It is easy to forget sometimes that our local eelgrass restoration project is, at its core, a true grass roots initiative (pun intended).  

Save Crystal River’s King's Bay Restoration Project is a testament to what determined residents and business owners can accomplish when we stand together with a common mission.  In six years, we have cleaned over 52 acres in King's Bay, removed over 300 million pounds of muck and Lyngbya, planted over 213,000 native eelgrass plants, and made a visible difference in the quality of our waterways.  

Do we say this to brag? Maybe a little bit, but mainly to inspire and empower others to do the same. Together we are stronger and together anyone can make a difference.

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But why is it so important for us to strive to make that difference? The reasons are endless!

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic: Money! Our economy, in many ways, is dependent on our natural resources. Our businesses rely on tourism dollars brought in from boating, scalloping, kayaking, manatee tours, and fishing (see a common factor there?). Those businesses, in turn, hire local employees and pay local taxes providing a direct impact for the future of Citrus County. Saving our waters means saving our economy.

Our water quality also directly affects our families and our home lives. For as far back as we can document, communities have lived adjacent to and depended on waterways. On the surface, our beautiful Nature Coast offers us endless access to fun outdoor activities and the ability to make lasting memories with our loved ones.  

If you dive a little deeper though, the impact our waters have on our health is immeasurable. From direct impacts such as access to clean potable water, to sustaining crops for our nutritional needs, to less direct impacts such as decreased physical activities effecting fitness levels, our waters are a crucial part of our human existence. Without consistent access to healthy rivers and watersheds, generations of people struggle to meet their basic needs. Ensuring our waterways can also ensure our future as a community.

As mentioned above, people have been drawn to the water for as long as we can remember. Our waterways are an imperative life-source in one way or another and we as people, as a community, as leaders, and as parents rely on it so heavily it only makes sense to prioritize its health and wellness right along with ours. Taking the time to care for our natural resources, changing the way we interact with them, and teaching others the importance of it.

Save Crystal River is not only proud of the milestones we have accomplished in our six short years as an organized nonprofit, but we are also proud to serve as a model for other communities to look at their specific needs, form a non-profit, and follow the trail that has been made to partner with our state and local agencies that have now seen firsthand that success is possible.  It is thankfully no longer a question of how, but when. And that answer is up to all of us.

Citrus County is in a positive position due in many thanks to caring citizens, businesses, a proactive local government partnering together to create change.  We are moving in the right direction through the Save Crystal River restoration project (made possible by our state representatives and senators backed by the funding provided year after year by DEP and the Florida Legislature), the Homosassa River restoration project, and many other advances to correct and proactively prevent us from losing the special gem we have here on the Nature Coast.

It is through movements like Save Our Waters Week that we can continue to raise awareness and remind ourselves just how important this is and the personal responsibility we all must take to conserve and protect the resources that we rely so heavily on. Take this time to listen, ask questions, and find the ways that you are comfortable getting engaged, and moving with us toward a bright future.

Special to the Chronicle from Save Crystal River, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of making a substantial and continuing change to King's Bay and Crystal River by July 2023.

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