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St Marks Rise


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St. Marks Rise is a first-magnitude spring, which means it discharges 64.6 million gallons per day or more.

Overview

The St. Marks River Rise is a re-emergence of the St. Marks River below the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park. The river gains a significant increased flow at the rise due to additional groundwater contribution, which averages 353 cubic feet per second or 228 million gallons per day. This first magnitude spring’s vent is located about a half-mile south of where the St. Marks River sinks into a swallet at Natural Bridge. The spring vent is located at a depth of approximately 60 feet below the water surface beneath a ledge on the northeast side of the spring pool. A slight surface boil may be visible under high flow conditions. 

Because of natural plant tannins in the surface water contributing to the St. Marks River above the swallet, the water at the rise is generally a transparent brown color - not the clear blue of most other Florida springs. Numerous smaller springs also contribute flow to the river in the headspring area.

 The property surrounding the river rise spring is in private ownership; the nearest public access is by boat from the Newport Bridge boat ramp at U.S. 98, seven miles south of the rise. 

Unique Features

The St. Marks River provides water to the estuary in Apalachee Bay, an important nursery area of the endangered Kemp’s Ridley turtle and a habitat for juvenile and adult fish, shrimp, crabs, and oysters. Apalachee Bay and most of the St. Marks River below the rise are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters and protected from activities that would degrade water quality. A large portion of the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve is within Apalachee Bay. The Preserve is the largest expanse of nearly pristine seagrass and salt marsh in Florida and is an important nursery area for fisheries in the Gulf Coast. The St. Marks River also flows through and influences St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, which provides wintering grounds, nesting areas, and habitat for more than 300 species of birds. Some of the endangered or threatened species that nest in the Refuge include the Southern Bald Eagle, Least Tern, and Red-cockaded Woodpecker. St. Marks Rise Spring provides vital fresh water to the river and bay and supports the substantial value of these recreationally and commercially important areas.

Projects

FY 2016-2017

Governor and Cabinet Approve 11,000 Acre Acquisition Crucial for Springs Protection