Save the Ichetucknee concert April 13
Here in North Central Florida, Earth Day has always been cause for celebration. We celebrate our beautiful canopy of live oaks, our clear blue skies and clean air, and most of all, the pristine, crystalline springs and rivers that surround us. Now the threat of a cement plant looming a mere stone's throw from the site of North Central Florida's three most spectacular rivers--the Santa Fe, the Suwanee, and the Ichetucknee, lends a dark cloud of gloom to this month's celebration. It seems that all our hard-won environmental victories, the most recent achieved with the help of the late Lawton Chiles, have to be fought all over again with the advent of the new administration. The idea that anyone could even contemplate allowing the burning and dumping of major amounts of toxic waste into the ground and the air less than three miles from the headsprings of the Ichetucknee is truly frightening.
The beauty of the Ichetucknee has been celebrated by countless musicians, poets, painters and photographers. Come join us Tuesday April 13th as we celebrate the Ichetucknee in a concert that we hope will serve two functions: to remind everyone of what we have, and to give everyone ways to fight to preserve it. The concert, held at the Thomas Center, will begin at 8:00, with doors open at 7:20 so people can peruse the art exhibits and make their bids on items in the silent art auction. The music, celebrating the beauty of the earth and water, will feature Ajamu Mutima, Patchwork, and Flash Silvermoon, Nancy Luca and friends. The art auction will feature many artists' depictions of the river, with pieces by Eleanor Blair, Mary Rockwood Lane, John Moran, LeeAnn Stacpoole, and other area artists. The Thomas Center is located at 302 NE 6th Ave.
Lamenting the plight of the Seminoles in his song, "Osceola's Last Words," the late Florida troubador Will McLean sang of Osceola's message to those who were left after the battles. "...My spirit walks with those of you who died, and those of you who will remain upon this blessed, bloodstained, flowered land, must fight and fight again." It's comforting to remember that the spirits of those who fought these battles before us walk with us today as we continue the fight to preserve our precious few remaining natural resources. William Bartram, Archie & Marjorie Carr, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Sidney Lanier--these are just a few of those who were able to bring about change through the power of their art. Now it's up to us to try and do the same.
Rediscover the Ichetucknee Basin
...Many North Floridians ... head out of town to enjoy the still pristine rivers and springs in surrounding rural counties. However, not 38 miles away looms yet another threat to our health and pursuit of happiness, Anderson/Columbia's Ichetucknee Cement Plant, 3 miles from the Ichetucknee State Park. What more can be said to activate nature lovers to protest the polluting effects of 20 pounds of mercury/year, particulate matter from tire/coal burning, additional nitrates adding to counts already in the Spring, noise and congestion of an additional 690 vehicles travelling the same roads as tubers?
The Ichetucknee River deserves protection for historical reasons: Native Timucan sites exist on the Ichetucknee's banks. A Spanish Mission's foundations remain at Mission Springs. Historic gristmill remains are cut into limerock at Mill Pond. Pre-Spanish horse fossil teeth found in the River bed testify to the age of the Spring.
The Ichetucknee River has long been an eco-tourist destination: Lake City calls itself the Clean Water Capital of the world. Rails to Trails will connect High Springs to Branford, passing directly across Route 27 from the proposed polluting cement plant. Two million tourists come from around the world to swim, dive, snorkel, tube, and boat the beautiful Ichetucknee Springs, Santa Fe and Suwannee Rivers.
The Ichetucknee River could follow the fate of other popular Springs in Florida: A popular recreation sight, Sulfur Spring in Tampa, similar in size to the Ichetucknee Springs, became polluted by stormwater runoff and is now unavailable for public use. Rock Springs in Orange County was closed because of high levels of bacteria. Hunter Springs in Citrus County and Crystal Springs in Pasco County are periodically closed because of high fecal coliform counts. Kissinger Springs near Bartow went dry because of mining activities in their basins.
The Ichetucknee River Basin businesses depend on clean air and water. The Ichetucknee River State Park brings $1.7 million per year. Tube, kayak, bicycle, and canoe rentals produce income for local businesses. Area restaurants and gas stations derive revenue from river users.
We take for granted the Ichetucknee River as a God-given, unalienable right where we pursue happiness. ...Let us not arrive at a park closed because of pollution caused by upriver runoff or gas station leaks. Attend Cathy DeWitt's Ichetucknee Concert and Art Auction at the Thomas Center on April 13th. Take the plunge into activism.
Contact Citizens Rediscovering the Ichetucknee Basin for more information: 352-378-6603.
[The Save the Ichetucknee efforts have added a new website, the Ichetucknee Mobilization Web Site, at http://www.metanet.org/im/. Also see http://www.ichetucknee.org --webmaster]
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