The most distinctive natural communities within the
Aucilla Wildlife Management Area are the rivers themselves. The
Aucilla River is a blackwater river that originates from artesian
springs in Georgia and flows 111 km to the Gulf. The water becomes
"black" from acidic swamp discharge and surface runoff below the
headwaters. A product of the region's karst topography, the river
flows underground in places. Its final emergence on its way to the
Gulf is Nutall Rise.
"…each is a little ecological jewel in which geology and biology
have created a masterwork of natural art."
The spring-fed Wacissa is a tributary of the
Aucilla. The Wacissa supports abundant aquatic life, including
alligators, turtles, water snakes, wading birds, and river otters.
The limpkin, now absent from many of Florida's rivers because of
poor water quality, is still abundant on the Wacissa.
The Wonder of Springs
At least 12 springs give rise to the Wacissa River.
Springs and spring runs have attracted humans and wildlife since
Spring water issues from the Floridan aquifer, the
state's major source of drinking water. Throughout north and
central Florida, springs are increasingly threatened by population
growth and land use practices. In Florida surface water and
groundwater are one system: what humans place on the land surface
finds its way to the aquifer and is eventually expressed through
Management plans for Aucilla include reintroducing
fire into those communities that are fire dependent, maintaining
openings that can be used by wildlife as foraging areas and travel
lanes, continuing to protect cultural resources, conducting
inventories of wildlife species, and developing plans for the
restoration of natural communities in those areas that have been
In places on the Wacissa River, hydrilla and elodea have
replaced the native eelgrass, and mats of other non-native
invasives such as water hyacinth have covered the water surface.
These non-natives interfere with boating and swimming, displace
native vegetation, and have adverse impacts on sport fish. The cost
of removal, especially of hydrilla, is very high. In 2001-2002, 58
acres of hydrilla were removed at a cost of $26,360, and 100 acres
of floating plants were removed at a cost of $12,500.