow into the upper part of the river, and many more springs are known to exist in the lower portion. Tides influence both the springs and river. During this outing, we will be exploring those better and lesser-known springs including Chassahowitzka Main Spring, Seven Sisters Spring, Chassahowitzka #1 and #2 Spring, Crab Creek, and more!
Additionally, we’ve decided to donate a large portion of proceeds from this outing to a fellow springs conservation group, Kings of the Springs. After two years of picking up waterways, bringing in hundreds of volunteers, and helping to build a movement around springs conservation, Kings of the Springs have become their own non-profit organization. Florida Springs Institute loves what KOTS is doing for the springs and we’re proud of them for taking the leap to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It is our hope that this partnership, and donation, draws attention to their organization and gives them a head start as a non-profit. We can’t wait to see what they do next. Keep up the great work, Kings!
A note from Kings of the Springs President, Brent Fannin, “It’s incredible to look back and see where all this hard work has led us…but we’re not slowing down now! There’s much more to do and we’re jumping right into the non-profit waters in a big way. We have plans to bring more events, including cleanups and fundraisers, and better educational resources. We look forward to developing new tools to educate the public and to streamlining our cleanups.
To celebrate our new incorporation and to show how much we mean business when it comes to protecting Florida’s wild places, we’re teaming up with the Florida Springs Institute (FSI) and we couldn’t be more excited! FSI is one of the most respected institutions in the environmental community and we’re honored to host this event with them. We hope you support our cause and join us this September as we embark on the first of many exciting adventures with KOTS, FSI, and many other incredible members of the springs community!”
Our Springs Outing trips connect nature lovers with the outdoors (and each other) while giving participants the opportunity to learn about Florida’s rich landscape from qualified experts and scientists. Each Spring Outing holds a new adventure, and with it, new information and experiences, even for the most seasoned adventure enthusiasts! Proceeds from Spring Outings benefit the Florida Springs Institute so we can continue vital springs research and education efforts.
Tessa SkilesMedia Director, Howard T. Florida Springs Institute
Tessa has spent her entire life in, and around, Florida springs. She has experienced their degradation first-hand and is passionately driven to preserve and protect them. She has a background in graphic design, photography, and film. She has produced a number of films featuring Florida springs, most notably, her own environmental documentary, Saving Florida’s Springs. Tessa works to make younger generations aware of the current state of Florida springs while instilling in them a strong and positive outlook on protecting our environment. Tessa’s passion for Florida springs runs in her blood as the successor to her late father, Wes Skiles, who was a respected cave diver, springs conservationist, National Geographic explorer, and cinematographer. Much like Wes, she enjoys exploring nature and capturing it’s beauty through film and photography to better help the public appreciate and understand Florida’s natural resources.
Tom MorrisBiologist and cave diver, Karst Environmental Services
Tom Morris is a biologist and diver who lives in Gainesville, Florida. Tom started cave diving when he was 13, easing into the darkness with a flashlight in a plastic bag. Today, Tom is still an active diver with over 58 years of experience under his belt. When he is not exploring underground caves, Tom volunteers with the Florida Springs Institute as an Outings Leader.